How to Prepare for IAS (The Ultimate Guide)

The Ultimate Guide to Help You in Cracking IAS – Examinations are always fearful, but when you are writing for IAS, things can be even more grueling. Being one of the most intricate exams, it gives a tough time to the students. Though, it is challenging, whereas the outcome, i.e. the passing results will take them high in their career with reputation, financial stability, and a defined status.

What is IAS?

Indian Administrative Service also known as IAS by most of the people was earlier identified as Imperial Civil Service. Even it is also popularly acknowledged as Civil Services Examinations as well. There are around 24 prestigious examinations conducted by the government, among which IAS is the highest one which was established in the year 1858.

The aim of IAS is to select the right candidate to play diverse roles for the country under the various government levels. Above all, the intention is to bring positive change in the life of millions.

What is the Eligibility Criteria to Write the IAS Exam?

Every year, a large number of students from all over the country sit for the IAS examination. Perhaps, you will be surprised to know that around 1000 vacancies come into picture; still, the applications are in heaps. It replicates both the popularity and competition of this examination; therefore, one needs to put up all the efforts without any further apprehensions.

Age Limit for IAS Exam 

  • The aspirant needs to be between 21 to 32 years old. The aspirant must not submit the examination form for IAS if he or she was born before August 2, 1987, or after August 1, 1998.

Education Qualification

The aspirant must hold –

  • Graduation degree from a recognized university
  • If the aspirant for the final year results
  • Professional and technical degrees as per the deemed university of the country
  • Holding an MBBS degree or any medical examination and are waiting for the internship or have not completed the same.

In simple words, all those candidates who have been passed the examination successfully by the institutes that fall under the commission justification category.

Are there any relaxations in the age limit for writing the IAS Exam?

The answer is yes, and for your help, here is the table sharing the upper limit on the context of age.

CategoryAge limit
SC/ST5 years
OBC3 years
Jammu and Kashmir (domiciled Jan 1,198, to December 31, 1990)5 years
Defense Service Personnel and Disabled during any hostile operations in the foreign land3 years
Ex-servicemen and commissioned officers5 years

What is the Estimated Salary of IAS?

Coming to the basic pay of IAS officer, it is Rs. 56,100. It will increase depending on the experience.

The salary is calculated as = Basic Pay + DA+ TA+HRA

Want to Know the IAS Syllabus?

Save your time in comprehending the syllabus of IAS because it will take you high in the journey.


The preliminary examination of the IAS examination is composed of two papers. The subject area of the paper I is comprised of

  • Indian History and Culture
  • Geography
  • Indian polity
  • Economics
  • Environment
  • General science
  • Current affairs

The subject area of paper II includes

  • Comprehension
  • General Mental Ability
  • Logical Reasoning
  • Decision Making and Interpersonal Skills
  • Basic Numeracy and Quantitative Ability
  • Data Interpretation
  • Analytical Reasoning
  • Logical Reasoning

The marking is not made clear, as it changes with the examination. Once you are comfortable with these subjects of prelims, the next stage will get easier.


If you have ascertained the cut off marking of the prelims examination, then the next door is MAINS. It will hold 1750 marks in hand with 9 papers in which 7 will be in the counting process.

The MAINS is comprised of

  • Essay
  • General Studies 1
  • General Studies 2
  • General Studies 3
  • General Studies 4
  • Optional Subject 1
  • Optional Subject 2
  • Indian Language
  • English Language

The last two papers are not counted in the counting process for final ranking.


It is the last and the deciding stage of a candidate whether he or she will be able to reach the goals or not. The main objective of this level is to identify personal stability, thinking, the zeal of work, interest in the current affairs, mental alertness, specialized knowledge, etc. In other ways, all those things which are intricate to understand during the written examinations will be dealt with here.

Sharing the Groundwork Strategy for IAS?

Before going any further, one should understand the stages of the examination. IAS is conducted in three levels that include – Prelims, Mains and then Interview. All these stages get tougher by crossing every step. Therefore, one should be confident with the preparation as cracking IAS is not at all impossible. The entire process takes almost one year if the candidate is qualifying all the levels at once.

  • Make a line of attack 

In most of the cases, the journey of how to become an IAS officer after 12th starts. It is for the reason that the goal is set in the mind of one. If you are also among the candidates who have completed 12th examination and are looking forward to sitting for the IAS examination, then plan a strategy. Compared to any other candidate, you will be having enough time to plan, prepare, and revise.

  • Do not set your curriculum for a month or two

You need to understand that IAS is a challenging task, and your preparation must begin at least before a year. It would be even better if you have your eyes before time too. There are options and strategies for students who lack time.

  • Work for winning and not for a trial basis 

Unless you are writing the prelims examination, there won’t be a mains examination by any means. Your focal points need to be on studying the preliminary questions and syllabus. Focusing on the mains will not let you score well in the prelims at all.

  • Make a robust action plan

If you are preparing IAS prelims without coaching or at home, then this will help you in the long run. First of all, you need to set aside the areas that will aid you in gathering more and more marks. Yes, it is possible, in general words, it is also known as 80/20 rule. Spend energy on the 20% using which you can effortlessly score 80% or more.

  • Choose the right books for IAS preparation

Hundreds and thousands of IAS preparation materials are there both online and offline. Reading each one of them will be quite tedious and confusing. So, don’t let your brain drain out with this, and take a glance below –

  • NCERT Books from the standard 6th to 12th
  • All in one guides
  • Previous question papers
  • Textbooks of UPSC
  • Sample papers
  • Books of banking exams, MBA exams, Engineering, SSC, NDA, etc
  • Self-study is important 

Help and guidance will always be there, whereas you must sit most of the time with yourself in the context of preparation. Every IAS topper or pass-out student shares the importance of the self-study. Thus, you must accept it in your routine as well. It will brighten your mind with the tactics, and without any more struggle, the IAS appointment letter will be in your hand.

Things to keep in mind for cracking IAS Exam that no one will tell you

  • First of all, you need to remember that there is no particular book to set the journey of IAS. IAS is undoubtedly one of the gripping and vastly structured examinations holding the presence of all the major subjects in and around. Therefore, you must not rely on any book, or even set of books for IAS preparation.
  • If you are preparing at home and not taking assistance from IAS coaching institutes, then online resources will be the right pick. These days everything associated with IAS preparation in all the stages is fulfilled over the net itself.
  • Current affairs should be there in your time table on an everyday basis. Again your intent must not rely on anyone source, instead of open up to the precise portals both online and offline.
  • The interview technique is crucial, so figure out the basics, past interview questions, reach out to the pass-out candidates, work on current thoughts, etc.
  • Work on your communication and writing skills altogether. These are two elements that will assist you in the IAS process if you really want to make a go through in fewer attempts.
  • For the mains examination, you must believe in practicing above anything. The more you pressure on writing and analyzing the weak points, the more will be the chances on the front end.
  • Lastly, the first focal point should remain on the prelims. Give yourself some time and plan the syllabus carefully without leaving any of the topics at all.

If someone tells you that IAS is difficult, then it is yes, but if you are giving your 100%, then no one will ever be able to stop you. There are times when everything will fall apart but remember you will be having 6 attempts. Your ideology must be related to scoring well in the first attempt. Take every attempt of the IAS examination as your last one.

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