[Strategy] Five Rules: How to prepare for UPSC without leaving job?

MK Pandey Fast track to objective arithmetic
  1. Rule #2: You’ve to stop feeling guilty about it
  2. Rule #3: You’ve to study in minutes, not in hours
  3. Rule #4: “Net-surfing” doesn’t equal to “studying”
  4. Rule #5: You’ve to do “follow up” instantly
  5. Rule #1:

Rule #2: You’ve to stop feeling guilty about it

  • When you think of the word ‘study’, you think of an “activity of reading books for 3-4 hours continuously” just like you did in board exams.”
  • Unfortunately, this is impossible for a working professional. And when you try to do that (or even think about doing that) it  leads to frustration.
  • If you’re doing a job, you’re actually occupied from 9 AM to 9 PM.(breakfast-traffic-office-work-lunch-work-traffic-dinner)
  • On weekdays, continuous study for 4-5 hours is impossible, given the jam-packed work-schedule + work and traffic fatigue.
  • So, accept the truth and don’t feeling guilty or depressed about it. And whatever study time-table you wish to prepare, it must be prepared in light of this truth.

Rule #3: You’ve to study in minutes, not in hours

  • Try to squeeze out 10-15-20 minutes out of your schedule, whenever you can.
  • For example, Read the theory of aptitude topic at home, in the morning. Go to office, and during the free time, solve 4-5 sums in on go, Instead of trying to finish whole ‘chapters or exercises’ from a book.
  • Similarly, for GS/ Opt.subject, pick up the book read one or two paragraphs; write the crux in the margin, leave.
  • Pick up the book again when you’re free and repeat the procedure.
  • Come back home, study 2-3 hours after dinner. You sum up the minutes and hours you spent studying, It’ll be no less than 4-5 hours.


Don’t study while in bus or vehicle

  • In the enthusiasm (or stress) to study for the exam, many candidates keep reading books even while travelling in bus, train or rickshaw, daily.
  • Problem: vehicle keeps jerking and shaking and so does your book. So, your eye-muscles have to put more effort to read the sentences.
  • You don’t feel it immediately, but in long run, it damages your eyesight.
  • and since your eyes get more fatigue in ‘vehicle reading’, you cannot keep yourself awake for a long time in the night.
  • So, Better keep the eyes fresh in 30 minutes bus journey and instead study for 30 minutes more, at night.

My highschool Maths teacher


“I’ve seen a lot of students going to multiple tuition-classes. First class from 4 to 5 and second from 5.30 to 6.30. But What I haven’t seen, is a student who studies between 5 to 5.30.”

Anil Kapoor in movie “Tezaab”

Time hotaa nahi hai, Time nikaalnaa padtaa hai.

Rule #4: “Net-surfing” doesn’t equal to “studying”

  • Working professionals (and students) use internet round the clock in office, in college, at home.
  • They surf on Wikipedia, read editorials in The Hindu and The Economist etc. and do random seach on geography, history etc.
  • They think they’re studying. They think they’re using the internet ‘productively’.
  • Bitter truth: it won’t help you much.
  • Why?
  • Because Overreliance on internet = mistake.
  • The Likelihood of getting a question from some random internet article of Wikipedia or newspaper in UPSC = very less.
  • Again why?
  • Because UPSC has to keep in mind the candidates from small towns and villages, who may not have 24/7 internet access. So many questions come from ‘static’ theory part, to give them level playing field.
  • You’ve to keep the syllabus in mind, and do selective study accordingly, from the standard books rather than trying to do Ph.D on everything from internet.
  • For example Stem-Cell research: at most you will need 10-12 points to write a descriptive answer. You don’t need to make an “ultra-awesome research note” from 50 different pages on google search.
  • Initially you’ll feel enthusiastic about doing google-research, but after 15-20 days, you’ll lose the tempo and start feeling nervous thinking “I can never complete the syllabus
  • Ofcourse you can search internet for further explanation of a topic. But UPSC exam is not made up of one particular topic alone. It is a mixture of everything. So don’t overdo anything.

Your Memory has an expiry Date.

  • You came across a fantastic article on US-China relations,
  • it has 7 paragraphs, truckload of statistical and chronological data.
  • You find 4-5 points, worth quoting in the essay/ interview/ mains answer.
  • But you’re unlikely to remember or recall those points after 2-3 months, during the actual exam/interview. That’s why…

Rule #5: You’ve to do “follow up” instantly

  • A lot of aspirants just keep cutting newspaper editorials from The Hindu/ Indian express or save webpages, thinking “I’ll do followup on Sunday or after 15 days. I’ll read them later”
  • Bitter truth: You will never get the time or mood to study those pages ‘later’. Such files only gather dust on your table, and waste space in your hardisk.
  • Barely 15 days left before the exam, you are under so much pressure to cover all the topics, you’ll have leave the file as it is, without even touching or looking at it.
  • Besides, if you read the same column after 15 days, you’ll have to re-read each and every sentence.
  • Lesson: don’t leave anything on future, if you’re reading something: just highlight or underline important stuff or take an extremely short-note of keywords. And move on. Whether it’s a book, newspaper, magazine or webpage.

But all ^these suggestions are meaningless, without the first and the most important rule for any competitive exam:

Rule #1:

Like it or not, you’ll have to study.

अच्छा लगे या ना लगे, पढ़ना तो पडेगा ही.

