How to Prepare for UPSC without Coaching: Self Preparation Guide

In this article I will give you a guide on how to prepare for UPSC without coaching. Many aspirants are not in position to take UPSC coaching. They ask ‘can I clear UPSC without coaching?’. It can either be because they are on job or they can’t afford expensive coaching or coaching facility is not available in their city/town.

Can I Clear UPSC without Coaching?

The answer is a strong yes! While coaching helps pace your preparation, if you do not take coaching, it is actually advantageous. It gives you originality and sets you apart from the crowd.

Here are the qualities you will need to be able to prepare UPSC without coaching.

  1. You can grasp the concepts with the help of text books and internet.
  2. You can teach yourself.
  3. You can use various online resources effectively and efficiently.
  4. You are very hardworking and self-disciplined.
  5. You practice a lot of answer writing

How to Prepare UPSC without Coaching

I had prepared Geography optional all by myself, without even coaching notes. And I obtained highest marks in Paper 2. So I can guide your UPSC self preparation:

  1. Go through the Complete UPSC syllabus daily for at least first one week. Do it religiously. You need to grasp the entire scope of the syllabus. This will help you understand what to read and what to leave. Do not ignore this advice.
  2. READ: A detailed guide on How to Begin UPSC Preparation
  3. Finish your NCERTs as fast as you can. Keep going through previous questions to understand what is important and what is not. Highlight your NCERTs accordingly. This will make your revision easy and quick.
  4. Go through Indian Express or The Hindu or Dainik Jagaran (for Hindi medium) daily. Read only relevant portions and editorials. Initially it could take up to 3 hours but within a month or two it should come down to 30–45 minutes.
  5. Make Google your friend. Never shy away from googling any term you don’t clearly understand, whether in books or newspaper. If necessary, make notes of them.
  6. Read and highlight and revise any one monthly magazine. VisionIAS or Vajiram.
  7. If possible, use online tools like Evernote to organize your notes and use PDFs of NCERT. If you are not comfortable with reading and taking notes online, it is fine.
  8. After about 5 months of preparation, start attempting Prelims test series extensively. Learn from the solutions given for them.
  9. After about 6 months of preparation, start answer writing practice. Both for GS and for Optional. You can get your questions from IASbaba or Insights . Only 3–4 answers of varied nature daily should be enough.
  10. If you find any topic or subject really difficult to understand, you can get help from YouTube videos.
  11. You should enrol for mains test series somewhere. You can do it after Prelims too like I did. There are many coaching centres that offer online mains test series. But do not worry of you cannot afford it. You can practice and self evaluate to improve over time.

Self Preparation of Optionals

  1. Go strictly by previous years questions first. Pick a question and read the relevant part in standard text books and/or class notes.
  2. Once you have covered them extensively, fill the gap by covering remaining topics in the syllabus.
  3. If your optional requires maps and diagrams, practice them like your life depends on them. They will fetch you marks and also help in conceptual understanding.

READ: How I cleared UPSC with Full Time Job by Utkarsh Gupta (AIR 78)

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