Beginner GuideUPSC Prelims Preparation

What is the Right Time for Starting Preparation for IAS EXAM?

Many IAS aspirants have a common doubt that what is the right age to start preparing for Civil Services Examination (IAS).

In this article we will try to focus light on this doubt and will try to give a clear picture so that you can start your preparation at right time and in right way.There is no perfect age to start preparing for the IAS. But mostly the IAS aspirants start their preparation right after their graduation at the age of 21 or 22 years. But, there are many of aspirant who get inspire later on in their life to join the civil service and wish to start preparing after 26 or 28 years. I have also seen aspirant who have cleared the exam at age of 31 in their 1st attempt.

For School going Student

  • You have ample amount of time before you are eligible to apply for this exam. At this age you should not worry too much about strategy and books which need to be read to clear the exam or what optional will suits you to go for Mains.
  • I am not saying you should not read for IAS but what I am trying to say is that do not make it your primary goal for now.
  • Your primary goal should be completing your school education with full focus and dedication and IAS should be your secondary goal for now.

For College going Student

  • You should focus primarily on your graduation and you can start preparing for IAS exam seriously from starting of your last year of graduation or little before that without compromising your graduation study because you won’t get another chance to improve your graduation but you will get enough chance to clear IAS exam.
  • Now before going into detail of what you should read at your age for IAS exam. let’s see the structure and broad syllabus of IAS Exam.
  • In the GS paper there are subjects like Art Culture, History, Geography, Polity, Science and Economy together with Current Affairs and general awareness.
  • In mains for GS paper Ethics is added extra in the prelims syllabus with some additional section in each parts such as world history, world geography etc.

What should you prepare in school?

  • Now having seen the various subjects and topics in the GS paper we can now get down to the actual preparation plan.
  • In this age you can prepare current affairs and build up your general knowledge base both of which will greatly help later on when you’re preparing full-time for the IAS exam.

So how should you prepare Current Affairs?

  • For current affairs the daily newspaper is the best source. Newspaper reading should become your daily habit. There is no need to make any notes from newspapers right now. You should just enjoy reading the newspaper initially. At this stage even you need not be too specific in reading article, you can read whole newspaper without bothering much what is relevant for exam and what is not.

How can you prepare general awareness?

  • A strong base of general knowledge will help you immensely in your Prelims and Mains papers later on. You need not have to read any coaching notes for now. Just reading one good reference book will be sufficient Just read a good reference book like India Year Book. This will suffice for now. You can read whatever you find interesting in the Year Book. There’s no particular strategy at your age. you should just enjoy reading whatever you feel like to read.
  • Finally, if you’re studying NCERT books in your school then you should read these books well and try to clear each doubt in class with teacher. This will greatly help you once you start preparing for the IAS exam seriously at graduation or after graduation.

What should you prepare in College?

  • The advice given above is applicable here too, you should prepare current affairs and build up your GK base in initial years of your graduation. And slowly you can move towards serious preparation.
  • You can start reading books like Polity by M.Lakshmikant , History by Bipin Chandra or history of Spectrum Publication from last year of your graduation.

The Ideal Time to Start Preparing for the IAS Exam

  • If you have completed your graduation then generally you are in 21-23 years of age. This is the best time to seriously prepare for the IAS exam.
    Many successes in the IAS exam also take place in the 2nd and 3rd and 4th attempts in the ages varying from 22 to 26 years. So without any doubt or worry should devote yourself to IAS exam in this time.
  • Also unfortunately if you failed to clear the civil services you still have time for an alternate career.
  • But in case your family condition is not good in order to support you or your family need your support economically then you can join a job. But you should not be disheartened that you cannot compete with the IAS aspirant who are preparing full time.
  • There are many examples where aspirant have cleared UPSC exam with job. Yes you will have little tough time to balance work and study both. But with dedication and smart work you can make it to the list.

Daily time table for UPSC/IAS preparation

Model Study Timetable for IAS Aspirants:

Time What to do? How & Why
5:00 AM Wake up Early risers stand a lot to gain!
5:00 – 6:00 AM Morning routine, tea/green tea, Yoga/light exercise Early morning exercise helps blood circulation, improves concentration.
6:00 – 6:15 AM Bath Helps you shake off the drowsiness.
6:15 – 7:45 AM Read a newspaper. Devote some time for this as you will need to make notes.
7:45 – 8:30 AM Breakfast (+ Reach Coaching class/college) Have a healthy and filling breakfast (has to keep you going for the day). If you don’t have to travel, use that time for studying.
8:30 – 11:00 AM Study Time Start with revising what you learnt the previous day. Then, take up the topics that you feel are most tough for you since your mind is fresh and can absorb a lot.
11:00 – 11:30 AM Break Time Take a break to refresh and recharge.
11:30 AM – 1:30 PM Study Time Resume your studies.
1:30 – 2:30 PM Lunch Pack in a light lunch. It is better to avoid daytime siesta.
2:30 – 5:00 PM Study Time Continue studies.
5:00 – 7:30 PM Reach home + Tea/Snacks + Refresh (play/gym/chat with people) Have your tea/coffee. Meet positive people. Play or move around. Hit the gym if you are in the habit. If you are not traveling, all the more time for you to study!
7:30 – 9:00 PM Study Time Your last phase of studies for the day. Make sure to take up lighter topics since you would be feeling a bit drained.
9:00 – 9:30 PM Supper Supper should be the lightest meal if you want to get a goodnight’s sleep.
9:30 – 10:00 PM Watch news/discussions Watch quality news discussions on UPSC-relevant issues.
10:00 – 10:30 PM Unwind (no TV) Half an hour before sleep, avoid TV. Don’t think of studies. Relax. Listen to soothing music if you like. Talk to your family or friends.
10:30 PM Hit the bed Get a nice sleep as you have to be up and ready for the next day!


Starting preparation for UPSC Exam does not only mean starting seriously reading standard books. IAS exam requires a continuous development in one’s personality. One can start preparation at any age, by being aware of things happening in society, country and in world and by being aware of our history, culture, government system etc. And then at right age as mentioned in the article above one should start seriously preparing to achieve their aim of serving society and country by being a civil servant.

Hope this article was helpful in clearing your doubts and giving you insight you were looking for.

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