Can I Clear IAS Exam Without Coaching Classes?

“Can one clear IAS Exam without coaching?” You might have heard this question asked a hundred times to Civil Services Exam toppers both by media as well by future aspirants. And we have heard different versions of answers from the toppers too – depending on whether they adopted coaching or not. But in the online age – one can say with assurance – Yes, any hardworking candidate can clear IAS exam without attending classroom coaching!

Can I Clear IAS Exam Without Coaching Classes?

It is possible to clear IAS without coaching


There are many instances of candidates who cracked IAS without going any coaching – without spending sleepless nights and truckload of money at any coaching institutes.

ClearIAS Prelims Online Test Series

Go through our UPSC toppers interview section. You can read the testimonials of toppers.

But is classroom coaching bad?

No; unless the institutes are misguiding you.

Upon checking the profiles of candidates who cleared IAS, we can also see that there are candidates who cleared with coaching, without coaching, left the job for self-preparation, who cleared the exam while working and so on.

And that itself gives the answer to this question “Can I Clear IAS Exam Without Coaching Classes?” – It can be a YES or NO – It all depends on the person.

Do you need IAS Coaching? The Answer To The Long Pending Question!

Should I need a coach?

Let’s start with Sachin Tendulkar. Everyone knows that Sachin is a genius. He is talented and awesome. But why did he take coaching under Ramakant Achrekar and numerous other coaches? Will he be as successful as he is today without his coaches? Any clue? Ok. Leave that topic now, but try to ponder over this: why did you attend schools and colleges if you were able to study everything on your own?

We think good coaches and mentors can help their students a lot. Of-course there are many students who do well without mentors (like Ekalavya did in Mahabharatha [excuse us, if the example is too old. Of-course there are examples from the modern world too:-) ]), but there is no doubt about the help good mentors can do. In our opinion, what they do is – reduce the work of students by half! They help reduce the burden of students. By good guidance and clear knowledge, they can help students learn fast and succeed in the age of tight competition.

Having said that, we didn’t mean that in order to succeed in IAS exam you need to attend coaching institutes the way you attended school. This not necessary. And this is not a must. Why because, you are already graduates!  Apart from optional subjects, none of the questions asked in the examination requires specialized study. If your optional is not your subject of graduation, you might need coaching for that, else it is not a necessity.

Wait, the topic is not over. What if you are not confident that you can finish the vast syllabus by yourself within the limited time? What if you do not know where to start and what to study? What if you don’t know the books and magazines for UPSC preparation? Here, like what I said before, a good coach can help you reduce your work load by half. But only a good coach!

What should a good coach do?

Personal Trainer

There are two things you need to clear UPSC exam:

  1. Guidance (Strategies).
  2. Knowledge (Study materials and notes)

A good coach or a good coaching institute should be able to provide these two. If you are not getting relevant and latest strategies and guidance from a coaching institute, even after spending thousands and lakhs of rupees there, then there is no meaning of attending coaching classes. At times, you might even know about students who fail to clear UPSC exam due to misguidance from coaching classes.

Coaching Classes: The latest realization

Classroom coaching

Of-course there are good coaching classes which care for the students and not their money. And not all are bad. Do Join if you find quality institutes. Don’t join institutes with a reputation of misguidance.

As what you need to get from a coaching class are just guidance and knowledge, in the online age there are alternatives. We are not saying that everyone should start subscribing this website from today :-). Of-course you can, and we hope it will do more good than harm! But as this post is not intended to sponsor ourselves let’s focus back to the topic. Apart from, there are many other good online coaching websites also which are valued by the IAS aspirant community, which you can rely upon. Good online IAS coaching websites provide much free service than many of the coaching centers, which charge you lakhs of rupees for their misguidance!

If you are still confused, scroll below.

When do you need Civil Service Exam coaching?

IAS Coaching?

  1. If you are totally ignorant about the UPSC yllabus, latest pattern, IAS books and can’t formulate a strategy on your own to crack this exam.
  2. You are running short of time (got hardly 2 or 3 months before the exam), and need a crash course to go through all the important topics.
  3. If you are a person, who, after whatever efforts put, don’t feel confident to stay alone (without coaching, because of peer-pressure.).
  4. If you have only very little knowledge about the optional subject you plan to take for the main exam and feel it’s a risky strategy to take it on your own.
  5. You don’t have access to internet to browse good websites which provide IAS study materials and guidance free of cost and online shopping websites like and, which provides door delivery of all books needed for IAS with free shipping and cash on delivery options.

When don’t you need Civil Service Exam coaching?

ClearIAS UPSC Prelims Online Mock Tests for Free

  1. If you are confident that you can crack it your own and feel just like UPSC that coaching institutes are not a necessity in this exam.
  2. If you are from any top institutes in India like JNU or IITs and know about the subjects, exam and pattern with details much before.
  3. If you have already attempted this exam with coaching – Since you already know the pattern, necessary books and syllabus, spending time again in the same classes will make you feel bored.
  4. If you are an serious analyzer of previous year questions – UPSC is putting sincere efforts to reduce the effect of coaching and spoon feeding in IAS selections, by making a drastic change in exam pattern by avoiding traditional questions and developing questions which require an analaytical frame of mind, an area where coaching institute cannot help much.

Conclusion: Can one clear IAS exam without classroom coaching?

ClearIAS Prelims mock exam

Whatever conclusion you reach after reading this, to summarize, we are are adding the below points:

  • Yes, one can clear IAS exam without coaching. But may not be ‘everyone’. It depends on his/her efficiency in self-study.
  • If you are good at self-study, you can clear UPSC CSE without any classroom coaching.
  • ClearIAS website and ClearIAS mobile app are started just to help the bright minds in India do self-study and crack this exam! 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 exam platform.
  • Whether classroom or outside classroom, good guidance and study materials can supplement candidates’ preparation for UPSC exam. Underline the words – good, guidance, study materials and supplement.
  • Join a coaching institute only if it serve the above purpose.
  • Now there are online coaching websites which provide quality guidance and study materials.
  • Realize that no coaching institute or online website can make a candidate an IAS officer, unlike the claims they make. The combination can be best described as 50:50. A good coaching institute can play 50% part, but unless the candidate put the next 50% effort he cannot become an IAS officer. All the best for all future IAS officers!
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