Civil Services Examination Preparation For Working Professionals : Plan, Focus, Study Guide & Important Topics

The UPSC Civil Services Exam is complicated to clear, but it is not impossible if prepared as per the strategy. Working professionals who wish to transfer to the Civil Service Unit consider their full-time jobs as a constraint in their journey of becoming a UPSC officer.

When non-working UPSC CSE aspirants are studying 12–14 hours per day for the UPSC CSE, a working individual will only be able to contribute 3-4 hours.

But like a famous saying, hard work without a plan is like a Ferrari without a steering wheel; so if you are preparing to clear UPSC CSE along with a job, then your plan will play an equally essential role as your hard work.

Civil Services jobs are widely considered prestigious in India. The complete process of Indian Civil Services Examination starting from the official notification of the preliminary exam until the declaration of the final results takes place within a year. Candidates those who get selected are recruited and trained for various services by the Central Government and then different State Cadres are allotted as per preference and ranking.

Important Things to Remember Before Preparation

  • Do not quit your job
  • The ideal time to start preparing while doing a job is at the least 9-10 months before Prelims.
  • A candidate who is working while preparing for a job has to devote at least 5-6 hours regularly for studies.
  • Make every second count – utilize every second you have.
  • Don’t rely and focus too much on online/internet-based notes; self-study matters a lot.
  • Join coaching if you think you require more professional notes or study materials.

Preparation for the UPSC Civil Services Exam for Working Professionals

Listed below is the proven strategy a candidate must follow while doing a regular job to qualify for the Prelims Exam 2021:

  1. Plan your studies – Once you have decided to prepare for the Civil Services prelims exam while doing a job, the first thing to do is to organise/plan your studies accordingly. It’s always a great idea to start the preparation with the most comfortable exam or something you are familiar with like- paper-II Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT) because you are already familiar with some of the basics. It will hardly take three to four days to cover the theoretical concepts, which will also boost your confidence to start with.

    The syllabus for UPSC Civil Services is like an ocean, and they’re always a better book or a well-detailed course, and just like that, there is no end to the preparations. Therefore, aspirants should work on perfection rather than merely covering the topics for the sake of preparing them. Give at least three days to each subject in the general awareness paper.
  2. Identify Your Strengths – Endeavoring the toughest exam in the country is a big deal. It requires the aspirants to understand their strengths and weaknesses to make the most out of these two months and to continue preparing with a positive attitude. Everyone will have a talent, like some can memorize facts in less time, etc.
  3. Familiarize yourself with everything – Having a strong base with the facts and theoretical concepts alone will not help you when it comes to Civil Services. Candidates have to change their entire approach depending on the situation and question. To do this, they should know every aspect of the exam, including the format, nature and syllabus (regarding their desired post).

    Due to time constraint, never ignore the basics because it will cost you a lot in the exam- to know the facts in the long term, you need to have a strong understanding of basic concepts. We suggest you familiarise yourself with the Civil Services exam pattern, approach towards CSAT and general awareness questions.
  4. Focus extensively on Prelims – Many aspirants complain that they are not able to answer the questions because of vagueness. We suggest you concentrate only on the preliminary exam. Youneed to understand that clearing the UPSC Prelims will not make you an IAS Officer. You need to prepare for the mains exam, which will be followed by an interview.
    • Note: Understanding the main examination concepts parallels with the prelims is okay but do not waste so much time at this stage due to the time constraints. 
  5. Give Importance to General Studies Paper-I – You all are aware that the general awareness paper is only considered for shortlisting the aspirants for the next stage of the selection process, i.e., the mains exam.

    The primary focus at the moment should be on General Studies only. The CSAT paper is also a qualifying paper and four to five days of preparation is more than enough besides regular practice.
    • Note: Avoid reading books, as they will take more time, instead focus on the notes and mock tests.
    • Development Plan for tackling GS Paper-I – Aspirants are required to start their preparation for the current affairs section. Afterwards, they can focus on history or politics depending upon their interest.

      Put geography and economics in the middle of the preparation days because they require a lot of preparation, to begin with. So while practising the CSAT questions, always try to cover all the basic concepts to save time. Always give importance to science and the technology and the events in environmental studies. However, never compromise and take mock tests.

Additional Tips to Help You Prepare

No one method/strategy fits the requirements of all the aspirants; it will vary from depending on one’s strengths and weaknesses. So, take ideas and create your plan as per your needs and as per the subject that requires more of your attention.

Hereby mentioned are a few tips to make sure you have everything covered in your preparation strategy while doing a regular job:

  • Revise: The candidates now have enough time to revise the subjects they were not fully satisfied with. If at all you have missed reviewing any topic, you can with that particular subject now to start preparing for it. The candidates must revise the subjects such as-  History and Geography, etc.
  • Be aware of the Current Affairs: The candidates must have known by now that the exams have been postponed for more time and they should go through the current affairs in these months.
  • Subjects to focus: The candidates should also focus on essential topics such as Polity, related to current affairs, Geography, Economics. The candidates must primarily focus on Environment studies as it has been a crucial part from the past few years.
    • Note: Candidates shouldn’t ignore subjects like ancient history. Because the best approach is to revise the current affairs. Such as, students this year must study all about the epidemics and plague related activities from history. 
  • CSAT preparation: Now that you have more time, use this time to go through the subjects that are tough for you like – passages and logical reasoning fundamentals. Candidates should not compromise or avoid preparation for the CSAT exam.
  • Time management: Candidates needs to manage their time more efficiently than ever before, and they should not waste their time on books or reading element other than current affairs. They must go through their NCERTs again as they have enough time. 
  • Plan it every week: One week per subject NCERT should be a candidate’s target. Divide and incest your time accordingly between morning and evening to solve theory and questions.
    • One plan could be to focus on at least two test areas daily.
      • On Day -1, One can study History & Polity.
      • On Day-2, one can concentrate on Indian Economy & Geography and so on.
    • The idea is to go through all the test areas every week. With this strategy, one will be in touch with all the fields every week.
  • Solve Question papers: The aspirants must not stop solving question papers of previous years or the available ones online and only concentrate on theory.


Civil Services, conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), is believed to be the most stringent examination in the country. Every individual knows that preparing for Civil Services is a challenging task and requires a lot of strategies and hard work.

When the aspirants feel that it’s high time, many enthusiasts ask for any possible way to crack the preliminary exam while doing a job. Cracking the UPSC initial exam while doing a job is very hard. However, one can make it when they can devote all the time for the preparations.

Areas covered in this article

  • How to prepare an exam strategy to crack the UPSC Exam while doing a job?
  • Strategies
  • SWOT Analysis
  • Useful Tips

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