Civil Services Preparation

Civil Services Preparation

Working Professional’s Guide to Civil Services Preparation

Civil Services Preparation , they say is India’s National Hobby. Individuals from all quarters want to prepare for civil services. After all, the Civil Services is one of the most prestigious careers in India one can aspire for.

The preparation for Civil Services is a strenuous one and becomes even more challenging if you happen to be a working professional.There exist constraints of time, resources, energy, focus, and responsibilities. Aspirants preparing for civil services exam full time are to a large extent free of such constraints.

It cannot be denied that preparation for Civil Services examination needs an extra effort by the candidates, who are working full-time. Having said that,  this does not prevent the working candidates from clearing the Civil Services Exam. The only thing required is a good strategy and dedication.

 Make the Best Use of Time at Your Disposal

Working individuals do not have the luxury of dedicating 10-15 hours daily for civil services preparation. But this is no criteria for preparation. Quality of preparation matters not quantity. The syllabus is hefty and can be compared to an ocean. You do not need to master the entire syllabus but you do need to master the ‘MUST IMPORTANT’ topics.

First of all Know and Understand the entire syllabus by heart for both Prelims and Mains at the outset of your preparation. In fact write it down and paste it in front of your study table or wherever place you prepare. Keep in mind that the preparation of the Main Examination DOES NOT begin after the Prelims. On the contrary, it needs to be mastered along with the preliminary exam so that you have enough time for revision after you appear for prelims.


10 Point Strategy for Working Professionals

Build a strong foundation by clearing all the basics first. Then move on to the next level by relating topics across subjects with practical value.  Also, try relating topics with the contemporary world. UPSC does not test you on your knowledge of facts only. It tests your knowledge by posing indirect and intelligently designed questions.


  • The Hindu: Read the newspaper daily. The Hindu is one of the best newspapers when it comes to CSE Preparation. Skip the glitzy Page 3 stories that are nowadays the main selling point of other dailies like TOI.
  • Question Papers: Go through previous years question papers and familiarize yourself with the type of questions asked.
  •  Books: It is advisable not to go through a lot of books, instead go through one quality book on each topic which clarifies your basic concept. Standard books not only save your precious time but also guide you as a perfect teacher.
  • Notes: Always prepare your own notes. Well crafted notes are extremely beneficial.
  • General Studies cover everything under the sun. But there is nothing to get panicky about, a glance over the last years question’ paper will make things easier.
  • History: A huge stress is given to modern history and freedom movement. Also emphasis is given to Ancient India. A cursory glance over the medieval history would serve the purpose.
  • Geography: A huge stress is to be given to physical geography and maps related questions. Get yourself well-acquainted with maps with the help of a good Atlas.
  • General Science: It covers a major chunk, so be well-versed with the topics of general science from a standard guidebook.
  • Current affairs: Going daily through a standard news paper thoroughly will suffice.
  • General awareness: Any good guide book or year book will be suited for the purpose.

Remember that Civil Services Preparation is about BOTH hard work and smart work.


Get More Done in Less Time

Aspirants who have been preparing full time for two or more years tend to become less productive make less than optimal use of time at their disposal. As a working person who is hard pressed for time you should make the most of the limited preparation time you get. According to Tim Ferris’s excellent book The Four Hour Work Week,  the 80/20 principle is a ‘must follow.’ It states that we get 80 percent of the work done in 20 percent of the time, the rest is usually wasted.

You can use this principle to telling effect in your Civil Services Preparation. Focus on getting the maximum done in least amount of time. For this you will need to prepare a list of things to study, the most important first. Then assign just enough time or slightly less to cover these topics but not too less as this will put undue pressure on you. You will feel an urgency to cover the chosen topics as compared to studying without proper planning or strategy.

Develop a Routine and Stick to It

A good routine enables you to develop focus and prepare the syllabus within a short time. Developing a routine is even more essential for  working people due to limited time available to them. Pick a time slot, maybe in the evening or night or early morning where you can study uninterrupted for 2-3 hours.  Take your pick but stick to it. Even 2-3 hours of dedicated study coupled with the above tips to read a magazine, newspaper, year book or atlas during the day hours can be an effective preparation plan.

You Don’t Have to Leave Your Job to Prepare 

Many people have cracked the civil services exam while working and you can too.The new pattern for prelims is such that you no longer need to focus exclusively one subject to sail through. Rather the focus is on general awareness, environment, decision making, language skills and basic mathematics. All these topics can very well be prepared while working at the same time.

Lastly, prepare for the exam because you ‘want’ to prepare for it and not because you ‘have’ to prepare. It will make all the difference. 

All the Best !!

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