HOW TO PREPARE FOR UPSC WITH A JOB-WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Lets recast the question in to a more useful format. Because you want more than to just prepare for the UPSC exam while working, you want to crack the IAS exam. With flying colors, I am sure.

If you are a working professional, your strongest competition are the people who prepare for UPSC exam full-time, have joined coaching institutes and have no job or professional duties.

‘Clear IAS’ and ‘Crack IAS’ are synonyms for ‘outperforming your competitors’.

They are desperate to clear the exam AND are working hard to do everything in their power to outperform YOU.

Let’s call this set of people-Full-timers.

prepare for UPSC, IAS coaching, UPSC motivation, UPSC syllabus

There are thousands of full-timers and only approximately 1 thousand posts to be filled every year by the UPSC. So, you can bet that Full-timers form the bulk of the successful candidates.

This article is for the people who are NOT full-timers, either because of jobs or any other reasons whatsoever.

I admire the seriousness, courage and risk-taking ability of the full-timers. It takes a rare person to put their whole life at a standstill in pursuit a singular goal.

Admirable as this may be, It is important that you know that just because some people CAN deploy all their time in pursuit for a competitive goal ,which like you, they also aspire for, does not mean that you are less deserving than them.

You may be exactly the kind of person the UPSC is testing for!

But what we do know for certain is that you will face some unique challenges.

This article is the combined wisdom of the people who have ACTUALLY cleared the exam while working full-time.

I interviewed many colleagues to gather enough data to understand all the challenges faced by working people who prepare for the UPSC exam.

In this series of article, I want to analyse your challenges and introduce a powerful system that will tilt the odds in your favor.

TIME

Challenge number # 1 is Obviously lack of Time as you prepare for the UPSC exam.

Lets see how much time you really have every week for UPSC exam preparation.

Work

Assuming you have a 9-5 job, which means spending 8 hours at an office every day. Six times a week.

You spend about 50 hours at work each week.

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38 thoughts on “HOW TO PREPARE FOR UPSC WITH A JOB-WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW”

  1. Hello Sir,

    I am 22 years old and a working professional. I just started this year to prepare for the UPSC examination. What you have mentioned in this blog is 100 percent correct! The emotions and the feelings are reflected here.
    My working time is bit different than others. i.e. 12 pm to 9:30 pm. I’m trying to utilize the time in the morning hours but i would wake up by 7 or 8 am because i have always been a night owl since college days where i used to study in the night. After becoming a working professional with afternoon shifts, there would be some sort of less motivated and tiredness most of the days. i would start by 10pm and study till 1 am.
    Eventhough, I study till 1 am sometimes i feel like I’m missing out something. Could you please guide me if i need to change my study hours from night to morning or any other things which should be included?

    Regards,
    Kavya

  2. Hello Sir,
    I m Karishma Shrivastava and I m a govt officer in Mp govt.I want to start my preparation for civil services but i m not able to work on it properly.My work is not office related and i m a field officer.I cant keep my phone off bcz it rings any time and i have to solve the issue.My work load decreases during rainy season so i can start my studies properly now but not able to schedule it properly.We have By elections in Mp so few days will be going there, as my election duty orders have come.Sir plz guide me so that i cant properly start studying and manage my time

  3. Your article is awesome sir.
    I’m working in village secreteriat in AP government and my work-schedule became hectic and I’m working for 8-9 hours on an average(though we are supposed to work for 6 hours as said). Being the full-time working person,I agree with what you have said especially the lack of motivation.My aim is to get into any of the Accounts services(Postal/Railway/Defence),if not then Trade Service or CAG.

    Please guide me as I could’nt be able to make a plan.Though I’m studying morning ( 4 hours) & evening times (3 hours) the static part effectively but I could’nt be able to spend time for current affairs. I would like to choose Commerce & Accountancy optional as I’ve strong commerce background of CA-Inter. Sometimes I feel bore on reading IR,though I’m switching the subjects time to time.

    • Thanks Krishna.
      WHY do you just want to get into these services? is it because you want to work there or because you are aiming low?
      In any case, you cant really aim for these services because the rank you get is subject to randomness.
      If you are aiming low because you think IAS/IPS is out of reach, then dont! Because statistically all these services are equally likely outcomes of a successful exam.
      You are doing a lot already.
      If you are attempting the exam this year, you want to keep upto date on current events
      But if youre aiming for next year, then dont worry about them in detail. Because when the exam comes they will not be current anymore.
      You should have a broad overview of whats happening. Plenty of apps which give you a good outline- I like FLipboard.

      I think switching to a subject of your interest is an excellent move!

