Aspirants, when they begin IAS preparation, are generally confused. They are unsure about how to start, and what to study. They have numerous queries in their mind regarding exam eligibility, exam dates etc. Many are not sure if coaching is essential or not. Their worries are not unfounded.
Misguidance can cost any aspirant a lot of time and money. Many coaching institutes are unsure how to properly guide aspirants as per the latest requirements of UPSC. There are coaching institutes which charge hefty fees, but provide poor service and low-quality study materials.
Whether you are a beginner in the arena of UPSC Civil Services Exam preparation or an experienced candidate, knowledge about the requirements of the UPSC is essential for success. This post covers the necessary things you should note before you begin IAS preparation or coaching.
Know the eligibility criteria of the IAS exam first
- The aspirant should be a Graduate in any subject.
- To apply, the age of the applicant should be between 21-32, if general category. Read our post on IAS exam eligibility to know more.
- If you still have questions in your mind, just go through our article ‘frequently asked questions on IAS exam preparation‘.
Keep in mind the Exam Dates and UPSC CSE Syllabus
Your preparation should be aligned with the UPSC Civil Services Exam Cycle, which has three stages – Prelims, Mains and Interview, which normally has a fixed schedule like June (for Prelims), Nov/Dec (for Mains) and March/April (for Interviews).
Have a realistic idea about the competition in UPSC Civil Services Exam
- Registration: More than 10 lakh aspirants/year;
- Preliminary Exam Takers: Around 4.5 Lakhs/year;
- Those who pass Prelims: Around 15000/year;
- Those who pass mains: 3000/year;
- Those who find mention in rank list after interview: 1000/year.
- Note: As 49.5% seats are reserved, if you are general category, you may need to be in the top 50% to ensure a place in the final rank list. Read: Till Which Rank Can An Aspirant Get Into IAS, IPS or IFS?
How To Start Preparing for Civil Services?
To start Civil Services Exam preparation, it is not a must to attend any coaching institutes. But good coaching – either online or offline – can be of great help to the candidates for proper guidance and knowledge.
Path 1: IAS Self Preparation (Online Coaching and Books)
Merits: There are many quality websites like ClearIAS.com offering free IAS guidance, study materials and mock exams to equip aspirants who wish to do self-study. Self-study can be done at the comfort of one’s own home at less than 1/10th of the amount charged by many coaching institutes. There are no time/space constraints. This type of approach is suitable for working professionals and all other who feel that class room coaching is unnecessary.
Follow a good strategy. Learn what UPSC toppers did. Take periodic mock tests to evaluate your performance. 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. Enroll for 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!
Path 2: IAS Class Room Coaching
Merits: If IAS coaching is focused according to the requirements of latest UPSC requirements, this approach can quickly place aspirants in the right path. Besides there will be the advantage of peer learning and competition, mock tests, analysis etc.
Demerits: Very expensive, time/space constraints, unavailability outside metros, non-updated materials/ strategy, misguidance etc.
How expensive is Civil Services Exam Preparation?
If you plan to join any classroom coaching class in metros like Delhi, for a package covering Prelims and Mains, the coaching fees can be in the range of 1-1.5 lakhs. Optional subject preparation may cost you extra. Expense for food and accommodation might cost you additional 1-1.5 lakhs.
Don’t worry, you can clear IAS exam without classroom coaching!
In case due to any reasons, if the aspirant is not in a position to attend classroom coaching, there is nothing to worry. There are many who has cleared IAS in the past without coaching. But there is one thing common to all of those – they had proper orientation, and they knew what to study and what not.
Self-preparation cuts the expense cost to a minimum, but you need to keep aside a sum in the range of Rs.5000- Rs.10,000 for essential IAS books, magazines, and newspapers. 24*7 access to the internet (over laptop/mobile) will be an added advantage.
Aspirants should also keep in mind that the UPSC Civil Services exam is among the cheapest exams of the country. The Fee for IAS Prelims is Rs.100/- only. (Exam is free for all female candidates!).
Also read: (1) Strategy and Books for Early Birds To Clear IAS Exam (2) Civil Service Prelims: 6 Month Strategy – Part 1 (3) Civil Service Prelims: 6 Month Strategy – Part 2. (4) Minimum Books and Study Materials for IAS Preparation.
What subjects should be studied for IAS Exam?
UPSC Prelims cum Mains
- Indian History Notes – You may start from History Section Sitemap.
- Geography Notes – You may start from Geography Section Sitemap.
- Economics Notes – You may start from Economics Section Sitemap.
- Indian Polity Notes – You may start from Polity Section Sitemap.
- Environment Notes – You may start from Environment Section Sitemap.
- Science and Tech Notes – You may start from Science and Tech Section Sitemap.
- Current Affairs Notes – You may start from Current Affairs Section Sitemap.
Additional Subjects for UPSC Mains
- World History Notes – In Mains GS1 Paper
- Indian Society Notes – In Mains GS1 Paper
- Foreign Relations Notes – In Mains GS2 Paper
- International Affairs Notes – In Mains GS2 Paper
- Internal Security Notes – In Mains GS3 Paper
- Disaster Management Notes – In Mains GS3 Paper
- Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude Notes – In Mains GS4 Paper
In addition to this: One Optional Subject like History, Geography etc from a list of near 50 subjects and One Essay paper.
Why this mission “Clear IAS”?
A career in Civil Services (Central/State) is an ambition of thousands, but unfortunately not all of them achieve their dream. The primary reason behind this is the lack of proper guidance or misguidance from the so called ‘coaching experts/gurus’. Also, classroom coaching is expensive and is not affordable/available to all sections or regions.
It was at this juncture that Clear IAS was conceptualized, with a vision to bridge the gap between facilities and guidance. ClearIAS.com truly wish the door to the dream of IAS/IPS or any Civil Services should not be closed to any genuine candidate due to misguidance or lack of proper awareness.
ClearIAS.com, thus is a venture to help all aspirants who look for guidance outside the classroom coaching or who can’t afford it due to time/financial constraints. ClearIAS.com is completely free, and study materials and notes for exam preparation are provided on the website to supplement the useful traditional textbooks. A compilation of useful books for each subject (Prelims and Mains) is made along with facilities for direct online purchase.
Clear IAS has released free mobile apps (android apps as well as iPhone apps) as a complete self-study package for free. We have also launched full length timed online mock test series with negative marking for UPSC Prelims which can be attempted at the ClearIAS mock test platform. All the best!