When to Start Preparing for IAS Exam?

“There are only two times in life – NOW and TOO LATE.”

An oft-asked question by UPSC aspirants is – “When to start preparation for IAS?” To be frank, this is a tricky question. There is no right or wrong answer. But of course, there can be suggestions. This article gives you a few suggestions on the ideal time to start preparing for the IAS exam.

When to Start Preparing for IAS?

Basically, there are three kinds of IAS aspirants.

  1. Those who decide early in life (after X or during XI or XII standards) that they want to become IAS or IPS officers to serve the nation and her people.
  2. Those who decide during or just after finishing their university education that they wish to be civil servants.
  3. Those who decide rather late in life about their IAS calling and pursue it while on a job or after working for a few years in the corporate sector.


The first category consists of school goers who get inspired by famous civil servants or by their own family members and harbour an IAS dream.

There are many advantages of starting your IAS preparation right from your school days:

  • The most obvious is that you are studying from one of the best sources for IAS exams – NCERT books. If you are studying in a CBSE school, you would be having NCERT textbooks as your study material.
  • Another benefit of starting at such a young age is that your mind is like a sponge at this age. You can study for more hours than at any later stage in your life. You are most active and energetic in your high school days. You can make the most of this. You can absorb and learn truck loads at this tender age.

 Disadvantages of starting in your school days:

  • You are young and it is possible that when you reach the eligibility age for the IAS exam, your goals and dreams in life change. You may no longer be as passionate about cracking the UPSC civil services. You might be tempted towards another calling.
  • As current affairs is an important part of the UPSC syllabus, you cannot prepare for it right from your school days. By the time you take the exams, the topics in current affairs would certainly be different.


The second category of IAS hopefuls consists of those people who realise while in or still fresh out of college that they want to give a shot at the UPSC Civil Services.

Advantages of starting in college:

  • You are still studying. So, by choosing an optional subject that you are studying in college you can be smart about your IAS preparation and save time and energy.
  • You can have access to your college library and if you are lucky, free internet!
  • You are generally free of ‘responsibilities’ other than studying.

Disadvantages of starting your IAS preparation in college:

  • If you are immersed in your UPSC preparation, you may not be able to take part in your college extra-curricular activities. This may be a disadvantage because these activities go a long way in shaping your interests and personality too.

If you have just completed your degree or even post-graduation, and are clear about becoming civil servants, then do start preparing NOW.

“Tomorrow is too late, yesterday is over, and NOW is exactly the right moment. So START.”

This is an ideal time since you are still young and in touch with your studies. Also, if you were an active participant in college extra-curricular activities, you can use all that experience to your benefit in the UPSC interview. And you will have the advantage of age when it comes to the age criterion and the number of attempts for the IAS exam.


The third category of IAS aspirants is those who join the IAS bandwagon well into their professional careers. Some of them quit their jobs while others pursue their IAS dream while doing a fulltime job.

Better late than never!

Advantages of starting while on a job or with job experience:

  • You are mature and with more life experience. This can help you deal with the high-stress IAS preparation.
  • Your experience will also come handy in your IAS interview.
  • Also, as IAS officers or any other civil servants or diplomats, you would be able to deal with tricky or demanding situations better with your previous work and world experience.

Disadvantages of starting your IAS preparation late in life:

  • You have already lost time and don’t have the luxury of many attempts. So, you must really give it your all!
  • You might have lost touch with studies, so it might be difficult to get into the ‘studying habit’ once again.
  • You might also have other responsibilities like family and finances to take care of.

 “Do it now. Sometimes ‘later’ becomes ‘never’.”

Finally, it can be said safely that the right time is NOW. Instead of pondering over the question, ‘when to start preparing for UPSC exam?’, just make a decision and get going. It is when you feel you are ready to take on the toughest exam in India. Any time is right if you make it right!

Tune in to byjus.com/free-ias-prep for more articles and news on UPSC Civil Services IAS Exam.

Also see:

Leave a Comment

Your Mobile number and Email id will not be published. Required fields are marked *