UPSC Exam Guidance – How to start IAS preparation?

Every day, we get queries from a lot of IAS aspirants regarding UPSC exam guidance. Many ask from where should they start the UPSC preparation. With mushrooming coaching institutes and a plethora of materials available online and offline, their worries are only compounded. We at Clear IAS™ ( believe that it is very important to address the basic queries of all freshers. Yes, that’s why we are here.

ClearIAS provides free IAS online coaching, guidance, strategies, books, online study materials and mock tests with a vision that no candidate should be left out of UPSC exam competition due to the inaccessibility of expensive IAS classroom coaching. Now, you may go through our advice listed out as 7-steps. We hope this guidance-post to be equally helpful for everyone who are confused – beginners or veterans.

First step: Learn the requirements of the UPSC Civil Services Exam!

UPSC exam guidance by ClearIAS Team

No. You don’t need to know everything under the Sun to clear this exam. That’s the first thing to get into your head. There is a prescribed syllabus by UPSC for the three stages of this 1-year long exam, ie Prelims, Mains and Interview. A good understanding of UPSC syllabus and exam pattern is the first step for all freshers. Also, understand the Eligibility criteria for writing UPSC CSE exam. If you still have questions in your mind, just go through our article ‘frequently asked questions on IAS exam preparation‘.

Second Step: Buy some essential books to get the stone rolling!

Everyone will agree that without investing in some books, one cannot clear IAS exam. That’s right. The syllabus is vast, the aspirant should develop the habit of reading. To start with, we recommend buying some useful books (like Indian Polity by Laxmikanth) in addition to all the NCERT books. List of essential books for IAS preparation is compiled in this website, taking inputs from many toppers. Links are also provided to buy online at discounted prices. Order a few basic books on the list today itself, so that you will feel that you are into it. Also, make newspaper reading a habit.

Clear IAS Recommends Best Selling IAS Books

Third Step: Read our free online study materials

Yes; there is such thing as a free lunch. We call it free online study materials from Clear IAS™. We write articles regularly on many topics – basically on those which aspirants find it tough to find the right materials. We publish study materials for every subject in Prelims and Mains like History, Geography, Economics, Polity, Current Affairs etc and ensure that the contents help in quick learning. Our readers are free to print the online materials in PDF form or even in paper form, except for commercial circulation. If you wish to extend your exam preparation from laptop to mobiles and tablets, download for free the Clear IAS mobile app which has been receiving a huge response from our users. The app received top ratings, mostly 5 stars and crossed 2,00,000+ downloads in Google Play store.

Fourth Step: Get the right guidance; follow our articles on UPSC Civil Services Exam guidance

Requirements for each stage of the UPSC exam, ie Prelims, Mains and Interview are different. But there are many things in common too. Hence, throughout this website follows Prelims-cum-Mains Integrated approach, which is a fast and smooth approach to clear IAS. You may read our guidance articles for Prelims, Mains, and Interviews. Always get inspiration and right guidance from the topper’s interviews published on the website.

Fifth Step: Join ClearIAS mock test series: practice, learn, and revise!

ClearIAS UPSC Prelims Online Mock Tests for Free

You can learn and compete with thousands of aspirants across India by attempting our full length timed online mock test series with negative marking for UPSC Prelims. Always keep in touch with UPSC previous year question papers so that you won’t read wild things, and stay focused.

As you may know, only when tested in an exam atmosphere with negative marking, you can improve the ability to deliver in the actual exam hall. Try for free the UPSC Prelims online mock exams by ClearIAS – in the new innovative platform which integrates learning with test-taking. You would be surprised to find how fast you can learn!

Sixth Step: Stay away from low-quality IAS Coaching Centers!

We are not against any classroom IAS Coaching centers. There are many good, reputed centers, but at the same time there are many others which don’t provide any service even after charging lakhs of rupees as fees from the candidates. The ‘bad guys’ often misguide with advertisements and out-dated notes. Understand that the very need of attending a coaching institute, if any, is for right guidance, and not knowledge. In this online age, knowledge is available at mouse-click. If you are misguided in this highly competitive exam, you are ruined! So reduce your dependency on spoon-feeding by coaching institutes and build your analytical abilities. And for right guidance, you can always refer the unedited interviews by toppers in websites like

Seventh Step: Stop worrying too much; just do it!

Well, why don’t do get your feet wet? You have nothing to lose. But you will be a totally different person, well aware of our nation and things around you once you step in. Don’t worry about your age, financial background, lack of time or any other usual excuses. You are never late. Get involved. Just jump in and do it! Understand that a journey of thousand miles starts with a single step.

Guidance for Prelims – Selected Posts from

IAS Coaching

  1. A Note Before You Begin IAS Preparation or Coaching.
  2. Smart Work for IAS Preparation.
  3. Strategy and Books for Early Birds To Clear IAS Exam.
  4. How to clear Civil Services prelims?
  5. How can smart aspirants like you clear UPSC Prelims ‘the smart way’?
  6. 5 reasons why you should take more UPSC Prelims mock tests
  7. Civil Service Prelims: 6 Month Strategy – Part 1.
  8. Civil Service Prelims: 6 Month Strategy – Part 2.
  9. How much time will it take to clear IAS prelims?
  10. IAS Books for Civil Services Prelims and Mains Exam Preparation.

For more analysis and articles on Preliminary Exam, regularly follow the category: Civil Services Prelims.

Guidance for Mains – Selected Posts from

  1. Strategy and Study Plan for Clearing IAS Mains Exam.
  2. How to clear Civil Services mains?
  3. How To Select IAS Mains Optional As Per The Latest UPSC Syllabus?
  4. How To Write A Good Essay In Civil Service Mains Exam?
  5. What to Study for Ethics Paper in IAS Mains GS?
  6. World History for UPSC Mains: Understanding The Basics.
  7. Security and Disaster Management for UPSC Mains Exam.
  8. Indian Society For UPSC Civil Services Mains Exam.

For more analysis and articles on Main Exam, regularly follow the category: Civil Services Mains.

Last modified on June 7th, 2016 at 6:51 pm.

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