The Right Time and Age to Start Preparing for IAS Exam

“The Right Time is Always Right Now”….!!!!

One of the most common question among the students, be it from schools or colleges is – When should one start preparing for the IAS exam or what is the right age to start IAS preparation. Provided the UPSC CSE is one of the most sought after and toughest examination of the country, the question is inevitable. Every almost 5-7 lakh budding aspirants appear for the exams and of them only a 1000-odd make it to the final list. So, you see the competition is tough….pretty tough actually taking into account the year-long PRELIMS-MAINS-INTERVIEW process of selection. Some say if you aim to become an IAS Officer, you should start early (by early, they literally mean from school days…!!!) and some other will argue that it would be apt to divert your full devotion towards the UPSC preparation only after completing graduation. Through this article, we look forward t ease out this confusion and provide you with a way forward on – “The Right Time and Age to Start Preparing for IAS Exam”.

What does the UPSC Syllabus and Pattern actually constitute?

The UPSC conducts the Examination in three phases i.e. Prelims, Mains and Personality Test. The Preliminary examination is basically aimed to filter out the non-serious candidates from that of the sincere ones. It consists of two papers of 200 marks each.

The candidates, who clear the Preliminary exam, are made to appear for the Mains Examination which consists of 9 subjective papers including Compulsory Language and Optionals. All the 9 papers constitute for 1750 marks. The candidates from here on are then selected to appear for the final Interview/Personality Test. The cumulative marks of the Mains exams and Interview are then used to draft out the Final Merit List.

Which is that opportune time to start preparing?

In straight words, there is no perfect time to start preparing for the Civil Service Examination. If we see through what UPSC notification says then, the minimum age criteria has been set as 21 years to appear in the Civil Services IAS Exam. Numerous kids start dreaming of becoming an IAS Officer/District Magistrate/ IPS officer etc. after watching the officers of the same rank in their vicinity. But you know what:

“Dreams are there for free. Just that its hustle is sold somewhere else”

If you dream of becoming something, you need to start working towards achieving it ….Right Now…..!!!!!!

It is advisable and very much useful that you start preparing for the exam early in your career (as in school or college), but it should only revolve around setting up of a firm base i.e. regarding knowhow of the happenings in the world and General Knowledge. To start early is all about developing a liking towards the subjects which are going to turn you into an IAS Officer.

Things you can do while at School

As such at this point of life, you have considerable amount of time at your disposal before you even become eligible to apply for this exam. For now, one should not ponder a lot much about strategy, books, optional, answer writings etc. Make no mistake, we are not saying you should not read for IAS but the point is that do not make it your primary goal for now. First you should aim to complete your schooling with good grades and choose your subjects for intermediate and higher studies accordingly.

Any aspirant preparing for the exam will understand the importance of NCERT books from Class 6-10. Being a school student, what you can do is that you can master all these books quite early and this will be of immense help considering the fact that UPSC Exams are based around these basic books only.

There are certain basic habits which you can develop in order bolster your chances at the actual exam in due time:

  • Daily Newspaper reading.
  • Stick to GK books (either monthly or yearly) apart from your school textbooks.
  • Try knowing more about the IAS Exam – its syllabus, conduct, selection process etc.
  • Enjoy whatever you are reading. You may not memorize the things but it will definitely garner your interest in the requisite subjects.

Things you can do while at College

The directions and advice given above to be followed in school days is applicable here too; you should devote your time in preparing for current affairs and further enhancing your GK base in the first few years of graduation at slowly. From there on you can move towards serious preparation. You can start reading the standard recommended books for UPSC like Polity by M. Laxmikanth, History by Bipin Chandra or history of Spectrum Publication from last year of your graduation. If you were to take our advice than do make sure that you live through your college life to the fullest. Infact, this is the time when you start knowing your society and people well. You learn to take decisions, including some easy some harsh ones as well. These things cannot be taught through books, these are life-lessons. And in future, if you are to work towards with people at the grassroot levels, these things are going to be handy in your decision-making process.

A student is generally done with his/her graduation between 21-23 years of age. This is the best phase to start serious preparation for UPSC CSE. You can either prepare for the exam by self-study or join any of the Civil Service Coaching Institutes in Delhi (preferably). Joining a coaching institute, might not assure your passage into LBSNAA. But what they can actually do is to single out ‘what not to study’ during your IAS preparations.

Owing to the level of competition and toughness of the exam, one cannot be assured of clearing this exam in the very first attempt. But this phase provides you with ample amount of time to revive yourself out of failure and set   oneself to achieve those coveted posts. Unfortunately, even if you failed to clear the civil services you still have time for an alternate career.

So, to put things into a clear perspective, there is no such specific or perfect age to start IAS preparation, but as far as the recent trends of the success rate of IAS Topper goes, we see that an IAS aspirant should start IAS preparation just after completing the graduation course at the age of 21 years or 22 years. While, there are also instances when, many IAS toppers have got success in IAS Exam started IAS preparation after 25 years. An IAS aspirant should keep the upper age limit criteria in his/her mind and their own ability to cover the huge UPSC syllabus in a given time frame of one year.

We hope, with this compelling analysis for one of the most common question surrounding the UPSC preparation, we are loud and clear enough to convey that there is no such specific time and age. But yes, if you start early then it certainly helps. If you dream of becoming a future bureaucrat of the country, start working towards it because:

“Dreams don’t work unless you do”

Wish you all the luck with your IAS Preparation….!!!



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