For many aspirants of civil services in India, the Indian Administrative Services (IAS) is among the most revered career paths. It is a dream career for graduates who want to serve their country and, at the same time, achieve their personal career aspirations. The IAS Exam is highly competitive, and only a few emerge successful in any given year. One of the many questions that puzzle aspiring candidates is, "When is the best time to start preparing for IAS exams?"
In this comprehensive FAQ guide, we will shed light on the common questions aspirants ask about the best time to start IAS exam preparation, tips for preparation, and the advantages of starting early.
One of the first questions that aspirants ask is when to appear for the IAS Exam. The IAS Exam is conducted annually by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). The notification for the exam comes in May, and the application process is open for over a month. The exam itself is usually held in three stages, starting with the Preliminary exams in June or July, followed by the Mains in December, and an interview/personality test in March or April of the following year.
So, if an aspirant is planning to give the exam in 2023, they should start preparing around 9-12 months before the prelims.
The IAS Exam is infamous for its vast syllabus and a considerable volume of study materials. Since every aspirant comes from a different academic background, the study period may vary. However, as a rule of thumb, a minimum of 6 months to a year of systematic and regular preparation is ideal.
It's primarily because the exam pattern and syllabus asks for comprehensive knowledge about a wide range of subjects, including general knowledge, history, geography, current events, and so on. Most aspirants supplement their reading with newspapers, current events, and a study plan to finish their syllabus.
To appear for the IAS Exam, aspirants need to meet certain eligibility criteria:
• They should be a citizen of India,
• Should be at least 21 years of age as of 1st August of the year of the examination,
• Should hold a degree from any recognized university or equivalent,
• For reserved categories, there are some age relaxations and educational qualifications.
Many aspirants choose to prepare for the IAS Exam alongside their current jobs. It is an excellent option for those who want to maintain a steady income while pursuing their dream career. However, it requires good planning and time management skills.
The ideal approach is to devote at least 4-5 hours of their daily schedule to prepare for the IAS Exam. Candidates should plan their schedule judiciously to get quality preparation in a limited amount of time. Also, the time needed will vary based on the candidate and their speed of learning. Those who possess good time management skills can succeed in balancing their daily work and IAS Exam preparation.
There is no concrete answer, just a matter of choice. There are pros and cons to both self-study and attending coaching classes.
Self-study is a good option for candidates with strong will power, excellent study habits and who are confident about their preparation skills. It is ideal for those who have the capability to manage their time and resources well. The advantages of self-study are that it is cost-effective and gives more flexibility for planning, as candidates can design their own study plans and schedules.
On the other hand, UPSC coaching classes are an excellent option for candidates who need more structure and guidance in their preparation. It is especially beneficial for beginners who require a good foundation and understanding of the syllabus and exam pattern. IAS Institute provide a good learning environment, peer interaction, and regular tests and exams to assess your progress.
As mentioned earlier, the ideal time varies from person to person and their learning speed. However, you will need to put in a minimum of 4-5 hours of dedicated study daily to perform well. You can plan your study routine in a way that suits your lifestyle, as long as you follow it regularly. A proper study routine is the foundation of a good preparation strategy.
No, you don't need a law or political science degree. The IAS Exam doesn't specify any particular discipline or degree as an eligibility criterion. Graduates from any stream are eligible to apply. However, the IAS Exam focuses mainly on testing your general awareness, critical thinking, and analytical abilities. So, it is essential to study systematically, regardless of your educational background.
The first step to crack the IAS Exam is to understand its structure and syllabus. You need to be familiar with the specific areas given importance, the types of questions asked, and the marks allocation.
Knowing the exam pattern becomes crucial in aligning your preparation strategy according to the exam. You can gather this information in many different ways – from previous year question papers to exam prep books and online websites. If possible, try to find out if you know someone who has cleared the exam in the past, ask them to share their insights about the exam pattern.
A study plan is essential for any exam of this stature that covers such a vast syllabus. A well-structured study plan will keep you focused, consistent and on track. It will give you targets to realistically aim towards and keep you motivated.
While developing a study plan, break down the syllabus into manageable chunks and allocate each subject or topic suitable time according to their weightage and difficulty level. A weekly schedule with daily, achievable tasks will keep you organised and moving forward towards your goal.
Aspirants need to pay equal importance to current affairs as to other subjects. A thorough understanding of current events is crucial in answering questions related to them in the various stages of the IAS Exam. Daily and weekly newspapers like The Hindu, The Indian Express, and Press Information Bureau (PIB) releases are among the most popular sources of current affairs information.
Also, make short notes on significant events and revise them regularly. If possible, join a reliable online IAS coaching or test series that cover current affairs and provides regular updates throughout the year about the happenings in domestic and global events.
The key to cracking the IAS Exam is practice, practice and more practice. Candidates need to set aside ample time every week to solve previous year's question papers, quiz questions, and mock tests. It helps develop critical thinking skills, time management and helps identify problem-solving patterns.
Revision is equally important. Revise the notes, short notes or essays written on subjects and topics to make sure that you retain the knowledge and increase the chances of getting selected.
Aspirants can benefit from the guidance of experts or mentors while preparing for the IAS Exam. Mentors can guide you through the preparation process, offer insights, and provide useful tips on how to crack the exam. They can help you solve doubts, clarify your concepts, and clarify the key areas of the syllabus.
You can find mentors in many ways. It can be interacting with your IAS Advisor, joining a study group or a reliable online UPSC coaching or test series. Seek guidance from those who have already cleared the exam or those who have been giving coaching for years to get an insider’s view of the exam preparation process.
The IAS Exam is challenging, and it demands a lot of hard work, patience and perseverance. But success is only realised if the mind is aligned with the body in working towards achieving the goal. It is essential to nurture a positive mindset during the preparation process. A healthy mind empowers a strong attitude towards studying, a positive outlook towards life and achieves desirable results. It is necessary to keep the mind focused on the process and the progress achieved rather than just success in the exam.
The IAS Exam demands a lot of time, energy and discipline. Starting early gives candidates more time to cover the syllabus, practice and revise. They can allocate more time for topics that demand more attention, making sure they have thorough knowledge of the subject and not hurry through it later on.
Starting early gives aspirants a considerable advantage as they get more time to research and read on topics that may require a deeper understanding. They can read more reference materials and books to back up their theories and concepts.
Aspirants who start early can revise the topics at regular intervals and bolster their preparation accordingly. Revise the topics regularly, taking sufficient notes and short notes that make remembering and recalling them easy and fast. Reviewing is essential and hence, beneficial for those who have started studying early because it gives you enough time to go through your notes, practice questions, and revise your answers.
The exam preparation demands are high, and often candidates struggle under the pressure of it. Starting early can reduce the stress and pressure on candidates while offering more time to enjoy their life outside of studying. It is why it is highly recommended to start preparing early, so as to not feel overwhelmed by the pressure of it all.
IAS Exam preparation is vast and can be overwhelming, especially for those who start late or those who don't plan effectively. Starting early can give aspirants time to tackle subjects, plan well, organize and revise the topic subjects thoroughly, which can positively impact their chances of cracking the exam.