Preparation Strategy and Tips on How to Prepare for IAS

How to prepare for IAS exam?/How to study for IAS?/How to study for UPSC?/Preparation of IAS exam

One in five youngsters across the country aspires to become an IAS officer. There are innumerable factors contributing to the enticement that this profession has. Even today, with the rapid progress of the lucrative private sector in the country, the civil services are still accorded an esteem and position in our society that is enviable. People look up to IAS or IPS officers as change makers and as a class of people who can lead the country to growth and development. And of course, the salary and perks of an IAS officer are also a bonus to the authority and power he/she enjoys.

Due to these factors, lakhs of people apply to write the UPSC prelims exams every year. Now, the statistics of the number of people who actually make it as civil servants in the end is discouraging. Only a few hundred make the cut. If you are an aspiring civil servant, don’t be bogged down by these numbers. If you have decided firmly on your dream, stop wondering how to prepare for the IAS exam and actually get down to it!

Here at BYJU’S we strive to make aspirants’ lives easier by giving you expert guidance on the A to Z of how to prepare for IAS exam. Go through the following steps and get into IAS ignition mode!


You wish to be an IAS officer. But do you know what it is? What is the difference between IAS and other services like IPS, IFS, etc.? IAS stands for Indian Administrative Service.

The UPSC is a constitutional body that conducts the civil services exams (CSE) apart from a host of other exams to appoint officers to its various central services for the Government of India.

Also Read | Examinations conducted by Union Public Service Commission (UPSC)


One can get into the IAS after clearing the civil services exams conducted by the UPSC.

Click below to read Civil Services Post one may get into after Qualifying the UPSC Interview Round


To get into the IAS, you need to fall within a specified rank. It is ranked the highest service, so it is advised that you aim high when you take the civil services exam if you want to serve specifically in the IAS.

Also read | The Last All India Rank to get the Prestigious IAS, IPS and IFS

How To Prepare For IAS?


The next thing for you to do is to get hold of the IAS exam schedule so that you can assess the time left for your IAS preparation. Ideally, you should set aside at least a year for USPC exam preparation. Every year, the UPSC releases an exam calendar.

Download the 2017 USPC exam schedule PDF here.



The civil services exam is held in three stages.

  1. USPC Prelims Exam
  2. UPSC Main Exam
  3. UPSC Board Interview/ Personality Test

You have to clear each stage to be eligible for the next.


Stage I: USPC Prelims

There are two objective (Multiple Choice Questions) exams in the prelims stage:

  1. General Studies Paper I
  2. CSAT (GS Paper II)


The CSAT paper is qualifying in nature and you have to score a minimum of 33% in it. Only then will your GS Paper I be evaluated. So, the merit ranking for eligibility to mains will be out of 200 (from the GS Paper I prelims)

Know more about the IAS prelims exam pattern here.


Stage II: USPC Main

In the UPSC mains, there are 9 papers, all descriptive in nature.

1. Paper A

Modern Indian Language – 300 marks

See the list of languages here.


2. Paper B

English – 300 marks


3. Paper I

Essay – 250 marks

This paper can be written in the candidate’s medium of exam or a language of his/her choice.


4. Paper II

General Studies I – 250 marks

Topics: Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society


5. Paper III

General Studies II – 250 marks

Topics: Governance, Polity, Social Justice and International Relations


6. Paper IV

General Studies III – 250 marks

Topics: Technology, Economic Development, Biodiversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management


7. Paper V

General Studies IV – 250 marks

Topics: Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude


8. Paper VI

Optional Subject Paper I – 250 marks

Candidate is allowed to take up literature as an optional subject without the condition of having it at the graduation level.


9. Paper VII

Optional Subject Paper II – 250 marks


The English and Indian language papers are of a qualifying nature and their marks are not counted for the total tally in the mains ranking. So, the mains total is out of 1750 marks.


III. UPSC Board Interview/ Personality Test

Finally, if you clear the cut off, you will be called for the UPSC interview where you would be interviewed by the UPSC board; and assessed on your knowledge and personality.

Click here to get Interview tips and strategies and also the interview transcripts of toppers.


Learn more about the IAS exams pattern here.



You have to be a graduate to be able to take the IAS exams. There are also a set number of attempts you can take. Read more about the age and other eligibility criterion.



Before embarking on your IAS studies, it is imperative that you internalise the UPSC syllabus. Read everything from the USPC syllabus and even the current affairs portion has to be linked to the UPSC syllabus.

Download the UPSC prelims syllabus PDF.

Download the UPSC mains syllabus PDF.



Once you have seen the UPSC syllabus you must decide on an optional subject. Read more about how to choose the best optional.



If you are confident enough of cracking what is considered one of the toughest exams in the country by self-study, you may go solo. Otherwise, you can opt for BYJU’S coaching classes in your city or go for online coaching; according to your convenience.


If you opt to go solo in the preparation of IAS Exam then visit our BYJU’S free IAS prep, your one stop for all the necessary resources, strategies and tips to plan for your Civil Services Exam preparation that will boost your chances of clearing the IAS exams.



The next step is to accumulate the required IAS study material. Apart from NCERTs there are a host of other books to read. Also, read the newspaper daily for your current affairs material.

A must read for IAS aspirants!

Books for prelims

Books for mains (GS Papers)

Books for optional subjects

Download free NCERT textbooks here.

Click here to get all the online study material for IAS.



Make sure to plan and maintain a daily regimen where you allocate time for your studies and adequate leisure. Make study plans as tackling the vast UPSC syllabus requires meticulous planning and adhering to it.

Also read | How a Study Plan Can Help You Crack UPSC Civil Services


How to Prepare for IAS Exam Effectively/ Preparation Strategy



Working hard is a prerequisite if you want to crack the IAS exam. But it is recommended that you don’t just study mindlessly. Read more on how to study smart for the IAS exam.



During your UPSC preparation, you must regularly assess your preparation level by taking tests. This will help you know your strengths and weaknesses.

Enrich your IAS preparation with BYJU’S All-India Prelims Test Series. Enrol now!



Making notes is an essential part of your IAS preparation. This is essential as it makes revision easier.

Also read | Strategy to Prepare Notes for UPSC Exam



The importance of practicing previous year question papers cannot be stressed enough. In such a cut-throat competition as the UPSC, it can give you the required edge over your fellow aspirants.

Download UPSC previous year question papers here.



The UPSC Current affairs is of utmost importance in the IAS exam. Even the static portions are mostly asked based on latest happenings. So it is important to be abreast of current affairs. Follow BYJU’S daily news analysis for up-to-date and pruned current affairs study material.

Daily News Analysis | Current Affairs

Also Read | How to Read the Newspaper Exclusively for IAS Prelims and Link it to the UPSC Syllabus



To retain the massive amount of information that you stuff into your head daily, you must revise. There is no substitute to it.



The IAS exam preparation is a long and taxing business, so it is possible that you lose your enthusiasm along the way. It is also possible that you feel stressed and think of giving up midway. To avoid these kinds of situations, you must take great care of your physical and mental well-being. You should:

  • Eat right
  • Get adequate sleep
  • Exercise
  • Practice Yoga or meditation
  • Avoid stress (Read how)
  • Take breaks in between your studies
  • Be positive and try to look at the bright side of things


Also read | Importance of good health for cracking UPSC civil services exam preparation


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