How To Start IAS Preparation From Home: Definitive Guide

Is It Possible To Prepare IAS Exam From Home ?

The Answer is ” Big YES ” !!

Things have been changing for last some years , now you can prepare ias exam from home without joining coaching classes and I will tell you how you can do this today-

In this articles , i will guide you how you can approach for ias exam preparation from home and also discuss about ias exam books, upsc syllabus, exam pattern, note making, use of internet for exam , useful website and apps for exam, importance of test series and what are the things to avoid.

This articles is going to be little more descriptive so that I can explain you everything which will cover every aspect of ias exam preparation from prelims exam to interview.

Know The Basics of IAS Exam-

This is the very first task to do before you think of preparing for civil service exam,.IAS exam is one of the most prestigious government service in India conducted by Union Public Service Commission where more than a million aspirants prepare for it every year.

The civil service exam has various post which are group A & B and all of them carry lot of power and responsibilities, which makes it more attractive among youth who want to make change in the society and do something extra for deprived section of society.

UPSC exam is divided into three stages which are prelims, mains and interview ( personality test), all the three stages are very important to make your name in the final list.

ias exam basics

Prelims Exam Details-

Prelims is the first stage in ias exam which consist of two objective type question papers. Paper -01 which is the only paper which marks are counted for prelims merit,

Prelims paper 01 which is known as General Studies carry 100 question of 200 marks in total. You have to score maximum marks to be above the cut-off list.

where CSAT which is 2nd paper is qualifying in nature- The marks needed to qualify this paper is 33%.

CSAT paper has 80 question in total which are objective in nature, negative marking is also applicable in both the papers.

Read this article for more details about upsc exam and its pattern-

Mains Exam Details-

Mains exam is the next stage comprising of 9 paper where 2 papers, all the papers are subjective in nature unlike prelims exam.

Out of 9 papers 2 papers are language papers which marks are not counted for mains exam, rest 7 papers marks will be counted for mains merit and final merit.

9 papers are – Essay, Indian Language, English Language, general Studies paper-01 , General Studies Paper -02, General Studies Paper -03, General Studies Paper -04, Optional Paper-01 and Optional Paper-02.

Essay2503 Hours
General Studies-012503 Hours
General Studies-022503 Hours
General Studies-032503 Hours
General Studies-042503 Hours
Optional Paper-012503 Hours
Optional Paper-022503 Hours
Language Paper-013003 Hours
Language Paper-023003 Hours

Read more about mains exam below-

Personality Test ( Interview)-

Getting Interview call in civil service exam is dream of all but are ready to grab maximum marks from it. IAS interview is very important in boosting your overall score.

If you are well prepared for interview and lucky person, you can score very good marks which can make a clear change in your final ranking.

IAS exam interview is the last stage of civil service exam process, once you clear mains exam and shortlisted for interview, your success chance increase manifold comparing to previous stages.

UPSC call approximately 3 times more candidates of vacancies available that year. So if you prepare well for interview , you can make your name in the final list.

Though there is no fixed syllabus for IAS interview but we can guess the areas where most of the UPSC interview questions asked year by year.

if you are lucky one to get Interview call, you should also look these areas before you go for ias interview.

  • Details information about yourself, your likes, dislikes, hobbies , family background related questions etc.
  • Knowledge about your locality, your city , state , if anything is popular in your area, you must know about that in much detail.
  • Knowledge about current happening in Inside and outside our country .
  • Knowledge about burning issues of society, international problems like, terrorism, Global warming etc.
  • Reading daily newspaper for interview and revising the study material is helpful.
  • Awareness is important, self and near by , many questions are asked from these two areas.
  • You can read books on interview to get idea how they ask questions and how to respond them.
  • Online video of coaching institutes , mock interview may help you to get some idea of how to face interviews .

Qualification & Age Limit-

The basic educational qualification for civil service exam is a college degree with passing marks ( no minimum percentage is mentioned ) from any recognized university.

The minimum age limit for civil service exam is 21 years and maximum age limit changes with the category of the students ( details is given below). The general category students age limit is 32 years.

CategoryUPSC Age LimtNo. of AttemptQualification
Genaral32 years06Degree From University.
SC/ST32+5 years No limit.Degree From University.
OBC32+3 years06+3 =9Degree From University.
ex-service man with 5 years minimum service.G-37,OBC-40,SC/ST-42.Based on Category (mentioned above)Degree From University.
Handicaps, Blind etc.32+10 YearsGen & OBC ( 9 attempts )Degree From University.
j&K resident.G-37, OBC-40.ST/SC-42, PH-50 yearsTill the age limit.Degree From University.
Dis-abled service man.G-37,ST/SC-40. OBC-38 years,Based on the category ( mentioned above )Degree From University.

