How Much Time Will It Takes To Clear IAS Prelims?
The question, “How Much Time Will It Take To Clear IAS Prelims?” and the variations like “How many years will it take to clear UPSC exam and become an IAS officer?”, “Is five/four/three/two/one months sufficient time for cracking CSAT?”, “When should one start preparing for Civil Services Exam?” and “How many hours should an aspirant study to clear IAS?” are going round and rounds.
ClearIAS.com in this post shares a few insights on these very common, but relevant doubts of a beginner.
Qn: How Much Time Will It Takes To Clear IAS Prelims?
Before diving into a river, we normally think about the depth of a river, right? The question in the heading is very similar to it and ‘the time required to crack IAS exam’ is no way, a question to be mocked at. Every UPSC aspirant has asked it to someone he or she knows and all future aspirants will repeat the process too. But, unfortunately, there is no general answer! Most of the aspirants might have got an answer like “the time required varies. It varies from person to person!” Yes; that is still the best possible answer.
No, we wrote this post not to repeat the same quotes. As hinted in the first paragraph we hope to give a better insight into this exam. Let’s check UPSC Civil Services Prelims Syllabus first. There are two papers: General Studies Paper 1 and General Studies Paper 2.
Which are the Subjects under UPSC Prelims General Studies Paper 1 Syllabus?
There are 7 sub-sections (subjects) in Paper 1 which include the likes of History, Geography, Polity etc.
- Current events of national and international importance.
- History of India and Indian National Movement.
- Indian and World Geography – Physical, Social, Economic Geography of India and the World.
- Indian Polity and Governance – Constitution, Political System, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights Issues, etc.
- Economic and Social Development Sustainable Development, Poverty, Inclusion, Demographics, Social Sector initiatives, etc.
- General issues on Environmental Ecology, Bio-diversity and Climate Change – that do not require subject specialization.
- General Science.
Which are the Subjects under UPSC Prelims General Studies Paper 2 Syllabus?
Here also, there are 7 sub-sections (subjects) which include the likes of Reasoning, English Comprehension, Maths etc.
- Interpersonal skills including communication skills.
- Logical reasoning and analytical ability.
- Decision-making and problem-solving.
- General mental ability.
- Basic numeracy (numbers and their relations, orders of magnitude, etc.) (Class X level), Data interpretation (charts, graphs, tables, data sufficiency etc. – Class X level).
- English Language Comprehension skills (Class X level).
Having seen the IAS Prelims Syllabus in detail, let’s go back to the question from which the discussion started: How Much Time Will It Take To Clear IAS Prelims? Now the answer is : The time required to clear IAS prelims is the time required to be an expert in the 14 areas (subjects) mentioned in UPSC syllabus!
14 subjects? Will that be a Herculean Task?
No. Not at all. First of all, you don’t need to study everything under the Sun, unlike the propaganda of many IAS coaching institutes. In fact, you can clear IAS without attending any coaching institutes by self-study. UPSC has mentioned a syllabus and you just need to do focused study. Again, the distinction between subjects like History, Geography etc is clear only in General Studies Paper 1. The other paper ie. General Studies Paper 2 (known by the pet-name “CSAT”) has all aptitude and reasoning related questions. It can be seen as a single subject. What you need to crack this paper is not knowledge, but CSAT skills :-). Anyway, if we consider UPSC syllabus that way, the count can be reduced to 8.
But subjects like History, Geography, Polity, Economics etc cannot be studied in a few hours, right? Almost all of these are graduation subjects, often done as three year course. But does a candidate has 3 years x 7 = 21 years to prepare these subjects? 🙂 No. He doesn’t! That much time is not needed either. And for UPSC Prelims, which is objective, you don’t need to prepare like what you did for your graduation exam. This is a whole different area.
Enough; Tell me how much time is required to Clear UPSC Prelims?
Coming to it.
12 month advance preparation is ideal, but you can do it with less than 2 months preparation too…but how?
If you know the scheme of UPSC exam, the subjects and sub-areas of importance, the whole Prelims syllabus can be covered really fast. How fast? With proper guidance, a serious student capable of doing smart-work can clear prelims even with less than two months of preparation! Yes! No exaggeration! There are many who cleared IAS Prelims with less than that time frame.
