The fact that every aspirant must know is that each of you is different. For some, it is required to study for more hours, while some can grasp the basics a little quicker. But, the critical thing to remember is that the time taken to study a topic should not worry an aspirant; instead, they must focus on making the basics strong instead of rushing over it. UPSC will be asking questions primarily based on the understanding of the subject, and hence, a solid understanding of the topic is needed. An aspirant must put forth enough time to understand and analyze each topic they choose to study.
Now, whether an aspirant can clear UPSC Civil Services Examination by studying for 5 hours a day; by having an overall look at the pace at which UPSC aspirants study, 5 hours may not be sufficient to crack the CSE in a time-bound manner. This is due to the following reasons. 1) An aspirant may not be able to concentrate fully for the entire 5 hours; hence there will be gaps, 2) An aspirant has to study GS, optional, current affairs, etc., every day, and to divide the 5 hours, may not be effective. Hence, an aspirant should try to put at least 7-8 hours every day and gradually increase it. This ensures that enough time is spent on each subject, and also, there is time for understanding the basics and cementing it.
Hence, try to increase the study hours wherever you can and use the best out of holidays and weekends. While studying, give enough attention to current affairs as they form the backbone of your preparation in Prelims/Mains/Interview. Also, studying the most demanding/most complex subjects in the morning is wise as the brain can grasp more information and process while it is still fresh. Following this, the area where you must focus and allocate about 30% of your daily study time is on the Optional. As the optional can make or break your case in the Mains exam, one must provide enough time and ensure that the optional has been dealt with before moving on to full-time Prelims preparation.
The balance time can be allocated for your GS studies, reference of previous years\’ question papers, etc. This will depend on the level of understanding of each subject and the timetable that you have made for each subject.
Kindly keep in mind that perseverance is the key to cracking the Civil Services Exam. As studying for 15 hours/day for months is humanly impossible, one must make sure that they do not overdo or underperform. Hence, consistency is what one must hope for. If you can study for 10 hours a day, you should focus on continuing the momentum instead of reducing it to 4 hours the next day. Even if you cannot produce 10 hours now, instead of getting disheartened, try to focus on increasing the study hours bit by bit until it becomes a routine. Once the minimum hours are attained into your daily routine, it becomes a habit, and all you have to do is continue with the momentum. If there are days when you cannot study at all, then do not fret, as it is common to have some off days. Here, you must be careful not to fall for it and instead bounce back into the preparation soon. Once again, I would like to stress that perseverance is the key to success for this exam. All the very best!