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Without Coaching

How to prepare for IAS exam without coaching?

Many students qualify the exams without going for any coaching and some of them even top the exam. From this it is very clear that coaching is not the solution but your own preparation is - with or without coaching! Many students prefer coaching as it sets routines, targets and gives practice, but these can be done on your own. Only it require discipline and determination. You may actually end up saving more time and resources and putting it back into your preparations. A to-do list for self study

  • Manage your time effectively and be disciplined. Develop a routine!
  • Do selective reading but be thorugh in those protions
  • Remember to have a good mix of books and self made notes


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  • Take mock tests at regular intervals
  • Start preprations early, its a vast syllabus!
  • Make short notes and mindmaps on a regular basis!They help your memory.
  • Reach out to fellow aspirants. Discuss topics!
  • Most importantly believe that you can do it without coaching!





CSAT Preparation for General Studies is one of the important components of Civil Services. The IAS exam is one of the most prestigious exams of our country. Also, one of the toughest to crack. Yet each year lakhs of aspirants appear for the exam and the best among them make it to their dream destination.

Confusion to most aspirants is that they consider CSAT as a subset of UPSC prelims, ie. they treat CSAT as a synonym to the General Studies Paper 2 of the UPSC Civil Services Preliminary Exam. A few aspirants equate CSAT with the entire Preliminary Exam stage of UPSC CSE (ie. General Studies Paper 1 + General Studies Paper 2).

UPSC notification, syllabus, or question paper does not use the term ‘CSAT’ or ‘Civil Service Aptitude Test’ at all. This term is popularized on social media by students and other institutions.

Main aim of introduction of  CSAT in the year 2011 is to test the analytical skills, reasoning ability and aptitude of a candidate.


Controversy in Marking System (2015)

From 2011-2014, the total marks of both GS Paper-1 (General Studies Paper) and GS Paper-2 (CSAT paper) were considered for calculating the UPSC CSE prelims ranking (to qualify for the mains examination). However, there was a protest about including the CSAT for calculating the prelims ranks by a section of aspirants. The Centre asked UPSC to make a change in the pattern in response to this protest. In 2015, the CSAT was made a qualifying paper.


Present Scheme of Marking

Only the marks of GS Paper 1 will be counted for calculating the Prelims ranking.

However, candidates have to score a minimum of 33% i.e. 66 marks out of the 200 allotted for the GS Paper 2 paper (CSAT paper) in order to clear the Civil Services Preliminary Examination.


Prepare CSAT

Many candidates finds it diffcult to handle this subject because of their education background, time constraints or the other reasons. They needs proper planning and a clear strategy to cover the topics of CSAT. If you plan ahead and balance your efforts, you will be able to score very well in the CSAT. One must understand that- CSAT requires a good understanding and practice.

The CSAT paper is divided into a number of sections, which can be managed according to the level of each candidate. Here are some of the major sections of the paper and the strategy to deal with them:

Comprehension and Interpersonal Skills

The Comprehension has become a primary section in all recruitments. The toughness of the question in the comprehension section can managed, after the adequate amount of practice. But aspirants must improve their basic English. Reading newspaper reports, editorials and magazines will be helpful in sharpening your reading skills. The important aspect is practising the question from the comprehension section from previous years question papers. One can also attempt passages which are easy and topics which are familiar. Make sure you should create a habit of reading and referring to dictionary.

Logical reasoning

Logical reasoning hold an important part in CSAT. The difficulty level of the reasoning section in the CSAT paper is not high for any aspirants. Generally, a candidate can solve the questions if one is aware of the types of questions in the reasoning section. In order to attempt most questions effectively, one should practice at least 50 - 60 questions every day. The candidate should understand and read about the topics, concepts which are important. But, simple reading the questions and answers will not be helpful without practicing them.


Decision making section is an important section which tests the decision making skills. Since the questions are not technical and are situation based and generic one need to practice a lot of questions. The purpose of the section is to measure the use of logic and common sense in solving of problems confronted in administration. Daily practice and solving previous year question paper will help to cross this hindrance.