Syllabus For UPSC exam-

UPSC exam syllabus for civil service exam cover almost everything but it can be done effectively with the help of right books.

UPSC already announced syllabus for various papers in its official notification and I have also simplified the syllabus for various subjects mentioned below-

The very unfortunate fact is that many aspirants are misguided about the books, ultimately they spend their time on those books which are least useful for the exam,

I have made an exclusive list of books which based on my personal reading experience (most of them) and Ias topper suggestion-

You can choose books from this list which are read by thousands of students every year. You can skip if you have already these books at your home-

SociologyUPSC (Hindi Language)Mathematics
Public AdministrationPolitical ScienceUPSC( English Language)

Books: The Key To Success-

If we categorise questions asked by UPSC, most of the question can be answered from books only, rest of the question are current affairs which needs daily reading of newspaper, some current affairs websites (I have mentioned below).

Books still play very important role in ias exam preparation specially of you are preparing from home. IAS preparation from home has some challenges unlike those who attend coaching classes,

so you have to be little more careful about the selection of books for prelims and mains exam. In coaching institutes, they provides their own study material which is collected from various sources by experts,

and it makes students work easier but when you are preparing from home, you have to do it your own ( it will take some extra time but you can do it).

So here you have to select those books which cover entire upsc syllabus in details and we assume that you can not afford reading those books which does not cover syllabus at all.( specially if you have less time to prepare).

Indian PolityIndian EconomyEssayMaps
EnvironmentCSAT PaperModern HistoryWorld Geography
Ancient HistoryMedieval HistoryWorld HistoryIndian Geography
Previous Question paperArt & CultureEnvironment 2IAS Notes

So I have selected some books which are subject wise and exam specific (like Prelims & mains), these books will cover most part of the upsc syllabus.

The best part is- All these books which are mentioned can be bought directly from your home so you need not to go to market and look for books-

Read and buy these books from here- UPSC Books

Utilize Internet To Prepare IAS From Home-

Internet is something which can not be ignored in ias exam preparation specially if you are preparing from home. You can not imaging preparing for IAS exam without the help of Internet.

Current Affairs-

Current affair cover more than 50% of the prelims question, there is no specific book for this section, you have to do it from online resources, websites & apps.

Current affair cover more than 50% of the prelims question, there is no specific book for this section, you have to do it from online resources, websites & apps.

Current affairs includes the important topics of last one year from every aspect of life, they may ask question on disease, medicine, environment issues, world organization like WTO, WORLD BANK, UN related question.

So you have to keep in eye on the development happing in these organization too. Current affairs also cover about those burning topics which impact our country directly or indirectly, which  includes government foreign policy, any international dispute where India is also involved etc.

Note- The best way to cover entire current affairs section is to read a good newspaper daily, read magazine which are published on monthly basis, have a daily look on the website which provides daily current affairs.

If you follow all the above mentioned sources regularly, you can prepare current afffairs section in much better way/

All these can be accessed with the help of internet connection. You can read newspaper daily, daily current affairs from these website which post current affairs regularly.

Current affair cover more than 50% of the prelims question, there is no specific book for this section, you have to do it from online resources, websites & apps.

All these can be accessed with the help of internet connection.You can read newspaper daily, daily current affairs from these website which post current affairs regularly.

Useful Websites & Apps For IAS Preparation-

If you are preparing ias from home, you have to include upsc apps and website in your preparation strategy. There are many good apps and website which provides very useful content for prelims as well as mains exam.

Most of the coaching institutes have website and apps where they provide online and offline course for prelims and mains exam. You can buy their course directly from your home and start preparing for ias exam.

If you do not want to buy the course, you can read the FREE stuff which is also very useful for ias exam. I have listed some of the best ias preparation website and apps  which cover almost all the syllabus.

UPSC apps are also very hand in ias preparation from home, you can install them in phone and read anywhere. UPSC apps are useful in reading daily current affairs, MCQ practice, NCERT revision etc.

Newspaper are unavoidable part of UPSC Exam for both the stages – Prelims and mains.  You can read one or two good news paper to cover current affairs section.

Newspaper are the best and reliable source to prepare current affair and international relation. You can also cover science and technology section , economy section and environment section directly from newspaper.