If you are confident enough in paper 2 (CSAT) , prelims specific preparation can be done in last 1-2 months itself. – UPSC Civil Services 2013 topper Gaurav Agrawal
Now convinced? Who else is eligible to provide that positive affirmation than All India Rank 1. Well, he said this after UPSC CSE Prelims 2013. Things have changed a lot after that. But, his words still stand true.
Of course, not everyone can clear prelims with 2 months of preparation. Many will need much more time to learn and understand the UPSC pattern. The time required may be 6 months for someone or 1 year for the other.
Considering Prelims and Mains as a single package (Prelims-cum-Mains-Integrated-Approach), a 12 month advance preparation can be considered as ideal. But if you don’t have that much time available to spend, don’t worry at all. We said that as an ideal case; but not always necessary. What is necessary is your alignment with UPSC requirements.
For 2011 and 2012, there were many candidates who successfully cleared prelims with only a few months effort. The reason was their high score in UPSC Prelims General Studies Paper 2. 2011 Prelims cutoff was 197 out of 400 and there were candidates who scored more than 180 in Paper 2. So with just 17 marks in Paper 1, they had cleared Prelims!
But things are getting harder since 2013. UPSC Civil Service Exam Cut-offs have gone high. Competition too. You need to work harder. The mantra should be practice, practice and practice.
Having said that, passing IAS prelims is only the first stage of UPSC Civil Services Exam. Mains stage requires vast reading. If you are not sound in your fundamentals, you will find crossing the mains stage really tough. CSAT skills have no use in Mains. It’s your understanding on current affairs, Indian Society, History, Indian Economy or Indian Constitution which helps. So a good command on Prelims General Studies Paper 1 subjects is essential for success in UPSC mains too.
Also, remember that IAS exam can be attempted by Final Year Candidates too. Students in the final year can write provided they must be in a position to produce the Degree certificate while applying for the main examination. UPSC definitely will keep the final year students in mind while setting questions. For IAS Mains nature, see what is provided by UPSC in the official notification: The nature and standard of questions in the General Studies papers (Paper II to Paper V) will be such that a well-educated person will be able to answer them without any specialized study. So why worry, uh?
How many hours should an aspirant study to clear IAS?
Again the answer varies. It depends on the person. But to be practical, it’s not easy to put more than 15 hours of effort for a whole year (UPSC exam cycle). It might be possible for 1 or 2 days, but not easy the whole period. What matters is not the quantity of time, but the quality of time. Even if you study only for 3-4 hours a day, make a sincere and concentrated effort. Even if you are going slow, make sure that you are moving forward. Be focused. Finish each topics. Use online websites like ClearIAS.com and official government websites to supplement the preparation. Use the right books. Write down important points. Do smart work. Take UPSC Prelims mock tests. Success will be yours! All the very best!
sajjad hussain says
Truly nice article sir…it can surely accelerate the pace of study of all those who are in a starting dilemma…thank u..
Welcome. Happy to help.
sachin avasthi says
hllo, i m in b-tech 3rd year. What should i do now for preparing for ias. what should i do initially. which book or any other study material should follow.i mean how to start….???
You may start from here : UPSC exam guidance . This article has consolidated almost all of our essential tips and strategies for beginners.
Ruby singh says
Hello sir. I m 30 years old mother of two years girl..I want to start my preparation for upsc…please motivate me and suggestion me ..how should I start? And I am not brilliant as like other aspirant but I want to prepare my mind for this. And one thing I want to tell you is I have failed in my graduation final year but in supplementary exam I had cleared that subject. Is that a hurdles while writing upsc and if I would cleared that. Pls let me know and help me please!!
Yeah I have same question??
it may sound weird but i want to crack upsc.problem is i m working as po in a bank n having 6 month ols baby too.my age is 29 yrs.but cracking ias is my dream n passion.i can study only aftr 11 pm in night. i m always topper in academics..i can do hardwork as much as i can.do uu think a person having such a time constraint can crack upsc.evrybdy is sayng dnt try .u cant do bcz of job n baby.but i want to do it.pls teell me how much target evryday i set for myself to study to remain motivateeed.
