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

motivation, Tips123 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.

So far 123 Comments posted

  1. silly common man

    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..:)

    1. calm

      BBC HiNDI….bharosa uth gya bhai…it’s a political newschannel….against BJP totally……pahle main bhi padhta tha but now I dont…:)

  2. Ankita

    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??

    1. kumar rohan

      for gs u have to read Bipin Chandra (both freedom struggle and since independence). nd spectrum series. must read NCERT world history by jain mathur

  3. Maneesh

    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.

  4. priti

    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

  5. Ankush

    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.

    1. Last bencher

      Your intentions i respect, but, the things, which you see as silly, can be a really important for other people, if your are a topper, you understand maths in sec, it is not necessary that other, person can also, understand withing the same time, he can ask an explanation of the same, from the mentor, e.,g a silly formula, in your perception, or even the explaination of that formula, which can be silly for a topper, but is really important for him/her to understand the fact, @that point of time, you might be thing him as dumb/stupid, but obviously he is not, person is trying just to follow a right track,

  6. chandrakala

    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

  7. Gaurav Kumar

    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?

  8. shashikant

    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

  9. Devvrat

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

  10. Gaurav

    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??

  11. akib

    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.

  12. sudhir

    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

  13. kavya

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


  14. Santosh KUumar

    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

  15. John

    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

  16. vivek yadav

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

  17. rohit

    sir,i am working proffesional in IT company and want to prepare for exams.How to start with can you suggest which will be really helpful for me to initiate with.

  18. dev r

    Hi Sir, I am preparing all the subjects from the TMH GS Manual (which contains all the topics) for the prelims 2014. I want to know if there is any need for studying from any other book?

  19. Ankit

    I m doing marketing job in nbfc. pls suggest the subject which required less time to prepare compare to others.


  20. phool kumar

    sir, my family background is poor and i am b.com final yr student. sir, i want to any govt job. plz give me idea that i can get early job and study carryon.

  21. manoj

    Strategic and analytic study of past 20 years questions will get you almost 50% questions as it is or little twisted . That means 100 marks out of 200 one can easily score . A superb site which is very useful to study the previous years questions in a very interesting way is examrobot.com
    I could finish 500 questions per day without being feeling bored , as the presentation is so engaging .very cool stuff!! recommended to every aspirant who believe in smart work .

  22. Swastik

    4.5 years work experiece as a telecom engg, this is actually a feild working & laborious job, hardly get 9 -10 hrs a day but tired, done btech in 2009, next month I’ll be 28, have 11 years relationship, after a long time family coalition jan 2015 is setted for marrige, engagement has done, leaving the job is impossible. I wanted to prepare for CSE since 3.5 years, but for some family problem I couldn’t leave the job, now I’ve no burden from my family but because of marrige my family-in-law dont want. But I’m getting to much frustated, I cant continue this work anymore, but I cant leave it, my english is also not good, no other options rather than english also, as I used to read write my mother language 10 years before, But I wanna go to batle field with preparation. How much sleep is needed to perform whole day, please suggest me further, I’m deadly waiting for your ans, plz do reply, plz plz plz plz plz……..

  23. gopi kumar

    my financial problem is not good, so i teach in my coaching
    full day i m busy and no idea how i continue preperation

    so i request, please suggest how i will complete my ambition

  24. S.P Pandita

    To crack ias hardwork really doesn’t matter but what matters is smart work… to crack ias we don’t need a phD, I have seen most of the people preparing for ias as such as they are studying to earn a phD, we need a concise and basic knowledge of all topics in ias not scholarly knowledge, If anyone says that he can study entire syllabus then history is enough to prove him wrong bcz if you go through previous year result of ias you will see the toppers have managed to achive 50-55% hardly. So we need smart work to crack ias not hard work..

    And remember always

    A gentleman is simply a patient wolf.
    -Lana Turner

  25. Swati Sharma

    Dear Sir ,
    Please tell me how to start studying for PCS pre . Which books you will prefer to study ? What are the topics ?

    1. Rishu

      hello,Mansi I have just read your question and I would like to answer your question with tranquility.After seeing your comment I came to the conclusion that you want to be in Indian foreign service.First of all What the heck are you doing here Do you really thing posting inane comments will ultimately help you..Nope it won’t.. I have seen a lot of people who posts,comments and asks every next person that sir how the hell do I prepare for civil service…What will he say..Nothing.One one person can do and it’s you..Don’t take it seriously or cry I am just telling you truth.It might be acrimonious but I don’t care I love to show mirror who haven’t ever seen herself/himself in the mirror


    WELL … i have given first time upsc paper this yr after mini preparation of ded mahina…..my score will come out around 160-170….can you please tell me how shud i prepare this year thoroughly…..im working in Jaypee Fertilizers and my schedule is 2 days morning shift 2 days evening shift and two days night….7am-3pm, 3pm to 11pm and 11pm to 7am respectively…..please suggest me how to start and propogate my preparation in this kind of variable schedule….

  27. Pingback: How To Follow Up On A Job Interview Email | Develop My Career

  28. Prakash Sharma

    Padho Padho..Sab kuch Padho..!! Gyan sabhi or hai ..!! Dont be selective .. Nt just for UPSC but for the eternaly curious Kid inside you ..

  29. rajat goyal

    sir,i am currently doing B.E computer science (5th semester) from thapar university .can u guide my way to ias as it is my only and ultimate goal

  30. hemannth

    hi sir, I ‘m 3rd year engg student. unfortunately I have happened accident on 2012 the clavital ( hand schoulder ) bone will be broken hence during the operation with an plate. now it will be removed but the operation mark will be present . this makes any problem to attended the upsc exam or not in physical selection
    pls reply sir

  31. debashrita mishra

    Hii.. I am a Bs.c botany(hons) graduate, I am also continuing my job in wipro and i want to show me a direction how i could prepare my 100% for the UPSC exam.

  32. Dineseh

    Respected sir,
    I decided to appear UPSC civil service 2015 , i request you please sagest me that how can i complete and start study ? i have done basic reading just tell me your strategy i will modify that as well my requirement.

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