Coaching for the Civil Services Exam: Is It Necessary?

To be or not to be?

This is a perennial question I get asked the most. And it’s understandable too. Many aspirants who begin their Civils preparation are clueless about this exam’s demands and most cannot simply afford to go to Delhi and take coaching.

There are a lot of doubts and misconceptions regarding whether to take coaching for Civils Services. So let me break it down for you.

Note: Keeping beginners in mind, let me clarify that for the rest of the post, by coaching I mean the generic sense of the word: the act of going to an institute and attending their classes. Test series, coaching notes and mock interviews at coaching institutes are clearly distinct. So when I say coaching isn’t really necessary for GS, it implies that there isn’t any need to attend classes. I don’t mean to say that you should not take any test series, or read any coaching material.

Q. Is coaching necessary?

Think of an elite sportsman like Virat Kohli. Does he have a personal coach? Yes, he does. But would you say his career success is purely down to his coach? Of course not. Kohli trains and suffers day in day out, practices consistently to learn and improve his game. His self discipline, hard work and the burning determination to excel at the game is what makes him the elite player he is.

Same goes with success in the civil services exam. Coaching merely helps you, it does not ensure you a rank. Your self study, consistency and the hard work you put in sitting at your study table matters far more than what you do in coaching classes.

So if you are attending coaching classes, do take their notes, but you should not rely excessively on them and neglect standard books. In my first Mains, I did this mistake of depending on coaching notes disproportionately— I barely read any of the standard books. When I wrote my first Mains in 2012, my lack of conceptual clarity was evident. Unsurprisingly, I failed to get an interview call.

Always remember that roughly, not more than 25-30% of your preparation should depend on coaching classes. To say that without coaching you cannot crack UPSC is to tell a lie. There are people who put in even that 25% of work by themselves and have cracked this exam (that is, they might have read coaching notes, but did not attend any classes.) So it depends on your personal belief, self discipline and your basic level of knowledge to determine whether you need coaching.

Suppose you know what standard books to study, what coaching notes to refer to, and by reading them you are able to understand the subject, that’s brilliant and you don’t need coaching.

On the other hand, if you are absolutely clueless about the exam process or the books you need to study, coaching institutes will definitely help you get a broad idea. But as I said, you still have to read standard books, make required notes and put in the work to outshine your competition.

Q. How do you compare coaching in Delhi versus elsewhere?

As I had said, coaching does not constitute more than 25-30% of your preparation. And there’s nothing profound about coaching institutes in Delhi.

For those preparing in far flung areas, if you cannot afford to go to Delhi, that’s perfectly alright. You can get notes of all the major coaching institutes in most cities. So make a trip once to your nearby city, buy them from a bookstore and study on your own.

Also, I believe internet has truly democratised information and made it accessible even to rural areas. These days many institutes are providing coaching classes via video lectures. You can opt for them too.

Moreover, online websites (Mrunal, ForumIAS, CivilsDaily, Insights, IASBaba etc) have emerged as brilliant and affordable alternatives to traditional coaching institutes. So if you cannot go to Delhi to take coaching, you are not losing out on anything.

Q. How helpful are coaching notes? Can they substitute standard books?

Standard books are important because they are written from the ground up and they form the foundation of your knowledge. Once you read standard books, reading coaching notes not only becomes much easier, but you can also see where in that big picture does a small topic fit in.

The problem with reading just the coaching notes is that they fail to you give you such big picture perspective. What you will be left with are fragmented concepts and broken knowledge which doesn’t stick for long in your memory. For long term memory, we need a topic’s context which is why you should always start with standard books.

For example, when I started Anthropology, I first read Ember & Ember to get an overview of the subject. Afterward, when I referred to BrainTree coaching material, I could clearly see how a particular topic such as Primate Adaptation fit into the larger concept of Human Evolution. This is why standard books are indispensable.

While reading coaching notes, remember these:

  • Coaching notes are helpful and easy to revise before the exam. But they can only supplement but never substitute standard books.
  • Always map your notes onto the chapters and topics in syllabus. Most coaching institutes do not cover the syllabus entirely. Even if they do, they usually rush through some chapters. So when you see a topic not covered well in your notes, read on your own from other sources and make notes.
  • Coaching notes and material come in handy to cover a specific topic. For example for a topic like Govt schemes, instead of you labouring to compile them from ministries’ websites, it’s better that you buy a compilation booklet of any institute. Smart work saves you a lot of time.
  • You have to remember that UPSC is not at all like a graduation exam. In college, it’s fairly easy to read just the notes and score really well. But in UPSC, the questions are of higher standard and of deeper analytical depth. None of the questions usually come directly from your coaching notes. It’s your clarity of concepts— especially in optional— that will help you write good answers.

Q. How to choose which coaching institute to join?

When you are thinking of joining a coaching institute, do not go by their advertisements. Many institutes simply put names of toppers even if they might have just paid a visit to their institute for an open mock interview because it was free. There are gradations of the level of association of a topper with an institute, and you need to recognise it before deciding to join them.

It’s always advisable to take the opinion of people who had already taken coaching in that institute to make an informed decision. Their feedback should be given more weight, not pamphlets or advertisements.

Q. What about the competence of teachers at coaching institutes?

Many a time, aspirants (especially beginners) place too much trust and credibility in coaching teachers. Some teachers are indeed good but some are plain terrible. Especially in specialised subjects such as optional, reading standard books and referring to internet will tell you whether what you are being taught in coaching institutes is accurate or just rubbish.

You can also search for topper’s blogs on that particular subject who would have put an accurate account of his/her opinion about the institute.

Q. Should I take coaching for GS?

General Studies is not quantum physics. UPSC only expects candidates to have a generalist understanding of a wide range of topics. So if you have the material with you and can study on your own, you will be able to understand the subject and hence GS coaching isn’t really necessary. You only need to go the market, buy the relevant GS material or coaching notes and study on your own.

