How Much Time is Required to Prepare for IAS Exam?

At the outset, the question ‘How much time is required to prepare for IAS exam’ seems like a personal question. After all, the time taken to complete a certain task depends on the individual and his/her calibre. Even so, this is a question that rattles many IAS aspirants. They are either looking to plan their IAS Exam preparation or looking for some solace in the answer. In this article, we try to answer this pertinent question by considering the various factors that affect UPSC exam preparation.

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First of all, let us consider the factors that affect your IAS preparation time:

UPSC Syllabus

The UPSC syllabus is like a vast ocean. It contains many varied subjects. Also, the current affairs segment in the syllabus ensures that the syllabus keeps on stretching! Check the UPSC syllabus in the linked article.

UPSC Exam Format

Apart from the syllabus for the UPSC exam, the format is a long-drawn one spread over almost one year. There are three stages in this exam with each stage eliminating a certain number of candidates. The three stages of the UPSC exam are:

  1. UPSC Prelims exam: Two objective papers (held in June/August).
  2. UPSC Mains exam: 9 descriptive papers (held in October/December).
  3. UPSC Personality Test: UPSC Board Interview (held in March/April/May).

Check detailed UPSC Exam Pattern at the linked article.

The Competition

It is not an exaggeration to say that the competition in the civil services exam is intense and immense. Lakhs of aspirants take the IAS prelims exam every year. At the end of the journey, only about a thousand candidates make it to the final list of selected candidates. And if you desire for the top-ranked services like the IAS and the IFS, the competition is even greater since you have to secure a pretty high rank for these services. The UPSC civil services exam is not an ordinary exam where you study hard for a month or two and get the result you want. You have to go the extra mile in order to trump your competition and that includes graduates from top-grade institutes like the IITs and the IIMs.

Need for Regular Revision and Practice

When you consider the vastness of the IAS syllabus, you would probably be worried about retaining all that you read during the course of the exam. This is why revision becomes highly important for the UPSC exam. Only regular revision ensures that you recall at least 85% of all that you study. Apart from regular revision, you need to practice mock tests. Taking mock tests will give you a feel of the exam and help you gain speed and improve your writing skills.

How much time is required to prepare for UPSC?

So, as you see there are a lot of things to be done when you prepare for the IAS exam. Inevitably, on average, people take at least 10-12 months to prepare comprehensively for this demanding exam. However, there have been candidates who would have done it in 6 months. And unfortunately for many, even 6 years have proved insufficient. For an exam of this nature, a lot of factors come into play. You require the right kind of guidance and strategy so that you don’t lose precious time in studying irrelevant material. These are all external factors and they are the same for everyone. However, there are a few internal factors also that determine the time taken to prepare for the UPSC exam. These internal factors are sincerity, dedication, commitment and perseverance. Needless to say, these factors differ from person to person. The time taken to prepare for the IAS exam would rely on the intensity of these internal factors.

So, to answer the question that we asked at the beginning of the article, ‘How Much Time is Required to Prepare for IAS Exam’, it can be safely said that the time solely depends on the aspirants. Some have taken 4 years to crack the exam while others have been able to do in one year.

With the right combination of external guidance and internal fire, you can shorten the time you take to clear the IAS exam.

UPSC Preparation related queries

  • Is 1 year sufficient for IAS preparation?
  • One year is more than sufficient for IAS preparation.  One does not need to join coaching for the IAS exam if one prepares well with the right guidance and UPSC exam strategy. For IAS preparation, the candidates need to keep in mind the syllabus of UPSC and study the relevant material thoroughly for the first six months, after which candidates should focus on revision and attempting mock tests and previous year’s question papers.
  • How should I prepare for IAS exam?
  • Ans. IAS preparation should be undertaken in the following steps:
    • i) Get to know the exam pattern of the UPSC
    • ii) Get to know the UPSC exam syllabus
    • iii) Read the previous question papers of UPSC
    • iv) Prepare for IAS General studies
    • v) Prepare essays and subjects for the IAS exam.
  • How can I prepare for IAS in 2 months?
  • Ans. While 2 months is quite a short time to be able to clear the IAS exam, it is possible. Candidates need to keep in mind the following steps:
    • i) Prepare for prelims first, in particular, CSAT paper demands more  practice
    • ii) Read through NCERT books relevant for IAS exam
    • iii) Finish preparation of the exam at least a fortnight before each stage of the exam and revise
    • iv) Solve more mock tests and work on weak areas.
  • Do IAS officers get paid during training?
  • Ans. IAS officers get paid during training according to the 7th CPC recommendations on Special Pay Advance. An IAS officer is entitled to Rs 45000 per month as a stipend at LBSNAA of which Rs 38500 is the in-hand component. Rs 10000 is deducted for food, residential facilities and transport.
  • What is the salary of an IAS officer per month?
  • Ans. An IAS officer gets about Rs 130000 per month when he joins service after completing training at LBSNAA, though the in hand figure varies from place to place and the nature of the posting. The basic pay is about Rs. 56100 for new IAS officers. A chief Secretary gets a non-variable salary of Rs 250000 per month.
  • Can we clear UPSC without coaching?
  • Ans. Clearing UPSC without coaching is possible. All one needs is the right UPSC exam preparation material, the right strategy and correct guidance. Candidates need to master the art of self-studying and be prepared to work hard to be able to clear the IAS exam without coaching in less than a year.
  • What are the subjects in IAS?
  • Ans. IAS exam is basically a test of aspirant’s ability to apply their knowledge to administrative problems. The following are the subjects for IAS:
    • General Studies( Reasoning, Verbal Ability, Quantitative Ability and General Awareness)
    • Language( English and One Indian Language)
    • One of 48 optional subjects for UPSC
  • What is the syllabus of IAS?
  • Ans. The syllabus of IAS is vast but can be broken down into the following components:
    • Prelims: General Studies( Reasoning, Verbal Ability, Quantitative Ability and General Awareness)
    • Mains:
    • General Studies( Reasoning and General Awareness)
    • Language( English and One Indian Language)
    • One of 48 optional subjects for UPSC
    • IAS syllabus tests aspirants’ analytical skills and the ability to apply knowledge to administrative problems. The syllabus of UPSC generally is of the standard required for 10th class though the optional subjects are more specialised and require knowledge of the subject at honours degree level.
  • What is the age limit for IAS?
  • Ans. The basic age limit for IAS is between 21 years and 32 years old though candidates from weaker sections of society and those who have served in the military can claim exemptions up to 42 years of age depending on the category or categories under which they claim exemptions.
  • Can I prepare for IAS at home?
  • Ans. It is possible to prepare for IAS at home with the correct materials and dedication to the exam. Preparing for IAS at home would need the candidate to master the art of studying and have a focus on their goal to be able to ward off distractions. In Addition to this, candidates should familiarize themselves with the UPSC Syllabus and also draw up a timetable during which they will work at nothing other than UPSC preparation.

Visit BYJU’S Website for strategy and articles on free IAS prep and all the latest on UPSC IAS exam.

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