Cost analysis of civil services preparation : Is the fees charged by coaching institutes justified

Option one: You study back home

1. General Studies

Books : Rs. 3000 – 4000

Newspapers : Rs. 250 monthly ( Total : 6000 for 2 years; you will anyway subscribe, whether you are preparing or not)

Periodicals : Rs. 650 for frontline (2 years) + Rs.900 for EPW ( one year)

Net connection : 250 per month ( Total : 6000; you will anyway subscribe, whether you are preparing or not)

Total Cost : Around 17000 ( over 2 years )

Total Extra cost : Rs. 6000 maximum (minus newspaper and net )

2. Optionals:

Books: 4-5 books for humanities optionals  ( Mostly Indian Authors). Total cost : Not more than Rs. 3000.

7-8 books for science optionals. Total cost: Not more than Rs. 5000 ( If you are not downloading pirated copies).

Total Extra cost : Rs. 14000 ( Highly liberal estimate and spend over 2 years). Use library, old books or pirated copies and you can bring that down to a few thousand rupess.

Option two : You go to Delhi to attend coaching.

1. Coaching fees :

G.S : Rs, 50,000

Optionals : Rs. 30,000 each

Total : Rs. 1,10,000 (spot payment)

2. Periodicals, newspapers, net for personal use : Rs. 13,000 over 2 years.

3. High rent and cost of living : Around 10k every month.

Total extra Cost : Around 3 Lakhs ( Conservative estimate; multiply with no.of  failed attempts, extra fee for extra coaching etc). And even after paying such huge, exorbitant costs, the quality of teaching ( as i get to know from fellow aspirants) may not always be up to the mark.

Posted on May 27, 2011, in Civil services, from my life, india, Political, Social and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 57 Comments.

  1. You never went to delhi for your prep?! Yours was a prep solely based at home & in just a year’s time you managed to read EPW+ frontline regularly along wid the other studies?Thats is otherwise so difficult to manage
    Did you attend any mock interview sessions anywhere

    • I studied throughout my final year at college and gave the prelims just after my final exams. I sat back home after that and studied. Attended 2 free mocks given by kerala govt. academy

  2. 50,000 is still cheap, Vajiram charges nothing less than 80,000 and yet you’ve to take a token and wait in the line to get the admission !!

    • i am glad you have raised it. i am a resident of delhi. as i see it: it is not what you charge. what counts is delivery for doubts if the fit in this case is right. management is a cynical gang in the institute you have mentioned.

  3. shubra saxena blog was the best. supreet gulati was not so exhaustuve. yours is a banya beginning . i dont care how much it costs me. dont mislead the students. i have been to coaching and i knowits value. i read nandan nilekani and narayana murthy and meghnad desai.


    • on the ball. yesterday six chart busters- top fifty rank ias oficers 2010 and before batches came to sriram’s. they said the value of coaching is high. General Studies is the backbone – this is what the toppers said.

  4. Makrand Kumar

    ya studying in Delhi is expensive… but cannot do much about it…
    Regarding Public Administration…Anay Dwivedi’s and shubhra saxena’s blogs are good..where Anay Dwivedi must have mentioned ‘Pavan sir’ thousand a time… but both have prepared with the help of coaching institutes.. so how you did it on you own is the dilemma Kshtij has got himself to..
    I got few questions to can answer then in you PAd post:-
    which books you studied for which part of the syllabus of PAd?
    how to cap the scope of the syllabus?
    writing answers? and how to get them evaluated (since Pavan sir will not be available to everyone)? can we do it on our own?
    any specific coaching material for PAd?
    how to get started?

  5. Congratulations. I am fro Haryana. Prently in Delhi doing my prep for the Civil ervices.I am foregoing an opportunity to study abroad to become a civl servant.

    My request yaar:open a column for Achutanandan- arguably the greatest living political leader associated with governnance any where in the world. Tell us your ideas about him. any thing extraordinary you want to share. regards, Manish

  6. hi sir …. i was there in the function organised jointly by civil services academy and the physics alumni of victoria college at the victoria college today….

  7. congratulations for your marvellous achievement…..

  8. Abhinav Rawat

    Many congratulations !!
    very glad and inspired to know that u qualified with Physics and PubAd, as these are my optionals also for CSE 2011..
    Like you , I also did BE from an NIT, but in 2005 … and decided last yr only to appear for CSE..
    can u please guide me for Physics preparation ??
    I m currently in dehradun ,working with state electricity as AE..
    my email id :

  9. sandeep pandey

    hii gokul nice to read your blog!!!

    i m passout from nit bhopal, currently employed in ntpc
    i want a suggestion from you that would it be better to quit the job and prepare for ias in delhi or can i continue the same in the job … i m 2010 passout
    i have started preparing with pub ad an geo as my optional… coz coaching is not possible in the remote location of ntpc… give suggestion….

