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How to prepare for IAS/UPSC/Civil Service Exam with a full-time job?

No doubt, IAS Exam is difficult to clear but not impossible. The majority of candidates appearing for the UPSC civil services examination consider their full-time job as a liability in their pursuit of the ultimate goal of becoming an IAS officer. And frankly, at first instance, it does look like one.

When non-working IAS aspirants are studying around 12–14 hours per day for UPSC civil services preparation, you are only able to manage not more than 3-4 hours that too not consistently. In fact, this is one of the most asked issue and the dilemma faced by working professionals who are preparing for IAS Exam.

But you are not alone to face this issue. There are thousands out there like you facing such dilemma. But as quote says, hard work without a plan is like a Ferrari without a steering wheel; so if you are planning to clear IAS exam along with a job, your plan will play an equally important role as your hard work.

I am going to list following tips.

  1. Utilise every second you have stolen
    It is important not to waste your time whenever you are getting it. The best way to do this is by utilizing all the little breaks and even your lunch hour to cover your daily reading like newspapers and magazines. Generally, these materials consist of light reading topics with daily happenings and events; therefore it doesn’t require dedicated study time. It would also help if you maintain a personal journal and make notes of whatever you read throughout the day, this will help you sum them up at the end of the day.
  2. Study and plan in minutes and not hours
    For instance if you want to complete fundamental rights from Indian polity, then study in parts during every break like
    a. From article 12 & 13
    b. Article 14, 15 and 16
    c. Article 17 & 18
    d. Article 19
    e. Article 20 and 21 etc

    Breaking large topics into smaller parts will not only help you manage your time well, but it will also help you study and retain more information over a period of time.
  3. Cut travel time to office and back
    Staying near to your office of place of work will help you reduce your travel time which you can then devote to studying for IAS Exam. Another advantage of staying near your office would be less exertion and fatigue. If you reach home fresh you will be able to focus on your IAS studies which will ultimately help your performance in the UPSC Civil Services Exam.
  4. Don’t rely too much on online/internet preparation
    Internet and online classes are not bad but you can’t trust them. In most cases, ‘the world at your fingertips’ format of Internet might be an advantage for most, but IAS preparation requires a focused approach to all the topics covered within your syllabus. With the Internet, there is always a risk of straying away from the core focus that you are trying to study.
  5. Join physical classroom if you are feeling alone in study
    Online classroom can’t give you motivation as you will not be available to talk with faculty as well as competitors. Online classes claim that they will provide doubt session but its a very tedious process as well as at one time, it would be be one way process only. So if you are seriously looking to join UPSC coaching classes, the go for physical classroom coaching.
  6. Take your job an advantage, not a liability
    Your full-time or even part-time job is one of your biggest assets in your pursuit of being an IAS officer. Your job will support your IAS preparation financially with the help of your salary, which will not be possible for others. In addition to this, having a backup job option apart from IAS will also ease your mental stress compared to those who are completely dependent upon cracking IAS exam to get a job.

    It has also been noted that during interview stages of IAS Exam, candidates above 25 years are expected to be working and contributing to the India’s GDP by the interview panel. In fact, over the years many committees like Alagh, Hota, ARC II have suggested curtailing the UPSC CSE age limit due to this factor. Put simply, it means that being a working professional will fetch you additional marks in the interview; thanks to your work experience and your zeal to serve the country despite having financial stability.
  7. Choose optional subject carefully
    Optional subject is very crucial in your success story so choose it wisely by considering various factors like availability of relevant good faculty, small syllabus, scoring as well as interesting to you. If you are thinking that it’s difficult to prepare on your own, then go for coaching. It’s not shameful to join a good coaching, Every toppers join coaching class but later they will call for no coaching. So take your own decision keeping your own interest in mind.

Remember, at the end of the day, UPSC is looking for administrators who can run this country efficiently. So, it’s your job to prove to them that you are the right fit for the job.

Good luck!

April 2024