How to Prepare for IAS Examination while Working Fulltime


One of the most repetitive query which any UPSC Preparation Community witnesses is definitely this one – “How to Prepare for IAS Examination while working fulltime with a company”. Wouldn’t you agree with us? As the eligibility criteria set for attempting UPSC IAS Examination lies in that certain age bracket (minimum 21 years), a lot of IAS aspirants are already employed in a company working fulltime at various posts. Infact, a considerable number of IAS aspirants who appear for the first written examination (IAS Prelims) are fulltime employees in firms around the country. Yet, many of them make it through the selection process and crack IAS Examination.

So, now we ponder upon the pressing matter at hand – Will you be able to crack IAS Examination while having a fulltime 9 to 5 job?” Let us look into the two preliminary factors first.

  1. Understanding your Fulltime Job and Restrictions 
  2. Understanding UPSC IAS Examination       

Before we proceed further into devising a definitive exam strategy on How to Prepare for IAS Examination, it is necessary that we weigh in these factors first.


  Understanding your Fulltime Job and Restrictions

To keep things simple, just be honest with yourself and answer the following questions.

  • Are you happy with your current job profile?
  • Is the salary good enough to support your lifestyle?
  • How would you rate yourself as an employee in terms of knowledge and efficiency?
  • Do you get any extra time to work upon your personal projects or have a life?

Honest Self Evaluation is extremely necessary while answering these questions. Are these questions relevant towards IAS Exam Preparation? Yes!

Your level of satisfaction with your current job and salary will directly affect your willingness to pursue other opportunities. An extremely satisfied employee might not push himself/ herself down the extremely perilous journey of preparing for IAS Examination. But the biggest question which will make all the difference here is – Time!

You need to think hard and analyze your daily work schedule as there are no 9 to 5 jobs anymore. Your day will start as early as 7 a.m. and most working employees get off work only after 6 or 7 pm. Preparations for a Highly Competitive Examination like UPSC IAS is escalated to a whole new level when you spend over 12 hours working tirelessly every day. Hence, you need to zero-in on a definitive answer whether you’ll have time (atleast 3-4 hours) each day which can be substituted for IAS Exam Preparation.


Understanding UPSC IAS Examination

The Indian Civil Services Examination is conducted by the Union Public Service Commission, commonly known as UPSC. Regarded as one of the toughest recruitment exams of the country, there are 3 levels of screening for every candidate appearing in IAS Examination.

  1. IAS Prelims Examination (Objective MCQ based)
  2. IAS Mains Examination (Written Test)
  3. Interview/ Personality Test

Let us understand each screening level of UPSC Civil Services Examination.

Stage I – IAS Preliminary Examination

The First Level, which is, UPSC IAS Preliminary Examination will consist of two papers of objective type (multiple choice questions) and carry a maximum of 400 marks. The purpose of this examination is basically screening and shortlisting candidates for the Mains Examination. The 2 Papers in IAS Prelims are General Studies and Aptitude.

  • General Studies include topics like Indian History, Current Events, Indian and World Geography, Indian Polity, Economics, Sciecne and Technology and Environment Studies.
  • Aptitude include Comprehension, Logical Reasoning, English Language, Mental Ability etc.

Both Sections carry 200 marks each and IAS Prelims Candidates are allotted 2 hours to solve each paper. Only the ones that make it through this level can apply for IAS Mains Examination.

Stage II – IAS Mains Examination

IAS Prelims Examination is generally held in the month of May and June and the results are announced in July-August. If you think cracking IAS Prelims was the equivalent of running down a cliff with no safety, be prepared for a whole new level.

IAS Mains Examination consists of 9 papers in total, comprising of conventional essay type questions. Among these 9 descriptive papers, 2 will be qualifying in nature. To be clear, marks of these papers will not be considered in the total score, which is, 1750 marks.

UPSC IAS Mains Paper  Marks
 Paper 1 – Essay  250
 Paper 2 – General Studies I  250
 Paper 3 – General Studies II  250
 Paper 4 – General Studies III  250
 Paper 5 – General Studies IV  250
 Paper 6 – Optional Subject I  250
 Paper 7 – Optional Subject II  250
 Paper 8 – Indian Language  *300
 Paper 9 – English Language  *300
 Total  1750

* Marks not included in IAS Mains Total Score.

Seems handful, right? The selected few who are able to crack upon this round move to the final level of screening, which is, Interview.

Stage III – Interview/ Personality Test

If you have been preparing for UPSC IAS Examination for a while, you know the interview round for Civil Services Examination are unique on its own. A panel of highly trained professionals will grill you into answering vivid, challenging and absolute brainstorming questions. The interview round carries 275 marks.

The Final Merit List for IAS Examination is calculated after considering performance in both IAS Mains as well as Interview. Hence, this entire journey takes as long as 1 year and only a handful of extremely talented individuals make it through the final cut. So, if you are still with us, are you ready to take up this challenge? Do you wish to know How to Prepare for IAS Examination while working fulltime? If your answer is still Yes, here is our Study Plan or Exam Preparation Strategy for IAS Prelims 2016. Give it a thorough read.

How to Prepare for IAS Examination while Working 

Journey of a Thousand Miles begins with a Single Step. Keeping that in mind, let us chart out your study plan for upcoming IAS 2016 Examination and make sure it doesn’t hinder your performance at work.


