The Indian Civil Service examination is conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) every year. The examination schedule is announced usually during the month of January or February. The selection is done in 3 stages.

The three stages are

  1. Civil Services - Preliminary Examination - Objective Type (Qualifier)

  2. Civil Services - Main Examination - Written Test

  3. Interview / Personality Test

IAS is a dream career of many young people in India. If you are a student who is ready to work hard and have less knowledge on how to begin with the preparation. Then you have come to the right place, this article is for you. It also helps you to clear the common doubts such as

  1. How do you become an IAS officer?

  2. What is the minimum percentage required in graduation to qualify for IAS exams?
  3. How many IAS are selected per year?

  4. What is the duty of an IAS officer?

  5. How long will it take for an IAS to become a collector?
  6. Can I pass IAS without coaching?

  7. How can I start preparing for IAS prelims?

  8. What are the subjects in IAS prelims?

  9. How Many Hours of Studies per Day is required to Clear the IAS Exam?

  10. What are the Tips to improve the quality of studies for IAS exam

  11. How many attempts are there for IAS?

  12. Can I clear UPSC in the first attempt?

  13. But is classroom coaching bad?

  14. What should a good IAS coaching centre do?

  15. Which book is best for IAS prelims?

  16. Which newspaper is the best for UPSC preparation?

How to start prepare for IAS Prelims without coaching

How do you become an IAS officer?

Anyone who has graduation in any discipline from a UGC recognized university can appear for the UPSC CSE examination. Cleat the preliminary examination held in June-July each year. The results are published in mid of August. Clear the main examination which is held in October every year, clearing it you will be qualified to the personal interview. The interview is held in December each year. Finally, the results are announced in May. A lot of time and hard work is required to become an IAS officer.

What’s the minimum percentage required in graduation to qualify for IAS exams?

No, there is no such requirement, the only requirement is to pass all the subjects from a recognised university. The students who are in the final year of the graduation can also apply for UPSC exams. It is important to note that it is one of the toughest exams in India. The candidate needs to be hardworking and should have sound knowledge in the subjects.

How many IAS are selected per year?

As per the previous data, around 1075 candidates were selected in 2016 while in 2015 around 1120 candidates were selected. The number of candidates selected varies each year and depends on the difficulty level of the exam. We can expect an average of 1000 to 1500 candidates per year. In fact, it is the difficulty to get into services such as IAS, IPS, IFS and so on makes it more attractive.

What is the duty of an IAS officer?

Function/ duty of an IAS officer broadly includes

  1. Collection of revenue and function as Courts in revenue matters.

  2. Maintenance of law and order.

  3. Function as Executive Magistrate.

  4. Function as Chief Development Officer (CDO)/ District Development Commissioner.

  5. Supervision of implementation of policies of State Government and Central Government.

  6. To travel to places to oversee the implementation of policies.

  7. Supervision of expenditure of public funds as per norms of financial propriety.

  8. Give shape to policies in the process of policy formulation and decision making at various levels such as Joint Secretary, Deputy Secretary and so on.

  9. Handling the daily affairs of the government which includes framing and implementation of policy in discussion with the minister-in-charge of the respective Ministry.

How long will it take for an IAS to become a collector?

It depends on the state where he/she is posted after clearing the UPSC exam. In some states, a minimum of 9 years of service in IAS is required for the post of collector whereas in some states an IAS officer with 4 to 5 years of service are also appointed to the post.

Here are the stages to become Collector

  • Clear the UPSC exams such as Prelims, Main exam and Interview.

  • Serve Probation period as sub-collector for 2 years.

  • Serve as deputy commissioner for 2 years.

Can I pass IAS without coaching?

“Can one clear IAS Exam without coaching?” This is a common doubt occurred to the students who wish to appear for IAS examination. And the answers by the IAS toppers vary according to each person. However, in the online age, Yes, one can assure that any hardworking student can tackle the IAS exam without coaching.

How can I start preparing for IAS prelims?

“How can I start preparing for IAS prelims?” This question arises in the mind of every student about the initial step to be taken in order to appear for the IAS exam. The primary step to be taken is to understand the changing requirement of the UPSC and proceed according to the requirement and syllabus.

The steps to be followed in order to get into the right track are:

  1. Understand the requirements for the current year
  2. Know the exam syllabus
  3. Know the exam pattern
  4. Analyse the subjects that you need to concentrate more
  5. Know the exam date and allocate time for each subject accordingly.

What are the subjects in IAS prelims?

The preliminary exam consists of two multiple-choice question papers carrying 200 marks each, a total of 400 marks. The question papers are set in both English and Hindi. The duration of each paper is 2 hours. Paper I is counted for the merit rank in the prelims and Paper II is a qualifying paper and just need 33% of marks.

Here is the syllabus for GS Paper (Prelims Paper I)

  • Current events of national and international importance.
  • History of India and Indian National Movement.
  • Indian and World Geography-Physical, Social, Economic Geography of India and the World.
  • Indian Polity and Governance - Constitution, Political System, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights Issues and so on.
  • Economic and Social Development - Sustainable Development, Poverty, Inclusion, Demographics, Social Sector initiatives and so on.
  • General issues on Environmental Ecology, Bio-diversity and Climate Change - that do not require subject specialisation General Science

Here is the Syllabus for CSAT Paper (Prelims Paper II)

  • Comprehension
  • Interpersonal skills including communication skills
  • Logical reasoning and analytical ability
  • Decision-making and problem solving
  • General mental ability
  • Basic numeracy (numbers and their relations, orders of magnitude, etc.) (Class X level), Data interpretation (charts, graphs, tables, data sufficiency etc. - Class X level)

How Many Hours of Studies per Day is required to Clear the IAS Exam?