    • Depends on your work schedule. But still I would advise you to do full time preparation in between your prelims and mains.

      I prepared through my final year in college. As you know. we at nit have a very relaxed final year. so that was possible for me. Try to do that if you can get enough free time. But right after your prelims go on a long leave.


    Dear Kshitij/Gokul,

    I appreciate and welcome both of your views as we are living in a Pluralistic society so we have to acknowledge the diversity. And the civil services preparation doest not escape from these pluralistic views, it requires lot of maturity and thought process so that a person has to start or just think about preparing for civils, and one’s he makes his mind that he has to get into elite services his mind will think of mode of preparation. Now best available medium is through internet, and when he starts surfing pages he finds two sought of views, there will be few persons who tell coaching is not required and they can do by sitting in home, and there will be another persons, they say coaching is required as exam is a lengthy process. So the mind of the person who just is in a nascent stage enters into dilemma/frustration mode. And he enters into distress mood. There are few fortunate persons who have come across of this sought of situation. And I have seen few matured and intelligent persons falling trap in these two sought of views, so it all depends on our understanding and maturity that which mode we have to choose so that preparation process runs smoothly. And changing patterns of civil services exam is such that there is plenty of accommodation to both sought of persons. But my suggestions to aspirants are that to overcome these things, we the aspirants have to develop our own forums/study circles/institutions which will be non-profitable basis and sharing knowledge one another. These views are my personal, which I have expressed on many occasions some have welcomed it some have rejected. But the overall thing is that some reforms should be going on one way or other.


    • Well i have not gone into the merits and demerits of coaching. While i strongly feel UPSC should make changes in such a way that people who take coaching stands at no advantage, I also agree that for many, coaching may have helped a lot in clearing this exam. Regardless of that, my post was a simple cost analysis and whether the cost charged is justified. The govt. institute in my state offers coaching at a fraction of this cost

      • Dear Gokul sir, you have done a wonderful job by making it clear dat coaching is not required for clearing IAS.
        Many aspirants suffer frm the inferiority complex dat since they have no funds to afford the coaching, so they dont stand a chance at UPSC. Your own success has proved this myth as wrong.
        I CONGRATULATE you for ur success, but more than dat i CONGRATULATE u for taking a stand against dis myth of coaching. Plz continue with ur views on self preparation being sufficient. You have no idea, ur such opinions give confidence to lakhs of aspirants who cant afford coaching.
        And plz dont care if some idiot condemns dis noble act of urs. I m sure he mst be some coaching owner guy, who will be at loss if people stop going coaching.

        Waiting for more self study tips. Very proud of u…

  11. vikram kumar

    Excellent calculation yaar… You should join IRS not IAS 🙂 Lots of congrats for your achievement.

    Your blog is superb !!!

  12. hello gokul congrats.please write about pubad preparation and books required

  13. Hi Gokul,
    First of all,Congrats on your rank! I really liked your blog(not just the ones on this exam but also the one on astrology!) and have included it in my blog roll. I got rank 13 this time and am trying to do something similar through a blog(where I am collaborating with a few friends..Rank 25 and 277). Keep up the good work!
    Anirudh Sravan

    • Thanks Anirudh. See you at mussoorie and congrats to you to. I have heard about you from your friend arun balagopalan. We met during our stay at delhi for the interviews.

    • Hi Anirudh,

      Could you please mention your blog address? Clicking on your name’s link displays following error

      (“Sorry, the blog at has been removed. This address is not available for new blogs.”)

      Please mention your blog address. It would really help the aspirants.


  14. vikram kumar

    Hi Gokul,
    I am 2010 passed out engineering graduate and presently working with Renault-Nissan India at Chennai.
    I want to prepare for IAS 2012.I did my engineering in IT.But for IAS want to proceed with Pub Admin and one more which i am not able decide.Can you suggest me what will be best for me.i am more interested in ARTS Subjects.

    • Geography, Sociology, Psychology are popular optionals. check out previous years papers from and see the detailed syllabus and decide. Decide on an optional that is most suitable for you

  15. respected sir,good morning,sir i have appeared in u.p.s.c mains four time..but couldn’t get through.sir now i want to take gap and improve.before now i have studied the coaching material only.i have read your tips about the study material and strategy i came to know about my mistakes..sir i am going to appear in please guide me that what strategy i should adopt from now onwards….thanks..your’s truely jitender kumar

  16. hello sir, i have taken Pub Ad as my optional,,sir could you plz guide me–how should i start preparing for this subject(IAS 2012), i’m totally new to this subject…plz tell us the books which v shd follow…n how much tym wld it take 2 complete???

