Guideline for preparation of UPSC exams during graduation

Vijay GarG *

If you are pursuing your graduation and wish to serve in the country’s civil services, you would probably be wondering whether to start your IAS preparation now or wait till you finish your graduation. If you indeed feel ready to commence your UPSC civil services preparation right away, think no more.

There is no better time than now. You are young, in touch with studies, and carry a novel dream. If your question is “How to start preparation for IAS during graduation”, here is the answer!

IAS Preparation Tips for Beginners

“It’s what you do right now that makes a difference.”

Everything you should know about UPSC

The first thing that you need to do is to know what exactly the UPSC is all about. UPSC stands for Union Public Service Commission and it is the body that conducts many exams including the civil services examinations (CSE). The CSE is conducted by the UPSC to recruit officers for the various central services in India like IAS, IPS, IFS, Indian Postal Services, Indian Audit and Accounts Service, Indian Information Service, etc.

Know the UPSC Examination Date

Once you know about the UPSC, the next step is to get the UPSC exam schedule and plan when to give the exam. The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) announces the exam schedule a year prior. UPSC Civil Services Exam Pattern

The UPSC CSE is conducted in three stages. Each stage eliminates those candidates who fail to clear the round. The three stages are:


Here there are two exams.
i) General Studies Paper I
ii) General Studies Paper II (CSAT)

Both papers ask multiple-choice questions only. Both the papers carry negative marks for wrong answers. To know more about UPSC marking scheme in the prelims and how to beat negative marks click below.

The CSAT paper is a qualifying one and you have to score a minimum of 33% in it. Only then will your GS Paper I be evaluated. So, the merit ranking for eligibility to mains will be out of 200 (from the GS Paper I prelims)

If you qualify in the UPSC prelims, you can take the mains exam. Here there are 9 papers and all are descriptive in nature.

The papers are:
1. Paper A
Modern Indian Language – 300 marks
See the list of Indian languages for UPSC Paper A here.

2. Paper B
English – 300 marks

3. Paper I
Essay – 250 marks
This paper can be written in the candidate’s medium of the exam or a language of his/her choice.

4. Paper-II
General Studies I – 250 marks
Topics: Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society

5. Paper III
General Studies II – 250 marks
Topics: Governance, Polity, Social Justice and International Relations

6. Paper IV
General Studies III – 250 marks
Topics: Technology, Economic Development, Biodiversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management

7. Paper V
General Studies IV – 250 marks
Topics: Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude

8. Paper VI
Optional Subject Paper I – 250 marks
The candidate is allowed to take up literature as an optional subject without the condition of having it at the graduation level.

9. Paper VII
Optional Subject Paper II – 250 marks
The English and Indian language papers are of qualifying nature and their marks are not counted for the total tally in the mains ranking. So, the mains total is out of 1750 marks.

3. UPSC Board Interview/Personality Test

If you qualify in the UPSC mains, you will be called for the UPSC interview. Here, a panel will interview you and assess your knowledge, personality, aptitude, leadership qualities, clarity of expression, grasp of narrative or argument, reasoning ability, appreciation of different viewpoints, awareness and concern for socio-economic problems, range and depth of interests.

Check your eligibility

Before you embark on your IAS journey, ensure your eligibility to take the IAS exams.
Know and understand the vast syllabus of UPSC

If you want to crack the UPSC exams, you need to be well-versed with the UPSC syllabus. As understanding the UPSC Syllabus and knowing each and every topic and sub-topics of the subjects almost covers 20% of your preparation for Civil Services Exam.

Know the complete UPSC Syllabus

The next thing to be clear of is whether to go for coaching class or to study for IAS from home. Since the UPSC exams cover a vast and diverse range of topics it is recommended that you opt for some kind of guidance. You can go for classroom coaching after your college hours or go for online classes wherein you can have access to expert faculty lectures from the comfort of your homes.

In case if you have decided you prepare for IAS without joining a coaching centre then still here we are to help you with all the tips and tricks to crack the civil services exam, strategies for preparing for prelims, mains, and interview, and all the resources required that includes daily news analysis for UPSC Current Affairs, free NCERT books download and more to guide you and aid you to reach your destination.

Plan your daily regimen

Once you know the basics, it is time to schedule a daily routine to start your IAS preparation. Since you are pursuing both graduation and IAS preparation, you must optimise your use of time. Plan your day, week and your month. Make sure to stick to your study plan if you are serious about the IAS dream.

Choose your optional subject

You must choose your optional subject. Since you are pursuing graduation, it would be prudent to select an optional subject that you are already studying. This way you can save time and energy. You don’t need to learn anything new for your IAS exam.

Be cut and clear while choosing the optional subject and if you are still confused then read below to choose the right optional subject.

The list of books is very important in your UPSC preparation. There are a plethora of options and you don’t have to buy or stock every one of them. Choose a few good books and read them thoroughly. Read more about what books to read.

Books for UPSC

Start your IAS studies

Once you have the entire ammunition ready, what are you waiting for? Get on with it! Plunge yourself into it and achieve your dream.

Assess yourself periodically

It is important to take regular tests and assess your preparation level and make necessary changes

IAS Preparation While in College

Benefits of starting your IAS preparation during graduation:

Since you don’t have a break in your education, your grasping power and ability to work for longer hours will be more compared to others.

By choosing the right optional, you can ensure that your graduation subject and at least one paper for the UPSC exams overlap, thus saving time for you. You can make the best of your college facilities like free internet and books needed for IAS exams in the college or university library.

If you are pursuing graduation, chances are that your finances are taken care of by your family. This reduces the burden on you, unlike other IAS aspirants who have to shoulder other responsibilities as well. You have age and time on your side. Make the most out of it!

Things to remember

You may have friends in your college who may mock you for your serious preparation. Remember to stay away from negative and discouraging people.

Focus on your task at hand and your dream – to become an IAS/IPS officer.

Have a checklist of your short and long-term goals and tick them as you achieve them.

Take an occasional break and rejuvenate yourself.

You don’t have to turn yourself into an ascetic to crack the UPSC exam. Balance your social life and IAS studies in a manner that benefits your IAS preparation.

There might be moments when you feel overwhelmed by the enormity of the task you have set yourself to do. At moments like these, take a deep breath and cool off for a while.

* Vijay GarG wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is a Retired Principal Educational columnist Malout
This article was webcasted on November 24 2023.

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