How to Prepare for a Government Competitive Exam while Working or Doing a Job?

Financially, it may not be feasible for you to dedicate full time to preparation. You may be working in any industry. You may be on 24×7 support. But still, you can crack any government exam including UPSC Civil Services. You can do both i.e. studying while working. If you manage your time properly and efficiently you would become topper. Of course, you have to compromise your entertainment time.

The following plan is just an example. You can tweak it to suit your needs. Assume your work timings are 12 PM to 9 PM shift.

  • Try to wake up between 4 to 4:30 AM.
  • Your first session starts at 4:30 and ends at 06:30 AM.
  • Second session : 06:45 – 08:45 AM.
  • Breakfast : 08:45 – 09:00 AM – While eating breakfast, you can listen to AIR spotlight (duration is usually 13 or 14 minutes.)
  • 09:00 – 11:00 AM – third session
  • 11:00 AM to 12 PM: Ready for office and travelling time to the office. If work from home is available, use it to save travelling time. You can study something during that time.
  • I think it is not possible to study once you return from work. You are already exhausted. Concentration levels are obviously low. So go to bed so that you can wake up early in the morning.

This plan gives you around 6 hours of preparation during workdays. You need to study for 10 hours during the holidays. So on an average, you get 6*5= 30 hours during workdays and 20 hours during holidays.  That gives 50 hours of time for a week for your studies that are more than enough for your success.

And you also have annual holidays, festivals, earned leaves, sick leaves etc. You would surely get almost 2 months of time from those. Now, do you still think you can’t study with these many holidays and time?

A few suggestions to save more time

  • NCERT Books
    • It is advisable to read all NCERT books. Howeevr, due to paucity of time, you have to choose the most fruitful list. Such list is provided in the page NCERT Books. You can safely read the list provided and ignore remaining books of NCERT.
  • Standard Book
    • Choose only one book and stick to it no matter who recommends other books.
  • Current Affairs:
    • For some people, reading newspaper takes more time than 2 hours. If that is the case, instead of reading the full paper, read Only Editorials. Then read any standard monthly current affairs magazine. Though it is not advisable, but cost-benefit analysis favours it.
    • Listen any audio/videos such as AIR spotlight, RS Big Picture during food time, travelling time etc. This saves a lot of time.
  • Revision:
    • It may not be feasible for you to write notes. Highlight the important things in PDFs or in Textbooks. This saves notes making time. At the same time, you are not compromising on revision.
    • However this has one disadvantage – Related content is in different places of textbooks. So your brain needs to organise automatically and retrieve during the exam. But don’t worry. Our brain has that capability. You just need to make the brain to practice a little.
  • Things to do at work
    • Do Not Inform to Your Organisation (Private) that you are preparing for competitive exams. Trust me, they support you initially and when the time comes up, it is them to torture you. They make more hurdle when exams are coming up. So keep it a secret until you succeed.
    • Ensure you train at least one person in your team who is capable and can take up your tasks during the exams. Since you are taking a salary from the organisation, work should also not be impacted. The back-up should be able to manage with very minimal phone support from you. He/she should be trustworthy. otherwise, if the management thinks that they can manage the work wothout you, well, you will be fired for many leaves that you are taking. So you have to balance here.