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How much time is needed to prepare for UPSC?

How much time is needed to prepare for UPSC?

This type of question has no clear-cut answer. It’s like how much time it takes to be a good cook or to be a good writer! But in every profession, every examination, there is a specific pattern. . Its totally depend on your catching power. if your catching power is strong then you can easily understand otherwise it will take time. In turn, your success depends upon several factors like time, work, skill and most importantly, strategy.

UPSC pattern

If you look at UPSC CSE, it is divided into three stages.

1. UPSC Prelims exam: Two objective papers

2. UPSC Mains exam: 9 descriptive papers

3. UPSC Personality Test: UPSC Board Interview

Total marks upon which your fate will be decided are 2025. But the most critical part is preliminary. The score of this part will not be added, but the failure rate is several times higher than the mains.

Next comes the degree of competition. Due to the vast number of applicants, less than 1% will succeed. So, statistically, you have a 1% chance. But you can make it to the top 1% with your knowledge, skills, hard work and grittiness.


Take a look at the syllabus first. Analyse past question papers. Also, look at some toppers mock test answer scripts available online. Now you have a clear picture of the level you have to achieve. But the real question is, where do you stand now. If you are good at your stream (graduation subject) and confident enough to elect it as an optional subject, then definitely it will save you time.

The mains syllabus and preliminary should be viewed as an integrated approach. In that part, you have two types of topics — static and current affairs. Questions will be a mixed approach from both. The static portion needs separate coverage. This part alone consists of links with all types of major subjects you can imagine. So, you can’t finish the syllabus. But what you can do is analysing curriculum based on previous papers and guessing the trend. After sizing the static parts smartly, good coverage may need almost 5 hours per day. But the current affairs part is vast. From the UPSC perspective study, you don’t need to ponder deep into every topic.

After you have covered the whole static part, it is time to revise, re-revise and engage in answer writing practise and test series practice. The more you exercise on them, the more perfection you attain. And you already know by looking at toppers’ answers, how much gap of perfection you need to fill up. In that case, all the syllabus related topics need to be covered more than 4-5 times. But with time progress, the time to cover a topic will decrease down because it will not be same as first time reading where you need to understand the subject. Spend at least 2 hours every day for revision.


So, as per our calculation, if you are a mediocre student, you should spend at least 8 hours per day for a year to be ‘exam-ready’. The optional subject requires separate attention based on the subject. But a significant portion of time, at least 30% should be dedicated due to its significance in the final score. Again, it will depend on you. If it is new for you, you may need almost one-year attention where you need to dedicate 2-3 hours per day. Mathematically saying, if you study 3000 hours for examination and if you read 330 days per year, it will take 9 hours of study for one year. But, with time, efficiency increases as we said before. So, the rest of the time should include test series, note-making and answer writing practice. And don’t forget essay paper and optional paper!!

Yes, this is a long journey. But not as hard as the myths go. The reality is some people can never clear in 6 years, and some people can clear in one year!! But with burning passion and right choices, armed with proper strategy, you can succeed in a shorter time. Just believe your ability and start working.

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