Every year many working professionals and fresh graduates clear these prestigious exams. Students have secured top ranks while managing their work and college life along with IAS preparation. Apart from coaching and guidance, it is their discipline in achieving daily workable targets, mock test and constant revision and most importantly a good custom time table which helped them in not only clearing the civil services exam but also secure top ranks.
Things to remember while preparing for IAS exam along with full time job or college classes
- First and foremost do not compromise on your sleep otherwise you will not be able to sustain your hectic time table. Ensure 6-8 hours of sleep on a daily basis.
- Take one day off after 15 days of good preparation. This will reenergise you.
- Do not buy multiple books for single topic as you already have dearth of time and will not be able to study the haphazardly accumulated material. Instead revise standard sources like NCERTs, newspaper, Current Affairs etc in multiple times from single source.
- Do not make the mistake of unplanned coverage of subjects. It will not bear fruitful results. All your preparation should be pre-planned so as to ensure maximum coverage of all subjects and maximum results in minimum amount of time. For example Do not study single subject for a month and then skip to completely different subject for different without allocating any time slots for revision, review and mock tests to assess your performance.
- Do not try to do multi tasking by studying at your work place or during college classes all the time. While making use of breaks and free time during classes and work to revise or cover UPSC syllabus is okay but due respect should be paid to class and job obligations as well.
- After coming home from your job or college classes do not waste excessive time on social media. Minimize all distractions while studying. For eg: put phone at silent mode, Log off from social media. You already have lesser time to study as compared to full time aspirants so it is not advisable to further reduce the quality time on trivial social media apps.
- While making study strategy and time table take into account time spent at office/college, travel time, breaks timings at home, hobbies, family, friends and extra-curricular activities. Then only a genuine analysis of time available for civil services preparation can be made.
- Before you start making a daily routine first chart out a long-term and short term strategy in accordance with your coaching classes.
- In order to track your progress, break down your long-term goals into achievable monthly, weekly and finally daily targets in advance.
- Always re-evaluate your performance every 30 days.
- Do not try to make an unrealistic or non-achievable strategy. Such as long slots of 4 hour or 5 hours. Instead, divide daily schedule into 2-3 hours study sessions and 2-3 slots depending on the free time available. Also take into account any increase or decrease in work load at office or college while adjusting your monthly and weekly targets. For example: you will have lesser time available for UPSC during your exam days and more time during the beginning of a new semester. So make changes accordingly.
- Take a short break of 10min after 45 min study session. As many scientific studies have shown that productivity and concentration decrease beyond 45 minutes.
- Maintain a balanced diet and a good sleep regimen for maintain physical and mental health. Since you cannot study well if you are sick or exhausted. and it is quite demanding on both your mind and body to manage civil services preparation along with daily classes and job. So extra care should be taken.
- More than 45min-1hour should not be spent on daily morning chores things like taking bath, brushing teeth etc as this will eat into the valuable time allotted for IAS preparation.
General Plan for exam
During the initial stages of your preparation, you should follow an integrated pre mains strategy. As mentioned earlier: Go through PYQ’s and given IAS syllabus. Scrutinize each topic of the syllabus properly. Try to note the trend of the questions asked. This can be easily done during breaks and free time in college and office.
During this phase study for GS-1 to GS-4, read the newspaper (The tribune with a little sprinkling of The Hindu), prepare for Essay. Practice grammar and writing regularly for language papers. Do not neglect this aspect. Newspaper can be read in the morning while having tea and breakfast and revised during breaks at your office and college.
Your free time at home should be spent reading all standard books like NCERT, Sada Punjab, Laxshmikant, Bipin Chandra etcand study material package of your coaching class for General Studies Prelims and Mains. Practice writing answers and compile your notes.
When the exam is only 4 months away, you should slowly start giving more time to prelims oriented preparation. Continue with daily newspaper reading and analysis during your office and college break and free time slots and some mains related prep as well. But mainly focus on prelims related topics and prelims mock questions at home.
You should keep aside the last 2 months before the prelims exam strictly only for revision purpose.
Since CSAT is qualifying solve books for CSAT even if you are not weak in CSAT.
General time table guidelines:
Weekdays: Sleep- 7-8 hours
Freshen up and breakfast- 1 hour
Newspaper- 1 hour
Work/ classes + commute time- 8 hours
Time left- 6 hours (2 hours for misc activities. Thus, 4 hours study time on weekdays)
Holidays and weekends= full day of preparation similar to full time civil services aspirants
WEEKDAYS(WORKING DAYS/ COLLEGE DAYS)
12am to 7am- sleep
7:00 AM-8Am:Wake up, Rise & Shine
- Have a nutritious Breakfast
8:00 – 11am: Office work/class
11 AM: Tea break for office goers
- A tea break will refresh your mind and body. Try to relax your mind.
- Cover current affairs reading
11:30 AM – 2:00 PM:office work/class
2:00-3pm PM: Lunch.
- Keep your lunch light to avoid stomach troubles and lethargy.
- Current affairs analysis with daily current affairs quiz
3:00 – 6:00 PM:office/classes
6:00-7:30 PM– reached home
- Evening tea + small talk.
- Try to relax your mind. Avoid thinking about study topics during this time.
- Watch TV, spend time with family
- Dinner at 7pm
7:30PM to 9:30 pm– study slot 1 Subject 1 2 hours
15 min break
15min for PYQs analysis/ one mains question/ pre questions
10:00 PM to 12am –study slot 2 subject 2 2 hours
Sundays: Either all Sundays can be kept as half days or any 2 days per month can be taken as full off day from study routine. Sunday canbe used to meet any social obligations or pursue hobbies during this time such as watching movies, lunch with friends etc.
If you can believe in your dreams of being an IAS officer then you are already half way there in achieving your goals. And time management will aid you in achieving your goal of becoming a civil servant while working and studying. During the course of your preparation for IAS exam you should treat time more dearly than the gold itself. Time well spent during this duration will pave the way for all your future goals and ambitions. Following a good strategy and time management along with perseverance and hard work is the key to clearing this exam while fulfilling your obligations toward your job and graduation degree.
We believe that time management is a constant process and not just a to-do list or a timetable or fixed schedule. But this suggested timetable can be easily tailored to adapt to your college and office schedules and where necessary. If you are able to achieve 90% of the targets on a weekly basis then you are on the right track. Remember not to overexert yourself while juggling between IAS preparation with you other obligations and duties. Take a full daybreak to spend time with your family after every 10-15 days and spend an hour with your family and relax on a daily basis as well. Since doing nonstop preparation and work without any break for more than a month will wear out and cause health concerns as well. So, take it one day at a time, enjoy your journey.