For smart aspirants, college is the best place to start IAS exam preparation.
With all the energy of the young age and the sharpness of the student’s mind, the just-out-of-college guys have a higher probability of clearing IAS exam. But unless the preparation is focused on the right guidance and strategies, the attempt may turn futile, resulting in the loss of precious attempts.
Aspirants should never let this happen. We hope this post will surely help those who are looking for the right guidance to prepare IAS exam while in college, especially the final year students and pre-final year students.
Also read: How to Prepare for UPSC IAS Exam After 12th?
1. Take the early advantage
Please remember the eligibility criteria for the UPSC Civil Service Exam (CSE) is 21 years and graduation in any subject. You should also take note that final-year students can apply for IAS Prelims. Many candidates miss this early opportunity and come into the UPSC Civil Service Exam preparation field very late. This is clearly reflected in the fact that the average age of candidates who make it into the final UPSC CSE rank list is 28 years.
If you start early, that would give you a lot many advantages. And, we have no doubts that aspirants who start early can clear the IAS exam without compromising the thrill and happiness of campus life. But for that, you need right guidance.
2. Realise that you have time constraints, so prioritize your time!
Unlike many other aspirants who can dedicate a full year to UPSC preparation, those who prepare parallel for UPSC CSE while in college will have time constraints. So what is very important is your ability to prioritize things. Do only what is extremely important.
3. Buy the most recommended books for IAS preparation
Once you have decided that IAS/IPS as your career goal, buy the most necessary books for UPSC CSE preparation. We have compiled the master list of UPSC books on a separate page. But to begin with, the below are the books you should start with.
- NCERT Books – Buy online from Amazon or download NCERT PDF.
- Polity – by Laxmikanth
- Economics – by Ramesh Singh
- History – By Bipan Chandra
4. Enroll for the ClearIAS mock test series
There are many 1st-year and 2nd-year college students who join ClearIAS Prelims Test Series – even though they can apply for the IAS exam only in the final year of graduation.
This is a great strategy to remain focused and understand the UPSC requirements by practicing questions that are very near to the actual UPSC exam.
You should not worry about the marks you score, but take mock exams as an opportunity for learning. Mock tests help you understand not only the UPSC pattern of questions but also difficult concepts. If you are lucky, you may get a lot of direct and indirect questions from the mock test series alone. This has happened many times with the ClearIAS Test series in the past.
5. Utilise your spare time
If you get a free hour, utilize the time. Install the ClearIAS mobile app (Android and iPhone versions available) and use the resources provided in it for free – whether you are sitting in the library or waiting for a bus.
More than 8,00,000 aspirants have already downloaded the ClearIAS app making it one of the most downloaded mobile apps for IAS preparation.
6. Read newspapers and magazines
Don’t compromise your newspaper reading irrespective of the time constraints. Once you get into the mood, believe us, it’s not that boring! We prefer The Hindu or Indian Express for quality articles. Give importance to editorials and op-ed articles.
And regarding magazines, EPW is a good magazine for getting current perspectives. For understanding, Government schemes and initiatives subscribe to Yojana and Kurukshetra.
7. Keep writing
In UPSC CSE Mains, the speed of writing is very important. Aspirants just out of college will have a big advantage here as they are not out of touch with pen and paper when compared to working professionals. Take maximum leverage on this.
Some tips to polish your writing: Participate in essay competitions in your college. Write letters to editors of famous newspapers. Practice ClearIAS main mock questions.
8. Discuss current issues with your friends
We won’t say you stop all chit-chat. Long conversations and debates are all part of college life. Enjoy it, but, develop a friends circle who think like you, with whom you can discuss current issues.
Believe us, peer learning is one of the most important aspects that help most of the aspirants in the IAS exam. Build groups right from the college.
9. Finish 1-2 subjects during semester break
It is the strategy of some toppers to finish the optional subject during semester breaks during college so that they can concentrate on General Studies (GS) and current affairs after graduation.
If time permits, either finish your optional subject or the entire set of NCERTs from classes 6-12. Alternatively, you can try finishing all the free study materials provided on ClearIAS.com to build your concepts or all online mock tests in the ClearIAS mock test platform and revise the resources provided in the Learning Zone.
10. Read toppers interviews
IAS preparation strategies keep on changing with the availability of new materials and new question patterns from UPSC. Always refer to the UPSC toppers interviews at ClearIAS.com for the latest tips from toppers. This would keep you motivated. Have big dreams. All the best!