Q. Should I take coaching for optional subject?

Optional requires in-depth specific knowledge and coaching definitely helps you in covering the syllabus systematically. Also, many engineering graduates find themselves clueless about arts subjects like philosophy, sociology etc.. Coaching will definitely be beneficial to those people.

But as always, the caveat is that just like GS, you can prepare for optional yourself. I didn’t take any coaching for Anthropology and I scored 318.

Q. How helpful are Test Series at coaching institutes?

Many aspirants commit one fundamental mistake: they read and revise, over and over, but never practise. Remember that the examiner checking your copy will have no idea about the number of books you’ve read or the number of hours you’ve slogged. Your answers are all that he has to judge you. So it makes sense to learn it, practise it and perfect it.

Test series definitely helps in that sense because it trains your brain to get the hang of how the actual exam feels like. You write tests so that in the final exam you are not taken in by surprise.

So even if you practice daily answer writing, you should write full length tests within dedicated time limits. Writing such tests with all the seriousness of an actual exam will teach you to manage time and give an incredible insight into where you are going wrong. The feedback on your answers will also help you get an independent, critical perspective.

Moreover, you need to remember that Mains exam demands not only our memory and intelligence, but also endurance. If you lack prior practice, writing relentlessly for 6 hours a day and do this for 5 days will cause both mental and physical fatigue. The only way to overcome it is to practice enough before the final exam.

If you want to run a marathon, you cannot simply show up on the race day and expect to run 42 km— it needs prior training. Same goes with Mains. By joining a good test series, you will get such practice and it prepares you both mentally and physically for the final battle.

My association with coaching institutes

What follows is a chronological account of where all I have taken coaching from and for what subjects. I’ve also written my assessment of these institutes. Hope this helps you in making an informed decision.

General Studies (Old pattern and syllabus) at Vajiram Institute, New Delhi

Comment: While the quality of teachers were good, they drain an inordinate amount of your time in note dictation. You’ll understand how redundant this exercise is when you realise that the handwritten notes from the same institute are readily available in the market.

Public Administration Optional at Vajiram Institute, New Delhi

Comment: The quality of teaching and notes were good. But I’ve always scored poorly in Pub Ad. I secured All India Rank 1 in this attempt only when I dropped Public Administration and took up Anthropology.

Public Administration in UPSC is a subject that takes itself too seriously, when in reality, it’s a subject that lacks originality and is bereft of substance. (I can go on a long rant, but I’ll just abstain 🙂 )

Let’s just say that if you are starting just now, I will suggest that you don’t pick this optional in the first place.

Geography Optional at Direction IAS, New Delhi

Comment: Not useful. Not recommended.

2013 (New Pattern and Syllabus)

General Studies – Prepared on my own.

Comment: In 2013, the syllabus of GS got completely revamped. One of the major reasons I had failed in Mains 2012 was that I relied excessively on coaching material and neglected standard books. The questions asked in Mains were clearly different from what I’d read or been taught in the classroom. In Mains 2012, my lack of knowledge was clearly exposed.

So when UPSC brought in the new pattern of four GS papers, I saw it as an opportunity to start everything from scratch (Having a huge time gap between Prelims and Mains that year also helped).

I disbanded all my half baked coaching notes and went back to standard books to gain a comprehensive understanding of all subjects. Made notes wherever I felt necessary.
Also, this self learning experience in 2013 was what gave me confidence last year (2017) to take up Anthropology and prepare on my own.

Personality Test:

Mock interview at Sri Chaitanya, Hyderabad
Mock interview at Chanakya, New Delhi




2016 (Skipped the attempt)


GS and Essay Mains Test Series (MGP+ Programme) at ForumIAS academy (Online mode)

Comment: By this time last year, I realised that lack of answer writing practice was dragging me back. So I had decided to join an institute for test series. But I was based in Hyderabad and no way I could go to Delhi for my test series, so I had to opt for online mode. Initially, I was skeptical whether this whole thing of sending them my scanned written papers would really work.

But my apprehensions were unfounded. The ForumIAS team was very professional. Papers were checked meticulously and emailed to me on time. The feedback on my test papers and the post-test discussion videos were immensely helpful in improving my answer content and presentation.

Anthropology Optional – Prepared completely on my own

Personality Test:

  • Mock interview at Hyderabad Study Circle (Very professional and they had an excellent panel of members. Some of the questions posed in the mock were asked in the final interview)
  • Mock interview at Lakshmaiah Institute, Hyderabad
  • Mock interview – Feynman IAS academy, Hyderabad
  • Mock Interview – RC Reddy Institute, Hyderabad
  • Interview Guidance Programme (online) by ForumIAS academy
  • DAF analysis session (via Skype) by Officers IAS academy, Chennai

Any of these aforementioned institutes might have claimed me to be their student, but you should see how exactly I was associated with them, and what role they might have played in my success. Some other institutes not mentioned here might have also falsely claimed my rank. Ignore those adverts.

So please don’t join an institute just because you happen to see my picture or any other topper’s picture on their pamphlet. It always helps to take feedback from a few people who had done coaching there. Also verify through a handful of topper blogs to confirm the competence of teachers and their institutes.

Hope this post helped in clearing some of the dilemmas you may have had. More blog posts to follow.

Until next time,

Note: For the benefit of UPSC aspirants, I am working on a detailed guide book on how to write powerful Essays and compelling answers in the UPSC exam. Subscribe to this blog to hear first when the book launches.

186 thoughts on “Coaching for the Civil Services Exam: Is It Necessary?

  1. Balakondareddy

    Excellent analysis sir.. It helps aspirants like me to a great extent.. thank you..