If you are reading daily newspaper, you can have a look on daily happening in Indian and world, you can make a note of those things which are important for exam point of view out of it.

There are many good Newspaper The Hindu and Indian Express are most loved newspaper for UPSC exam by English Medium students. Lets read some useful website and apps-

OnlinetyariMrunal UpscKey.In

Magazine are crucial for IAS Preparation-

Monthly publishing magazine are full of useful content which cover all the happening of that particular month which you might miss just by daily reading.

Selection of magazine is important and its wise decision to read few good magazine than reading many of less important.

There are few good magazine which are read by many students and IAS topper regularly. Yojna , Science Reporter, Kurukshetra are some useful magazine which are published on monthly basis and very authentic by content and information.

Yojna magazine-

Yojna magazine is theme specific magazine , it provides detailed articles on some burning issues on monthly basis. Each monthly issue has 10-12 articles which are well written and very informative.

You can read and them and do essay writing practice, all the articles are good in length and very well explained Yojna magazine can be bought from near market.

Yojna magazine is easily available in any bookstore , you can ask it directly to your by post on yearly subscription basis too. Online PDF are also available to download for FREE from it official website.

Science Reporter-

Science reporter is one of the best magazine to cover science relates news. This magazine cover latest discoveries in the field of science, innovation , facts and figure about science topics and details research on a topics.

Science reporter magazine is a small magazine which can be read in few days so it is good idea to read this magazine to prepare science related topics for upsc prelims and mains exam.

Apart from this magazine you can read ncert for static science concepts from class 6th to 10th. Reading ncerts will make your basic understanding of science subject strong and easy to understand more complicated concepts in future.

Science reporter is a authentic magazine which is available online and you can also buy it from your near by book store.

Kurukshetra Magazine-

Kurukshera magazine is my favorite one as it cover topics related agriculture and cover rural area problems in details. If you read this magazine, you will get more clear view of Indian rural society and its issues.

This magazine is also theme specific which has different topics every month where very detailed analysis is written by well known authors,experts and top government officials.

so the data and statics are authentic and you can put them in the exam too. It can be bought at very low price from your near by store.

Download Kurukshetra Magazine from Here- Dwonload

Access Videos Classes From Home-

Video content is on high demand in every field and education is no exception. Video tutorials are more informative and provides more information in short time.

IAS coaching institutes are also focusing on creating more and more videos on various topics and some coaching institutes are providing video course for students who can not afford to join their coaching classes.

You as a student preparing ias exam from home can take benefit of this opportunity and join their online video classes from home.

There are some coaching institutes who are offering paid video course for upsc exam which can be bought directly from home.

If you do not want to buy video course online, still you can access some of the top coaching institutes video classes who share their coaching class videos on YouTube for aspirants.

Here is the list of some useful coaching institutes video links-

Vajirao Khan Study GroupRSTV
StudyIQeducationDrishti EnglishChanakyaIAS

Writing Practice At Home-

“Practice makes man prefect” Its 100% true in UPSC exam specially in mains exam. The syllabus is huge, studying whole syllabus takes time but revision and writing practice is needed to score high marks in the exam.

UPSC mains question papers are descriptive in nature, lot of writing practice is needed to answer all the question in the exam, many students left question due lack of time.

It is highly recommended to do writing practice at home in timed manner so that you can easily answer all the question asked in the exam.

In essay paper, you have to write 2,3 long essay to get maximum marks and it is very difficult to write such a long essay without sufficient practice at home.

There are some good essay books available online which can be useful in writing and practicing essay at home. You can also read magazine like Yojna which are very well written .

Reading Newspaper Daily-

Reading newspaper daily is a good habit specially in upsc exam preparation. UPSC prelims exam covers more than 70% question from current affairs.

Newspaper is the best source to cover daily current affairs and you can also make notes for later revision.

There are very good newspaper in English language like The Hindu and Indian express. Both the newspaper cover wide range of topics which are useful in prelims and mains exam.

Almost all the IAS toppes and experts strongly recommend to read a Newspaper regularly for civil service exam.

Time management at home-

Time management is the key to success in every aspect of life and IAS exam is no exception. The role of time management in ias exam preparation is very crucial specially if you are preparing it from home without any coaching.

While preparing ias exam from home, you always have some time management issue like, attending social parties,parties with friends, friends marriage, function of your near and dear ones. These events dare to change your time-management and continuity for some time.

These are unavoidable events which can be minimised unless something is very urgent. IAS exam preparation needs constant efforts and regular study, if you do not read one day, you tend to miss something which many cost you 1,2 marks in the prelims or mains exam.