There is nothing impossible with regard to this examination. There are many working mothers who cracked this exam. I can sense your passion to achieve in the above comment itself. That is the first and foremost step needed to crack this exam. The will to do! Everything else will follow.
As time available to you is limited, you need to be more focused than others. Break the syllabus into small topics, and try to finish 2-3 topics each day. Refer only small and simple books. Do mock tests. Refer study materials and strategies in www.clearias.com. You will be able to Clear IAS. Stay motivated!
Please make efforts u easily make it……
Always be positive
Just quit your job for 1 year if it’s possible and prepare thoroughly and keep hopes on jesus! He ll surely help you❤️
Yes you can if you believe in your dream and work for it consistently. First off all read syllabus many times and make clarity in what to study (focus areas). Collect study materials. Make a time table for coming months. Sleep for only 6 hrs. So you will get enough time for studies. Make sure you spend atleast 3 hrs quality time every day. Wake up @3.45am. Start learning at 4am to 7am. 25mins study, 5 mins break, 10 mins revise. Repeat the process. You can add more time whenever you get extra time. Share your household works with family members. Do what you need to do and avoid unimportant things. All other time consuming, unimportant works you must share to family members. Make sure of their support. You said you are a mother. Taking care of a child is the coresponsibility of both father and mother. Your husband can help you. If you don’t have family support, take it as a challenge. There are so many women who cracked ias surviving lot of hurdles. You can also. Be a proud woman. All the best dear
IAS VAIBHAV T. says
If u are able to study minimum 4 hour daily then u have chances.
thankyou very much sir
can u pls tel current affaris we need to prepare shuld be of wht duration lik 6 months or 2 yr? and i wll appear next year so frm whn i shuld start reading current affairs.
Did u clear the exam ?
1 year before from your prelims is sufficient….reffer vision ias PT365 …dont reffer each month magazine….otherwise it becomes to bulky to finish…best of luck
hello sir.. thank you for the encouragement to do it even in few months…have started my prep. in may.. but it seems i ‘ve not moved forward in grasping the subject..its very demotivating to find myself at the same position…how do i go forward in my preparation so that i am apt to clear PT
manish kumar says
Hii priya I am manish Actually I just need some advice a man’s point of view actually time management nhi kar pa rha hu its very problem study karne me plz….Help me
karishma chhabra says
Thanku v much
I want to ask u many many things
Pls give ur I’d
I need ur help
I am completed B.E (ECE) in 2014 batch. Please tel me what is the first stage to write the exam sir.
Starting point for freshers: https://www.clearias.com/upsc-exam-guidance/
I am studying B.Tech 3rd year and ppl say that Ias pattern has changed and engineering students has got scope this time.I am a computer science student.And can you please suggest me some way to start and clear ias.
abhishek prabhakar says
my name is abhishek prabhakar. I would like to know as how to prepare for history for medieval and ancient India ?? is it necessary to read some separate 400-500 pages book for both ??
Hiii sir i am doing bsc.2nd yr and i want to crack ias exam at any cost it my passion and my dream so plz tell me that how to prepare for ias syllabus..
hii sir i m b.tch 4th yr student i want know first step towards preparation of ias as my coaching are going to start in may?? i don’t want to waste my time….plz tell can i start from ncert books of history and geography of 8-10th class
plzz guide me towards right direction..
Sir, is it possible to crack upsc prelim in a matter of 4 months?
Should I concentrate more on competing ncerts now or take up to reading some good books of each subject?
Please reply asap, I’m highly confused and marooned 🙁
If you are focused and get good guidance, 4 months is more than enough for Prelims. The time needed varies with individual potential. Some candidates crack in <2 months of preparation and there are many who don't crack after years of preparation. The success ratio in Prelims is only 3 out of 100. The key lies in preparation in right areas. NCERTs are the best starting material, but they are not enough. Go through the link clearias.com/ias-books and all free online study materials given in this website.