      As for your plan, I suggest breaking up the syllabus into very small parts. Then assigning daily tasks to yourself. The tasks shouold be so small and manageable that you can
      strike them off one by one. Do not assign more than 3 tasks for a day. Keep them simple but effective. example- read 20 pages from History NCERT today.
      And tracking progress. I know its not easy. We are trying to build a system where all of this is automated but it will take time.
      In the meantime, keep doing what youre doing. It sounds like you are on the right track.
      Good luck

  4. Hello sir!
    Sir I have just done my 11th, and in the verge of starting my 12th grade. I have opted PCM as my stream. Sir I want to become an IPS officer. Sir sometimes I don’t know why I feel fear quite strongly and that literally leads to production of tremendous amount of discouragement. And often I ask my self that “Maybe, its only for gifted people. I have do what my parents urge me too.” They asks me to pursue engineering and just work under some and earn couple of lakhs. And I literally hate doing that. I want something dynamic. Something powerful. IPS is one of the job which offers tremendous power in hands of youths. And I fell in love with. I love learning new things over and over again. I don’t get bored of them anytime. I am a lot more curious about the training that IPS officers go through. But sir the thing is the people around me who doubt me in every aspect. And the thing is when my mind just gives a moment to think what they said, that’s all! Give up! Go and do your homework. I sometimes think, I am actually dreaming wild. I have to stay rooted to reality. But sir I can’t give this dream up anyway. Even I feel it impossible, couple of times I wonder how wonderful the process is, and what it likes when you qualified CSE. That’s beautiful. And when I think about the people appear for this, around 1.5 million every year! This is enough to drain all the dreams in me. Sir please give me a piece of advice for this. Can I actually do this? Because right advice’s can be seek from right people.

    Thanks a lot sir! ☺

    • Hi Bragu,
      I like your enthusiasm!
      You are right about the journey of UPSC prep- it will enrich you
      But it will also TEST you.
      More importantly,
      DONT LET ANYONE TELL YOU YOU ARE NOT GOOD ENOUGH.
      If they tell you you should not think about the UPSC exam, ask them WHY. If they tell you its because you are not good enough,
      then they are not worth listening to.
      If they tell you some other reason, then investigate that reason. Find out if its valid for you or not.
      Your love of learning will be a bigger gift than getting into IPS, I can tell you that.

      Also,its easy to fall in love with things at your age. I was in love with it too. But reality is NOT as we see it when we are in love. You love the idea of IPS. But will you love the
      actual job as well? Which parts of it will you love? Which ones you wont? You can bet there will be both. right now, your view is partial.

      But thats perfectly fine! Now widen your mind and ask difficult questions.

      Investigate this for yourself. Find out what the job really is like. You may discover some new things about yourself which could be worth more than
      all the IPS in the world.

      tc:)

  5. Respected Ravi Sir

    Many many Congratulations for the rare feat of success achieved by you sir , I had gone through your articles on QUORA and got lucky to be associated with your blogs ,it’s a very inspiring and logical aswellas rational series of blog’s which are based on perfect analysis of different situations in which UPSC aspirants feel trapped in.
    Sir your blog on( UPSC preparation by working aspirants ) guides and throws a deep insight into oneself and to their own situations ,It aroused myself from a slumber and deep sleep and filled me with a new ray of hope and made my day.

    Sir wanted your guidance on UPSC CSE preparation, before this I wanted to give a brief introduction of myself.Sir I am working in a Govt bank( PSB ) as an Assistant Manager for the past 7 years and I am now 29.5 years old .I don’t have any previous experiences in the preparation for (UPSC CSE) and I am a complete novice in regard to UPSC Civil Service Exam preparation.I , therefore request you to please guide me in this situation should I start my preparation now for UPSC exam or it’s too late for me with regards to my age as it’s already approaching the age limit of 32 years fixed by UPSC for Gen category .Sir,here I also wanted to ask that whether can I start my preparation from now onwards from a scratch or zero level and can I get success if yes please guide me on this issue also ,Finally if all the above doubts of mine leads to an affirmative end please guide me how to proceed from here and how to start the preparation as I have the desire and I am willing to work hard .
    As you know sir that being in PSB job we are not getting much time for preparation and I want to continue my preparation along with my job as I am not financially from a well off family ,So in this scenario what will be your suggestions or advice for persons like me sir who decided to go for the arduous journey at a later stage of there life .Your guidance can help me a lot sir.

    Thanks and regards
    Yours sincerely

    Vaskar

    • Hello Vaskar!
      thanks for your interest in the blog.
      I understand your problem. I think you are at the right age to try this exam. Its not too late at all
      because you will later find that it takes a certain degree of maturity to do well in this job AFTER you have been selected. Your work experience
      and maturity will be an advantage. But you should know that it will take at least two years from start to finish to get the job.
      And that it will involve a Lot of work. It is doable but not easy.
      You are looking at 2 years minimum of consistent hard work and stress.
      I suggest that you look closely at your time-horizons and take an informed decision.
      We will take it from there..

      I hope this helps
      Tc

      • Thanks sir , I decided that I am going with my resolve .
        Please guide me how to proceed now ,from here . Booklists and study routine etc.

        • Thats Amazing, Vaskar.
          Im not going to suggest books unless they are absolutely necessary.
          What I do suggest is that you download the UPSC notification 2020 and read the syllabus EXTENSIVELY and REPEATEDLY.
          Then GOOGLE each word. EVERY SINGLE ONE mentioned in the syllabus. Browse for about 5 minutes ONLY. Then Google the NEXT word.
          and so on.
          I want you to repeat this whole exercise at least twice.
          In detail, what exactly you should do in the beginning is not difficult.But extremely Important.
          I think its better if I put all this in a blog post….It will be live soon. Stay tuned.