ગમે કે ના ગમે, ભણવું તો પડશે જ.

Lucent General Knowledge Objective English

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अब तक 89 कमेंट्स लिखी गयी

  1. silly common man says:

    guys..my advice to u..is to listen BBC HINDI news daily..its timings are..7:30-8:00 indian time. hope it will help..:)

    • Idiot says:

      7.30-8.00 A.M or P.M? Mention it clearly please

  2. dr.piyush says:


  3. Ankita says:

    can you provide notes on CSAT
    or tell the books that should I refer for study
    I am studying history but unable to find history books as there are many books searched on internet got confused which to select??

    • IAS says:

      first read ncrt history books

  4. Maneesh says:

    I am working professional. I have a graduation degree called B.Sc.(IT). Am i eligible for this exam, I know UPSC allows all graduation courses but since it is a professional degree I am bit confused.
    Please advise, Thank you.

  5. nagendra says:

    sir tell me books for history mains and method of preperation

  6. priti says:

    sir how to capture and manage whole gs syllsbus acc to time frame and what shud b focussed more while going for it ?thnk u

  7. Sabnish Rathore says:

    sir i have selected optional paper as pub ad .so please suggest me good book for it.

  8. Ankush says:

    It gets really tough and irritating to deal with amateurs and non serious players… out of 7 comments above, 6 can explicitly be covered under stupid remarks/comments…
    Like you wrote,” competitive exams are for real tough people and not for people who need to be spoon fed.”
    These people appear to distract a serious player and one may get the feeling of euphoria, which can be destructive…so why don’t you start filtering these comments which are unnecessary and which are not worth replying…start letting only those comments which are worth responding..this practice shall increase the utility of the website further; over a period quality of questions shall improve as neither they shall be allowed to come on site nor they will be responded and lastly if any reader browse these comments/remarks, they shall prove fruitful instead of futile.

    Just an Impulsive thought.
    A sincere fan.

    Ankush Phawa.

  9. v chakradhar says:

    very nice cum truth & interesting facts

  10. chandrakala says:

    dear sir,

    I have studied in telugu medium,my native ist a small village in tamilnadu, but my mother tounge is kannada, I don’t no hindi…is there any problem sir. please help me

  11. Gaurav Kumar says:

    i wanna prepare for UPSC wid Law as main paper, however, i’m a socio-graduate. n now pursuing LL. B. What if i wanna go for coaching; the best coaching?? alternatively, if i choose do it myself; then what?

  12. shashikant says:

    i have studied in kannada medium i m working as police sub inspector in karnatak state i read ur all emails if any imp about upsc plz send emails thanku very much sir

  13. mayur says:

    Hahaha …..funny and imp artical

  14. anurag says:

    @mayur its a good article…but wats funny about it..

  15. Devvrat says:

    I m 26 yrs old, a working professional, now want to start preparation for CSAT 2014. please advice me, how can I prepare?

  16. Gaurav says:

    Mrunal Sir,
    I am working professional with 14 days on/off(ONGC Ltd.) pattern. Though I am preparing for UPSC as per time available to me but still I am in dilemma of Joining a coaching /or preparing it my own. Pls guide me & also tell is there any coaching available for 14 days on-off mode??

  17. jacky says:

    chupchap hubby k paas soneka……enjoy karne ka mami

  18. akib says:

    sir i am in 3rd year of engineering and i want to appear for cse after that.should i start preparing from now onwards or wait till the completion of my degree that will over by 2015??
    i am very much confused sir plz do reply i am waiting for your valuable advice.

  19. Hema says:

    Thanks..I appreciate you n need your assitance for my UPSC examination…

  20. sudhir says:

    sir i need guidance hw to prepare the general english(qulaifying paper) standard book for it?

    newly added paper ethics,community hw to prepare for it

  21. Himanshu says:

    Very usefull thoughts…..

  22. kavya says:

    useful information sir.could u please elaborate english news timings on radio .+ channel(am or fm).


  23. Santosh KUumar says:

    Dear Sir,
    first of all I would like to thank u from the core of my heart as I have got a miracle in the name of mrunal so far as my preparion for upsc is concerned.
    I m a Field Officer in State Bank of India. I have resently started preparation for upsc. I m a Graduate in English from IGNOU. I have read History also.I m confused regarding my optionals whether to choose English or History or Philoshophy. Kindly guide me

  24. John says:

    I am a 3-time UPSC interview candidate. I would like to share the pathetic state of affairs regarding UPSC interview candidates. In many states in India, candidates at the time of interview are wooed by politicians and businessmen who run so called “Free IAS institutes”. They give them freebies like free flight ticket to Delhi, free clothes and shoes for interview. In turn, they advertise successful candidates as their own students. Some candidates becoming IAS/IPS officers later become slaves for these politicians. This is a very dirty and disturbing trend. This needs to be stopped in the bud.

    I personally know many of these candidates, but they argue saying that why they shouldn’t accept Freebies if some one is doing it for a good purpose. Isn’t a shame to blindly accept something for free without thinking about where the money came from?? These are all black money and the politicians use these “Free IAS institutes” as proxies to convert them into White money. They also gain popularity by running these institutes

  25. Manzhar rashid says:

    Sir plez advice me how i can make IAS, sir i read in class 10,in cbse board

  26. vivek yadav says:

    sir, i am working professional. please tell me about books of geography( mains and preliminary) in hindi.

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