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

motivation, Tips198 Comments

India Yearbook
  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.

Mrunal recommends

  1. (free) NCERT, NIOS, TN-Books
  2. Environment by ShankarIAS
  3. Indian Polity M.Laxmikanth (Hindi | English)
  4. Art & Culture by Nitin Singhania (Hindi | English)
  5. Spectrum: Modern History (Hindi | English)
  6. Bipin Chandra: Post Independence
  7. Fast-track to Arithmetic Rajesh Verma
  8. MK Pandey’s Analytical Reasoning
  9. Disha’s Topicwise Paperset (Hindi | English)
  10. School Atlas
  11. Mains: Language papers
  1. (free) NCERT, NIOS, TN-Books 4 History,Geo,Sci
  2. Indian Polity M.Laxmikanth (Hindi | English)
  3. Spectrum: Modern History (Hindi | English)
  4. Maths: Quantam CAT Sarvesh Kumar
  5. Objective General English SP Bakshi
  6. Word Power made Easy -Norman Lowe
  7. Topic wise Solved Paperset by Disha

So far 198 Comments posted

  1. pratibha malik

    sir,my self pratibha I just have completed by b.sc and now I am preparing for upsc without any coaching plz guide me 4 sdudy material and all abt upsc.

  2. Rajat kalbande

    in have also completed my Bsc last year and am also preparing for UPSC , if you wanted to prepare for upsc start it with NCRET and start practicing reasoning and math after one month you will be almost prepared for your preparation of UPSC

  3. irappa g antharavalli

    sir i am irappa antharavalli, sir i have just completed by B A Degree so how to prepair without coaching.

  4. juhi singh

    Sir,i am in B.A part 1 nd i want to prepare for upsc plz prove guideline nd how to prepare without coaching?

  5. sudhir kumar

    Hii my self Sudhir.i have just completed B.A now I want to compete ssc cgl ,please guide me sir!

  6. chandan kumar srivastav

    sir mera name chandan kumar srivastav aur mera 10plus2 ka result aaya h jisme mai 85 percent no paya hu aage pcs ka exam dena chahta hu aage kya karu

  7. Muskan

    I got just 55% marks in graduation …i jst want to knw I m eligible to prepare for IAS

  8. Akash Roy

    नमस्कार ! मेरा नाम आकाश है . मैने अपनी इंजीनियरींग (E&Tc) , 2013 मे पूरी की और अभी एक Pub Sect Bank मे Asst. Manager के तौर पर कार्यरत हुं . हिंदी माध्यम से तैयारी करना चाहता हूं . वैकल्पिक विषय चयन मे आपका मार्गदर्शन चाहता हूं . समय का आभाव तो एक समस्या है ही परंतु सही मार्गदर्शन भी नही मिल पा रही है . तैयारी कैसे शुरू की जाए ? किस विषय से शुरू की जाए ? इसी दव्ंद मे उलझ कर रह जाता हुं . कृपया अपने बहुमूल्य समय से कुछ समय निकालकर उचित मार्गदर्शन करें ! धन्यवाद

  9. Prabhat

    Hello sir,greatly inspired by u, like d way u conduct economic lectures, big big efforts by u, hats off to u sir..

  10. Rajendra

    Hello sir Thanks In Tons for help CSE aspirants my humble request to u please make your web site easy for all students. please if possible.


    what should I do to crack IAS exm …which path & schedule I should follow …i m student of b.tech 3 year. I have some financial and also time problems …plz give me some idea to do it ..thkx sir to read dis

  12. suresh bajaj

    i am a bank employee i am preparing for civil services plz guide me for books which for general studies and how i manage my time for stydy how i read newspaper & magzine like yojana and what time i gave newspaper &magzine

  13. Waseem

    Sir..I m working as inspector in income tax Chennai.i havenot attend any class for UPSc.I have no idea about UPSC preparations. My office time is 9. To 6.and Saturday Sunday is off. I can give 5 hours daily for upsc.please suggest me some strategy to crack UPSC.

  14. deeksha parmar

    Sir I am deeksha and I have done my bsc with 86.22% .now I am a student of MSC physics and my dream is upsc.please guideline me.

  15. Jyoti Singh

    You really need to start from NCERT,it may sound cliche but that’s an eternal truth…..!!! All The Besttttt…..

  16. Jyoti Singh

    You really need to start from NCERT,it may sound cliche but that’s an eternal truth…..!!! All The Besttttt…..

  17. Nischitha H R

    Hi All
    I am studying m.com in mount Carmel college Bangalore.i am 25 MW…I am married nd also I ha a daughter she is 2 yrs old new…after completion of my b.com .i get married .nd got a baby..now I joined college ..
    Now I want to take ias …..it’s difficult to me to balence college no family .nd also studies .how should I prepare for prelims .frnds plz suggest me ..

  18. Ankit

    What is your Message? Search before asking questions & confine discussions to exams related matter only.Hi sir I have give exams of upsc capf for 2yrs but can’t qualify PLZ guide me. The main hurdle for me is Paper 2 and also give me your guidelines for paper 1.

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