Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) Exam Preparation at Home


The Civil Services Examination is taken up by lakhs of aspirants on an annual basis. There is a plethora of coaching avenues available for the candidates both online and offline that puts a very important question to the fore – Can We Study for IAS At Home?

It is not written on the stone that only coaching institutes can help you sail through this coveted examination. There have been IAS toppers who have cleared this examination while studying at home. One of the most important tips they give is to learn from previous years’ UPSC Questions and prepare accordingly.

Here, you will find out more such tips that can aid your preparation while self-studying for the IAS Exam.

5 Important Tips While You Self-Study for IAS

  1. The syllabus is the bible – Union Public Service Commission releases annual notification for the Civil Services Examination. With that, it also releases the latest IAS syllabus. The syllabus consists of:
    • Prelims syllabus – General Studies Paper-I and CSAT syllabus.
    • Mains syllabus – Essay, Language Papers, General Studies Paper I-IV, and optional papers syllabus.

Knowing the syllabus enlightens the candidates about the need for the examination. To recruit the best candidates of the country into the Indian administration; the syllabus is designed in such a way that it tests the candidates’ analytical and subject knowledge widely.

Hence, the first recommendation is to always keep a copy of the UPSC syllabus at your desk and go through it word-by-word.

  1. Start with NCERTs – NCERTs school textbooks are an important source of information for the UPSC Exam. The class 6-12 textbooks of different subjects like history, geography, social sciences are of immense importance. However, there are a few subjects for which you can skip class 6-10 books:
    • Economy – One can start with class 11th and 12th NCERT Economy Books.
    • Polity – One can read Class 11th and 12th Political Science Books. [However, reading basics from class 6th onwards is advisable]

Read the tips below to know how to read from NCERT books.

  1. Select your reference books from the beginning – Apart from NCERT textbooks, there are a few recommended books that one must have alongside while they are preparing for the IAS Exam. The list of subject-wise reference books are given below:
    • History – Tamil Nadu State Board Class 11th and 12th; Rajiv Ahir’s Brief History of Modern India
    • Polity – M.Laxmikanth’s Indian Polity
    • Indian Economy – Nitin Singhania’s Indian Economy or Ramesh Singh’s Indian Economy
    • Geography – Majid Hussain’s Geography of India
    • Environment – R.Rajagopalan’s Environment and Ecology
  2. Stick to one newspaper between The Hindu or Indian Express and read it religiously on a daily basis. The focus should be on editorials as they bring the most insightful coverage on topics that are recurrent and are of national and international importance. Also, trivial pieces of news can be ignored like the elections, sports, political developments, etc.
  3. Take a subscription of mock tests – Candidates can also buy mock tests available at the markets, however, they have to take the tests with utmost sincerity as there is no authority supervising them while they take such tests at home. Hence, it is important that candidates realize the importance of mock tests as it can make your preparation better and even worse if you don’t pay attention.

Some extra tips to prepare for UPSC at home:

  1. Read NCERT chapters at least twice and make notes of only those topics which you find difficult even after the second reading.
  2. For each subject, make a different notebook so that you are able to revise them before the exam without much confusion.
  3. As one is preparing from home, they can take out extra hours for their study. Hence, one should come up with a planned schedule for weeks, months, and a year.

The Civil Services Examination 2021 process has started. Candidates who are preparing can also check previous years’ UPSC Marksheet to know the scores of the toppers. This way they will know the kind of effort needed to reach the score that counts in the final merit list.

If you are fully prepared for the IAS Exam, it will look like any other examination and you will easily sail through.