How to Start UPSC Preparation From Zero Level?

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

How to Start UPSC Preparation From Zero Level? You must first understand the entire syllabus, along with the exam pattern and focus on basic NCERT textbooks at the time you start preparing for UPSC from the zero level. Civil Services Exam is one of the toughest exams in the country, and it demands dedication, hard work, and effective strategy from a candidate. Those in their early stage may feel overwhelmed and confused about where to start. Everyone knows that the success rate of the IAS exam is low, eventually putting an ample amount of pressure on the candidates.

The UPSC exam is challenging not only because of the vast syllabus but also due to its unpredictability. Moreover, the competition is immense. Here we will cover step-by-step methodologies to help candidates prepare for UPSC from zero level at home. To make things simpler, in this article, we will provide solutions as to how to start UPSC preparation from zero level.

How to Start UPSC Preparation From Zero Level?

Aspirants must understand that being a bookworm won’t help them crack the UPSC Exam. Even if you crack the Prelims and Mains, you still have to go through the UPSC Interview round, where your personality test will be conducted.

Hence, it is important to develop in all spheres apart from academic knowledge. So, let us comprehend how you can start UPSC preparation from zero level.

Prepare Yourself Mentally

The competition for IAS Exam is immense, and to absorb all the pressure, candidates need to be physically and mentally prepared. A peaceful mind and body would help the candidates better deal with all the challenges and put them in the right direction.

Make sure you prepare at your own pace and do not get too intimidated by how others are doing. Understand the UPSC Exam Pattern and start your preparation accordingly. If you are leaving your job for Preparation, ensure that a solid plan is ready.

Make a Robust UPSC Time Table for Daily Practice

To become an IAS officer, it is necessary to have a stable, well-organized schedule. If you want to succeed, come up with a timetable and stick to it at any cost.

  • Having a rock-solid schedule will make your preparation more streamlined.
  • If you give yourself deadlines, you can complete the syllabus faster with the required accuracy.
  • It is advised to properly analyze the compulsory UPSC Subjects and make your schedule as per your strengths and weaknesses.

Know UPSC Syllabus 2023

Before starting the Preparation for the exam, the most important strategy is to have an in-depth understanding of the UPSC Syllabus.

The syllabus is the soul of any exam, and understanding the syllabus should be the foremost thing. It would help the candidates prioritize the subjects and gather relevant UPSC study materials.

Read Best Newspaper for UPSC

Build a newspaper reading habit, which holds huge importance in the IAS exam preparation. The fact is, if you do not read the newspaper daily, you would not be able to clear this exam easily.

  • Many questions in the UPSC exam are directly or indirectly related to Current Affairs, and reading newspapers will help you with obtaining facts about relevant news and current events.
  • Choose the Best Newspaper for UPSC and level up your preparation, which will also be beneficial in the final interview round.

Pick Best Optional Subject for UPSC

The optional subjects for UPSC carry 500 marks in the Mains exam, and this weightage is enough to tell all the candidates its importance.

These 500 marks would play a crucial role in the selection of the candidates; therefore, a candidate must put a lot of thought while choosing this subject. If you have various options, carefully analyze the pros and cons before choosing any optional subject.

Study NCERT Books Thoroughly

The NCERT Books for UPSC play a significant role in the IAS exam preparation. Understand how to read NCERT books that provide information very coherently, and any beginner can make his/her basics clear with the help of these books. In previous years, Union Public Service Commission has asked questions directly from the NCERT books.

Make Relevant Notes

The entire syllabus of UPSC is vast, and candidates must keep track of all the portions covered by making notes.

  • Candidates can make distinct notes for separate subjects and revise them frequently for maximum retention.
  • Additionally, the notes also serve a great purpose during the revision period.

Practice Answer Writing

Note-making is more effective in the Prelims stage, but candidates need to write explanatory answers for the Mains examination. In this case, practicing answer writing for UPSC would be the best approach.

While note-making, candidates can pen down their views and perceptions on miscellaneous topics. Apart from that, this strategy also assists in improving time management and analytical skills.