Basic Numeracy & Data Interpretation

The questions on Basic numeracy in the CSAT paper will be easy, since most of them are matriculation level. Regular practice and understanding of the basic concepts helps to score better. Logical reasoning needs more practice. Practising 40-50 questions from the section is a must. In order to succeed in data interpretation one need to learn and study the concepts of statistics. One of the positive elements is that toughness of the section is not high. Most of the questions are based from data table and bar graphs. Anyone who can understand the basic concepts can attempt this questions. Candidates with good practice along with the mathematical part of the section.


Directions For English section in CSAT

  • Improve your grammer.
  • Work your vocabulary to get help in comprehending the meaning of the passages.
  • Cram or Learn common idioms and phrases.
  • Become strong in newspaper, use other English books to get command over English words, phases, grammer etc.


Points To Remember In General

  • Solve previous year questions within timelimit.
  • Check your answers and improve your weak areas.
  • Regular tests to measure your performance.
  • Time management is most important of CSAT.
  • Solve mock tests and use same books for preparation
  • Solve SSC, Other UPSC exam papers like CAPF, CDS and all
  • Write down some maths formulas in a note
  • Write down some logic and reasoning in a note


Best books for CSAT

  • A Modern Approach to Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning by Dr. R.S.Aggarwal
  • Cracking the CSAT Paper-2 - Civil Services Aptitude Test by Arihant
  • Analytical Reasoning – M. K. Pandey
  • General Studies Paper II 2020 for Civil Services Preliminary Examination by McGraw-Hill
After 12th

Do you want to become an IAS officer in future?

Are you in 12th class this year? 

Then it is the right time start paparation to become IAS officer in early age and then climb the leader to topmost in hierarchy.

Then Question arised how to do that ie, How should I start my preparation for the IAS exam after 12th?

Most importantly, Motivation

You need to have very strong motivation and foundation to get aligned at such an early age. You need to be focused and have to build temprament to understand the gravity of situation. So figure out "THE CAUSE" OR "WHY" and hold it throughout your journey. 

Become familiar with the syllabus for each exam.

Read and understand the syllbus and pattern properly to have clear and distinct idea about it.

Understand the competitive nature of the exam.
Each year 5-10 lakh aspirants register and sit for the exam. Less than 1% of the number of aspirants are chosen for the IAS.

Begin your test preparation early.

Check the current year’s schedule for the dates of the preliminary exams. Several months of preparation should be done to ensure that you are ready for the variety of questions that may be asked.


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Read the newspaper every day.

Stay informed about current events from the local to the international level. Focus on the economic and political sections without worrying about the entertainment news as much.

Have booklist

Take expert advice to make booklist for you, So that you can start your journey. But don't change books with time, revise and repeat as many times as you can.

Friend circle

Make friends in your college those who are aspiring to become an IAS Officer after the graduation. You can even team up as a community and share some valuable notes and thoughts with each other. Meet your seniors, to have broader understanding of things.

Use your holidays properly

Don't waste your time and complete your major portion of your syllabus in your semester holiday.

Use your resouces to fullest

Utilize your resources like use of your college internet and library for your preparation, which can help you a lot as things are changes. Nowadays you need not to move to other places for the sake of preparation. Use your free time in the library by reading the daily newspaper, magazines, and books which is related to IAS Preparation. Read as many books as possible which are more inclined to your IAS Preparation Syllabus.


NCERTS are basic foundations and the whole preparation starts with your school NCERT’s.  who have cleared this exam acknowledged that NCERT is the best source to build your fundamental knowledge for this examination.

Notes making

Develop notes making skill. Yours notes should be crisp and concise so that you can revise easily multiple times especially before exam.

Study a variety of subjects.

The IAS exams cover a broad range of topics. You need to be well versed in a number of subjects to be successful. Here are a few focus areas included in the Preliminary Papers:

  • Geography: both Indian and World Geography are important areas.
  • History: knowledge of key events and social movements is required.
  • Polity: the structure of the Indian Constitution, judicial processes, and international relations are all included.
  • Economics: micro and macro aspects of the Indian economy should be understood.
  • Environmental Science: Climate, agricultural issues, and pollution should be studied in depth.
  • Arts and Culture: historical and contemporary study of Indian music, dance, literature, architecture, and painting are all covered during the exam.

