UPSC Civil Services Exam Preparation Timeline

Suppose, you are planning to appear in Civil Services Examination, starting in May 2024(Pre):


Month GS-Prelims GS-Mains Optional
June '23 - October '23 NCERTs and Basic Standard books - one reading  Read books common to prelims & mains Start preparation of Optional Paper
October '23 - February '24 Revise the Basic Standard Books and start practising mock prelims tests Cover rest of the syllabus of main exam and start answer writing as well as mock prelims tests Revision and practice of optional subject
March '24- May '24 Exclusively for prelims (both GS and CSAT) and regular prelims test    
June '24 - Sep '24   Exclusively for Mains and regular answer writing as well as mock test for mains exam Revision and mock tests.


Before you sit for the prelims, it is typically advisable that you cover your mains syllabus once and give it at least one review. One of the simple ways to get ready for the main exam is to enroll for a mains test series. This is due to the fact that writing and with a set schedule make it easier to cover the material and identify the key points for the paper. Analysing one's issue areas for improvement also helps.

In order to cover them at a pace, that is preferable and to avoid monotony, it is necessary to group similar topics. For instance, you can combine topics like geography and environment, history and politics, and economics with current events. Given that ethics is becoming exponentially more important, it must be covered in great detail. With a solid reading list, you should aim to finish two subjects in two months.

As a result, it will take roughly six months to cover the entire syllabus in detail.You should structure your efforts so that you finish the entire mains course by the end of January, which was started in July. This preparation will offer you an advantage when preparing for the preliminary exams, and the writing answers you receive writing answers will keep you "mains ready."

Written By -

Amit Akshay
Faculty RICE IAS

What are the changes required in the approach with the Evolving UPSC exam pattern? -PART 1

Charles Darwin in his book Origin of Species quoted the term- “Survival of the fittest”. The phrase denotes the similar idea that one’s survival during UPSC preparation is based on their capability to adapt to the changing exam patterns and demands of UPSC.

Since last few years we have witnessed certain changes in the examination pattern, the questions are now based more on one’s analytical skill rather than rote learning. Integration of several topics together and the increasing toughness of CSAT paper requires one to approach the exam differently and prepare himself or herself in a slight different manner.

So is the UPSC exam really Unpredictable? It is no longer possible to prepare for exams from existing sources?

Let's break this myth..!!!
UPSC itself guides you to prepare for the exam in the best possible way. Now after reading this line the first thing that come on your mind must be “Wait what”?

And we will say “Yes”, you already have the answer: it's the PREVIOUS YEAR QUESTION PAPER.
From time and again UPSC has brought home the fact that there is no other best possible way to understand its pattern than its own previous year question. However, we often end up exploring unrelated queries and resources, attributing this to the unpredictable nature of UPSC.

What kind of changes are we talking about when we witness the evolving and changing nature of the UPSC exam?

Let's summarize some key important changes that are required for you to fit in the exam process:-

Holistic and integrated coverage of topics - UPSC has become more multidisciplinary in its approach. You may find questions where topics of history are mixed with economics or may be society with history and so on.

Example: To what extent has the urban planning and culture of the Indus Valley Civilization provided inputs to the present day urbanization? Discuss? (The question is integration of history and society topic of urbanization).

We often see people saying - It's no more just the hard work rather the smart work now.. But how do we implement it?

"Employ your time in improving yourself by other men's writings so that you shall come easily by what others have labored hard for" - Socrates.

Hard work is when you give the ample amount of time required to cover the syllabus topics holistically. However smart work is when you smartly gather information from already existing sources

Example: Toppers notes, their answer sheets etc. Why do we have to work hard for something that has already been done by someone rather we can try to integrate and revise things multiple times. This is what we call value addition to our existing efforts.

Shall we really read newspapers or monthly magazines? This question has been asked by a multitude of aspirants...

Let's try to answer it.

Newspaper reading has multiple benefits from helping you to improve your English language to helping you improve your scores in reading comprehension in CSAT and also helping to articulate points for essay ethics and general studies paper. It's always an add on. Besides, it helps you to revise basics again and again.

