coaching clones

Should you join IAS coaching institutes?

You have heard it a million times and maybe even thought about it yourself-

Should I join an IAS coaching institute?

Are IAS coaching institutes a scam? Is it necessary to join an IAS coaching institute for clearing the UPSC exam? Are Coaching institutes predatory?Are they evil? Are they the good guys? Should you trust them?

If yes, then which one? And for what subject? Whose notes are better? Whose is the best teacher for my optional subject? Online or offline? Test-series or no?

There is raging debate and plenty of conspiracy theories about the role of IAS coaching institutes for the preparation of the UPSC exam. It’s enough to drive anyone mad.

But dont blame yourself. This is not your fault.

I tried to find out the truth about IAS coaching institutes.

So I started to research and methodically searched the internet for as much data as possible and began conducting interviews with people from both sides- The coaching institutes AND the students.

I want to dig deep and analyse to find the truth about coaching institutes.

Here’s what’s going on-


You are caught in the middle of a huge industry.

You have to understand that coaching institutes are businesses. To survive, they need money. And for money they must offer their customers something in return.

You are the customer for their product.

Their product is content and study material. Basically, information about different parts of the syllabus. The test-series is a product. Just like a course on General Studies is a product. So are all the notes and mock interviews.

Anything you pay money for is someone’s product.

As businesses, coaching institutes find themselves competing with one another.

So to outdo their competition they offer you better and better products. Better videos, More notes, More classes, more mock tests.

The coaching industry depends on people like you for their survival. And their flourishing.


IAS Coaching Institutes have the upper-hand

But before you actually make the purchase, they need to do two things-

1) Grab your attention.

2) Prove that they are credible by showing you past results.

This is called ‘Conversion’ or Converting potential clients into customers.


How do they get your attention? The internet.

Because you ask every question to the GREAT GOOGLE GOD and GGG responds by throwing up millions of search results. But beware – this is not as innocent as it looks.

Google is a search engine and ALSO a Business. And businesses help each other , if it benefits them mutually.

Google benefits if you ask it more questions. Coaching institutes benefit if Google recommends their links and Page on its search results . So they try to rank higher and higher on Google search results.

This is called SEO or Search Engine Optimization.

That is not good for you because businesses have become EXTREMELY MASTERFUL at capturing your attention ONLINE.

If Google shows their website when you ask questions, they get more visitors, more visitors means more money. More visitors mean more click through rate (CTR) and that means more product sales – be that test-series or notes.

Look at what happens when I ask google about ‘UPSC SYLLABUS’

google search results

EVERY SINGLE search result EXCEPT one (The official website of UPSC, which is highlighted in yellow) was from a Private business interest.

And when you go to , you find this page-

upsc site unhelpful

But it does not give me the information I’m looking for. I found that the USPC website is huge and it is not easy to find the UPSC syllabus for the IAS exam.

You will ultimately have to find the Official Notification and find the syllabus hidden somewhere between hundred pages. So you have no choice but to find the UPSC syllabus on the websites of IAS Coaching institutes.

Many coaching institutes hire professionals to write their articles and design their websites for maximum sales. You are no match for their marketing skills.

Phase one is successful. They have your attention.


As businesses trying to be successful, they must tell you that they are credible and that you can trust them.

When you see the AMAZING past results of these institutes, it seems like you have hit the jackpot. If all these successful candidates studied there, so it must be right place.

But wait. Something else is going on.

marketing by IAS coaching

Whenever you see the long list of successful candidates, the IAS coaching institutes are are just saying- “THIS PERSON STUDIED PSYCHOLOGY OR ETHICS or G.S with us’’. That’s it.

It DOES NOT mean that the coaching institute is the MAIN REASON for the success of these people.

Have you ever wondered why EVERY SINGLE ONE of the coaching institutes have a long list of successful candidates that they take credit for?


Ask yourself- If Mr X or Ms Y had gone and studied the same subject at a different Coaching institute, would the result really have been different? Is it a coincidence, the bigger the coaching institute , the more successful candidates there are?

Typically, one aspirant usually takes coaching from more than 1 institute. This means that when thousands of people buy one or more of their products, there are bound to be a few people every year who clear the exam.

It is a matter of statistical probability that when thousands of people go through their doors, some of them will certainly clear the exam.

Just like you are bound to get lucky while driving and catch a green light every once in a while. It is just probability.

There is no magic. No special sauce.

What no one asks is the actual PASS PERCENTAGE of people from the TOTAL STUDENT intake over an year for a coaching institute. Including ALL people who join test-series or offline or online coaching etc.

