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

motivation, Tips163 Comments

  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. Indian Polity M.Laxmikanth (Hindi | English)
  3. Spectrum: Modern History (Hindi | English)
  4. Bipin Chandra: Post Independence
  5. Spectrum Geography (selective) (Hindi | English)
  6. Fast-track to Arithmetic Rajesh Verma
  7. MK Pandey’s Analytical Reasoning
  8. Disha’s Topicwise Paperset (Hindi | English)
  9. Oxford School Atlas with Census 2011
  10. 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 Arihant

So far 163 Comments posted

  1. sarita

    can i complete ssc cgl without leaving job

  2. janaki srinath ias

    can i study 3 hrs every day.bcoz i need attened ias exams after 3 years.reply me as soon as possible…..thank u

  3. rs chauhan

    pl tell me that how can i do PHd and what are the criteria to appear for phd .and what about net.

  4. subhash rai

    thank u sir

  5. m k upadhyay

    How to start for upsc as i m fresher…nd i m working man….i no nothing abt upsc preparation

  6. Angelin alfred

    The blogs are very useful..

  7. Sumodhur

    Really practical suggestion

  8. Abhishek Yadav

    i am preparing ssc pls tell me how to read an English because when I readEnglis then I very nervous and feel voring compare other subject so I do select other subject to read and my English is very weak so what I do to emprove my english subject and west do it

  9. Name? Satyandra kumar

    I am working in Indian Navy and I want to prepare for civil services with mathematics optional , how I should start the preparation during my graduation from IGNOU?

  10. Mahima Pawar

    I am working in an research institute as Lab assistant after completion of my P.G. from Microbiology in 2013. Joining job was a part of family responsibility and still can’t leave the job but my ambitions are not down still yet I wanted to know am I too late too start for preparation of UPSC ? Do the preparation starting demands time on time ?

  11. mridula

    i am doing clerical job in post office, i want to join some other department at officer level post. in which department can i find better prospect

  12. Pooja

    Hello, I have done master’s in pharmacy from bits pilani. I want to sit for IAS exams. What optional subjects i should choose.

  13. sk

    How can I prepare well in very short time & how much it take to prepare well.

  14. sk

    Does the age will be reduce in this chance

  15. kirti kushwaha

    Without leaving job how may I preparation for uppcs exam.

  16. Divya

    I would like to know the job nature of posts notified under ssc common graduate level exam 2015.

  17. kunal

    i m prsuing engg. ryt now n will complete it this june….i dont feel lyk doin job as an engineer ..i want to go for defence …plz help me out

  18. sumodhur

    This article is really eye-opening!!!

  19. praveen mishra

    I want to crack RBI grade b with job. Please give me suggestions what can I do

  20. satyajeet kumar

    how we prepare for gs paper-4

  21. Kushal

    Hi friends.I am new in this field..I am preparing from last 4 months..for the first time in my life from back 2 days,i spent sleepless nights.All i read in day is totally revising in my mind.Friends i am really getting very anxious about it.Plz tell me,is this situation come on anyone while prep or only on me..plz plz suggest what i do

    1. dhiraj a. wankhade

      maine abhi mera h.h.c diya abhi mujhe kuch pta nahi chal rha ki mai aage kya karu aur mai arts me se exam diya hun. aur mujhe mere career upsc ka exam dekar i.p.s banna hai.!
      ye mera dreem hai. then pls pls pls pls help me wht i am do.?

  22. rahul kumar

    Sir can I prepare 4 IAS while joining assistant comandnt in crpf???what I should do I’m confuse.should I join or not bcoz IPS is my dream .plz guide meme sir

  23. ROSHAN

    I am pass out my arts 12 th class 65 % how I preparations for IAS exam

  24. ANUP kumar Pandey

    I am anup Pandey. I read in BSc physics hons part 1. My question is for u how to prepairing ias.
    Give some tips for ias prepairing.

  25. Kruti

    I m starting study first time for upsc so will u please guide me that from where I shud start , like which book

  26. vinod verma

    Sir, pleaze told me the best book for the preparation of NET JRF in ENGLISH??

  27. Rohit singh

    Is book say preparation karu Gs ka

  28. Hima Suthar

    I have read basic NCERTs of every subjects…But I found difficulty to make notes from them.Please guide me about notes

  29. Manish rawat

    Thanx for all such valuable suggestions.

  30. Deepankar vishwanath

    I am a B.A. Student. Can i sit in the upsc exam taking labour and social welfare(L.S.W.) as an optional?

  31. Dr. Sanyukta Shrivastava

    Dear sir,
    I am 31yrs old and (know it is too late) wish to crack upsc in my one and only attempt. Am married, mother of one and practicing . but , leaving apart some jerks , i manage to study 5–6 hrs per day….. may be 25 days a month. i had started prep. in April, gave my first attempt in 2015…. scored 44 correct que in 1st paper and 65 around in second (know that is too short). i could only manage to read laxmikanth polity (90%) and Spectrum modern history (80%) and hindu (daily almost), environment shankar IAS, and googled imp current topics….. that’s it.
    Sir., It is my sincere request….. PLEASE tell me the list of books to read and prepare for pre and mains together… I can read them productively…. But dont know exactly what is quiet sufficient to read…. I NEED PRECISE GUIDANCE…. NOT A VAGUE STRATTERGY… i have read many interviews and many strategies on coaching sites but feel those are for those who have 2-3 years…. please tell me exactly……. THESE ARE THE MINIMUM BOOKS YOU NEED TO READ TO CRACK …… AND I WILL DO IT. I dont have time and don’t want to waste any in making strategies… PLZ HELP

  32. preethi.gosa


  33. Sandeep

    Of course Sarita ji why not…Job is not the hurdel..but main hurdel is dat we created in our mind..ur job also is like a Learning in which u not only earn but also this job leads u to prepare interview as well as ur all over personality..Effective study is must it may be 3 hrs daily..never loose ur enthusaism in ur life in any circumstances..you can do all things u want to do..Go ahead…best of luck.

  34. Tanaji

    Thanks for guidance

  35. chetan

    Madam please first be clear with syllabus.. Suggesting list of books might not help you. Check for syllabus and prepare accordingly

  36. Smriti

    Sir…l am a bank clrk and i hv only 4 to 5 hours for self study…can u pls help me for making strategy for upsc examination. …

  37. udit

    hi sir this is udit i want to crack upsc exam just inform what type of books i should read and how to read

  38. Diwakar

    I dnt know anything about UPSC but your points really motivate me.thank you sir

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