Thankyou sir. This advice comes as a saviour 😀
The selfless service and time you are putting in to help students is commendable. Iam happy that I stumbled upon this page 🙂
ankur sharma says
I am presently doing government job and thinking of studying for IAS. I have very less time left with me as per my age (27 years old, General Category). Please guide me what is the best method with daily job for clearing the same. Should I start first with NCERT books and daily newspaper.
Also what should be my approach. Studying only for prelims or both for prelims and mains. I don’t think I can affort coaching (1.5 lakh rupees). I went through your article but I need personal suggestion in this regard.
Also please guide regarding choosing optional subject and should I go for coaching. If yes, then which is the best and cheap coaching centre in Delhi as there are vast number of coaching centres.
I really want to clear this exam and look forward for your genuine reply.
Tips: (1) Start with NCERT books and daily newspaper, but upgrade yourself quickly to the books mentioned in the link www.clearias.com/ias-books. (2) Follow a Prelims cum Mains Integrated approach. (3) Search clearias.com for articles about optional subject, coaching, guidance, study materials, mock exams etc.
Thank you Sir for your reply. I will first go through NCERT books.
sometime i don’t want to study (after 2 week for 1 day)
Is this common for all?
It’s very normal. Infact some takes breaks even for more number of days :p
i am a degree 3rd year n ca-ipcc student….i wanna be a ips…how much time ll take for d coching??
Raghu Dev says
hello sir! thank you for such a good article its really motivating and brings me confidence!
sir i have a question i am 22 yrs old completed my b.tech and placed in wipro as software engineer! I am not financially sound so i cant quit my job for IAS preparation! i want to start preparing for IAS starting from this month and i want to attempt my prelims exam in next year may! I am a hardworking person but i have a doubt that can i manage to do this by doing my job! i will get back to home only at 7 O clock! i am beginner and i know nothing about GS i need to start from the beginning! is it possible if i start preparing from now to attempt next year of may 2016??? plz give me some guidelines to prepare for the exam should i need coaching??? Sir i just started preparing from the beginning ! can i prepare in 9-10 months of time!!! please do reply me sir!!!
prasad kallara says
This is the best article I ever read. I think this is the turning point of my life. Heartfelt thanks for your “USEFUL” article.
it is nice guidence for working proffessional
is it necessary to write the IAS prelims and mains in the same year
I am B Com 2nd Year student who is pursuing CA and also aspire to join Civil Services….
Sir since I am from Commerce background and not Arts so I am not much familiar with History, Geography but I am very much familiar with Indian Economy, Current Affairs….
I want to know how much study and time will it take to prepare for CSAT-cum-Mains preparation??
[email protected] says
hello sir ,
i have complete MCA in GTU with AA grade .now i want to clear IAS exam now how i start preparation.plz guide me sir
Anasuya Kundu says
I am working as a systems engineer at Infosys. I want to start studying for UPSC CSE 2016. I will start from NCERT books. So kindly tell me the names of those books and subjects too. Is it required to read each and every chapter in detail? Is there any selective approach?
We have already discussed the same. Please use the ‘Search Box’ in this website to get the details.
SACHIN POONIA says
boosted up now 🙂
Is it better to take Mathematics in IAS mains exam???? what strategy should be there to qualify this subject. Please let me know ASAP. I have very good knowledge in mathematics but I have done Computer science & engineering in my graduation. Please reply…
Arjun Singh says
I m starting now my study
How many attempt here available in upsc at present time because of I am confirming 32or 30 …plz humble request from me for u …tell me sir quickly
Arun Panwar says
THANKS A LOT
sir i am in b.tech 1st year and i am a aspirant of ias being an i.a.s , sir tell me when sholud i start my preperation if , now then how much sholud i devote daily?????
