Beginning From The Scratch, How To Prepare For The IAS Exam?

Prepare For The IAS Exam: Well, beginning from the scratch and yet dreaming to crack the IAS Exam at the first go itself takes a lot more than the usual effort made by the rest of the competition. It is not for no reason that UPSC allows multiple efforts to clear the Civil Services Exam.

Why Be More Meticulous If Starting From The Scratch?

And it’s understood that the IAS aspirants making the second or third attempt to clear the Civil Services Exam are already familiar with what and how to prepare. But the beginner going to face the IAS Exam for the first time often begins from the scratch. As a result, he has to be a little more careful while preparing for the Exam. That is to say, if he does not want to face the IAS Exam again.

What Does It Take To Strategize Well?

In case, you are beginning from the scratch, throw a careful glance at the syllabus. And be thoroughly aware of what UPSC Syllabus has been prescribed for the CSE, apart from the maximum number of marks carried by each of the Papers.

The Civil Services Exam comprises three stages:

  1. Prelims
  2. Mains
  3. Interview

Stage 1. Prelims

The Exam is qualifying and objective in nature. There are two Papers – General Studies and CSAT. The candidates are required to qualify the CSAT so that their General Studies Papers is evaluated.

General Studies

It carries 200 marks and the syllabus comprises:

  • History
  • Geography
  • Science
  • Polity
  • Current affairs
  • Ecology & Environment
  • Economy


  • Reasoning
  • Mental Ability
  • Comprehension
  • Data Interpretation
  • Mathematics

Stage 2. Mains

All the Papers are subjective. Besides, the marks scored would be added to your score in the Interview.

There are 9 Papers in total for the Mains with relevant details as listed below:

English – (300 marks) Qualifying – 1

Language of Choice – (300 marks) Qualifying – 2

GS I – (250 marks)3

  • History of India & World
  • Geography
  • Society & Culture
  • GS II – (250 marks)4
  • Polity & governance
  • Social Justice & IR
  • GS III – (250 marks)5
  • Science & Technology
  • Economic & Developmental Issues
  • Environmental Issues
  • Internal Security
  • Disaster Management
  • GS IV – (250 marks)6
  • Ethics
  • Integrity & Aptitude
  • Essay – (250 marks) – 7
  • Optional Paper I – (250 marks) – 8
  • Optional Paper II – (250 marks) – 9

Stage 3. Interview (275 marks)

It Pays to Make a Comparative Study of the Syllabus

It is always advisable to make a comparative study of the syllabus before you begin with the preparation. A candidate preparing for an Exam, specifically an IAS aspirant preparing for the Civil Services Exam should never begin with the preparation impulsively. Patience pays.

All the Papers for various stages for the CSE Exam have already been listed above with the relevant details. You may find for yourself that there are a few topics common for both the Prelims as well as the Mains.

However, it should be noted that the nature of the Exam for the Prelims is objective and qualifying. On the other hand, the Mains Papers are subjective. Besides, your score in the Mains is definitely going to push your rank higher. And that can, very well, leave a positive impact on your successfully joining the Indian Administrative Services.

Only the highest of the rank holders are allowed by UPSC to join IAS as it happens to be the most sought after of all the cadres. Above all, the point to be noted is that your preparation for the Prelims may provide you with crystal clear knowledge for the fundamentals of the topics and the subjects that are common for both the Prelims and the Mains.

But, it is in the best of your own interests, not to be under the impression, by any means that your preparation for the Prelims would suffice for the Mains as far as the common subjects are concerned.

Thus, you would have to opt for different preparation strategies for the subjects common to Prelims and Mains.  These subjects include History, Geography, Polity, etc.

UPSC looks for all the prominent qualities required for successfully administrating the society in a manner that is justifiable to all.

Thus, the Exam pattern as the recent trend usually focuses on:

1. Current Affairs

The CSE pattern in its entirety is such that you would discover it for yourself that a regularly updated knowledge of Current Affairs is simply indispensable. Besides, you would have to prepare for the Current Affairs keeping a balanced perspective for various other topics.

A careful study of the current affairs is highly essential for:

(a). Scoring well in various papers for Mains:

Most of the subjects for the various Papers of Mains would require you to link various issues dealing with them with the Current Affairs. And you must have almost flawless answer writing skills.

Apart from the thoroughly sharpened writing skills, it is the critical insight into the Current Affairs that helps you visualize them in the right perspective. And that’s what that counts specifically when you pen down the answers for various Papers of the Mains, catching hold of the right perspective as logically co-related to the Current Affairs.

