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Time Management Tips for UPSC Aspirants

Time management is a very important aspect of UPSC preparation. Here are the tips for better time management for UPSC aspirants.

UPSC is one of the toughest competitive examinations conducted in India through which you can secure a prestigious place in the Indian Police Service, Indian Administrative Service, Indian Foreign Service, and others. As an IAS or IPS officer, you can actively participate in the workings or proceedings of the government and bring about a change in the country.

Aspirants from all over the country appear in large numbers for the examination. However, only a few qualify for it. Now, what makes them different? Well, it is their time management technique that sets them apart from the rest.

Every year, around 10 lakh students appear for the UPSC examination, out of which only a few hundreds manage to clear it with flying colours. The qualifying candidates don’t do anything differently but follow a set timetable or time management tips that will help them score better. Before appearing for the UPSC CSE Prelims, keep certain pointers in mind to achieve the desired results.

Before studying, take a deep breath and hold it for a few seconds. Relax your mind and body and mentally prepare yourself for the examination that you will write. When you have decided to appear for this exam, here is the proven strategy that you can follow to score the highest marks.

Why should you manage your time? 

If you are dedicated to clearing the UPSC exam within 1–1.5 years, you will have to manage your time. The most crucial aspect of your preparation journey is 8–10 hours of self-study. If you can strategize your preparation time, this also reflects how competent you will be as an IAS officer, where you will be bound to look into hundreds of things at a time.

Considering the UPSC syllabus, 1–1.5 years is very little time to cover it. If you cannot devote all your time in this period to your studies, you may face serious difficulties. Therefore, learn to avoid wasting time on distractions like social media, social gatherings and other forms of entertainment.

1. Broad time framework

Divide your entire preparation journey time into three or four sub-sections. Let’s say you are dedicating 1.5 years to your UPSC preparation. In the first nine months, ensure that you complete your syllabus, read all books repeatedly, and make notes for mains. In the next nine months, sit for mocks, solve previous year’s questions, and join test series. In the final three months, study for at least 10 hours a day and focus mostly on Prelims. 

Once you have established the overall timelines, divide your daily time into Prelims and Mains. If you start your preparation in May, make sure you devote the first few months entirely to the Prelims to be well-prepared for it. From May to July, focus only on Prelims. From July to January, focus on Prelims and Mains. From January to your Prelims, focus only on Prelims and solve mocks. Read the newspaper daily.

2. Time management for Prelims 

Give at least 1–1.5 hours to reading the newspaper and at least 6–7 hours to the standard books. For Current Affairs, do not devote more than 30–40 minutes every day.

3. Time management for Mains 

The first and the most important step is to divide the syllabus into sections. There are several sections in the syllabus. Make sure you divide them before making the time frame. If you plan to start your preparation in July, start with Society. In August, do Governance, followed by Internal Security in September. Find out the sub-topics of these topics and divide them daily and weekly.

4. Note making 

Make notes only for Ancient History and Art & Culture because these subjects are theory-based and involve large amounts of information. Notes will help you revise everything repeatedly. There is no need to make notes of Polity, History, Economics, and Modern History. For current affairs, the best way to prepare is to go through the online websites rather than making notes.

In mains, notes are the most important thing which can change the game for anyone. Make sure you choose the right sources to study for mains. Make notes only on A4 sheets, and make comprehensive notes on every topic. While making notes, make sure they are creative and knowledge-based to ensure that they hold your attention. Your notes will be effective only when they are compact, concise, and have a connection.

Active recall and spaced repetition technique

Exams are conducted to test your memory. Every time you read a topic, make sure you form 1–2 questions from each topic. Once you have finished learning 2–3 pages, try to answer questions about the topics covered. It will help you memorise concepts faster and efficiently. 

  • Stick to the right revision cycle. Once your chapter notes are completed, revise them the next day. Then, revise the same chapter after three days, followed by another revision in seven days. Keep repeating this cycle until you feel confident about each topic 
  • Keep participating in revision tests
  • Sit for at least two weekly tests and one or two monthly tests
  • Once you are done with the tests, a thorough analysis of every topic is essential

Most important points 

  • Make studying your priority
  • Spend time with positive people who motivate you
  • Ensure quality over quantity in your studies
  • Be adaptive


The whole process of the examination takes place in three stages: Prelims, Mains and Personality Test. The actual exam can be tiring and very mentally challenging for you. However, you should keep several things in mind while preparing for the UPSC exam. One very important tip is proper time management. If you fail at it, there is no way you can achieve success in the UPSC.

The UPSC syllabus is exceptionally vast, and it requires deep understanding and thorough knowledge. Therefore, follow all our time management tips if you are dedicated to cracking this exam. Try to get a good night’s sleep every day during your preparation journey, as sleep recharges your brain for the next day. 

If you stress yourself out the day before, your mind will not be able to relax, and it will create problems for you the day after. Certain pointers should be kept in mind while solving the various questions related to different subjects. Finally, be confident and do not fret over what is already done. Go with a positive mindset for the examination and give your all.

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