    1. Swapna s

      Excellent sir TQ so much for giving more information
      S swapna

  2. Gaurav Bansal AS

    Hello Sir,
    I m not a beginner as I m preparing for IAS from last year July months (took coaching in Vajiram), but I haven’t prepares for my optional yet bcz I was confused in optionals that I should opt out mathematics or sociology as my optional. Now I got clearity about optional after reading mathematics I realised without coaching , I can’t complete syllabus in well friendly manner. So sir I m going to drop it , going to take Sociology as my optional.
    Sir, give me your precious guidance about Sociology while I know, your optional was pub ad and anthropology.
    It will be your great help
    Thanks in advance

      1. maya

        Congratulations sir 🙂
        You are an inspiration .
        If time permits would please acknowledge my concern regarding public administration as optional .
        I have decided to opt for it and I don’t feel if I’m comfortable with any other optional subjects , but as you have mentioned about pub ad above I’m in delimma .
        It would be of immense help if you could guide me for the strategy for pub ad .
        Thank you sir 🙂

      2. Vaishnavi

        Sir ,Is this necessary to take coaching for anthropology optional….

      3. Akhila

        Sir please tell about anthropology

        1. Kaaviya

          Sir,I am determined to crack upsc , could you give a clear guidelines and initial step to final step to crack it in first attempt

      4. TUSHAR

        SIR , with lots of hope to get a reply .

      5. Anonymous

        Sir, I have been preparing for the past 4 years yet im still not confident enough to give even my first attempt. How do I know Im ready to proceed?. Another issue of mine is that I some how feel I understood what I read but when ever I tried to recall all the information I have gathered, nothing seems to pops out from my mind. And I feel like I know nothing therefore easily get demotivated. Would you pllease unravel my doubt please sir.

    1. Anonymous

      U shouldn’t take mathematics unless u haven’t encountered that subject in ur graduation. The questions set are very standard but the topics are vast and is of the standard covered in mathematics

    2. Akash tiwari

      I am facing the exact same problem. It’s my first time and I am in college. Please guide me. I am good in mathematics but it need more time daily.

    3. Anonymous

      Sir may I ask you a question?
      Are you graduated or you’re in final year ?
      And is it fine to take coaching in first year of college?????

  3. Pooja R

    Have seen and heard so many toppers over the past two years, very few explain things as meticulously as you do. Thank you so much, sir. Mere words don’t suffice 🙂

    I have a small query. When you first started writing answers (for mains), did you wait to complete the syllabus or just started at a random point & wrote whatever you knew till then?
    I mean, I’ve started preparing since Feb this year…So i kinda know around 30% of the syllabus as of yet. Should I go about writing answers from right now? Or should I wait to gain more knowledge?

    If you are planning to make a separate blog about this, then I’ll wait for it! 🙂

    1. Anudeep Durishetty

      Unless you have studies at least 60-70% of the syllabus, you’ll not be able to write quality answers. Focus on building knowledge first. Once you are clear with fundamentals, answer writing skill will be effortless.

      1. Naina Tara

        I meant to ask the same question.
        This being my third comment, i feel funny in thanking you again :-p
        What you have chose to answer and the way you answered it. Sangh Seva in the UPSC world 🙂

      2. Poojith

        Thank you sir,is it necessary to revise the previous question papers and important questions for mains

      3. Raja sekhar

        Sir I seen your interview in disey…nice conversation…and congrats sir …
        Sir how much percentage is needed for attending upsc exams in …degree …?? & My degree percentage will effect on upsc exams sir…clarify these doubts…sir please

      4. Swapna s

        Sir when I will take test series?and i start yearly time table from June 2022

  4. Anonymous

    A meticulous account capable of unfolding untold dilemmas on “Coaching” (y) Looking forward to reading you. Much obliged for your words of worldly wisdom!

  5. Abhay Rajpoot

    thank you sir , your analysis will help us to know how much to rely on coaching materials.

  6. PANKAJ KUMAR yadav

    Clear and honestly describe all about coaching classes . I also think same.

  7. Pulapa Sudheer Chowdary

    Please update your Anthropology optional preparation strategy as soon as possible
    and also myths that students might do unknowingly in UPSC preparation and as well as in Anthropology optional.

    1. Amit Dutta

      I’ve found a pdf of PSIR lecture in Telegram which has your name on it. Is there any way I can have access to the remaining notes?

  8. yashi kushwaha

    Thank you sir?

  9. shobanakrishnan

    Can you explain why you have suggested not to take up Public Administration as optional at the first place ?

      1. Anonymous

        sir my name is rashmi pandey i am ias aspirant sir can i ask one thing sir you are so cute 😊😊

  10. Anonymous

    Thank you so much sir

  11. signature2426

    Hi sir ,
    I have gone through so many toppers but u r one of the finest people among many toppers to describe such in a detailed manner sir, well a warm thank u to explain us the need and importance of self study and the role of coaching in our life’s
    Thank for making this blog will eagerly waiting for ur next write up till then good luck and keep on !!!!!!!

  12. Saumya srivastava

    Really awesome analysis sir…..i have become a biggest fan of ours…


    Thank You ..

  14. Anonymous

    Thankyou sir…♥♥

  15. Shayan Das

    Anudeep Durishetty sir,
    For the first time I have gone through a suggestion which has been given directly from heart of a topper. I shall religiously follow it. Your writing style facinates me always. You include multidimentional and positive aspects to support your argument which is very much noticable. Thank you for your suggestion based on your experience. Expecting a lot from you.
    Thank you.

  16. parika chauhan

    Commendable… I was thinking to join coaching institute because I am a beginner.. but as I know the important books..I’ll study in my own..thank you so much for giving me right direction where to proceed..?

  17. Priya

    Thank you for the detailed reviews sir.Expecting more blogs from you.

  18. Bhavani

    Hello sir,
    I am a beginner,
    I am reading newspaper ( the Hindu ) everyday and it is consuming a lot of time and some where I am not able to balance it, which is giving me less time for others. Could you please help me.
    Sir, which standard books I could start reading to be clear on topics
    Thank you

  19. Smriti

    Sir, please share your book list and strategy for Anthropology Optional.