  6. Your articles seems to the point and having very practical approach.
    I am a working professional and want to be IAS officer.
    Waiting for your article on how to pace the studies in logical way.

    • Hi Kranthi,

      Working on it.

      I dont think I will ever suggest a complete book to read at all.
      If something is relevant, I will suggest the pages which you should read in a book.
      Reading entire books is a very time-consuming task, ESPECIALLY when the UPSC never asks you to
      write more than 250 words at a time. Except essay paper, for which you dont need books anyway.

      Thanks for reading!

  7. Hello Sir,

    Thank you very much for this Article
    This exactly shows, the average time a working aspirant get.
    I am working in Samsung Research and starting out in this journey
    Needed guidence on prepration strategies
    Waiting for your next Article on prepration strategies for Working Aspirants

    BR,
    Abhay

    • Hi Abhay,

      Thanks! Im glad you liked it.

      We might ask for your inputs as a working professional to improve the article!

      Thanks for reading
      All the best

  8. Hi, waiting for your next article. I hope that might be motivational. This one, sort of pointed out all the challenges…

      • Respected sir
        I am a student persuing msc physics from IIT , as the name suggest the curriculum is designed particularly for research , although due to lock down students are at home hence i decided to use this opportunity and cover my optional ( physics ) a complete first revision along with basic ncerts .
        I want to sincerely give my complete shot in 2021 CSE.
        Kindly advice what else can i do which will work for me.

        Further to add that after lockdown , there will be academic pressure of college. Your words will be highly appreciated.

        Regards

          • No sir ,we didnt hve any conversation on quora although i do contact you via fb but that was just to thank for such quality posts . Hence kindly guide me on above query

          • Hi Manish,
            I think you are doing a smart thing by covering Physics optional. If am correct, Physics is mostly conceptual and so wont require too much memorization.
            once you cover the syllabus, it should be easy-peasy for you. If this is not the case, then try to make sure you get the concepts deeply at this stage.

            You can cover NCERTs but I think you only need to cover 1 or 2. One of them is Modern India class 12th NCERT.
            This is an authoritative text on the Indian national struggle. More importantly, it is the OFFICIAL version of the INDIAN
            freedom struggle recognized by the GOVERNMENT OF INDIA.
            But this is not the case with geography or Economics or Science. Because these topics are not nation-bound. They are of global interest and therefore,
            the ABSOLUTE BEST CONTENT POSSIBLE for these subjects is already out there somewhere on YOUTUBE.
            There are mind-blowingly amazing videos abuot Plate tectonics or Earthquakes or The EL NINO effect. You name it, it is there.
            Cover ONLY PARTS WHICH ARE INDIA_CENTRIC from NCERTs.
            For Everything else watch amazing videos on youtube.
            We will be publishing a curated Playlist of the best videos on topics, which I have been curating for the past 6 years.

            Hope this helps
            Best,
            Ravi

        • Hi Manish,
          I think you are doing a smart thing by covering Physics optional. If am correct, Physics is mostly conceptual and so wont require too much memorization.
          once you cover the syllabus, it should be easy-peasy for you. If this is not the case, then try to make sure you get the concepts deeply at this stage.

          You can cover NCERTs but I think you only need to cover 1 or 2. One of them is Modern India class 12th NCERT.
          This is an authoritative text on the Indian national struggle. More importantly, it is the OFFICIAL version of the INDIAN
          freedom struggle recognized by the GOVERNMENT OF INDIA.
          But this is not the case with geography or Economics or Science. Because these topics are not nation-bound. They are of global interest and therefore,
          the ABSOLUTE BEST CONTENT POSSIBLE for these subjects is already out there somewhere on YOUTUBE.
          There are mind-blowingly amazing videos abuot Plate tectonics or Earthquakes or The EL NINO effect. You name it, it is there.
          Cover ONLY PARTS WHICH ARE INDIA_CENTRIC from NCERTs.
          For Everything else watch amazing videos on youtube.
          We will be publishing a curated Playlist of the best videos on topics, which I have been curating for the past 6 years.

          Hope this helps
          Best,
          Ravi

          • Thanks a ton sir ,I really appreciate that and will try and put your advice in my preperation strategy.

            Regards

  9. Sir I am Jyoti choudhary, I am persuing PhD in chemical sciences and I am also a mother of a 7 months old kid. I want to prepare for UPSC but I can’t manage my time and I m in my 4th year of phd so can’t leave it at this point of time. After having kid I found myself less motivated than before for UPSC… Plz help how to keep myself motivated and manage my time..

    • Hi Jyoti.
      Your situation sounds hectic.
      we have been working to build a system for working people like you. But obviously it will have to be customized for different people.
      First of all, if you care enough about becoming a civil servant with a PhD AND a small child, I think, the government would be lucky to have someone as hard working as you.
      So dont loose motivation.
      In your situation, You could do a number of things but I need detail.
      Pls email me a sample daily schedule. Include how your energy levels change during the day.
      Add details of how far along in your journey you are at the moment.
      Ill try my best to build something powerful for you.

      Tc 🙂

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