Multiple things are required to be done when you train for the IAS exam. Inevitably, on average, people take at least 10-12 months to prepare thoroughly for this demanding examination.

However, there have been aspirants who would have finalized it in 6 months. And unfortunately for many, even 6 years have proved inadequate. For an exam of this nature, a lot of aspects come into play. You need the right kind of guidance and technique so that you don’t forfeit precious time studying irrelevant and extraneous material.

These are all external facets and they are the same for everyone. However, there are a few internal factors also that calculate the time taken to prepare for the UPSC exam. These internal factors are sincerity, devotion, commitment, and perseverance. Needless to say, these factors vary from person to person. The time taken to study for the IAS exam would lean on the intensity of these internal factors.

So, to answer the query that was asked at the beginning about, ‘How Long does it take to Prepare for IAS Exam’, it can be safely declared that the time solely relies on the aspirants. Some have acquired 4 years to crack the exam while others have been competent enough to do it in one year.

With the right blend of external guidance and internal fire, you can cut back the time you take to crack the IAS exam.

How to start preparing for UPSC?

Here’s an index of things that you should do before commencing your preparation journey!

1. Understand the UPSC Exam

The aspirants preparing for the UPSC exam without the coaching must have full information about the exam, such as the UPSC exam pattern, UPSC exam syllabus, UPSC marking strategy, how to select the optional papers for the UPSC exam, etc, to begin their preparation in the best manner. UPSC exam happens in three 3 stages i.e. prelims, mains, and interviews.

The process to approach both prelims and mains demands focused study. UPSC prelims and mains are not two very distinct from each other, it’s just a significant overlap of the chapters. The aspirants should concentrate on the integrated practice for both UPSC prelims and mains.

2. Know the dates of the exam

It’s no surprise that you should ideally know the dates for the exam beforehand. It will aid you to manage your study schedule in terms of the number of hours that you want to devote. Determine when you want to appear for the exam. A max of 6 attempts for general category candidates is authorized. Hence, don’t give the exam unprepared. Have at least a year, give or take a month, to study rigorously and strictly if you’re a fresher.

3. Contemplate WHY you want to prepare

It takes about a year to get ready for UPSC and another year to finalize the UPSC exam process! So, even if you clear it on the first attempt, it will be a two-year-long procedure. Hence it is vital to have sufficient reasons to keep yourself motivated and encouraged throughout the preparation voyage.

4. How much time is needed for UPSC preparation?

It is a very subjective query and will rely on how well you strategize, what is your IAS preparation method, who you prefer to be your mentor, and whether you’re entirely new to the preparation scenario or have a fair bit of idea about distinct subjects and how much time can you dedicate per day to the preparation! In an ideal situation, 12-14 months is more than enough for readying yourself for this coveted exam.

5. Do a SWOT Analysis

It is relevant that you do a SWOT analysis before you start with your UPSC exam preparation. It will assist you in identifying your strengths and shortcomings; the opportunities that you will be able to tap and the dangers that may be there. It will permit you to know the stakes that are related to your preparation.

Once you have accomplished all of these and you are ready to dive, here’s a concrete IAS Preparation Strategy that you can take encouragement from to devise your own. Always remember that all the experts, mentors, toppers, or your friends who may already be in the preparation stage can only tell you what they think should be done. It is you who should conceive your own IAS Preparation Strategy for a simple reason – because nobody knows you better than you and the level of preparation you have.

What Else to Keep In Mind?


It is not an overstatement to say that the competition in the civil services exam is severe and immense. Lakhs of aspirants give the IAS prelims exam every year. At the end of the journey, only about a thousand pupils make it to the final list of appointed candidates.

And if you wish for top-ranked services like the IAS and the IFS, the competition is even greater since you have to ensure a pretty high rank for these services. The UPSC civil services exam is not a typical exam where you study hard for a month or two and get the outcome you want.

You have to go the extra mile to get a rank higher than your competition and that comprises graduates from top-grade universities like the IITs and the IIMs.

Need for Regular Revision and Practice

When you contemplate the vastness of the IAS syllabus, you would likely be worried about remembering all that you read during the exam. This is why revision becomes highly essential for the UPSC exam.

Only regular revision ensures that you recollect at least 85% of all that you study. Apart from regular revision, you ought to practice mock tests. Taking mock tests will provide you with a feel of the exam and help you acquire speed and enhance your writing skills.


Those aspirants who are dedicated need not worry about time. If you’re hard-working and with a determined mindset, no one can stop you from clearing the exam, even preparing a few months before the examination. However, to be on the safer side, begin your preparations at the right time so that you’ll have enough time for revision as well.

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