      1. Smriti

        Thank you sir?

      2. Amrita singh

        Sir plzz upload your Anthropology sources , also how u prepared your optional paper without any coaching……plzzz yes it’s a request…..we all are waiting for dis

  20. Surajit Kole

    Thank you sir for your valuable guidance.. I will be touched regularly for your new post about competitive exams.

    But I have a ques..
    I am beginner in UPSC exams..
    I am very weak in english… What should I do for this? I am from Burdwan(Bardhaman), West bengal. I can’t understand topic reading standard books of Tata McGraw hill books.
    And I can’t write essay type ans in English so I can’t crack mains for this reason…Please help me…I will wait for your valuable guidance.Thank you Sir!

  21. Alka Pandey

    Excellent Analysis By Anudeep AIR-1

  22. kpmishra11

    Undoubtedly this post has increased the confidence a financially weak student like me. Thank you so much for the same sir. It would be of immense help if you can provide me with the way to find out important blogs of toppers of CSExams..
    Salutations to your excellence and effort..
    Thank you again..

  23. Muskaan hy

    This is so helpful 🙂
    Thank you so much sir for this..

  24. shivjidons

    Sir, Congo for grand success & thanks for guiding . I have two questions:
    1)Can we replace newspaper reading with Daily news analysis/summary by insightsonindia or iasbaba or forumias or unacademy? why?
    2 )Can u tell that notes of which subject teacher of vajiram should one purchase as beginners?

    1. Anudeep Durishetty

      1. No you cannot completely ignore newspaper because they provide you the context of a news story. You don’t need to make notes from newspapers (these websites do that for you) but do spend 45 min – 1 hour on newspaper to get a grasp of important news stories.

      1. Anonymous

        but reading the whole newspaper is not necessary, right ? I mean we can ignore the political news, crime related news and local news ?

  25. Ratna

    Everything you write is very delightful.
    I have a request. Could you please show us some of your GS answers that resemble the actual exam ones? It would be very helpful.

    1. Anudeep Durishetty

      Thank you.

      I am collecting my answer booklets (they were packed and shelved in the attic) It takes time to scan and upload them. Will upload them and write a detailed answer writing strategy sometime in June.

  26. Priya Ananthoju

    Thank you sir….

  27. Anonymous

    thank u sir,pls share your anthropology optional strategy

  28. Preamble

    Thanks sir… Please guide on anthropology optional… your notes Making Strategy and answer writing practice for ANTHROPOLOGY..

  29. gigikrislin1998

    Thank you so much sir.
    You are so different from other toppers.

  30. Anonymous

    Thanks sir.keep guiding us.

  31. Chitwandeep Kaur

    How to approach Science and Technology Section of TheHindu??
    It do seems silly question, i want to know because i’m a beginner.
    Thank you Sir

    1. Anudeep Durishetty Post author

      When you see a new term in the newspapers such as ‘God Particle’ ‘VAR (Video Assistant Referees)’ etc, note them down and google them. Try to make notes about those terms: ts definition, features, benefits, practical applications in industry etc.

  32. Anonymous

    well written,

  33. Sherlock Holmes

    First of all Congratulations Sir!???

    Sir, I’m hindi medium student and my english is not so good, So I’m unable to read the hindu Newspaper. I tried 2-3 months, but it consumed 3+ hrs (articles take more time) by using dictionary.
    Please suggest me any newspaper or material or any way, Which I will follow.

  34. Anonymous

    Sir please give me standard books for anthropology optional subject..

  35. Shweta Pawar

    Congratulations sir for such a overwhelming success and thank you so much for sharing all this information, it’s no doubt a great help for the cse aspirants.
    Sir what is the pros and cons of taking history as a optional subject?
    Sir I know choosing optional is totally based on our interest in the subject, but I just want your point of view, if you can tell something related to this, will be great help.
    Thank you

    1. Anudeep Durishetty Post author

      Thank you.

  36. jeevanshudhawan

    Hi! Congratulations on your achievement. I read your answer on Quora too. I think you deserved to be amongst the toppers.
    I have a few questions, I hope you would not mind answering them.

    You gave an example of Virat Kohli, even Sachin Tendulkar took coaching from Mr. Ramakant Achrekar.
    Mahendra Singh Dhoni never took coaching in the sense of Virat Kohli and Sachin Tendulkar, but still, he could manage to be a world-class wicketkeeper as well as a good batsman (I wouldn’t call him great), how could he have achieved such a feat? I happen to watch the movie ‘M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story’, and there too, I couldn’t help but focus on this glaring anomaly. Even you (1st Rank, U.P.S.C.2018) had to take help in the initial stages of preparation (during initial attempts)
    Quoting you, “While the quality of teachers was good, they drain an inordinate amount of your time in note dictation. You’ll understand how redundant this exercise is when you realise that the handwritten notes from the same institute are readily available in the market.”
    You have also mentioned,
    “Moreover, you need to remember that Mains exam demands not only our memory and intelligence but also endurance. If you lack prior practice, writing relentlessly for 6 hours a day and do this for 5 days will cause both mental and physical fatigue. The only way to overcome it is to practice enough before the final exam.”
    Don’t you think writing notes also improves one’s endurance, it can act as a prelude to writing descriptive answers, later on, improving one’s listening, comprehension, and writing skills simultaneously?

    You have also mentioned- again to quote you,
    “Public Administration in UPSC is a subject that takes itself too seriously when in reality, it’s a subject that lacks originality and is bereft of substance. (I can go on a long rant, but I’ll just abstain ? )
    Let’s just say that if you are starting just now, I will suggest that you don’t pick this optional in the first place.”
    Then you said, “Also, this self-learning experience in 2013 was what gave me confidence last year (2017) to take up Anthropology and prepare on my own.”

    I would rather call it a wise decision because to understand public administration one needs to have a sound knowledge of human behaviour.