So we can not let go 1,2 marks where we are well aware of the fact that 1 or 2 marks make your name in the final list or make you topper of the year.

Make a habit of daily reading or devoting some hours for your study as per your syllabus and try to stick these hours for ias preparation only.

Make a well planned time table for each subject based on the difficulty level and contribution of that subject in the exam syllabus.

Avoid starting anything new relationship in between ias preparation like new relationship, new hobby. Every new relationship demands time ( which you can’t afford this time) to build-up and flourish , chances are high that your preparation may hamper in doing so.

If you are planning to develop new hobby, just wait for few months, once you clear ias exam, you can opt for any type hobby. if you want it now, you will somewhere compromise with your ias exam preparation (which is not accepted from exam point of view).

Focusing on these small-small points you can save a lot of time , and time is the only luxury in ias exam preparation which you can not afford to waste.

Attempt Online Test Series Directly from home-

When we study and prepare for a exam, we assume that our preparation is going well and we are confident to score very good marks. But sometimes the competition is so high that our preparation is not enough to score above the cut marks.

Test Series/ Online test play crucial role here. Test paper or mock test help us to check our actual preparation level and our preparedness for the exam.

We also come to know that how other are performing in the exam and where we stand in the competition.

It is very important to take sufficient mock test before exam, you can give FREE or Paid test but make sure that you are attempting in timed environment and all India level.

Avoid Things while Preparing IAS from home-

There are ample guidelines available for how to prepare for ias exam and what to read what not to read etc…….

but it is equally important to know what to avoid while preparing for ias exam . Many students unknowingly waste their time in reading those books which hardly cover UPSC exam syllabus.

So it is very important to read upsc books which are based on upsc syllabus and avoid all those books which do not cover upsc exam syllabus.

Use Of Social Media-

India currently has a total population of over 1.36 billion people (it’s the second most populous country). Of that population, 230 million or 70% are active social media users. Source (Talkwalker).

The Internet uses are high in India ,On average Indian users spend 2.4 hours on social media a day where the global average is 2.5 hours a day).

There are many social media groups available in the name of IAS exam preparation. Hardly some groups have quality stuff rest of them are full of information which is irrelevant as per UPSC exam syllabus.

Many aspirants spend so much time thinking that these groups will help them in preparing for the exam.

The reality is totally different, these groups hardly provide any stuff which good for IAS exam points of view except some authentic Videos classes and Websites.

It is wise to minimise the use of social media while preparing for ias exam and devote more time to core books.

Avoid Start New Hobbies-

Hobbies are awesome,we all have hobbies and we love to spend time in whatever we like to do as hobby. While preparing for ias specially from home, one should avoid starting new hobby.

If you have already your hobby, that’t great if not, avoid to creating new one- The reason behind this is –

Starting Hobby needs time to learn and if it is new, you tend to spend more time than usual so that extra time is directly deducted from your IAS preparation schedule. It will somewhere hamper your preparation.

You are advised to start your hobby after your exam so that you can give your most of time in upsc exam preparation.

But it is also suggested that take some time for your physical activities while preparation for exam. Studying for 10-12 hours daily may affect your health if you ignore your physical activities.

Playing outdoor games, going for long walk of 30-45 minutes or doing something which can burn some calories of your body may good for your health. There is a popular saying ” Healthy mind lives in healthy body”

When you are preparing from home, you get lot’s of opportunities to attend parties, function which may last for days. These social functions can not be avoided easily, if possible you can avoid them unless some very important.

The reason behind this- Upsc needs regular preparation if you miss one day, you will be overloaded next day with the remaining stuff of previous day.

Current affairs have to be prepared on daily basis if not, you may miss some important events of that day. So you can not afford doing lot’s parties, attending function which may cost you in the exam.

Other Useful Links

UPSC Exam 2020IAS NotesIAS Powers
Indian & World Geography BooksIAS SalaryUPSC apps
Previous year Question PapersIndian Polity BooksSociology Syllabus


Q 1 Can we clear ias exam without attending coaching classes?

Answer- Yes ! Anyone can clear ias exam from home without taking coaching classes. There are a number of aspirants who clear upsc civil service exam every year without taking coaching.

If you still want to join coaching classes, you can go for online course offered by coaching institutes. These course offer a lot of option to prepare ias exam from home.

About Author

Check Also

How To Prepare UPSC Exam With Job

Prepare UPSC With Job (Complete Guide) Today we will learn how to Prepare UPSC With …

Leave a Reply