How long does it take to prepare for the UPSC Exam?
The time it takes to prepare for the Civil Services Exam depends on various factors such as your:
- Your level of proficiency in the subjects covered by the exam(Educational background): While there is no specific educational background required to appear for the UPSC exam, but, a strong foundation in certain subjects can be beneficial for preparation.
- Social sciences: Subjects such as history, geography, political science, economics, sociology, and law are an integral part of the UPSC syllabus. Therefore, candidates with a background in these subjects may have an advantage in terms of preparation time.
- Science and engineering subjects do not have any direct linkage with the UPSC syllabus. (Yet there are certain topics like science & technology and CSAT wherein candidates from science background generally get an advantage). So, candidates with background in science, engineering and mathematics may have to put in more time to cover the humanities subjects asked in UPSC which they may have to study for the first time.
- Amount of time you can devote to preparation,
- Ability to grasp and retain information
Generally stating, such candidates who have educational background or basic understanding of the subjects covered in the UPSC exam and can devote 8-10 hours per day for preparation, take around one year to complete the syllabus and revise it multiple times before the exam.
However, it is important to note that everyone’s preparation journey is unique and some may take more or less time than others.
It is also important to have a strategic approach to your preparation, focus on the quality of your study rather than the quantity, and also maintain a balance between your studies and personal life to avoid burnout.
Example of Rau’s IAS students who have cleared the exam in their first attempt with just one year of preparation:
- Shubhankar P Pathak who secured AIR 11, in CSE 2021, was from engineering background. He started CSE preparation after completing his engineering degree and cleared the exam in his first attempt after a dedicated one year of preparation.
- Tina Dabi who secured AIR 1 in CSE 2015, was from humanities background. She started preparing for the UPSC exam along with her college and cleared the exam in her first attempt immediately upon completing graduation.
Is one year of preparation time enough to cover the UPSC syllabus?
One year of preparation time can be sufficient to cover the entire UPSC syllabus and also revise it multiple times, however, it is important to note that the goal is to clear the UPSC exam which will require mastering the syllabus and not merely covering it.
Mastering the UPSC syllabus means:
- developing good understanding of the concepts
- staying up-to-date with current affairs
- developing examination skills (incl. writing skills).
While it is possible to cover the entire syllabus in one year, it is essential to have a strategic approach to your preparation, focus on the quality of your study rather than the quantity.
It is also important to note that everyone’s preparation journey is unique, and some may take more or less time than others to master the syllabus.
When should you start preparing for the exam?
So, it is advisable to start your preparation as early as possible, and also to be consistent and disciplined in your preparation.
If you are planning to start preparing for the UPSC exam after class 12, it is recommended that you:
- Pursue a graduation degree in a subject of your interest which you can select as your optional subject, as this will not only give you a deeper understanding of the subject but also provide you with the necessary knowledge and skills required to crack the exam.
- In addition to your graduation subject(s), you can must also start reading newspapers and books that cover various topics related to the exam, and solving previous year’s question papers. This will help you develop a habit of reading and staying up-to-date with current affairs, and also provide you with a good idea of the type of questions that are asked in the exam.
Finally, the earlier you start your preparation, the better it will be for you, as you will have more time to cover the vast syllabus of the exam and also have enough time for revision and practice.
So, it is advisable to start preparing as early as possible, and also to be consistent and disciplined in your preparation.