How a Study Plan Can Help You Crack UPSC Civil Services

Cracking the UPSC civil services exams, one of the toughest exams in the country, requires not just dedication and hard work, but also a systematic approach to its preparation. Talent can get you only so far. It requires proper planning and organising to clear the UPSC civil services. A scientific approach is necessary to deal with the IAS preparation that is bound to spread over 10-12 months of a year. This article sheds light on the importance of a STUDY PLAN for your civil services preparation.

What is a study plan?

At the outset, you should know that a time table is not a study plan. A study plan is much more than that. It talks about a methodology to handle each subject. It chalks out long and short term goals of the student, the sources of material he/she has to collect, and also a time table or schedule for each subject and topic.

Before you start your civil services preparation, there are a few things that you must have decided upon. They are:

  • Your optional subject for the UPSC mains.
  • Your study material for the UPSC exam preparation.
  • Whether you want to join a coaching class or not.
  • Whether you will quit your job or not (if you are working).

Once you have decided on all the above factors, you should set about making a study plan before you commence your civil services preparation. Everyone is different and each has a different style of learning. Some are visual learners, some rely on texts alone. Know your style and incorporate the right sources of learning in your study plan.

Remember a study plan is a long-term organiser. For instance, it should tell you how many chapters you should have finished, say by February if you are taking the June 2022 UPSC prelims. You should also have a daily routine within your study plan to direct you in your daily study. The daily routine can be flexible but the study plan should by and large remain fixed. So, even if you lose two days of study because of an illness, you should try and make up for the loss later so that your preparation goes on track. This will ensure that you finish the syllabus well on time.

Below given is a brief study plan for UPSC Civil Services Exam Preparation:

Start always with the four core subjects, i.e. History, Geography, Economy, and Polity

Firstly, let’s understand the syllabus flow.

Understanding the Syllabus Flow

Broadly, any competitive preparation like UPSC Civil Services Exam has three stages:

Stage I: Listen and make notes

Stage II: Refer standard textbooks and fill the gap

Stage III: Revise, Revise and Revise

Now, let’s start with the study plan according to the UPSC Syllabus.

History (Parts: Ancient, Medieval, Modern)

1. Modern History: 1707 to 1947 (Making notes from the tablet is important). Start with the BYJU’s IAS Prep Tablet video lectures, along with a standard textbook like Bipan Chandra’s “India’s struggle for independence” or ‘Modern India’ by Spectrum.

2. Ancient, Medieval, BYJU’s IAS Prep Tablet and NCERT Textbooks (New NCERT textbooks of Class VI to Class XII)

3. Art and Culture: Tablet+ If required, CCRT Website, and Fine Arts (Class XI)


Referring Indian Constitution ­ by M Lakshmikantha is important as this has UPSC language and sometimes questions in the Civil Services Examination is directly picked from this book.

Making notes for Polity would be less important as compared with History notes making.


IAS Prelims & Mains Examination

For Prelims: BYJU’s IAS Prep Tablet is more than enough. Tablet is comprehensive.

11 and 12th Micro and Macro read [NCERT]

It is advised to candidates to start with our IAS Tablet and NCERT then if needed, one can go through Ramesh Singh’s Indian Economy also.

Reading current affairs is advisable, for which candidates can refer to our Comprehensive News Analysis.


NCERT (6th – 12th and “Physical and Human Geography” by GC Leong) + BYJUS IAS Prep Tablet lectures.

BYJU’s IAS Prep Tab covers entirely the NCERT textbooks in a separate lecture section. It is advised to students to make notes of their own by video as this will make them to grasp and recall points easily as well as in revision.

Sometimes, questions are asked from the examples highlighted in the NCERT Textbooks.

In Geography, most questions will be based on maps, hence referring to a standard student atlas is important.

 Science & Technology

BYJU’s IAS Prep Tablet lectures + Current affairs + Science Reporter

Environment  and Ecology
BYJU’s IAS Prep Tablet lectures + Current affairs + Science Reporter+ National Institute of Open Schooling (Material from NIOS is available online)

Benefits of a study plan for UPSC Civil Services Exam preparation

It saves time

Random studies never yield good results.  You will most likely not be able to finish your syllabus if you don’t follow a pattern and your IAS dream will remain unfulfilled only because you lacked a plan.

It increases productivity

A study plan helps streamline your UPSC civil services preparation. This way you avoid going into depth where it is not needed. With a study plan, you prepare only as per the UPSC syllabus thus eliminating wastage of time. This increases your productivity.

It helps track your progress

With a study plan you can evaluate yourself as to how far you have come in your IAS preparation.

It gives you direction

A study plan puts you in charge of your preparation. It gives you a sense of direction and you know where to go. You will not be overwhelmed with the gigantic syllabus.

It improves your recall

A study plan helps your brain focus which in turn leads to better memory and understanding of the concepts.

It helps you maintain your health

Having and following a study plan means the work load is uniformly distributed over the course of your study and you don’t have to sit up late or study at odd hours. This way you can take care of your physical and mental well-being.

It helps avoid stress

With a study plan you tend to study more regularly and this reduces stress and anxiety.

It helps in self-study

A study plan is utmost essential if you are self-studying for your UPSC civil services. Without a constant mentor to push you, you may wander off or fall back in your preparation. A study plan ensures that you are on track.

It gives you different approaches for different topics

As mentioned earlier, a study plan avoids random study. Each subject in the UPSC exams requires specialised approaches. Your study plan lets you customise your preparation according to the subject.

It makes you be better prepared

Finally, a study plan can give you an edge over your competitors in the UPSC exams. Since you would be able to cover whatever you intended to, and you would be stress-free in the run-up to the civil services exams, you will be better prepared.

Don’t panic if you feel your study plan is very different from others. You have created one according to your needs and style. STICK TO IT and don’t change it midway. It can lead to total chaos and disturb your flow. It is good enough if you have a plan of your own and you adhere to it steadfastly.

Things to remember:

  • Don’t set unrealistic study plan or you can be frustrated.
  • Don’t change plans midway and if you want to make any changes make it in the initial stage itself.
  • Have a strict study plan and make sure you follow it sincerely.

Remember the words of French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry –

“A goal without a plan is just a wish!”


Also read | 10 basic tips and tricks to prepare for UPSC Exam or any Competitive Exams


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