Also, how do you know HOW much the IAS coaching institute helped versus the other coaching institute? What about the role of self-study, which the candidate must have put in? How did the academic background contribute to the success of the candidate?


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IAS coaching institutes are not Evil.Or Scams.

As businesses, IAS coaching institutes they face certain pressures of their own. In a competitive market where every house is a coaching institute, survival must not be easy.

Businesses exist to expand. There is nothing wrong with that.

Moreover, they try their best to offer whatever they think you want. They offer you content. They offer you excellent material to read. They try hard to have the best possible teacher to teach you so that they remain competitive.

Trying to become credible is part of marketing. It is not Evil. Or immoral. Every business does it one way or another.

expert advice coaching institutes

If you ever run a business you too will compete for the attention and money of your potential client like it is your primary duty.

It is a fair deal so far. There is no foul play, in my opinion.

Consider that by joining coaching institutions, you are trying to outdo YOUR competitors in the IAS exam, aren’t you?

Can you blame coaching institutions for doing the same?

So what’s the problem?

The problem is that you are asking the Coaching Institutions for the wrong thing.

When you ask coaching institutes for ‘Guidance’ it basically means that you don’t have a plan of your own.

Guidance is NOT strategy.

Guidance is generic advice- based on the guider’s own experiences. Strategy is YOUR personal and detailed road-map to achieve YOUR goal based on YOUR learning speed, interest, personality and study style.

If you don’t have a plan you will become part of somebody else’s plan.

The UPSC exam is a marathon. You can not sustain discipline through brute force and ‘sheer will power’ for that long.

Coaching institutes can not tell you how to maintain discipline. Or keep checking on you to make sure you are preparing well.

The way to do it is through intelligent interventions which are designed to NOT ALLOW you to stray from your goal. And when you do go off track, to push you back on target, again and again.

You need a personalized Strategy to COVER that syllabus and Accountability measures to KEEP YOU ON TARGET for a period of about 2 years for the IAS exam.

3 funnels UPSC exam
Preparation for the IAS exam includes->Content+Strategy+Accountability Measures.

Coaching institutes, will give you the best content but can not tell you HOW to digest that content. Or how to think for yourself. You have to do that on your own.

The deal between you and coaching institutes more or less ends once the class is over. You paid for content and you got it.

Ask yourself if it’s really guidance you need from coaching institutes, or do you approach them to deal with your anxiety about the exam?

Are you looking for coaching or re-assurance and confidence in your ability to clear the exam?

The problem is only when you ask them to tell you what to do.

The solution is that you need to tell them what you need.

What to do?

Avoid asking coaching institutes for guidance or strategic advice because they are not as invested as you, in your success in the IAS exam.

Of course your success matters to them but only as a matter of statistics. Not personally.


To utilize the potential benefits of coaching institutes, first find your weaknesses.

Ask yourself- In today’s time where all the information of the human race is available on the internet, is it really more content which you need?

And IF one of your weakness is content. AND you are NOT finding good explanations on the internet, then go to them with a LIST of your problems.

Instead of going there without even knowing what your problems are.

Approach coaching institutes as content factories. Know WHY you need to learn and WHAT you need to learn.

Does it make sense to go to the grocery store without a shopping list?

Maybe you are good with content but not a good exam-taker. The problem may not be conceptual clarity but anxiety in exam conditions. In which case, it would make sense to give a few mock tests so that you get used to it.

For me, the day my true preparation began was when I sat alone and forced myself to THINK HARD and realized that I had to be self-reliant.

You are on your own.

Take control.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.


19 thoughts on “Should you join IAS coaching institutes?”

  1. Thank you sir
    Now i have ordered the ultimate cheatcode book hope the book give me a proper direction of answer writing structure and some idea about getting better and better answer writing skill

    • Thanks Anil! I am sure it will do the needful. It has been designed to tutor you for every step invloved in writing brilliant Essays and Answers in the Mains exam.
      Yes, you will find some Cheat codes which are geared specifically to quick-fix your writing skills. Most of the inputs in the book are applicable to Mains exam and GS as well.

  2. Content is explicitly written. The article unveils the dark trade practices of the coaching institutes in question having sole motivation of gaining monetary benefits by enchanting candidates through misrepresentation of facts and fancy advertisement.

  3. Hello sir, this year I’m to be in b.a. 2nd year in allahabad university. I want to prepare for I.a.s. .

    What the steps should I take so that I would be cracking this exam in my 1st attempt?
    However when I go for upsc syllabus it becomes somewhat difficult for me to understand…..

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