Ashish mishra says
tank’s a lot sir for instruction
Sir I am doing my M.A in English (final year). I want to be an IAS,but the problem before is that I am financially weak ,so because of this I am not able to decide whether I should start doing preparation for it or first clear Net /JRF anddo my PhD, during my PhD course I should do preparation for IAS. One thing more I want to know that English literature would be right for my mains , because as I asked people about it ,they said then you can’t crack it
saurabh pandey says
Sir, i am in bsc 1st year
And I want to become IAS officer
So, from when i should do start preparation for IAS.
kiya ch says
Sir ,I m in Bsc 1 st year ..how to clear IAS
My English is very weak plssssssss help me
Ayesha Khan says
I m doing graduation after dat we should apply for upsc exam n after appling for it how much time is been given for preparation of exam
Preethu Prabu says
Nice guidance… I did b.a English literature… Social science is too hard & dry subject for me.. So plz help me to choose a subject for my exams… I’m good in maths….
Hello sir/mam ,
My self s.Anjali . I want to know that how much times take to clear IAS exams or to become IAS officer ? I’m a commerce student , I don’t have geography civics and history subjects at all ! Its necessary to fight this paper to clear the the main IAS exam ?
Plz reply me I really know that
hi ….I will be giving ’17 pre ….I started my preparation on 1 …..I have question. ……m reading polity from lakhmikant… the fundamental rights chapter n I could only complete one subtopic ..I m linking that topic with current affiar…n writing insight out answer …related to this topic ..plus I m studying …modern also …..m I took slow ….
Simran ara says
Myself simran.. m in bcom i hv no knowledge about history nd all.. but i want to write IAS exam…. Plzz suggest me how to prepare for it.. what nd all materials i shoud refer?
virendra kushwah says
i am virendra kushwah ,educatin BSC is running final ,iti is complited from electrician . sir i want to preparation for ias
i am 23 year old sir plz guide me so that i clear upsc exame……
Shailesh Kumar says
Im 28 years old n wanted to crack d IAS n my national n world geo, history n gen science r better, I cn’t join any coaching center , plz advise me …my mob no.8817268172
Pragnesh vankar says
My name is pragnesh vankar from Gujarat…sir I just want to know that gujrati is available in main exam…?
I am in final semester of my engineering and dreams to crack this prestigious exam. Plz tell me from where to start (I have a
started my preparation few months back with polity) , should I think of getting placed in some company to be on a safer side or only focus on my preparation . Tell me should I opt for coaching after completion of my degree or study at home.
i am a student of B.sc (botany).
i want to know about Indian forest service. i want to join that field. Tell me more about INDIAN FOREST SERVICE. i want to know is the prelims paper is same for IFS that of IAS??
Manish Kumar says
Sir I just paas my 12th exam with Arts stream.
I want to be an IAS officer , so please suggest me , how could I start ?
Sir I am going to complete my degree next month.. I want to start my preparation.. I’m ready with some of the ncert books. But I don’t know how and where to start. Please help me sir.. And is it possible to learn everything for prelims and mains in one year.. Waiting for your reply.. With regards..
Hello, with little more than a month to go for prelims 2017, I want to know whether there’s a specialised book for each of the topics included in GS1? As there’s not much time to read more than 1 book on the 7 topics, kindly suggest some specialised books for the same? Like for polity, I’m going to follow Indian Polity for M Laxmikanth and for topic 6, that one book by Shankar IAS; Kindly suggest such comprehensive books on the other topics too.
roshan kumar jha says
sir,i m from commerce background bt my dream is to crack UPSC exams …now i m in B.COM final yr . Become an IAS is always my passion i will try my best n give my best effort …
so plssss guide me in my initial stage that what should i do from nw?
Sk Zubair Alam says
I have passed Secondary this year.I want to start study from now. So from where I should start and how to progress it?
Ankukand Kashyap says
Hello Sir, I am working as software engineer in an IT company. I am planning to prepare for Upse CSE. By continuing my job, If I start preparation from this October 2017, Is there a possibility to cover up both syllabus of preliminary and mains exam? As I can afford 4 hours daily for week days and full day for weekends. If it is possible sir then please tell me exact list of books which I need to buy for full preparation. I hope you have understood the whole situation as I can’t take coaching but can give some good efforts. Please guide me how I should prepare, I ll be very thankful to you.
S k sharma says
Hello sir, my problem is that my younger brother is preparing UPSC exam since 6 year in Delhi but not a single pre. Exam cleared by him. Please guide us what he will do. He is frustrated.