    Also, I would like to ask– there is a general perception that watching movies and television, being active on social media (quora, facebook, twitter etc.), travelling, and socialising hinders learning, and should be done away with altogether during preparation. What are your opinions regarding this aspect of student’s personal life?

    Thanking you with great anticipation.

  37. Sarvesh Kaushik

    Hello Sir,
    When did you join MGP of ForumIAS, after prelims or in 2017?

  38. Mahaasree

    Thank u so much sir.
    Congratulations for ur success ?

    Sir, I’m in final year of my graduation.
    I initiated my preparation by making notes on newspaper from this April. Is this the right time to start preparing on General studies or should I rely only on newspapers?

    1. Anonymous

      Try reading basic books along with newspaper

  39. Shivam gangania

    I have satisfied with you and personal experience
    Sir.if we have a unbreakable potential to face upsc exam
    That will be brokenby us
    With a good guide lines
    Q. Sir I have a good habit of
    Assessment in my study
    Q. Will that be sufficient for me?

  40. Info

    Anudeep sir Forum IAS on which you have discussed…I want to know do they provide a free coaching for long distance people…like me ….I also belong from Mumbai

    1. Anudeep Durishetty

      I did not take any coaching there, only a test series, which was also online mode. I used to write tests at my home, scan the copies and send it to them for evaluation.

  41. Bharath Krishna

    Hello bro..thanks for the information …

  42. Pooja.K.R.

    Sir presently am final year Bsc student I have decided to write upsc exam but am not getting any proper guidance when I just came to know about dis blog nd when I entered here it seems very helpful to d students lyk me
    Am more confused about how to choose an optional as many of d toppers suggest choose d area of ur interest but am in total confusion how to choose d optional soo plz guide me nd am waiting for ur reply sir

  43. Adarsh

    Sir, if you can write a detailed write-up about anthropology strategy, it would be very helpful to us. I would like to know how you prepared for anthro and what exactly did you incorporate in your answers that helped you score 318 marks? Thanks !

    1. Anudeep Durishetty Post author

      Blog is updated.

  44. Chandani Singh

    Thank you so much sir

  45. Sai kumar

    Sir why there isn’t a option for mains in ur blog I need more info. Abt mains plzz post quickly on mains plzzz sir

    1. Anudeep Durishetty Post author

      Mains blog post incoming. Will be updated this week.

  46. Nikhitha

    Sir what is your opinion on taking Telugu literature as optional?
    Could you please help me with this. .

      1. Basavarajappagouda

        Sir ……… how prepare for Agriculture optional??? Book list for agriculture optional, answer writing strategy for Agriculture optional???

  47. Nikki kumari

    Could you please tell us standard books name???

  48. Anonymous

    This is very honest review. Cant thanks you enough. SIr how to study world history and other geography ? NCERT is sufficient ? TN history ?

  49. Anonymous

    Sir plz upload your eassy answer sheet

    1. Anudeep Durishetty Post author

      I have already.


    Thanks sir for u r valuable information. sir a small suggestion is required from u. I am unable to clear my prelims. I Failed in 2 attempts I cant understand where i am doing wrong Can u please suggest me.

    1. Anudeep Durishetty Post author

      Please go through my “Prelims Booklist” blogpost.

  51. Anonymous

    Sir I am studying in 11th class and took humanities stream, I want to became a civil sevent.sir give me some advise

  52. Aparajita

    sir, can you please suggest how to choose the right coaching study material?? Those several options available in the market are terribly confusing!

    1. Anudeep Durishetty Post author

      To be able to judge the quality of material is also a highly useful trait that you must cultivate.

      First, for a particular topic, go through questions of previous years and see the breath and depth of questions asked by UPSC. This will give you an idea about what a good material should cover.

      Second comes the question of how well a particular coaching material presented the material: this will determine your ease of reading and revision. Based on these two parameters, you should buy the material.

      And lastly, remember that you should not buy different coaching material for the same topic. When you are buying something to read, always question yourself: “what new does this add to my preparation?” If you can’t answer it convincingly, then the material probably isn’t really useful.

  53. ritu

    sir can u please share the time table of gs and optional …
    as it will really help us….

  54. Aishemily

    Hello sir ,I am trying to read Hindu past 15 days and am also making notes my problem is I am unable to make notes from editorials can you please guide me for this ,thanks in advance

  55. Yamini Priyanka Polisetti

    Hello sir
    Hearty congratulations for your success sir. I need a small suggestion. I am student who can’t prepare at home along with family. So, I want to join in an ias coaching institute which guides me in a better way. I will definitely put my efforts along with a better guidance. Please , suggest me a best institute in Hyderabad.

    1. Anudeep Durishetty Post author

      Never been to any coaching institute in Hyderabad. I cannot guide you on this, sorry.

  56. leafonus

    Thanks for sharing this post. It has washed out so many misconception regarding coaching institute. Sir, please compose a post over the whole mains exam pattern. This is the best article I have ever encountered over this topic.
    Thanks again!

  57. Ron

    Good afternoon sir!
    Literally to speak..I had no idea of the subject what to start with( since i am beginner)..through this blog, probably which subject shall be pivotal so that as a beginner..I may not loose consistency..want to choose anthro as my optional.

    My humble request sr..could you plz upload your anthro brain tree material.I feel very glad if you could reply.

    I am sure will definetly put my absolute efforts along with your immense&terrific guidence ?? thank you!!!!All the best to all your future endeavours?

    1. Anudeep Durishetty Post author

      Braintree material is not available in soft copy. You can buy the physical copy at a decent book store in Delhi or Hyderabad.

  58. Prashant Sharma

    Hello All,

    I would like to say that I am donating free books to the needy and deserving ones. I have started an open library in delhi for the same.

    If you find such student or any exam aspirant, contact me at I will try to help them by books or if possible would like to help them by paying their coaching fee.

    Also, If you want to donate your unused books, contact me.

