3 Months Study Plan to crack IAS Mains Exam 2018

Civil Services Preliminary Exam has been held in the first week of June, and aspirants must pull up their socks now to get ready for the bigger challenge which will come with the second phase of Civil Services Exam, i.e., Mains. And since IAS Mains exam is scheduled to be commenced from 28th September 2018, which is approx. 3 and half months away now, you must ensure that you plan every single minute of these remaining days diligently.

Question-paper for this year’s Prelims Exam saw an upsurge in current affairs based analytical questions, which has surely increased the weightage of general knowledge. But one question that is keeping aspirants confused is whether the Mains question paper will be equally uncertain as it was seen in prelims, or it will be based on the standards set by the other candidates who have appeared in previous examinations. Now no one can indeed predict the answer of this query, but aspirants can surely be prepared for both the possibilities, and this is why the team of experts at Chanakya IAS Academy has devised some important tips and a study plan to help students prepare well for the coming challenges of IAS Mains Exam 2018.

Before, starting off with planning the Study Schedule for an effective preparation, first understand the syllabus and make sure you have memorised the same. Henceforth, strategize for you a decent study plan, prioritising the subjects based on –

  1. Your level of understanding of the subjects
  2. Post Prelims Analysis of areas of strengths and weakness in subjects
  3. Allocation of time, depending upon your existing responsibilities

#Tip – Keep aside an extra hour for Current Affairs and Key subjects like your optional one, respectively.

Here is a suggested study plan for an effective preparation, but only you can make it better, depending upon your level of understanding, existing responsibilities and other priorities.

3-Month Study Plan for CSE Mains 2018:

  1. Paper 1 – Essay: Master the art of effective essay writing with a regular practice on a weekly basis, without fail. Examiner will appreciate a well-framed Essay in a decent word limit of up to 800-1000 words. Now, if you are wondering what kind of topics UPSC might ask, we suggest you to practice with the UPSC Question Paper itself. Find Essay topics for last 25 years, here, and start your practice right away!

 Time Allocation – Weekly

Complete the entire syllabus by – Practice until last week before the exam

Must Read – The Most Effective Essay Writing Tips for IAS Mains Exam


  1. Paper 2 – GS Paper 1: Civil Services Mains GS Paper 1 consists of the static subjects like History, Indian Heritage & Culture, etc). Being factual in nature, you will have to ensure that you express it best, of whatever you know. For students giving their maiden attempt, GS Paper 1 subjects will take much of your time, hence try allotting decent time for the same and ensure making short & crisp notes for all the important topics of every subject. Writing your own understanding in short notes will not just help you remember the topics more effectively but will also make it easier to recall the same while writing the answers. Since we always advise to keep integrated preparation for Prelims and Mains, so those who have been doing integrated preparation will not face much problem here, because most of the syllabus of GS in Prelims and Mains is similar, the major difference is Mains is subject and hence require deeper knowledge of subjects with own understanding, opinions linked with current affairs.

And for those with an experience, you know the strategy. Revise entire syllabus and work on the weak areas that were missed in the previous attempt(s). Work your way out with practising previous year papers and Test Series. This is the best time to enrol for Mains Test Series and assess your lacking areas to further work upon them and improvise well to take the actual challenge.

Chanakya IAS Academy is offering Mains Test series in 2 unique packages which can either be avail online or classroom. Click Here for details

#Important Tip – Mains Test Series is crucial at this stage, especially for the beginners. So, if you haven’t already Enrolled for one, do it right away.

Time Allocation – 4-6 hours approx. (Per Day)

Complete the entire syllabus by – July (Last Week)

Revision Phase – August & September (until the final exam)


  1. Paper 3 – GS Paper 2: This paper consists of subjects, like Governance, Constitution, Polity, International Relations, etc., that can be majorly covered in the current affairs with a basic knowledge of the topic from the Static Syllabus. Having covered major of it already in the Prelims preparation, you only need to revise the subjects once and stick to the relevant current affairs sources like ‘The Hindu’, PIB updates, AIR, etc., for important updates on the topics from the syllabus.

Read all important topics that relate to the subjects and note them down with brief information about what is in current trend about the same. Stay to the point and don’t let extra details lure your attention, at all.

Time Allocation – 1-2 hours approx. (Per Day)

Complete the entire syllabus by – July (Last Week) for Static portion & and read current affairs part until the day of the exam

Revision Phase – August & September (until the final exam)


  1. Paper 4 – GS Paper 3: Subjects like Security & Disaster management, Environment, Economic Development, etc., are all analytical & factual subjects which can be covered well from important current affairs sources like Economic Survey, The Hindu Newspaper, Governmental Surveys, etc. Solve enough Previous Year Papers & Mock Tests to understand the bend of the exam in a better way, as it will compliment to your preparation. And do make short – crisp notes, it is the only aid to your revision phase & recalling of it all while writing the exam.

‘If you have the whole world of questions, only you can quench the curiosity – by reading about it, all’

Time Allocation – 2-3 hours approx. (Per Day)

Complete the entire syllabus by – Until the exam

Revision Phase – Until the final exam


  1. Paper 5 – GS Paper 4: Being one of the most extensive & interesting papers amongst all, Ethics, Integrity & Aptitude tests a candidate’s attitude in various dimensions of the syllabus & real-life scenarios. Examiners judge candidates on their sensitivity towards critical issues, integrity and ethical standards, through their answers on real-world issues. Now, this paper stands you a chance to leave a positive impact and portray your administrative skills. To prepare for this paper, read recommended books for the subjects, famous authors on the relevant topics, online articles, etc. And most importantly, do not forget to practice solving case study at least 1 in a week. You will get it on previous year papers and on google.

Time Allocation – 1-2 hours approx. (Per Day)

Complete the entire syllabus by – July (Last week)

Revision Phase – August & September (until the final exam)


  1. Paper 6 & 7 – Optional Paper 1 & 2: Now, this is one crucial subject, you must pay decent attention to. Read from the NCERT’s, recommended books for the subjects but solve a lot of practice questions to master your subject, as it will directly affect your final score. Do listen to the videos of previous candidates and know how they prepared for the optional subject chosen by you.


Time Allocation – 2-3 hours approx. (Per Day)

Complete the entire syllabus by – July (Last week)

Revision Phase – August & September (until the final exam)

‘Mere practice will not perfect your preparation, but a perfect practice will make flawless’…



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