As it is one of the toughest exams, there are some people who claim to study 15-16 hours per day while there are also aspirants who have cleared the exam studying just for 6-7 hours in a day. There is no perfect answer to this question as it completely depends on your health conditions and brain capacity.

It is advisable to look after the health by reducing the hours of study. There can be serious effects on your health due to lack of sleep. One more thing to remember is that it is a long drawn process and thus you will have to invest at least a year for the preparation and motivated throughout.

What are the Tips to improve the quality of studies for IAS exam?

Here are the tips to improve the quality of studies

  1. Understand rather than byhearting things
  2. Study as per the demand of UPSC
  3. Take regular breaks rather than studying continuously for hours
  4. Study with utmost concentration avoiding distractions
  5. Give the body the required amount of sleep that is 7 to 8 hours a day

How many attempts are there for IAS?

A general category candidate can appear for the IAS exam up to 6 attempts. One important factor to note is that the age of the candidate should be between 21 to 32 years. The OBC candidates get 9 attempts till the 35 years of age. The SC/ST candidates can appear any number of times till 37 years of age.

Can I clear UPSC in the first attempt?

Yes with prior planning. Only one in ten clear the IAS exam in the first attempt. The prior planning should take 3 to 4 years before the exam. The candidate must understand the fact that the commission is aimed at picking the best and brightest candidate of the country, thus dedicating yourself as the best candidate.

There are some advantages and disadvantages for the first-time attempters. The advantages are full of energy and positivity and the disadvantages can be misguidance, negative influence, not aware of the right books. The one who can plan and start preparing according to both the advantage and disadvantage of the first time attempt can be successful in the marathon.

But is classroom coaching bad?

Depends on the institution joined by you. Checking the profile of IAS toppers we can interpret that there are candidates who cleared the exam with and without coaching. Some left the job for the preparation and some cleared the exam while working. The time period took for the preparation also varies according to your concentration level.

Hence the answer to the question “But is classroom coaching bad?” lies within you. It entirely depends on your ability to push yourself and how efficiently you can allocate your time for studies.

What should a good IAS coaching do?

There are two things a good IAS coaching institution can do:

  1. Knowledge (Providing required study material)

  2. Guidance (Strategies by the experienced person)

A good institute or coaching centre should be able to provide these two things. Knowledge is the basic thing you will be gaining from the institute and that alone will not be enough as there are many other depending factors like the time limit. The strategies to clear the IAS from an experienced person is also an important factor expected from an IAS coaching institute.

Which book is best for IAS prelims?

Here is the list of highly recommended books for IAS Prelims:

  • NCERT Books Set for UPSC Exam

  • History Of Modern India by Bipan Chandra - History

  • India’s Struggle For Independence by Bipan Chandra - History

  • India’s Ancient Past by R.S. Sharma - History

  • History Of Medieval India by Satish Chandra - History

  • The Wonder That Was India by A.L. Bhasham - Culture

  • Indian Art and Culture by Nitin Singhania - Culture

  • Geography of India by Majid Husain - Geography

  • Oxford School Atlas - Oxford - Geography

  • Certificate Physical and Human Geography by Goh Cheng Leong - Geography

  • Indian Polity for Civil Services Examinations by M. Laxmikanth - Polity

  • Indian Economy by Ramesh Singh - Economy

  • Economic Survey by Economy

  • Science and Technology in India by TMH - Science and Technology

  • Environmental Studies: From Crisis to Cure by Rajagopalan - Environment

  • Environment for Civil Services Prelims and Mains by Khuller - Environment

  • India Year Book - Current Affairs

  • Manorama Yearbook - Current Affairs

  • ClearIAS Current Affairs Capsule [Monthly MCQs] - Current Affairs

  • CSAT Paper - 2 Manual by TMH or CSAT-II - Arihant - CSAT - Paper 2

  • Analytical Reasoning by M. K. Pandey - CSAT - Paper 2: Analytical Reasoning

  • Verbal & Non-Verbal Reasoning by R. S.Aggarwal - CSAT Paper 2: Reasoning

Which newspaper is the best for UPSC preparation?

The newspaper is useful in covering the most important topics comprehensively with a diversity of views. It is also useful in using language in a good manner for better articulation of views in mains. The Hindu, Times of India and Indian Express are considered as the best newspapers among the candidates preparing for IAS as these newspapers are simpler and easy to extract proper points for notes making for current affairs and also helps to improve the language.


Lakhs of youngsters in India aspire to become an IAS officer. It is a totally different league when compared to other professionals considering the authority and benefits enjoyed by them.

Here are some of the benefits enjoyed by the IAS officers:

Residence: IAS officers generally get huge houses as residences with services such as maids, cooks, gardeners, security guards and so on.

Security: Due to the high profile and dangerous nature of the job, IAS officers and their family are provided with security guards. They can also get STF commandoes in case of serious concern like life threats.

Study Leaves: IAS officers can get leave up to 2 years for the study purpose. They can also choose courses from the reputed foreign universities and the cost of the course will be undertaken by the government. Only the officers who have completed 7 years of service are allowed with this facility. It is also mandatory to serve as IAS officer for certain years after the completion of course.

Job Security: It is not easy to fire an IAS officer and the process requires extensive investigations.

Lifetime Pension: The IAS officer enjoy lifetime pension after the retirement from the service. They are also hired in private companies after their retirement from the government service.

As you can see from the above the benefits of an IAS officer are attractive. 

Hope this article has cleared the doubts of candidates who are ready to start preparing for IAS exam. All the best for your future.

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