  59. Ron

    Thank you sooooo much sr!

    For your reply ..literally to say I felt pity on myself due to your delay in replying. I knew your are busi person…but I also had concrete belief on your intelligentsia..

    To speak open heartedly.. I often cling on reading your story :” From despair to destiny” to pull my vein towards goal at times I feel like distracting..

    Once again Thanks for your reply,it indeed blinded me with tears,, the moment I saw , as thou I achieved a trophy… am glad you made my day. Trust me sr ! Am not making these words out of my mind but are true from heart..

    Hope ur support stays with me ever…overwhelmed with joy !!Thanks alot


    1. Anudeep Durishetty Post author

      Thanks and best wishes 🙂

  60. Geeta Sravanthi Yellamelli

    First of all, Congratulations!
    I have found very little help online for psychology as an optional.
    If you can you ask someone you know who has cleared CSE with this optional to share their experience, it would be of great help. Thanks in advance 🙂

    1. Anudeep Durishetty Post author

      Well I do not know anyone personally who cleared CSE with psychology in recent years. Will let you know.

  61. Sagar Bhamare

    Sir,Would u recommend to take Geography as Optional?.

    1. Anudeep Durishetty Post author


      1. Saurabh Srivastava

        Sir, this is regarding self-assessment in optional while answer writing?
        How to do that without being associated with any coaching institute test series for ANTHROPOLOGY optional?
        Myself being staying in Gujarat, there are no sources as such here than an online platform.
        Please suggest some good coaching institute in this regard.
        Moreover, may I have a privilege to secure any personal help (any answer writing tips and assessment) from your good self in this regard. It would be an elixir boon for me in my course of preparation.

        Thank you sir 🙂

  62. Sukanya

    Hi Sir,

    Hearty Congratulations Sir. I am currently working as Embedded Software engineer at Chennai. I am happy with the job what I have. But I am not satisfied with this job. I want to contribute my energy, my time to our country. I felt I can do this through IAS. I did my B.Tech in ECE. Can I take optional as Electrical engineering ? I am neither from IIT nor from NIT. I am planning to join in officers IAS academy Chennai. I am poor in General Studies.

    Now I am at zero. I want to reach to 100%. Can you suggest me regarding coaching institutes and optional choice ?

    Thanks in Advance Sir.


  63. KARM

    Thank you so much sir for your detail explanation…
    It,s so helpful ?

  64. KARM

    Firstly heartly congratulations sir for your success ?
    You have done great job…

    I read very well your all contents. You are very true person who want to live for fathfully for our country. I see many toppers but not like such you. You want to really help Indian all students who intrested in UPSC field. Here via this blog you explained all things which are neccessay for UPSC aspirants.

    My thinking same like you that any good student can clear UPSC exams without enrol any coching Instute nowadays all things available on internet but test series & study materials are so important for making a fresh rank.

    Sir I just completed my graduation (B.Sc. bio) from MGKVP Varanasi. Botany is my favourite subject. I,ll be do M.Sc. Botany from BHU because I want well clear knowledge in my favourite subject BOTANY.

    I,m so intrested in UPSC IAS. I,m also live for truely fathfully for our country.
    I,ve started preparation for IAS mains exams mainly Eassy, GS pepers and my optional BOTANY.

    Real preparation for IAS prelims & mains start after complete my BHU M.Sc. BOTANY estimated time 2021.

    One thing sir I want to clear IAS exams early as I can do but sure it,s
    ✊ I,ll be give my best till I not got Success.

    Sir your this blog very useful for IAS aspirants like me ?
    Lots of thanks sir ji
    God bless you forever ?

    1. Anudeep Durishetty Post author

      Thanks and my best wishes.

  65. Barnalee Paul

    It is very helpful for the beginners like me. THANK YOU so much.?

  66. Anonymous

    Thank you sir..
    It was great helpful for beginners like me.

  67. Praveen Salidendi

    Thank you so much sir.
    I got a clear view to whether to choose an institute or not, and on practicing answer writing.

  68. Ankita A

    Sir, please make a blog about your time table during mains examination …

  69. chitra

    From when we start to read current affairs for prelims 2019 ?

  70. sandeep kumar

    hello sir, with the experience you had , would you suggest one of best institute in hyderabad for civils coaching and my optionall is pub ad , i mean which is going to give that 25-30 percent role perfectly

  71. manaswini

    Heartly congratulations sir

  72. Taraknath Saha

    Sir am preparing for UPSC but the main problem is continuity sir how can I stay motivated and focus on my goal?


    We provide affordable quality educational products and programs.
    Our mission is to support every student (rural or urban, rich or poor)
    score good marks in board exams and to qualify most competitive entrance
    examinations of the country like JEE Main, JEE Advanced, NEET, AIIMS etc.

  74. Priyasha kaushik

    Sir,Thank you so much for Guidance…I had a query related to educational qualification .A graduate and not a post graduate from IGNOU ,can he or she apply for UPSC..I have searched about this topic in the net and i hv come across the name Himangshu Kumar but he was a post graduate from IGNOU who happened to clear IAS exam.And I have come across two other names,keshvendra kumar and kumar ravikant singh who have cleared this exam of Bihar cadre,cleared this exam in 2007 being IGNOU graduates.I got a sigh of relief but my query is this qualification requirement in upsc ,will it be chnged in the future just like the syllabus gets changed.for it will be a Serious blow to my dreams as i happen to be a graduate from IGNOU for I had to join a job when at being 20 years of age.
    Priyasha Kaushik

  75. Anonymous

    Sir i m preparing for UPSC in Hindi medium .
    I want to take anthropology as optional subject should i opt ???
    Please suggest me sir .

  76. aishwarya palagummi

    Anudeep sir, Thank you so much for an honest article! We seldom get these type of articles from toppers on coaching institutes and their marketing skills. India needs more and more honest and gutsy bureaucrats like you. Wishing you good luck sir 🙂

  77. Anonymous

    Good evening sir…
    Which is the best online source for mains answer writing forumias or insights… ?

