Challenges faced by working people during UPSC preparation

  • Availability of time: A working professional is relatively more taxed for time compared to an aspirant who is non-working. 
  • Lack of energy and focus: The working professionals have to daily commute to the office, work 8-9 hours a day. This leaves them with very limited energy to focus on UPSC Examinations.

Advantages of being in a job

  • The aspirant will have a better world view which would help in the IAS interview.
  • Generally, a person in a job has a certain level of maturity and professionalism.
  • Job may serve as a backup plan in case things do not turn out in your favor.
  • A job will fund your existing liabilities plus the future expenses.

The strategy

The working professional needs the right time management skills, preparation strategy and guidance to crack the IAS exam.

  • Accept the fact that you cannot study 5-6 hours daily: Being on the job means generally a 9 to 7 schedule. Therefore accept the fact that you are unable to study regularly. Now focus on compensating for the lost study time.
  • Do not quit your job: You may take a few leaves before the Prelims exam. Also taking a study break after clearing Prelims exam will help a lot in preparing for Mains. You may rejoin back once the Mains exams are over. 
  • Shut off social media: Remember that you have to compensate for the shortfall in the time. Social media can eat up a lot of time. So you may have to deactivate your Facebook, Twitter or Whatsapp accounts.  If your job demands it, then set strict timings. 
  • Avoid commenting needlessly in Forum discussions. They consume a lot of time once you get addicted to them. You may think that you are studying by discussion but it is a sheer waste of time.
  • Integrated Approach: As we know that the majority of topics of UPSC Pre & Mains are common, therefore prepare for Pre & Mains together. It will also help in gaining holistic understanding in syllabus from both Pre & Mains perspective.
  • Before UPSC Prelims: Try to complete the entire GS syllabus before Prelims.If you are running short of time, exclusive mains topics like the Ethics paper, Essay etc can be prepared after writing Prelims. Joining a Prelims Test series is must.
    • Also, complete preparing the optional subject as well before Prelims.
  • Between UPSC Prelims and Mains, focus on answer writing and optionals. Writing  a Mains Test Series is compulsory.
    • Select the right Optional Subject. 
    • Limited study material: Try to cover only one book/source for a particular topic and read it multiple times.
    • Micro-learning: Since you are short of time you have to manage your schedule well. Break bigger topics into smaller ones and complete them in short time periods. Make use of interval breaks in the office and commutation time like travelling in the metro.
    • The right time to start preparing is at least 2 years before Prelims.
  • Make a group with similar people who are working while preparing for the UPSC examinations.
  • You may opt switching to a less demanding job where you can study in parallel or try getting a Study Leaves from your employer.