Preparing for UPSC Exam while working is hard but the journey is very much possible once you decide to undertake it. If you have a will to overcome the hurdles you can achieve the cherished goal. Literally to be very frank its hard to manage both at the same time but its moderate if you have little prior knowledge about the basics.
In academics, if you were good till standard tenth, half of your work is done as the base is clear. If not, then you need to work little for the basics first. First have a thorough revision of NCERT Books from standard six to ten and make a routine of reading daily newspaper. Preparing without thinking about the end result is actually the best way to prepare for this exam.
Make the best use of time
When you start preparing for the UPSC Exam you have very little time to devote for preparation so it makes sense to utilize it most effectively. Working people don’t have the luxury of dedicating 15 hours daily to CSE preparation. Nor it is required. Instead of trying to cover the entire syllabus, be selective.
- Pick the sections that are easy to score and cover. The best way to build your knowledge base is by reading things that you find interesting and which excite you.
- For Preliminary Exams, topics which include current affairs, maps, polity, comprehension, passage, decision making, and statistics. These topics are very easy to score off and can be prepared while travelling and in your free time not just while preparing in your study time.
- Map based questions are also very easy to score off. Develop a regular habit of going through the atlas once. Studying Atlas everyday for 15 minutes you can get almost all the map based questions correct in the Preliminary Exam. But maps cannot be mastered in just 10 or 15 days. Doing this will leave you more confused that confident.
- The best approach to start with atlas study is to glance through the maps to just get an idea of the country, its coasts, oceans , states. After you are familiar with the facts, go for more in-depth study by focusing on physical geography of states, national highways, mountains, glaciers, rivers, islands, inland seas etc.
- Read the newspaper or a good magazine in your free time. The Hindu and The Indian Express are both high quality newspapers. When reading newspapers focus on editorials and news articles that are of relevance to UPSC preparation.
Get More Done in Less Time
As a working person is hard pressed for time but should make the most of the time for preparation. Focus on getting the maximum done in least amount of time. For this you will need to prepare a list of things to study, the most important first. Then assign just enough time or slightly less to cover the topics but not too less as this will put under pressure on you.
Develop a Routine and Stick to It
- By making routine you can prepare the syllabus within a very short time and it enables you to be more focused.
- Developing a routine is even more essential for working people due to limited time available to them.
- Pick a time slot, maybe in the evening or night or early morning where you can study uninterrupted for 2-3 hours.
- Some people prefer late night study while others like the calm and serenity of early mornings. Pick your time slot and stick to it.
- Even 2 to 3 hours of dedicated study coupled with reading a magazine, newspaper, previous year book or atlas is compulsory during the day hours and it can be an effective preparation plan.
- You will need to take pain to stay awake late or wake up early to study but then cracking the UPSC Exam while working does take some extra effort. But the fruit is well worth to it.
You Don’t Have to Leave Your Job to Prepare for UPSC Exams
You can very well prepare while working. Many people have cracked the civil services exam while working and you can too.
The focus is on general awareness, environment, decision making, language skills and basic mathematics. All these topics can very well be prepared while working at the same time.
At the most you should take about 15 days leave before the prelims for quick revision and about a month off from the job, if possible, before the UPSC Exam.
Having a Job Has its Own Benefits
The UPSC Exam is such that if you crack it in the first or second attempt you’re on the top of the world but as the years and attempts roll by, there’s a sense of insecurity that can impede your preparation, hinder your focus and thus further heightens the insecurity in a vicious circle.
The other big advantage working people have is during the interview stage and this can be huge. The interview panel looks favourably upon someone who has reached the interview while working as this means they have something to fall back on and have previous job experience as well. People working in the public sector especially have an edge as compared to someone who has been preparing full time for years.