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How to Prepare For UPSC Civil Services Examination 2021 Without Coaching?

Original Answer By Ila Tripathi (UPSC AIR 51)

To begin with, I must admire you for being firm in your decision to NOT join a coaching, And Searching for steps on How to Prepare For UPSC Civil Services Examination Without Coaching? That’s the first and the very right step. Not many have this clarity. When I started preparing, I thought only coaching can save me. Fortunately, in my second and last attempt, I decided to ditch the coaching way and ended up with Rank 51. So here I’m to help you with your UPSC 2021 Preparation.

Problems Faced By The UPSC Aspirants

  • The attribute of the Civil Service Examination that makes it utterly difficult is the vast syllabus. Hence, the lack of proper resources and expert guidance is one of the key problems faced by students who prepare without any formal coaching. 
  • Students find themselves at sea when it comes to relevant booklist or study materials. Bookshops and internet resources are filled with materials that are never-ending. Hence, fresh aspirants always get in “too many books and too little time”!
  • The strategy is the key area when it comes to covering the entire syllabus. There are many topics that can be skipped, many topics that are extremely important and scoring. Fresh aspirants may feel overwhelmed with the vastness of syllabus and free resources and may end up wasting a lot of time aligning the same.
  • Next is proper time management. Coaching’s help in preparing a schedule for the aspirants. And hence, in lack of it, it is difficult to manage time efficiently. 
  • You may also need help with your difficult areas, without coaching it becomes quite impossible to meet this requirement.
  • Furthermore, the evaluation of descriptive answers is something that no aspirant can do by himself. But does that mean it is absolutely necessary for a UPSC aspirant to join coaching? Well, still, the answer is no! But, there are some of the key factors one should consider while preparing for the IAS Exam without coaching. Let’s see what are they!

Stage I: How to start UPSC 2021 Preparation

Please do read and finish your NCERTs in the least of times. They are essential but not sufficient. They help you assess where you stand, what you lack and what needs to be done.
After NCERTs, focus on standard textbook like GC Leong, Laxmikant, Spectrum, Shankar and Nitin Singhania notes. Here is also a difficult part. Do not be lured by your other friends who are reading different difficult books. The exam is cracked not by reading too many books but by reading same book, many times.

Stage II: How to Prepare For UPSC Civil Services Examination Without Coaching?

Then you must develop a habit of reading newspaper daily. Either the Hindu or Indian Express. This is very important. Current affairs are 60–70% of the question paper at all the three stages- Prelims, Mains, Interview.
By now you are also expected to have finalized on your optional. Be very careful here. Optional can make or break it for you. Please don’t be egoistic here- “MAin toh college topper tha maths mein, toh maths hi lunga” ( I will take Maths optional. Afterall I was the college topper). Despite my love for English, I did not have the courage to take English Literature optional because its performance ain’t good.
Over the time, also practice answer writing. And do solve previous years question papers.

Become an IAS Officer without Coaching in UPSC 2021

One of the most challenging examinations conducted in our country is UPSC Civil Services exam. It is conducted by the Union Public Service Commission which is a central recruiting agency. The task of cracking UPSC 2021 Civil Services exam is not a piece of cake. The aspirants need to a lot of hard work in order to succeed.
This article will be giving some tips to become an IAS / IPS officer without investing money in the hands of coaching giants. IAS Exam aspirants will also get to know the eligibility criteria of the exam, UPSC 2021 exam pattern and the preparation tips.
Kickstart your UPSC 2020 preparation today!

Are you eligible for UPSC IAS Exam?

The first thing you should do before starting your preparation is to know whether you are eligible for taking this exam. The aspirants must be a graduate and their age should fall under the given age limit. Check the Eligibility Criteria for UPSC Exam in the linked article.

Exam pattern

The next thing which you should know is the exam pattern. The UPSC conducts civil services examination in three stages. They are:
I :- Prelims
II :- Mains
III :- Personality test


The Prelims examination is objective and the General Studies Paper II is qualifying in nature. The question paper is set in English and Hindi. The UPSC IAS Prelims examination consists of two papers.
• General Studies Paper-I
• CSAT Paper-II


The General Studies Paper I comprises of Geography, History, Economy, General Science, Environment and ecology, and current affairs.
The CSAT Paper II comprises is aptitude paper which has the quantitative aptitude, logical reasoning, and comprehension skills.


When a candidate clear prelims exam, they have to fill up a form called “Detailed Application form” (DAF). Mains examination consists of nine descriptive papers including one optional subject (2 papers). This is considered as the crucial stage which decides an aspirant fate.
Candidates who qualify the mains exam, are called for the final round,i.e., personality test or interview. This round decides your rank in the final list. To read more on the UPSC Exam Pattern, check the linked article.

How to Prepare For UPSC Civil Services Examination Without Coaching?

Many candidates wrongly believe that they cannot crack the UPSC IAS exam without coaching. If approached with the right strategies one can crack this exam in the very first attempt. Firstly, one needs a combination of both hard work and smart work for cracking this exam. One has to make a study plan which works the best for him/her. They can start their preparation by reading NCERT books which are considered as the indispensable part of UPSC IAS Exam and an authentic newspaper like The Hindu.

We have already come up with the study plan and complete list of books including NCERT for UPSC civil services Examination.

Steps on How to Prepare For UPSC Civil Services Examination Without Coaching?

  1. Read NCERT and other standard books
  2. Also Read a newspaper and make notes
  3. Practice writing answers daily for UPSC Mains exam
  4. Choose and excel in the optional subject for Mains examination
  5. Practice UPSC previous year question paper as well as the mock test
  6. Groom yourself for interview

2 Comments

  1. […] You can Prepare for UPSC 2021 without coaching See How […]

  2. […] The UPSC Civil Services 2021 Recruitment process will be completed in three phases — Preliminary Written Test, Mains Written Exam and Personality Test/ Interview. Disclaimer: UPSC Civil Service exam is possible to clear without coaching. […]

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