Tips to Prepare for IAS Exam While in College

IAS is the dream of every Indian who wants to serve the country. IAS stands for the INDIAN ADMINISTRATIVE SERVICES examination, and it is conducted every year by UPSC. Students are full of energy and enthusiasm to achieve their dreams while in college and have a higher probability of clearing the IAS exam. Since college students need to prepare for the IAS exam with their college studies, the major concern is about “how to manage school lessons, exams, daily tuition and IAS preparation?”

But, just deciding to prepare for the IAS exam is not enough. You should prepare it with the right guidance and strategy; otherwise, the attempt may turn futile, resulting in the loss of precious attempts.

Usually, those who wish to clear IAS exam, attend coaching classes and invest their study time only for it. But just studying in the coaching class cannot yield any result. That’s why a thorough planning is required for any UPSC preparation. If the plan is organized properly from the start, IAS won’t just be a dream. 

IAS Examination Procedure:

Preliminary Examination

Total marks of the paper Near about 400
Number of paper Two; paper i-200; paper ii-200
Question type Multiple choice objective questions; carrying one number for each question
Negative marking Yes; 1/3rd of the marks allotted to the questions will be deducted from every incorrect answer
Exam duration Two hours
Mode of examination English and Hindi


Candidates qualifying the preliminary examinations appear for the IAS main exam. The exam includes:

IAS Main Examination

Total number of papers Seven + 2 qualifying papers
Number division Each paper carrying 250 marks(except the qualifying ones)
Question types Conventional and essay types
Mode of examination English and Hindi


Interview for the Final Selection

Candidates who pass the mains exam are called for an interview conducted by the UPSC board. The interview carries 275 marks. The questions asked in the interview mainly tests the personality of the candidate that includes:

  • Clear mind
  • Mental alertness
  • Ability to lead
  • Logical thought
  • Intellects
  • Balance of judgment
  • Moral senses

So, this depicts that the whole process of the IAS examination needs a lot of practice and a smart study plan to crack the exam. 

Start It As Early As Possible

Please remember that the eligibility criteria for UPSC (CSE) is 21 years and graduation in any subject. Students in the last year of college can take IAS Prelims. Many eligible students miss this early possibility and enter UPSC Civil service Examination preparation extremely late. This can be proved by the fact that the average age of candidates who make it into the last UPSC CSE rank list is 28 years.

Prioritize Your Time

Unlike many other aspirants who can dedicate their entire time to UPSC preparation, those who prepare parallel for UPSC while in college will have time constraints. So it is very important for the students to have a plan and prioritize their time accordingly. Focus on things that are extremely important. Before starting, be completely thorough with the UPSC syllabus. Go through the syllabus multiple times, use previous year UPSC CSE question papers and sample papers to get a brief idea about the exam. This will give you a direction to start. 

Buy The Most Recommended Books

Once you have decided that IAS is your career goal, buy the most necessary books for UPSC CSE preparation.

You can start with the below-recommended books: 

  • NCERT Books in all subjects
  • Economics – by Ramesh Singh
  • History – By Bipan Chandra
  • Indian Geography in Hindi and English – Geography of India – by Majid Husain
  • World Geography in Hindi and English – World Geography by Majid Husain.

Enroll Yourself for Mock Tests

Our online educational portal provides various mock test series and quizzes which give an idea about the exam and the pattern of questions. You can take the GK Quiz, Indian History Quiz, Indian Political GK in Hindi and many tests. Taking regular mock tests is a great strategy to remain focused and understand the UPSC requirements straight by practising questions that are very near to the actual UPSC exam. 

Read Newspapers and Magazines

Don’t compromise your newspaper reading irrespective of the time constraints. Once you get into the habit of reading daily, you won’t find it that boring. You can prefer The Hindu or Indian Express for quality articles. Give importance to editorials and op-ed articles. You can find monthly magazines on our website for current happenings and GK Question Answers. For understanding, Government schemes and initiatives subscribe to Yojana and Kurukshetra.

Do Not Waste Your Time on Social Media

It is hard to spare time when you juggle between college and UPSC preparation. But, even if you have, don’t waste it on social media. Social Media will consume your time before you know it. Try using educational apps and our educational websites in your spare time. Suppose you’re travelling, you can utilize your time and easily solve English Grammar quiz or read about General Science Questions in Hindi/English.

Keep Writing

In UPSC Mains, the speed of writing plays a vital role in cracking the exam. College students have an advantage as they can practice writing for their studies. So, they can make use of it and write on various topics related to Politics, Science, GK etc.

Choose Your Optional Subject Wisely 

You must choose the optional subject wisely. Since you are pursuing graduation, it would be prudent to select an optional subject that you’ve already studied in your college. This will save you time and energy. 

Read/Watch Toppers Interviews

IAS preparation strategies keep on changing according to the UPSC exam pattern and with the availability of new materials. Always read or watch the interviews on toppers for the latest tips. Try to know about their study plan, time management and struggles. Their strategies will enlighten your path and keep you motivated. 

Benefits of Starting Your IAS Preparation in Your College:

  • Since you didn’t take any break in your education, your grasping power and ability to concentrate for longer hours will be more when compared to others.
  • By choosing the right option, you can ensure that at least one paper of your graduation and UPSC exams overlap, thus saving time and energy for you.
  • You can make use of your college facilities like free internet and books needed for IAS exams in the college library.
  • During your graduation, your finances are taken care of by your family. This reduces the financial burden on you, unlike other professional IAS aspirants who have other things to worry about. 
  • You have both time and age on your side. Make the most out of it! 

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