How to Best Manage Your Time During the UPSC Exam?

Civil Services Examination is a national-level competitive exam held annually to recruit group ‘A’ level officers under the Government of India. It is mainly referred to as the UPSC exam.

It is based on the Imperial Civil Service Test from the British Empire. Only after 1947 did the exam’s current model come into existence. It is included in the list of the most challenging exams worldwide.

All group “A” level officers, including those in the Indian Administrative Services, Indian Foreign Services, Indian Revenue Services, Indian Police Services, and Indian Forest Services, are recruited by the central body known as the Union Public Service Commission.

It was founded on October 1st, 1926. Along with the Indian Election Commission and the Judiciary, it is one of the few organizations that enjoy autonomy and freedom in India. The organization’s chairman is the academician Dr. Manoj Soni.

A sizable number of aspirants sit for the exam each year after preparing for the best online course for UPSC. The UPSC exam’s success percentage is, however, relatively low. Only 5% of candidates that show up make it to the selection list on average.

Cut-off values change each time. While the number of vacancies fluctuates, they have been getting fewer since 2018, and this is alarming for the aspirants. The reason why it is considered to be the most challenging exam is the never-ending syllabus of the exam. Almost anything on this planet can be significant enough to find a mention in the exam.

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Top Tips For Efficient Time Management During UPSC Exam Preparation

Aspirants are often worried about how to memorize so much stuff. Most people find a solution to this problem: studying 18 hours a day.

While the more is merrier, it is only sometimes the case. Studying 18 hours a day will eventually lead to mind block and saturation. Organizing your time is all that is required. The methods for doing that are detailed below.

Divide Your Time

Most people believe in dedicating 1 to 1.5 years of their life to all the UPSC online study. If you are one of them, too, do not start haphazardly. Your time is significant, and going directionless can have severe consequences. Hence, make a timetable.

By timetable, we do not mean to say a daily timetable. That is required too. But it would be best if you had your 12 to 18 months divided so that you can cover the syllabus and do the sample papers and mock tests in time. While 18 hours is a little too much,10-12 hours of self-study daily is required for UPSC.

In those hours, prelims and mains need to make space for themselves.

For prelims, spend 1 to 1.5 hours with newspapers, 5 to 6 hours with classic books, and about half an hour on daily developments of significance around you.

For mains, divide sections alongside time for effective outcomes.

Divide your time, keeping all these considerations in mind so that nothing is left for the end moment for you to panic.

Make a To-Do List

To-do lists are the plan of action for the day. They can be made for each coming day, or you can set plans for a larger time frame. To make a to-do list, sit with a pen and paper or any other device on which you feel comfortable making notes.

You need to make this list each night for the next day. Make bullet points of all the work that you need to get done. It could be anything like cleansing your desk or doing certain portions of a topic. Map out each thing very objectively. Make sure you are not planning unachievable goals. Be sensible when you make the to-do list.

While simply jotting down the paper would surely not get the work done, it will be a source of inspiration throughout your day. In the first place, you will not be in a state to forget any of the work to be done. Next, writing things down helps in manifesting better.

Moreover, you will have the will to do the work to put a tick in front of it to achieve a sense of accomplishment by the end of the day. To-do lists are most of a psychological tool to get your work done.

There is no guarantee that you will do the work, but they sure make your time better organized. Interestingly, to-do lists can be made for months, six-month intervals, or a year too, just in case you wish to achieve a goal by the end of these longer intervals.

Habit Tracker

It is another psychological tool to keep you going throughout the day. Certain practices like reading the newspaper, checking a magazine, solving sample papers, etc., need to be done either daily or at regular intervals.

It is advisable to make a list of such tasks with respective time frames and keep a check if you can do the assigned task or not. It will again keep you motivated because if you fail at one deadline today, you will feel guilty about working double the next day. Habit trackers are also available as apps online.

Note Making

It is impossible to learn every single thing in one go. You are no Tulsidas, after all. Neither is it possible that you keep revisiting your books and newspapers to revise topics each time. That would be too laborious and time-taking. It is time that you start working smart instead of working hard.

Make notes of every single thing you are reading. You should have a separate notebook for current affairs in which static and dynamic topics are written separately so that it is easier to make changes.

For the static subject-wise topics, make different notes and relate the theory to the actual practices and development happening around you. Having notes prepared beforehand helps when revising. They only comprise essential materials. Moreover, you learn better when you write.


An essential aspect of time management is rest, which is often overlooked. People tend to cut short on sleep when they feel they are short on time. However, not sleeping enough is not the right decision. Sleep well so that your brain can function healthily.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1. How many hours are required to study for the UPSC exam?

It varies from aspirant to aspirant. There are many students who study 10-12 hours and many covers that much syllabus in less than 10 hours. Understanding of syllabus and exam pattern will help you a lot. However, on average 6 to 7 hours of study is required.

Q2.  How to manage time efficiently in the UPSC exam preparation?

Organizing the time will help you to efficiently manage your time. However, there are some major key points, such as making a to-do list, a habit tracker, note-making, etc. Moreover, you can divide your time which can help you cover the syllabus and manage the time effectively.

Q2. Can an average student crack the UPSC examination?

Yes, an average student can also clear the UPSC examination. Though the syllabus of UPSC is quite big but proper understanding, hard work, dedication, and consistency will help to ace the exam. Moreover, effective time management and the best coaching will help.

Q3. What are some myths regarding the UPSC examination?
  • It is required to do coaching to clear the UPSC examination
  • It is important to stay in Delhi
  • You have to be a nerd to pass the examination of the UPSC
Q4. What are the some facts about the UPSC IAS exam preparation?
  • Thousands of small-town aspirants also qualify for this examination without coaching
  • Coaching courses are easily available due to the availability of the internet.

Determination, consistency, relevance, hard work, and discipline are the keys to success

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