Previous years' exam questions and pattern.

Previous Year papers are most important thing to start your preparation. You need to have with the previous year papers and pattern of exam.

Improve your language and communication skills.

Although the mains can be taken in a number of languages, preliminary papers are given in Hindi and English. It is important for aspirants to be well studied in Hindi and English.

Take practice tests.

Find practice tests online to prepare yourself for the time limits and formatting of the test. When you take a practice test, try to make the environment like the one you will experience on test day.

  • Find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed.
  • Set a timer.
  • Take the entire test in one sitting.
  • Review the answers when you are finished to learn from your mistakes
Read as many books as you can find. Because the IAS exams cover so many varied topics, reading books on almost any subject can be helpful.
  • Review book lists from previous toppers.
  • Read classic literature.
  • Study non-fiction books of various topics such as historical biographies

Now just jump without thinking so much... Best Wishes.



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During Graduation

Starting preparation during graduation is best decision because of so many reasons like career, job, age and other factors. Candidate's mind is uncluttered unlike people who have done their graduation and are undergoing some coaching. It’s a fresh canvas and flaws in the students can be easily identified and plugged. Lets discuss a strategy stepwise, which a cadidate can use :-

Firstly Build a strong foundation

  • Counsel the parents to bring the best in their child.
  • Improve their language and observation.
  • Develop in them a balance of perception.
  • Communication & Body Language Improvement.
  • Language Improvement.
  • Understanding their surroundings.
  • Start Reading Newspapers.
  • Practice basic math and aptitude
  • Complete revision of School books and the practice of their questions and answers.

Secondly build a knowledge base.

  • Mastery of World Geography, Science and Technology, Geography, Indian and International Economy, International Relations, Indian Polity, Governance, History, Heritage, Culture and Society
  • Weekly exchange of news and community education.
  • Learning through various means-Films, Books, Interactions, Parents, Teachers, TV.
  • Basics of Internet and Social Media to utilize online wealth.
  • Background of events and World problems.
  • Socialization studies, principles and applications.
  • Learning to know the means and mechanism of teaching and learning.
  • Continue practicing basic maths and aptitude

Relate Things.

Having gone through the two stages, all the students will be prepared to take to study certain degree of correlation ship between the topics. Elevate the level by adding extra information and analysis. Develop an analytical ability as well and keep expressing it.

Focus Prelims.

In this stage, the candidate must go deep into prelims preparation that should comprise of practice and practice and practice and perfecting Newspaper studies.

Focus Mains.

In this stage, go for preparation of Mains and focus has to be on appearing in tests and developing analytical abilities. It has to be Revision, analysis and Tests. This is what should become the norm till the mains Examination.


During this process, you have build a strong foundation and give performace. Becuase at the end, result matters. So few important things:

  • Analysis of previous question papers
  • Understanding of Syllabus
  • Read a good newspaper daily preferably The Hindu or Indian Express
  • Read all basic NCERTs before reading reference books
  • Reading of basic study material/reference books
  • Read YOJANA and KURUKSHETRA magazine monthly
  • Start writing-This will be the deciding factor in the Mains
While Working

Many UPSC aspirants are working professionals who prepare for the exam along with working. These candidates need proper guidance to manage their time well as they have less time on a daily basis. They need to work a little extra and prioritise their studies. Those who prepare dedicatedly for the IAS or Civil Services exams have a lot of time on them, but working people face a lot of problems when they intend to sit for the exam. As it is the most prestigious careers one can have in India it is desired by everyone. Time management for studying and taking care of health simultaneously while working is the greatest difficulty faced by the working examines. So in this article we are focusing on working individuals.