If you ask us, our most important recommendation would be to join ClearIAS Prelims Test Series. We would strongly recommend him to take all 48 mock exams in our program (including previous year re-take exams) and revise our mock exams multiple times. (Link – https://www.cleariasexam.com/upsc-prelims-online-mock-tests-complete-package/). We would also suggest him to increase the number of questions attempted by him in actual UPSC CSE prelims to more than 80 questions, with good accuracy.
surya khatri says
well, political science and polity both are same or different. if different then which books should go for.
Nilanshi Singh says
Sir,I m a 2nd year student of computer science engineering I just want to ask that from when I should start preparing for IAS.because I know very well that after pursuing b tech n getting job I’ll not be able to give a quality tym which is required for preparation nd I m doing b tech for the back up of me n my family. Sir plz be a torch bearer for this question.Sir I m vry passionate about my dream of becoming n IAS officer.plz help
I am studying B. Com computers 2nd year.I want to prepare for IRS from now.I want to know which subjects to study now and which after. Sir I also wanted to know what are standard subjects (those which are not to be updated) and updating subjects to update frequently.
sir I have given Part2exam Economic(hons) will you please suggest me which book or where to go for preparation
honestly I am 70% scorer students
Hello am alisha. I hv just passed icom.. Plzzz give me some idea how to prepare for upsc to become an ias…plzzzz…humbly requesting u…..
Sir Am Telugu Medium Student How To Prepare UPSC.
hii sir..i am pursuing company secretary professional course. i didn’t have degree. after passing cs , am i eligible for civils?
Is it possible to b thorrow by the complete ias syllabus in 13 months,,,, all r discouraging me u can’t clear,,, but I have d will power as I can do,,, very few peoples r encouraging me,,,anyways I must clear ias,,plzzzz let me no,,, how to b thorow with all d books,,, is it possible to clear in first attempt,,, m very gud in Kannada 98+percent ,but in English m just 80+percent student,,so m willing to write d mains xm in Kannada how difficult it is,,,
SUMIT SHARMA says
I’m sumit and I’m from j&k I just completed bsc and I want to ask you that .can I prepare for IAS and how much time it will take…??
Satla saikrishna says
Am saikrishna.s I completed my bsc degree 2016,i have one backlog 2nd year subject.if i pass degree…! I want to prepare civils exam.Give me basic tips for start for civils exam..! IAM DEGREE FAILURE? It is possible for me like students…!
Thank you. I was worked up for the exam and was at the edge to be absent but after reading this,i feel motivated.
you have explained it very precisely and it can be very useful for IAS aspirants.
Raman Tripathi says
Great work done by you…. Thank you so much..
Neha pandey says
Thank you very much
Neha pandey says
Now i am doing bsc nursing 1 year so how shud i prepare for ias exam?
viren bhargav says
Sir great words written by u on 2 month 6 month and 12 month i have no words to describe u just says thanks alot this motivates me every time when i am demotivated ….. great work i am not u r student but i gave u great respect thank u sir
hi sir , am a student who completed 10th board exam in state syllabus . now i realised that my dreamn passion is to crack ias . am not a topper still i will try to fullfil my dream . so i want to prepare for it now onwards . but i dont know how to start or where to start . can u please help me . hoping ur reply soon…
Now my age is 29th. I am working in gulf country . My aim is IAS . I started preparation 2017 but 6 months only I was prepared. After my family situation I came gulf for working . Now my thought starts to IAS preparation . If it is possible or not. please clear my questions . Now I feel nervous for this decision.. I can do or not
Kartikey Tyagi says
Hello sir. I am medical student in final year of MBBS and am curious to know about logistics and technicalities of UPSC examination. Could you help me with that?
Tarun Bahl says
My name is Tarun and I am 31 years old and working in a Corporate. This will be my first and last attempt so, should I try for it as I have given many competitive exams earlier but didn’t get through.
Please guide how can I prepare for this.
@Tarun: Join ClearIAS Online Classroom Program.
RAJESH G DUBEY says
My dream is to serve my country.
I will help everyone in need.
i will make my dream come true