Example: Reappearing topics like G20 , ASEAN, WHO ,WB, IMF,SCO- other international and inter-governmental bodies which upsc has been asking time and again.

In 2023 prelims we had a question on G20 and we are sure aspirants who have regularly read newspapers during their preparation can hardly get the answer of the question wrong. Apart from that, current affairs and magazines are helpful in covering topics in a holistic way but it gets monotonous .After 10 pages it seems nothing is comprehensible.

Let’s integrate both of them and make our preparation holistic. For example, make reading newspaper a habit in the morning for 1 month and you will feel the difference (I have always believed the घड़ी detergent tagline ad-'पहले इस्तेमाल करें फिर विश्वास करें…!)

The question regarding the increasing toughness of the CSAT paper still needs to be addressed…!!How we can approach it? Do we need to start preparing for CAT level math now? Is UPSC being unfair to the humanities students? How do one with a humanities background approach CSAT?

Let’s connect on our next blog to answer a few more interesting questions and unwind the changing approach needed for the preparation of the UPSC Examination.

Thank you.
I hope you enjoyed reading it.
Megha Agrawalla (Sociology faculty)
RICE IAS Faculty.
Email address love to hear from you)

How to stay motivated during UPSC preparation?

Aspirants have the highest level of motivation when they are thinking of preparing for the civil services exam. But gradually as they embark on this journey self-doubt and low phases pop up from time to time. However there is nothing to worry about this, as every aspirant including toppers, go through this, given the rigorous nature of this exam that demands discipline and consistency. In such phases it is best to think about what was in our mind when we started this journey and set a purpose for ourselves. This purpose itself is a motivation.

Another great motivation comes from 'observation'. To observe one's surroundings. This has two advantages - 1. It will make us more aware of our environment and motivate us to make it better and 2. This awareness will reflect in our answers which will help us both in mains as well as interview.

Further what can kept in mind are-

1. Set smaller goals, achieving which will motivate you to do more next time.
2. Talk to people who inspire and motivate you.
3. Stay away from people who demotivate you and make you feel low.
4. Exercise regularly because it will give you a sense of discipline and energy.
5. Sleep and wake up on time.
6. Pursue a hobby and take out time for it.
7. Don't watch too many motivational videos as it can draw you into a loop and you may end up losing more time.

Written By -

Jyoti Upadhyay
Faculty RICE IAS

How to Read Newspapers

"A newspaper is a circulating library with high blood pressure"
The quantum of news and opinions available in a newspaper is more than normal. It is difficult for a normal mind to digest all the news available there. So it becomes pertinent to decide the purpose of reading a newspaper which would ultimately help you in selecting the news relevant for you. To put things in context I would like to quote Michael Pena.

"I grew up reading the newspaper, mostly the sports section. I was a wrestler and I will check to see if I was ranked."

What should be the purpose of reading newspapers for UPSC aspirants?

UPSC CSE Examination as well as the job profile therefore demands you to be aware about the issues of national and international importance and which has bearing on the life of common citizens. In a welfare state like India, bureaucrats are working for the welfare of people and betterment of society. So, this exam is looking for problem solvers and agents of change and therefore the purpose of reading newspaper should be:-

● Awareness
● Understanding issues
● Identifying problems and challenges
● Exploring solutions
● Setting goals for future

How to select news?

The best guide who will help you in selecting the news that you should specifically read is the UPSC CSE Syllabus. It gives you the dimension of issues you need to be aware of. Proper understanding of the syllabus will help you in connecting news with static parts. While understanding the dynamic topics like environmental issues, economic issues, development in science and technology, international relations etc. will directly steer you to the relevant news.

How to approach the news?

Based on the events and their impact on the society, news should be categorised and different approaches should be applied for them:


● Incidence
● Initiative, national or international
● Reforms
● Rolling issues
● Matters in offing


Those issues which happen suddenly are called incidence .The first step for this type of news is to analyse the impact that is temporal as well as special impact. In case if it has long term impact in large area, then it should be given special importance and treated accordingly.