Benefits of Preparing while working
  • Financial independence: It might be a concern for some people, if not all. Some money crediting in your account provides stability. You won’t have to think twice before buying any coaching material.
  • Break from packed plan: Studying 24x7 becomes monotonous after a while. Efficiency keeps on decreasing year after year. I believe 2 good attempts are given with full energy. It becomes difficult after it. If you are working you meet new people outside the UPSC universe and it helps in breaking the monotony.
  • Vicious Cycle: It breaks the vicious cycle of preparation. It gives confidence as there are back up options as you have work experience.
  • Chance Factor: UPSC does have an element of luck. Full time preparation does not guarantee selection. After 2 full time good attempts one does not have enough material to study full time.
Broadly there are two category of people in the arena:-

For those with less preparation time

It is usually recommended for examinees to spare 1-2 years time for preparation of the civil service exams. You can spare 4-5 hours daily so that you get 5*6 = 30 hours a week for studying and you can add 10-12 hours during Sunday depending on your capacity and dedication. This amount of time is quite suitable for cracking the exam if followed religiously.

For those with proper preparation time

Even those examinees who have more time at hand try to put in at least 4 hours each day, if not 5. The rest of the schedule is more or less same as the previously mentioned schedule for people with less time. You may reduce the 10 hours during Sunday to a generous 7 hours if you have ample weeks at hand. More time should not lead to slowing of pace, it simply means that you have more time to revise which is of extreme importance.

Plan details:-
  • Time Management

It is the most important factor for preparation. A working candidate has very limited time in their hand for preparation of IAS exam after a long day of work. Utilizing the time to its maximum, by that we mean making a smart timetable of preparation and keeping an Atlas, newspaper and perhaps a yearbook handy and reading through it while traveling, during lunch hours and as and when you have time.

  • Do pattern related and selective study

As a working professional, you will have limited time for preparation, so you mustn’t spend time reading and cramming something that isn’t in the course for the exam. Therefore, you must be very familiar with the pattern of the exam. You should study only what is important and required. Don’t spend too much time on the things that are of lesser relevance.

  • Develop a routine and abide by it

It is highly recommended that you plan out your everyday schedule for yourself. And above that, you should abide by that schedule. A routine can be like to study for 2-3 hours in the night or the calm and serene environment in the morning. A routine will enable you to focus and prepare the syllabus in time. Not only planning but following the routine and timetable is equally important.

  • Everyday study:

There is no short-cut key for the preparations of the IAS as it is a very demanding and most prestigious post of the nation, the competition level is equally tough and high. The best and the simple way to prepare well for this competition is regularly focused study. Reading newspaper and magazines and other handy study material should become your habit.

  • Careful selection of subjects

Be judicious in the selection of subjects as there are many subjects to choose from. Pick only that subject which you are confident that it is easy to prepare and the subject in which you can score a better grade. Preparing for the prelims you will face questions of various subjects, therefore you can’t leave anything out. But still, in that, you have to be selective on what you can score better marks on as Prelims is the first gate for IAS exam.

  • Upgrade and Update your General Knowledge

The preliminary exam for Civil services is majorly based on General knowledge and your aptitude. The total ideology behind this exam is to test every individual’s overall knowledge. Therefore, you must keep yourself updated with current affairs, history, geography science, sports, mathematics, economy and other aspects of general knowledge so that you have a fair chance to clear the exam. The smartest way is to get regularized with newspaper, happenings, etc.

  • Prepare personal notes

Preparing one’s notes while studying is considered to be the best way to retain something in memory for a long time. No matter you are working professional or from non-working profession, it is advised to make notes of what he/she reads or observes. These personal notes will help you in last minute revision when recollecting what you have studied is very important.

  • Examine yourself

Before sitting for the exam, it is important to test your knowledge to gain confidence. For this, you should be solving previous year question papers and other sample test papers available on the internet and in the books.

  • Have Confidence

As it is a most demanding exam, but it isn’t that difficult for full-time preparing individuals who study for 18-20 hours a day. Continuous and wise preparation is what it takes to clear the exam. Focus is very important, though. Focus, dedication and determination, and have backed it with good preparation, then you don’t have to fear anything. Have confidence in yourself that you can do it. Along with confidence, patience is another demand for clearing this exam. Do not be confusing in your mind, let your mind rest to have a wise and clear thought.

  • Continue with your job

Don’t leave the job as it is the Blessing in disguise. Stick to your job or any other business that you were doing. If you have a job at your hand so thus you have a fallback option. You won’t be insecure. With the back support of the job, you won’t feel the brunt of unsuccessfulness so much.


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