  78. Nitin Rawat

    Sir have you made notes for current affairs?

  79. Rashmi Sharma

    Sir it’s getting very difficult to know pros and cons of so called best coaching institutes in delhi. I’m very confused.
    Which coaching in Delhi will be good for geography as optional?
    Please reply Sir…it will be very helpful for me.
    Thank you and regards…!!

  80. Bhaavana

    Hi sir, do you have any idea about pragnya IAS academy in Hyderabad. I’m in search of coaching in Hyderabad. Please let me know.

  81. Harsha S Y

    Sir, Now I am in +2
    I want to become an IAS Officer
    From now onwards how can I prepare..?

  82. edenias

    Thanks for this post. This post is helpful for those who are looking for best coaching for there future exams.

  83. Saurabh Srivastava

    Sir, this is regarding self-assessment in optional while answer writing?
    How to do that without being associated with any coaching institute test series for ANTHROPOLOGY optional?
    Myself being staying in Gujarat, there are no sources as such here than an online platform.
    Please suggest some good coaching institute in this regard.
    Moreover, may I have a privilege to secure any personal help (any answer writing tips and assessment) from your good self in this regard. It would be an elixir boon for me in my course of preparation.

    Thank you sir 🙂

  84. Ranjith

    Hi anudeep. Sir
    Is their ur. Friends od botany opotional. Idf their plz provide me contact number or. Telegram link. Plz. Thank u.

  85. Prashant Mudgal

    Sir, what about physics in optional??
    Is it beneficiary bcz I persue my graduation and masters in Physics.
    probably marking scheme in this subject is stepwise as compared to other arts subject.

  86. Nisha

    Is  there any IAS aspirant out there? You may prefer joining the Kamaraj IAS  Academy, this offers the They have highly qualified faculty. And the  academy is very successful in helping the aspirants to achieve their dreams.

  87. nisha4u

    Looking for the best IAS coaching Institute? Kamaraj IAS Academy in Anna Nagar, Chennai is the best UPSC and IAS coaching institute for regular and correspondence courses. The study material offered here is really of very good standard and easy to understand. The faculties in that institution are highly efficient. This is the Best IAS Academy in Chennai.

  88. Vaghela badal

    Where i found your coats pdf

  89. Divyangana bhaskar

    Sir , my name is Divyangana bhaskar. I m 19 yrs old. I live in Dholpur, Rajasthan.
    i have completed my this year from govt. Pg clg dholpur . Right now my final exams are going on. I scored 88% in both first yr as well as second yr.
    I m a bright student in science . But i always wanted to become an ias officer . Due to my age criteria i will be able to give the exam in 2021 . I have two complete years with me . I want to give my heart and soul to the exam . But i m lacking guidance . I don’t have anyone who can guide with what to start with . I m confused sir . I can’t afford to go any coaching in delhi. Sir can you plz be my mentor and share me the steps which i should take gradually in these two yrs . Sir my first attempt would be my last attempt .
    Awaiting your response

  90. Puja

    I lack skills in mathematics. So, I have decided to join an institution for UPSC but unable to analyse the best among all. Reviews and ratings have made me confused and couldn’t find any former student to interract personally. Can you help?

  91. edenias

    Thanks for this post. If you want to crack govt exam then you need proper guidance and proper classes.

  92. Keerti

    Sir, i have recently started my prepartion for this exam and i completely lack skill of notes making.i have heard lots of successful candidates saying that a good note making skill is essential to sail through this exam .i am totally confused about how to make notes of current affairs in such a way that it would be easier to revise before 1 month of preliminary exam.Your guidance will mean a lot to me

  93. Nikhil Vasaikar

    sir i am a btech undergraduate at vjti mumbai. i am currently in my final year.
    above all the strategy, i want to ask your opinion about how one should start his/her upsc preparation?
    consider me as a complete beginner who knows what upsc is but dont know from where to start at first place?

  94. Ashish kumar

    Hello sir,i have recently started preparing for upsc.i got to know all about upsc cse through some toppers interview and have sorted out all planning but the only problem which I face is whether to buy coaching notes or not. As I felt that there notes were like some summary of standard books .Not reading coaching notes will effect me in any possible ways in the future ,as I plan to read standard books.and i can’t afford to go delhi and all.please help me in deciding whether this 25 percent you talked about can be managed in any other ways.

  95. Somani Acharya

    Hello Sir,
    hearty congratulations to you on your success. To be honest Sir i did never knew about your blog one of my friend suggested me to go through and it really did helped me a lot in selection of books as I’m a beginner persuing B.A. 1st year.
    But now I am confused in making notes or should I acquire knowledge as much as I can by going through books…? or Should I start making notes from the very beginning of the study ?
    Please help me in this Sir I can’t go for coaching classes so notes becomes a imp part for me.

  96. Gaurav Yadav

    Hello sir
    As in the comment section you said that pub ad performance in last 6 years is terrible . And once I thought of this sub ,but aft seeing the previous year paper and some your thoughts I m in mood to change it .
    But my query is what measures you took in chhoaing optional ?

    How should I decide whether to take anthropology or not .
    Thank you

  97. Chanchal Sarkar

    Sir, which coaching you have joined for Anthropology optional?

  98. Badal Vaghela

    Hello sir, my question is how to make strategy for college students I m pursuing my bsc 2 year but I don’t have any guidance to make strategy please help me

  99. vishal

    Sir,should I take Btech or bsc as my under graduation. Which will be very much useful for my upsc preparation?

  100. Deshraj

    Any Hindi medium aspirant get success in UPSC without coaching please suggest name

    2 what you think Hindi medium students get success in UPSC without coaching

  101. karishmarawat1331

    I don’t to whether my this query will be acknowledged by you or not.
    But I just want to ask to one question that how should I improve my english?