    • Pubad has one of the shortest syllabus. There is not much to study but you will have improvise while writing answers.

  17. HI Gokul Congrats on your fabulous success………….could you share your strategy and some tips for prepration of physics …also if you could upload your solutions to 2011 physics papers ( as Mr. Gulati had done for 2007 papers ) … it would help aspirants like me to understand the answer writing skills required for physics…..thanks

    • I can answer any specific queries on physics preps but i have nothing more to add than what supreetji have already written. As regards to answer writing, its again better to see supreetji’s answers. I will try to post a few answers from previous years papers that i did before going for mains…

  18. diensh kumar

    Please tell me the books for public administration and sociology for mains.

  19. thank you sir 4 replying me..could you please give some tips on history and hindi litt.

  20. sir u have got 116 marks in essay,,,,last year essay paper was bit surprise 4 many. so could you plz tell us ur stategy for essay preparation,,i’m witing 4 ur reply sir…plz do reply

  21. sir did u take coaching for pubad.please write about pubad preparation

  22. Gokul Excellent Performance in CSE & Blogging
    Please write syllabus & books for Public Administration & Malayalam

  23. sir plz answer my last query regarding essay preparation..sir u have got 116 marks in essay,,,,last year essay paper was bit surprise 4 many. so could you plz tell us ur stategy for essay preparation,,i’m witing 4 ur reply sir…plz do reply

  24. Hi Gokul,
    One general question regarding GS – How important is it to write answers in the word limit? For a question to be answered in 150 words, what if I write the answer in 130 or 170 words?

    Thanks a lot for your continuous help and support for people like me.

    • You shouldn’t literally stick to the limit. You are supposed to write within a range. Yeah 130-170 for a 150 words qn will be fine.

  25. Makrand Kumar

    dude public administration post would really help!

  26. sir an engg ece graduate 2011 pass out….aspiring to be an ias officer, planning to appear in csat 2012….

    i dont know where i should start preparing from, whether i should sstart studying indian history (for prelims) or general studies…

    btw congrats sir, all the best 🙂

  27. Hi sir,

    I am working in a small firm at Bangalore as a software engineer,I am planning to prepare for civil services examination i am in dilemma to go with full time preparation or to prepare without resigning, my job is very hectic with 10-12 hours work daily and also i worried about my carrer if i quit the job and go full time preparation. please help me to take the right decision

    Thank you,

  28. Jishnu Majumdar

    Sir to what extent it is necessary to take coaching in GS for prelims and mains? Lots of student might find it difficult to spend 50000…

  29. gokul sir!what is right way of preparing notes n how we make it very short as how we can convert a book in one tenth….

  30. avaneesh pandey

    hi sir plase suggest me books for physics

  31. I simply could not depart your web site before suggesting that I actually enjoyed the usual info an individual supply to your guests? Is going to be back regularly in order to check out new posts

  32. sir i wana to prepare 4 I.P.S but cant afford the fees of any center.pls help me to find out the place where study material is avavilable at lower cost.
    please reply as soon as possible because i am girl from a vollage and my parents alloe me to prepare if its not costly

    • You can get photostats of toppers notes in many photostat shops in Delhi….But i dont have any personal experience on any of these as i prepared from home…

  33. Thanks a lot for such valuable post !
    I have a question that for preparing IAS General studies how much time a person should devote. A friend told me about online courses like to save time and focus more on ias prelims preparation.

  34. Abhishek Jaiswal

    Hello Gokul,
    I have a query regarding the optionals. I am interested in Opting for Maths and PA as my optionals but people are telling me it is difficult to qualify with Maths. I want your view and also want a view if 2 years of serious preparation( without leaving my present software job) would be sufficient (without coaching).

    • Hi Abhisek
      It depends on how much effort you put in and your talent in Maths..But it definitely requires more work than any other optional

  35. rohit kumar swami

    excellent work routine….i definately follow this….thanx a lot

  36. Plz Tell Me Abt How To prepare CSAT exam study???

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  38. Hi Gokul Sir,
    I am from NITC and since I heard about you, you are being inspirational for me. I chose chemistry and Economy as optional subject. chemistry is okay for me but I am facing problems in economy. I would like to ask if there is something you recommend. any book or people who prepared with this subject.
    It would be too thankful sir.

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