IAS syllabus

How to master IAS syllabus while having fun

The IAS exam is considered to be the most difficult competitive examination in India because of the vastness of the IAS syllabus A single attempt takes two complete years of preparation – one year before the prelims and one year from prelims to interview.

In total, one sits in actual exam for 32 hours from prelims till interview. On average, 900,000 to 1,000,000 candidates apply every year and the number of candidates sitting in the preliminary examination is approximately 550,000.

It definitely scared me into paralysis many times until I disarmed it.

We have all heard stories of the hard-working genius men and women who grind struggle and burn the midnight oil to succeed in this exam.

Stories like these strengthen our belief that the UPSC exam is just too difficult to crack. But this is a myth.

This IAS syllabus is not as difficult as it appears. It can be hacked and cracked with some tricks and techniques.

Can we find a way to make it easier? Faster? Less painful? Less expensive

One tried and tested way to do this is to turn the IAS syllabus learning into FUN!

You MUST enjoy the UPSC journey because it is the easiest way to clear the exam.

IAS Syllabus

Use Memory techniques to master UPSC syllabus

There are MANY tricks to do it. Here’s one example of a mnemonics technique which I use. All numbers are rhyming words-

  • 1 is a bun
  • 5 is a hive
  • 2 is a shoe
  • 3 is a tree
  • 4 is a mole
  • 6 is sticks
  • 7 is heaven
  • 8 is a gate
  • 9 is a fine
  • 10 is a hen

Modern Indian History is an important part of the IAS syllabus. One important reform initiated by the British during colonial times was in the field of Education following the report of the Wood’s dispatch.

Now say you have to memorize that WOODS DISPATCH was set in 1854 for education. It is very important to know WOODS DISPATCH because it suggested teaching in local language, Education of women and English medium etc.

Memorize like this- you know it is was in 1800s so you want to memorize the numbers 54.

5 is a hive and 4 is a mole+ WOODS DISPATCH—-> Make a VISUAL STORY IN YOUR MIND about it.

In the woods there was a hive of bumblees. One day a mole went into the hive to educate female bees and taught them in local bee-lingo and stressed that female bees should also be educated.

GS score

You will never forget the image of a mole teaching a classroom of honey bees!

And as a result, you will never forget the key words which are-


All the essential info all packed up in these words, knit into a story. And the error rate in recall will be VERY LOW!

Anxiety destroys learning ability.This is why I always used humor, animations and memes to learn almost anything in the IAS syllabus

You can read about how to control anxiety and maintain motivation here- HOW TO MAINTAIN MOTIVATION DURING UPSC PREPARATION » Becoming IAS

Inter-connect topics in IAS syllabus

See how it all connects within the UPSC syllabus- what is the relationship between a new technology which is developed somewhere to You? To India? You can see this emphasis clearly in the recent questions—-about India.

Let’s consider History portion of the UPSC syllabus which is quite memory-intensive.

UPSC syllabus

Medieval India is about the changes that the Indian subcontinent went through and what led to the situation where the British came and colonized India…and why they wanted to.

Modern India tells you the story of how India became what it is today. If during the process of the Indian National Movement, The British were forced to accede some privileges to Indians such as civil servants will be selected from India…Formed the basis of our constitution.

It is not some tedious thing which you have to go through. Something which can be of vital importance if you are posted to some place you have never lived. It will become expedient to know a little but about the history and culture of that place.

IAS syllabus

Imagine that you could be posted in the Law ministry one day and India’s historical background from learning about the IAS syllabus will help you immensely.

For instance, Raja Ram Mohan Roy (RRMR), is an important person not only because he is mentioned in the history books and you should know about him. Ask why he is important— Don’t focus on what he did. Focus on WHO he did it for- Women .

Now all of a sudden when you realize the importance of women and while you study GS, you will remember Raja Ram Mhan Roy or someone and connect to that and think that they had some role in the betterment of women etc

RRMR abolished the practice of SATI. The reason you should care about this is because you will be part of the country’s effort towards the empowerment of women.

Note that Women and Gender equality is mentioned multiple times in the IAS syllabus where it is part of Human Geography, Economics, Development and History.

women facts

This mindset of inter-connecting various parts can and should be applied in all

Another example from recent events is the Covid-19 pandemic.The coronovirus makes it very clear that science is important for the future of the human race. You may not know it or feel like it ,but science is everywhere and knowing what is what makes a huge difference while taking decisions.

Einstein’s theory is the reason You are able to read this article. Relativity makes it possible for e- to be transmitted and so on.

The IAS syllabus asks you exactly that and explicitly mentions that no specialized knowledge is needed. You will not be asked what Maxwell’s equations for the electromagnetic force is, but you should know that electricity and magnetism are the same force and your smartphone uses this extensively.

You can read a detailed analysis of the IAS syllabus here.


The best way to learn is if the material is communicated in a light-hearted and approachable way. The simpler the better.

This is an effort to de-mystify the UPSC exam and to make your preparation journey enjoyable from strategy to syllabus.

I hope this was helpful.

Tc and remember to enjoy the journey!

3 thoughts on “How to master IAS syllabus while having fun”

  1. Sir I am fresher preparing upsc I am in starting stage I don’t know how to read and make notes and I don’t know about the study materials to be referred I am in confusion i donot have perfect strategic plan so please guide me I am in confusion sir
    Thank you

    • You can check on this by your own easily. It depends, person to person of how much she/he can retain for some period of time(say 1/3/5 days). Since the syllabus is vast frequent revisions are required. Like you can atleast revise once, in a particular time at night before sleeping about what you read in the whole day or you can revise in early morning the material you studied previous day.
      Fix one day per week for revising everything you read in that week. Then fix 2-3 days for complete revision of material you read in a month. Main thing you have to keep in mind is having a plan and working according to that. Completing the syllabus well in time is also as much important as the revision is. This whole thing will come after having a detailed planning for this exam.
      I hope you got your doubt cleared.

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