As a result, if you want to face the CSE successfully, solve the Previous Years’ question papers and you would get to see how many of the questions are related to various issues dealing with the Current Affairs. It will give you a broad idea of the Exam pattern.

(b). Prelims

And, don’t forget that the General Studies Paper in the Prelims does include Current affairs as a subject.

(c). Interview

Besides, the knowledge of the Current Affairs might help you considerably to clear the Interview as well.

2. To assess the candidate as an ethical Civil Servant

If you read all the details for the various Papers for Mains as listed above, you would notice that there are four Papers for General Studies. Apart from an analytical insight into Current Affairs for answering most of the questions successfully, a Civil Services aspirant needs to have an ethical bent of the mind as well.

Thus, the General studies paper IV (as already specified above) focuses on Ethics, Integrity & Aptitude. Though the values are highly and absolutely important for all the Civil Servants, it becomes crucial for an administrator to stay completely unbiased.

If you have been aiming at joining the IAS, it would be advisable that you stay unprejudiced concerning every bit of your ideology. The GS Paper IV aims at assessing if you have an unprejudiced bent of the mind that can do justice to all or not. A prejudiced mind can never make a good administrator.

And it would be good to remember that UPSC is a body that is known to be highly choosy when it comes to selecting the Civil Servants. And that explains what makes the Civil Services Exam hardest of the hard across the nation.

Opt for a well thought of strategy to crack the IAS Exam

After you have studied the syllabus properly and the Exam pattern as well by going through the Previous Years’ papers (you may solve them effectively, of course, but after thoroughly preparing the syllabus), now is the time to think of a flawlessly competent strategy to prepare for the IAS Exam. The question papers would give you a broad idea concerning the kinds of the questions that are asked from various subjects. It will also help you choose the right stream of studies and the subjects at the right time to prepare for the IAS Exam later.

Here are a few tips to strategize well:

(1). Opt for the right stream of studies at the class 11th:

If you opt for the right stream, you have already got a good start to prepare well for the IAS Exam later. In case, you have already made up your mind for joining IAS while still being a school student, it would help you choose the suitable stream in the class 11th. And opting for the Arts stream (you may see for yourself that the UPSC syllabus does include a lot from the Humanities) might help you later in a considerable manner to prepare well for the IAS Exam.

However, by the time, you are a graduate and 21, UPSC might have produced some changes in the Exam pattern. And, as a result, you would be required to prepare for the IAS Exam accordingly.

But opting for the Arts stream at the school level itself would definitely be an added advantage. It would help you prepare more competently for the IAS Exam. Thus, you would be better able to score an edge over the competition than you would have done otherwise.

(2). Switch over to Arts in the first year of graduation

However, if you have not opted for arts at the school time during Class 11th, you may switch over to Arts in the first year of graduation. Doing so will help you prepare well for the IAS Exam.

(3). Go through the list of CSE Optional Subjects while you opt for subjects at school and graduation:

UPSC allows to choose the Optional subject out of a list long enough to make it convenient for the IAS aspirants to choose as per their interest. However, if you consider preparation for the Optional Paper and can at least opt for a subject accordingly at class 11th or the beginning of graduation, you would be better able to score well later in the Optional subject papers for Mains.

(4). Beginning early always leaves more time at your disposal.

You might have heard often that it is the early bird that catches the worm. So, begin early. With the right kind of the subjects opted for at class 11th or the graduation, it is advisable to actually begin with the preparation for the IAS Exam when you are in the Final Year of college.

The Civil Services Exam from the Prelims to the Interview keeps the candidates busy studying at least for an year. And it is advisable to begin to prepare even an year prior to that.

Thus, you would have to keep patience and study hard for 2 years at least. And that too, with proper strategy and sharply honed time management skills.

(5). Opt for the right kind of IAS coaching institution:

It is the next move for an IAS aspirant who begins with the preparation for the Exam from the scratch. And you should consider all that has been described above.
Many would reason that opting for self-study is an option good enough in itself. But you are going to begin with the preparation for the IAS Exam from scratch! So, it would be in your own interest that you opt for a suitable IAS coaching institution that provides you with regular classroom coaching sessions rather than preferring self study and going ahead with an online IAS coaching.

To sum up, as already described above in detail, it is your will and clarity of purpose that sets the tone for your career specifically when it is none other than the Indian administrative Services that you aim at joining. Opting for the right kind of the stream and subjects at school or college level paves the way towards a successful preparation for the IAS Exam. And the choice of the best IAS coaching in Delhi takes care of the complexities of the entire process for preparing later, provided, of course, you stay focused on your goal.

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