Discover the Pre-Eminent Time to Start Studying for the UPSC Civil Services Examination in 2021

This article discusses when to start studying for the UPSC Civil Services Examination.

UPSC CSE Interview is the final and most crucial step of the exam as it is not merely a test of knowledge but a holistic test of aspirant’s personality. A high score in UPSC CSE interview can create a difference of more than 100 marks in just under 30 minutes. As this is the last round, this would give one, an unassailable lead in India’s toughest competition. 

Though the final rank list is prepared after all the stages and by summing the UPSC mains marks and interview marks, very often we see that interview high-scorers top the final selection list too. 

UPSC is considered the toughest exams conducted in India, and having a clear understanding of the syllabus and subjects helps you prepare your strategy in advance. So in this article, you will find the complete UPSC syllabus for the CSE conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) to prepare your strategy accordingly. The CSE is widely known as one of the toughest and the most prestigious examinations in India.  

To understand the UPSC Civil Services Examination pattern, one needs to understand the IAS and IPS syllabus. It will help you in eliminating wasteful efforts like reading unnecessary topics, and hence the strategy will keep you on track. 

  • How you start is far more critical than when you start. You need to know precisely what you have to do and prepare intensively for the available duration of time. Your approach towards preparation is critical, and ideally, one should not waste much time calculating a number of months/years needed to clear the exam.   
  • Whatever time you have at your hands; you need to make the best use of it. A lot of people cribbing about how less time they have to prepare, and how they might be left behind in the race by those who are preparing for more extended periods. This is a self-defeating attitude and needs to be discarded. Whatsoever time you have for preparing, consider that to be more than enough and give it a shot.  
  • Don’t postpone your attempt just for the sake of gaining more time. This is a problem with many people, some of whom I know personally. That more time will give you a better chance to clear the exam is just an illusion, and you need to steer clear of it. 

Note- For more details on 2021 interview schedules, visit-  

When to start studying for the UPSC Civil Services Examination

  • The ideal time to start preparing while doing a job or even in a month or two 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 – Utilise every second you have stolen. 
  • 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. 

How to Prepare for the UPSC Civil Services Examination

  1. Identify Your Strengths – Endeavouring the toughest exam in the country is a big deal. It requires the aspirants to understand their strengths and weaknesses and to continue preparing with a positive attitude. Everyone will have a talent, like some can memorise facts in less time, etc.

    Try to identify them with a personal SWOT Analysis. This will give you an in-depth understanding about where you are standing today and the steps you will need to reach towards your target goal. Note- SWOT Analysis is an analysis of Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. 

  2. Familiarise yourself with everything – Having a strong base with the facts and theoretical concepts alone will not help you when it comes to the UPSC Civil Services Examination. 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 UPSC Civil Services Examination pattern, approach towards CSAT and general awareness questions. 

  3. Plan your studies- Once you have decided to prepare for the UPSC Civil Services examination 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.
    Note- For detailed UPSC Syllabus, click on- UPSC CSE Syllabus

  4. Focus extensively on Prelims – We need 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. 

    Many aspirants complain that they are not able to answer the questions because of vagueness. We suggest you concentrate only on the preliminary exam. 
  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. So 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- so instead focus on the notes and mock tests. 

  6. 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. 

    Note- 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:

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.  

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. 

Note- 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.  


The UPSC Civil Services Examination, 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.  

How you start is far more important than when you start. You need to know exactly what you have to do and prepare intensively for the available duration of time. Your approach towards preparation is very important, and ideally, one should not waste much time calculating several months/years needed to clear the exam. 

When the aspirants feel that it’s high time, many enthusiasts ask for any possible way to crack the preliminary exam. Cracking the initial UPSC Civil Services Examination while doing a job is very hard or even in a month or two 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 Civil Services Examination and when to start? 
  • Strategies on how to prepare and when to start for the UPSC Civil Services Examination
  • SWOT Analysis 
  • Useful Tips 

 Note- For more updated notification on UPSC 2021, visit-  

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