1. Time Management – Make the Best of it

Perhaps the obvious IAS Preparation Tip for upcoming Civil Service Examination. Since IAS Exam is an year long ordeal, get ready to assign a major portion of your extra time towards IAS Exam Preparation.

Apart from regular 3-4 hours of study time, make sure you also fill the gaps in between, like

  • Reading Newspaper (The Hindu & Economic Times) in the morning, while having breakfast or otherwise.
  • Reading latest articles for improving your level in current affairs. Download our App for that as it caters to millions of users preparing for various recruitment exams.

Filling these cracks and crevices in the daily schedule will help in preparing more efficiently for IAS Prelims 2016.


2. Understand IAS Exam Structure

As we have extensively explained in the section above, you need to be well informed regarding UPSC IAS Exam Pattern and Structure. Before pondering over How to Prepare for IAS Examination, it is necessary to know what to prepare.

  • Prepare for IAS Prelims first. You need to get hold of the objective pattern and the complexities involved with the written exam pattern.
  • IAS Mains is different from Prelims Exam. Subjective Pattern involves deeper understanding of the subject.

It is therefore recommended that you be familiar with the pattern of the exam and study only what is required.

3. Make a Study Timetable for IAS Exam Preparation 

If you are a working professional, then perhaps going along with a study timetable is essential towards cracking IAS Examination. Keep the following things in mind while making a study timetable.

  • You must dedicate atleast 2-3 hours on weekdays and 5-6 hours during weekends.
  • Each Section must appear atleast thrice every week so you are able to keep track of your performance.
  • You need to allocate special timings for revision and mock tests at a later stage.
  • Keep away from all distractions (FaceBook, WhatsApp) while you study for IAS Exam.


Also Read: How to Make an Efficient Study Timetable for IAS Exam Preparation

It is also advisable to allocate your study timings for morning hours rather than late night study so that your mind is relaxed and open to new ideas.


4. Eclectic Reading – A Necessity  

For all those who are not familiar with this term, Eclectic Reading means reading from multiple sources. Adding more to it, reading from the right sources is also important towards preparing for IAS Examination.

  • For Newspapers, we Recommend The Hindu, The Economic Times and The Statesman.
  • For IAS Prelims Sectional Preparation, we recommend going through NCERT Books for understanding the basics first. Reference Books are for later on.

You cannot cover all the topics in a day. Hence, there is a schedule in place as explained in the point above.


5. NCERT Books – The Beginner’s Guide for IAS Preparation

There is no better way to start preparing for IAS Examination then reading from Old NCERT Books from School Time. There are a couple reasons why NCERT Books serve as the best source material for IAS Exam Preparation.

  • Clarity in Basics
  • Simplicity of Language
  • Well Illustrated Examples
  • Authenticity of Information


Also Read: Why NCERT Books are Essential for IAS Exam Preparation

Your initial study timetable must begin with these NCERT Books as they will help in laying a better foundation for future topics as well.


Also Read: Essential NCERT Books for IAS Exam Preparation 

Keep a proper note of what you are taking from NCERT Books for future reference and revision at times.

6. Stay Well Informed about the Latest Happenings

IAS Preliminary Exam for Civil Services is primarily based on General Knowledge and Aptitude. Only a well informed aspirant can attempt questions with ease and confidence. You can just Download the OnlineTyari App and subscribe to Daily GK Updates.


Download For Free: Click Here

Newspapers will still serve as the primary source of Current Affairs but the App will come handy, we assure you.

7. Attempt Previous Years Question Papers and Mock Tests

Since you are working professionally, you might lose touch and skill of attempting tests after a while. So, in order to enhance your hold over objective tests, you need to solve as many mock tests and practice papers on IAS Exam as possible.

Begin by solving previous years IAS Papers and understand the level of the question paper. You need to devise a proper strategy as you go along.

8. Revision – The Unforgivable Step

All your ‘How to Prepare for IAS Exam’ Preparation Tips will be of absolute no use if you do not dedicate time for revision.


Also Read: Best Revision Tips for Recruitment Exam Preparation

From your total allocated time, there must be atleast 25-30% study hours dedicated towards revising, reflecting and recollecting what you’ve gathered in the past days or weeks of IAS Exam Preparation.

9. Understand the Civil Services Exam Competition  

There are only a handful of candidates that make it through the final cut. There should always be a clarity regarding the candidates and type of exam preparation level they are bringing with themselves.

While attempting IAS Examination, it will be plain field for everyone. You will be facing candidates who’ve had no job or the ones who’ve been working for years.


10. You have a Job … Breath!

If you were discouraged by the point mentioned above, we apologize. We are not writing this article with the objective of discouraging you but, to provide you a better vision of the current scenario.

Never let the pressure of either one of them outweigh the importance of what you are working for. You are preparing for IAS Examination with the hopes of a better career option and stable future. Remember that, Always. Never let pressure and tension eat up your personal and corporate life. IAS Examination is a challenge and you know what they say about challenge.


All the Best to all the working professionals for upcoming IAS Examination 2016.

Stay connected for more information regarding UPSC Civil Services Exam Recruitment 2016. To excel in Civil Services Examination, download the Best IAS Exam Preparation App for free.

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