(Getting Started) UPSC Preparation Do's and Don'ts for Working Professionals

(Getting Started) UPSC Preparation Do's and Don'ts for Working Professionals

A lot of very successful UPSC toppers have cracked this exam while working a full-time job. Many continue to do so either due to financial restraints or due to the uncertainty associated with the Civil Services Examination. It is a myth that one cannot crack UPSC Civil Services while working. If anything, the UPSC interview panel regards those with a full-time job with high regard and even admires them for their dedication and time management skills. However, given the nature of this competitive exams, here are the top 7 do’s and don’ts working aspirants should keep in mind.

Burning the midnight oil (Picture Courtesy: Freepik)


  Stretch Out Your Preparation

The ideal time an aspirant is expected to give to UPSC is 12 to 18 months. But this is for a candidate who can spend 10+ hours a day for their preparation. When you work 8 hours a day for 5 or 6 days a week, along with some travel time, that is just not possible. The most a working candidate can give their preparation is about 4 hours on working days and maybe 8 to 10 hours on their day off. Because of this, the recommended period for a full-time working candidate is 24 to 36 months at the least. Depending on what you are comfortable with, this may stretch to 48 months as well. Do not panic. Remember, as someone with a full-time career, you also do not have the stress of ruining your professional options with a failure. So do not fret, take your time, and nail it!

Limit Your Resources

Remember, as a working candidate, you are already short of time. The UPSC syllabus is an endless abyss, and unless you are careful, you will get lost in it. Choose no more than one main source for each topic.  You can always research a little more over either the internet or a reference book. However, you should not spend too much time doing so. Stick to one newspaper like the Hindu and one current affairs monthly compilation. That will most definitely be enough for you to cover all bases.

Make Notes and Keep Revising

Multiple revisions are key to succeeding in the Civil Services Examination. A working professional does not have the luxury of reading through the same elaborate material over and over again. So, at the very first go, make crisp, short notes for each topic. Every time you need to revise a topic, just reach out for your notes. This will not only save you the time and effort that can be better utilized studying something new, but it will also help you have a grasp of the topic better than most other aspirants.

Making notes is absolutely essential (Picture Courtesy: Freepik)

Target Writing 3 to 4 Answers A Week

Answer Writing is crucial to securing a good rank in UPSC CSE. Unlike full-time aspirants, a working professional has to make a trade-off here and cannot possibly choose to write answers every day. However, by setting weekly targets, you ensure that you get enough practice and keep improving yourself gradually. The same goes for practicing Essay writing. Target 3 to 4 essays a month to ensure you ace that paper.

Don’t Neglect Your Optional

Keep a day dedicated to studying and practicing writing for your choice of optional. It carries a total of 500 marks and needs your full attention. Target completing your optional syllabus in 9 to 12 months. This way, by the time you sit for your Civil Services Examination, you will have an in-depth knowledge of your optional subject and that is exactly what UPSC requires.

Join a Test Series

If you are starting with a 24 months target, it is advisable to join a test series for both Prelims and Mains 6 to 9 months into your preparation. A test series allows you to analyze your strengths and weaknesses, understand where you stand with respect to the competition, and improve yourself so that you come out on top when you finally sit for UPSC CSE. For working professionals, this is extremely important to keep you motivated and help you not give up on your goals.

Finally, Save as Much Time as You Can

You need to conserve time and energy. A human being cannot keep overworking themselves for years and be in good enough mental and physical health to function at their best. Stay near your workplace to limit commute time, cook your week’s food requirement over the weekend or hire a tiffin service, limit social media presence, and decrease socializing considerably. These are minor sacrifices compared to the reward in the end.

At the end of the day, it is your name that will be on top of the merit list. Do what you must to get there. The destination is worth the difficult journey you will take.

Best of Luck.



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