Practice UPSC Previous Year Question Papers

UPSC Previous Year Question Papers are the most reliable study sources apart from the UPSC Books and study materials for exam preparation.

  • By solving the UPSC previous year’s question papers, candidates will be able to gauge the level of difficulty of the exam, along with its question pattern, etc.
  • This procedure will also provide a clear picture of the most important topics and trends to aspiring students.
  • Solving these question papers can boost your confidence and develop an effective preparation strategy.

Solve Mock Tests

Besides the previous year’s question papers, candidates must appear for the mock tests to access their proficiency and level of preparation.

  • It is important to understand your strengths and weaknesses before the actual examination.
  • Those who are preparing from zero level should join the mock test series as it can help them boost their confidence level and strategic approach towards different types of questions asked.

Rely on One Best Study Resource

Candidates need to maintain and assemble all the fundamental and advanced books for their effective preparation.

  • UPSC Magazines like Yojana, Kurukshetra, Economic & Political Weekly, etc., are a must-have for the IAS exam.
  • Additionally, there are many government websites like PIB, PRS, and national television programs that can be fruitful for the preparation.

Stay Positive

Candidates should remember to keep a positive mindset throughout their preparation journey and practice meditation on a daily basis to soothe their minds, body and soul.

  • Panicking would not help, and it will certainly create various problems.
  • You need to believe that you will crack this exam, and there is no sufficient amount of preparation that you require.
  • Keep your body and mind healthy, and find time to exercise every day.

Tips for UPSC Preparation From Zero Level at Home

Many candidates believe that coaching is necessary for clearing the UPSC exam. However, in the past, many candidates have cleared this exam just by preparing at home with adequate techniques.

It may feel challenging for beginners to start the preparation at first on their own, but it is observed that this gets easier with time. Apart from the above-mentioned strategies, here are some additional tips for aspirants preparing for UPSC from zero level at home.

Tip 1: Deal with General Studies

  • General Studies question papers are the hardest portion of the Prelims and the UPSC Mains Syllabus.
  • So to clear the IAS exam, you need to have an excellent understanding of the topics covered in general studies papers.
  • For the Mains exam, practice writing descriptive answers.

Tip 2: Current Affairs for UPSC

  • Many questions in the exam are asked from the news and events that have taken place within a year of the commencement of the exam.
  • So while preparing for UPSC, you must sit with a newspaper daily and note down the meaningful reports and occurrences for topics like Polity, Indian Economy, National & State news, Environmental News, Sports news, etc.

Tip 3: Build a Strong Foundation

  • As a beginner, you must build a solid foundation for each subject covered in the syllabus.
  • A strong foundation will help you answer a majority of the questions in the exam.
  • After acquiring a solid knowledge about the basics; you can begin with a direct reading of the NCERTs for Polity, History, Geography, Economy, and General Science.

Tip 4: Practice as Much as You can

  • Once you have made your foundation strong, follow advanced books for each paper.
  • Post that, practice writing rigorously, and remember to practice for the CSAT even though it is qualifying in nature.
  • Practice through mock tests, and join a good test series to look after CSAT.

UPSC Preparation with Job from Zero Level

If you are very enthusiastic to enter into Indian civil services, it is indicated that you manage your time well. Whether you are in college or employed in a company, you can still begin your exam preparation just by designing a proper timetable and following it strictly.

  • The first rule for working aspirants is not to quit their jobs. Having decent work experience can help you score well in the interview round. You should try to balance your activities well for a day.
  • A working candidate should not compromise on any of the core areas like Current Affairs, General Studies, and the selected optional subject due to lack of time.
  • You should prepare a pertinent timetable so that even on your busy office days you are able to take time out to prepare for UPSC along with proper rest.
  • An ideal workaround is when you divide your study time into prior to work, during work, post-work and revision schedules.
  • Create a specific schedule for weekends. During the forenoon, you should revise the entire week’s preparation, practice writing answers, and solve mock tests during the afternoon.
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