● Cause or background should be identified with details of events
● Impact of events on various dimension like social, economic ,political, environmental etc. should be analysed
● Look for instant, intermediate ,and long term solutions
● Look for the role of citizens, administration, NGOs, political setup and international bodies

National and international initiatives

These are schemes, programs, policy, plan campaigns, drives etc. started by Government, NGOs, and international organisations.


● Details of initiative
● Institution involved
● Reason for that initiative or some study reports
● Target group or sectors
● Financial supports or man power support to implement that initiative
● Anticipated goal and target
● Timeline if any
● Track the progress and analyse the gap
● Identify the bottleneck or challenges
● Suggest solutions or steps for improvement


Paradigm change in social, economic or political sphere


● Need of the reforms
● Detail of the reforms
● Problems with existing situation
● Related changes in law and constitution
● Anticipated goal
● Keep track of progress or impact of reforms
● Analyse the progress
● Analyse the bottleneck or challenges in the way of implementation
● Suggest the solution for the same

Rolling issues

Those issues which are evolving with time and going to be in the news for a long period of time are called rolling issues like climate change, water crisis , geopolitical issues etc.


● Genesis
● Details of the issue
● Dimensions and stakeholders
● Present condition
● Steps taken in that context
● Keep track of progress
● Way forward

Matters in offing

Those matters which are not the matter of concern in the present time but have potential to get bigger and more important in future are called matters in offing. Space debris, mass extinction, emerging technology etc. are the examples.


● Detail of the issue
● Genesis
● Present condition
● Anticipated impact
● Necessary steps
● Present response
● Way forward

You may not get everything in the Newspaper and here comes the role of the Internet. You can use Google to explore all dimensions of the issue and make an organised and structured notes and then eave space to incorporate the development.

Editorials and opinions should be read for enriching your knowledge and understanding of the issue.

However one must not be carried away by the views of the articles. You must try to know and understand each and every aspect of the issue before jumping to conclusions. Gandhi's quote is the guiding principle in this context.

"Newspapers should be read for the study of facts. They should not be allowed to kill the habit of independent thinking."

Written By -

Manish Kumar
Faculty RICE IAS

What to Think When You Think About The UPSC-CSE

Do you find the idea of working as a bureaucrat and serving the country fascinating? Each year, between  1,000,000 to 12,000,000 individuals apply for the UPSC-CSE exam. The number goes up to 14,000,000 in certain years. Only 10,000 to 15,000 of those students pass the first stage (Prelims).  

What distinguishes the chosen applicants from the rest? Their attention to planning, diligence and execution. It’s worth thinking on the following lines:


  • Understand The Exam: Through the latest CSE Notification 
  • Understand The Syllabus: Mentioned in the CSE Notification
  • Plan: It’s All In The Finer Details  

Choose a good set of resource materials for the Static and Current sections of the syllabus and stick to them.  RICE IAS offers the best set of printed notes and class handouts along with the monthly current affairs. The RICE IAS library is well-stocked with the books you need to refer to.


Stay updated through news, newspapers and current affairs magazines. Make sure to follow up with news, government schemes and significant economic and political decisions taken by the government during crises or in general. RICE IAS library has subscriptions for the most important magazines and newspapers any sincere aspirant needs to get updated with. 


  • Flexible But Organised 
  • Goal-Oriented 
  • Time-Bound Study Sessions  
  • Set Goals  

Prioritise your task to manage your time. You might be a college student or already doing a job while preparing, which leaves you with less time for self-study. Prioritise your weak areas to make effective use of your time. The faculty team and the reading room facility inside the library help you remain motivated. Peer-to-peer learning is ensured inside the classroom and in the reading room. 


There is no use of accumulated knowledge if you’re not testing it. 

It’s essential to test your preparation from time to time by joining a test series. Test series not only test your preparation but always allow you to compete with fellow aspirants and get more familiar with the exam environment. It allows you to practise writing answers and getting them evaluated by teachers. 

Test series enhances your preparation and highlights your weak areas. RICE offers IAS test series which matches the CSE level. 

RICE IAS offers you support and mentorship at all 5 stages. 

Stay Happy!

Stay Motivated!

For any doubt, queries contact: +91- 81008 19447, +91- 83369 51816

Written By - 

Mr. Amit Akshay
RICE IAS Faculty