How to clear UPSC CSE by self-study and online preparation?

Is this question coming to your mind also?

Can I clear the UPSC Civil Services Exam (UPSC CSE) without going to a coaching institute?

The short answer is yes you can.

Although the student goes for the coaching guidance for clearing UPSC CSE, there are some people who have given successful results without going to a coaching institute. The ability to clear UPSC CSE without any coaching institute depends on the will power to work hard. We are living in a digital age where all information is available in plenty for free, so it very much possible to clear the UPSC CSE without coaching if the person is dedicated, consistent, hardworking, and self-disciplined. If you are ready to put extra hard work and dream to ace the exam without coaching then this article is for you.

Before going for the self-study, you need to know why do people choose coaching classes?

A book cannot replace a mentor. A good coaching center designs its curriculum in such a way that it takes half the burden off their students’ shoulders and makes the UPSC journey relatively easy for them. They provide you with good guidance along with all the study materials needed for the UPSC preparation. They engage their students in competitive advantages along with providing them a daily dose of dedication and motivation need for this exam. But like everything else, they also have some downside, so before narrowing down on a coaching center, keep these things in mind.

  • A stagnant coaching institute is of no use. For example, if the mentors of the coaching institute do not hold UPSC related credentials or do not know about the UPSC CSE, they will fail to understand the latest developments in UPSC CSE exams. This will affect your preparation status too.
  • You need to have a bag full of money if you want to take admission in coaching institutes.
  • Some institutes make a batch of 200-400 students. So some students might lack confidence in addressing for query or any question in the class.

By now, you must be confirmed that you want to prepare for the UPSC CSE without coaching. Keep scrolling to know everything about how to clear UPSC without coaching.

You need to remember one thing through your UPSC journey that There is no shortcut to hard work. You must keep yourself motivated throughout the process of UPSC CSE preparation and stay consistent throughout the journey. You must be having a burning desire to clear UPSC CSE and remind yourself about your “why” every day before starting the preparation.

The following framework can be used as a guideline to construct your own preparation strategy.

Research about the Exam

Before you begin with the preparation, go through the Official Exam Notification. Take a note of the brief about the exam and all the details about the exam to understand the demand of the UPSC CSE first.

Check for the UPSC CSE eligibility. Know about the pattern, selection process, and syllabus of the examination. Know about the detailed syllabus of UPSC CSE.

Assemble all the UPSC Study Materials 

UPSC CSE syllabus will give you an idea about the subject and topic requirements of the exam. It will also give you the rough idea of the kind of resources/study material needed for UPSC CSE preparation.

Government websites like the Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of External Affairs, Income Tax Department, etc. will give you authentic information, so follow them regularly to be updated. These websites are periodically updated with the latest information and annual reports. Download all the previous year questions and analyze the pattern of the exam. You need to have the last 10 years question papers of UPSC CSE. Download the Previous year question paper from here.

It is an important point to note that you have to keep your sources minimal. Be very selective while choosing your resources. Because you need to be an information and knowledge collector, not a book collector. Get the comprehensive list of Best Books for UPSC CSE

Set Study Goals and Make a schedule

In the UPSC journey, the first and foremost goal is to cover the entire syllabus first. The UPSC syllabus is very vast so you need to have a perfect plan to cover the entire syllabus. Divide your goals into sub-goals and then make a strategy to read everything. Go through the syllabus and segregate the syllabus into topics. Make a list and assign time to cover each topic. Make monthly, weekly and daily goals to finish the topics.

Count the number of the month you have before the UPSC CSE exam and divide the time accordingly. Make sure to leave some time for revision and practice, as both play an important role in UPSC CSE preparation. Take ideas from the toppers strategy and make your own plan according to your situation. Stick to the plan, and follow it dedicatedly without fail.

Read How To Make Time Table For UPSC and Follow It Dedicatedly?

Update yourself with current affairs

Current affairs hold an integral part in UPSC CSE. In order to meet the demand, you must make a habit of reading a newspaper every day. You can choose to read the newspaper offline or online, that depends entirely on you. Even you can choose some reliable website to cover your current affairs portion. These websites provide current affairs lists and details for free.

Reading the newspaper and gathering all the facts does not complete the current affairs preparation, it is equally important to analyze the topic in trend and have a sound opinion about it with some factual points to support your opinion. Your opinion will have weightage in the examination and it might impress the UPSC Panel members.

Read How To Read Newspaper?

Revision is the key

Revising all the information is one of the most important parts of UPSC CSE preparation. It is impossible to retain everything you read. In fact, according to the research and facts, the human mind tends to forget 80% of the information after 24 hours of reading something. So it is important to design and include a revision plan also in the UPSC CSE time-table. You need to integrate your revision plan along with your study plan to gain the maximum benefits. Dedicate some time on a daily basis only for revision. There are various ways to make an effective revision plan.

Read How To Make An Effective Revision Plan For UPSC CSE? 

Mock Tests

You must track your improvement and test your performance on a regular basis. Only studying and moving on with other subjects won’t be effective at all. You must test yourself to determine your speed and accuracy and identify your weak areas and your strength. Take UPSC CSE Mock Tests to be familiar with the exam and determine your weaknesses and strength. These Mock Tests not only test your skills but also provide you with insightful feedback on your performance like All-India ranking, accuracy, and areas to focus on, etc. You can use this feedback for improving your performance.

Avoid Distractions

It is important to channel 95% of your attention to your preparation. Distractions can affect your preparation negatively so please do not take any chance of wasting time for useless distractions like social media, social gatherings, and pointless discussion with someone. Although, you must add social outings and pull out some time for your hobbies so that your mind and energy are not drained out. Occasional fun is also necessary to balance our life. But attention should not move from UPSC CSE because the syllabus is vast and without the dedication, clearing the exam is not possible.

Also, Don’t forget to take proper rest

Studying for 6-8 hours every day is important, but it equally important to get a sufficient amount of sleep. Your mind will not work if you do not give proper rest to it. So, you need to include 7-8 hours of sleep timing in your schedule. You cannot prepare for 9-10 months with an exhausted mind and body. Do not neglect your physical health and pay special attention to your mental well-being.

So, we can conclude saying, you can achieve your UPSC CSE goals without going for any formal coaching. But you have to be dedicated enough to stick to your routine for almost one year, and this requires a high level of self-discipline.

All the best.


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