    I came delhi last year. And at that time my thinking was like that why should I speak in English with those people who can readily understand hindi.
    This after sometime made me underconfident about my communication skills.
    I completed my studies from an English medium school. I was topper also.
    But I don’t know why suddenly I started to doubt myself.

    If you find my this query irrelevant you are free to ignore it sir.
    Thank you..
    All the best?

  102. 31kittugreat

    Sir, please provide us with the list of standard books for mains.

  103. Tikya Dhanavath

    sir, iam studying in telugu medium. How to clear civils please help me sir.

  104. Hemanga Moral

    First of All Thank You Sir for Your Valuable Thoughts.. Sir I have one query .. Because of our family’s financial problem I can not afford coaching center’s Test Series .. Because a hight amount of Money is need to be paid ..So I am giving Test From Free Online Platforms ..So there is no one to evaluate my answers N because of it I Self Evaluate my Answers with the model answers..Will it will be Workable for UPSC ??

  105. Dheeraj Mishra

    Truly Inspirational & Well Defined transcripts for Beginners.

  106. Teja

    sir thanks for a wonderful suggestions.Sir which institute do u prefer to join for CSE coaching in Delhi as u did coaching in Delhi.Thank u sir

  107. Teja

    Sir.Is shakar ias academy environment book work s for only clearing prelims r for both prelims and mains

  108. Navya Arora

    Thanks for sharing with us such a useful blog.I sincerely appreciate your help.

  109. Shibam Datta

    Hello Sir ,
    Is there any concept of cramming in UPSC? If so how did you managed to do so? Actually I am about to start my preparation but I am a bit confused how just reading a whole book 3 4 times make you able to write such long answer. I just want to know how did you really complete one chapter. Just a reading or did you complete one chapter like how we used to do at our high schools for exam. Please respond.

  110. Aditya Roy

    Hello sir,

    Greetings for the day!!!

    CivilsDaily claims that you had subscribed to their GS answer writing program like Samachar Manthan, where had written nearly 480 answers.

    Can you confirm it, as they are calling me to subscribe to their program.


  111. Semanti Deb

    Hi sir,
    I am a beginner at UPSC CSE, doing botany hons at DU(3rd semester).
    I am gonna start studying the ncert and books for GS papers for prelims and mains.
    I am concerned about the OP paper. I’m inclined to take ANTHROPOLOGY as my OP paper not botany. I’ve interest for biology and anthropology both and am already doing botany in my bachelors.
    Could you guide me about Anthropology, it’s preparation tips, books and other things to follow.
    Taking coachings is not something i want right now but maybe will opt for it later.
    Semanti Deb


    You are a great inspiration sir. Can Agriculture be taken as an optional ?


    If you were time during preparation for anthropology, which academy test series you would opt?

  114. Rahul Kumar

    PATNA WOMEN’S COLLEGE is Bihar’s first collage for women founded in 1940. Premier institution, whose hallmark has always been Quality and Excellence. In an atmosphere of autonomy, to excel in teaching-learning, research, and consultancy, providing education that promotes capacity building and holistic development of a person, we work on promoting patriotism, communal harmony, and cultural integration to maintain a free and peaceful atmosphere in the campus. It has presented it as a gift to the Women of Bihar, thereby placing at their disposal an opportunity for higher education.It has presented it as a gift to the Women of Bihar, thereby placing at their disposal an opportunity for higher education.

  115. Raja shekhar

    Bro which coaching institution is good in Hyderabad with political science as optional

  116. Anonymous

    Sir, After reading your blog , I’ve understood that INPUT determines OUTPUT.

  117. Sachin

    Thank You For Great Info. For Exclusive Anthropology Classes, Visit Vijetha IAS Academy, Delhi

  118. Vedh

    Sir, at this point of time on 2021 which test series for the anthropology would you recommend

  119. Sindhu

    Hello sir
    Thanks alot for helping aspirants.
    Apart from the journey u had before in upsc,what I found is you are down to earth,n we need people like you sir.Your blog is helping us so much.
    Thank u for sharing your experiences and they are helping many aspirants.
    Excellent guide you are,
    Inspiring us more through every new blog,
    More than everything you are truly a sincere friend to all of us.
    Wishing u many great things to happen sir.

  120. UPSC Coaching in delhi

    It is more over depends on person to person if the candidate really needs it or not. no matter he wants it or not?

  121. Anonymous

    UPSC 2022 is my first & last attempt as I will cross the age limit after that. I have just decided to take Geography as an optional subject in the UPSC because of my interest.

    In 2012 you took geography as an optional subject but later you changed it on which you have commented ‘Not useful. Not recommended’. Is it for the coaching institution you took or the subject? If it is for the subject, then kindly give some clarity.

  122. Shraddha

    Thank you so much Sir.

  123. Anonymous

    Hello Sir,

    I am a first year MBBS student planning to prepare for upsc. Initially I decided to take up medical science as optional, but when I took opinions from my seniors who took medical science and got selected to services, they told me that medical science will consume about 60-70% of preparation time and will get no time to revise.They told me to take anthropology as it has a very less syllabus and it is also possible to do multiple revisions(Also personally I loved evolution and genetics during my school years.)SIR, please give me a reply stating your opinion about this.

  124. Shailendra

    Sir my medium for gs is English ànd I am confusing in optional subject i have listed 2 subject anthropology and hindi literature . Anthropology will be surely a new subject i never read this and I completed till 10+2 in Hindi medium with hindi subject . What would be right for me please suggest me sir. Thank you

  125. Anonymous

    Thank you sir 😊 to make me exorbitant clearness about coaching institutes..

  126. Vinay kumar Thallapelli

    Thank you sir…For your Valuable information & Guidance .🙏🙏🙏

  127. Anonymous

    Sir what is the meaning of compilation booklet .I am so scared in this phase and I am badly indulge in poverty.i totally depressed.


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