14 things to consider before you start preparing for UPSC IAS 2018 Exam

If you are planning to appear for the UPSC 2018 exam, you need to get acquainted with the factors mentioned below:


i) The exam dates

The exam dates are subject to change as per the UPSC guidelines. So, an aspirant is required to keep an eye on the new dates released by the commission on the official website.


ii) Why IAS? – PI quotient

Before stepping into the preparation of one of the most competitive exams in the nation, an aspirant must get his/her PI (personal interview) quotient scoped-out . During personality test, a candidate’s candidature would be measured against his/her performance. Once he/she gets the PI quotient evaluated, the candidate would have a clearer mindset throughout the preparation.




iii) The subsets of IAS

IPS, IRS, IFS fall under the aegis of the IAS exam and the cutoff to get recruited in the services mentioned above is decided after the conduction of the exam. A good understanding of the target is what will streamline the preparation and to keep the focused better.

IPS – Indian Police Service
IRS – Indian Revenue Service
IFS -­ Indian Foreign Service



iv) How do you think you can contribute?

Before one starts with the preparation, he must prove his caliber and ask himself what changes can he bring about as an IAS officer. A candidate’s plan need not to be monumental but should be cogent enough to set him apart from the other aspirants. Apparent answers to such questions will give a candidate an edge over all the other applicants in the interview session.


v) Preparation technique:

It is not an exaggerated fact that IAS is the nation’s toughest competitive exam and calls for intensive practice and preparation.There is no definite answer to the most commonly asked questions, such as how many hours an IAS aspirant need to put in every day? It will differ from person to person so let us look at it from a general perspective.




vi) Time required:

Experts believe that aggressive preparation for 10 to 12 months is a must. Four out of every 10 Indians (21-32 years) aspire to become an IAS officer and competition is so intense that only 5 percent of that massive number gets through. An aspirant must map-out an effective strategy and decide ideal number of hours required to implement that strategy.

An aspirant should also understand that preparation for civil services examination calls for qualitative and not quantitative preparation. It is about completion of your short term target. Ideally you should target two subjects every day. Most of the top rankers have started preparing for the exams right from their school days, as most of the questions are asked mostly from Class 6 to 12 standard books. So preparing notes and devoting 10 to 12 hours before a year of exam is believed to be sufficient.


vii) Outline the syllabus and design your preparation

If you have studied biology, you would definitely be familiar with a word “catabolism”. It is a process in which original components are broken down into their by-products. You can do the same with your IAS syllabus. Find out the topics you are good at and the topics you would need help in. Do it for all the subjects and work upon them.


viii) Objectifying the syllabus

Most of the IAS aspirants get discouraged seeing the bulk of IAS syllabus. No doubt the syllabus is huge, but if you divide the subjects into manageable chunks, then impossible looking tasks will become easier for you.


ix) Enjoy your preparation

Unarguably, UPSC preparation is a lengthy process. But the moment you start enjoying your preparation, all the unwarranted stress and anxiety associated with the preparation will vanish. Civil services examination aspirants tend to give up their hobbies, but pursuing your hobbies side by side will make your preparation more fun.




x) How expensive is Civil Services Exam Preparation?

If you plan to join any classroom coaching class in metros like Delhi, for a package covering Prelims and Mains, the coaching fees can be in the range of 1-1.5 lakhs. Optional subject preparation may cost you extra. Expense for food and accommodation might cost you additional 1-1.5 lakhs.
Don’t worry, you can clear IAS exam without classroom coaching!

In case due to any reasons, if the aspirant is not in a position to attend classroom coaching, there is nothing to worry. There are many who has cleared IAS in the past without coaching. But there is one thing common to all of those – they had proper orientation, and they knew what to study and what not.

Self-preparation cuts the expense cost to a minimum, but you need to keep aside a sum in the range of Rs.5000 – Rs.10,000 for essential IAS books, magazines, and newspapers. 24*7 access to the internet (over laptop/mobile) will be an added advantage.

Aspirants should also keep in mind that the UPSC Civil Services exam is among the cheapest exams of the country. The Fee for IAS Prelims is Rs.100/- only. (Exam is free for all female candidates!).


xi) Try Single-tasking it’s more efficient than Multi-tasking

Yes we know you need to prepare history, geography, current affairs, mental ability etc. Only thing is don’t prepare all at once. Chunk it down. Pick one subject, let’s say Polity and combine it with current affairs which you should cover for some time everyday. Current affairs preparation consists of reading the newspaper, a good current events magazine and a year book.


xii) Adopt the Just in Time Approach

The JiT (Just in Time) Approach says we should seek information only when required at that moment. In this hyper-connected world there is an overdose of information and if you seek to acquire all information and knowledge before starting a task, you can never get started as you will lose yourself in the information maze.

Applied to IAS preparation what this implies is don’t try to cover all the books referred by your friends on a given topic, say GK. Since GK is so vast and constantly expanding you can never hope to “master” it.



xiii) Test Yourself Constantly

Taking the above JiT approach further, try to apply this to evaluating yourself. Instead of waiting till the last few days to take mock tests you should evaluate yourself right after completing a particular section in a topic. For instance refer the previous year’s question papers before starting Quit India Movement in Modern Indian History and after completing it.



xiv) Make Micro Notes

Notes help us to revise quickly before the Prelims; the last 15 days that can determine whether or not you will appear for the mains that year. These micro notes can be on current affairs, GK, as well as other GS and optional topics.

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