“Right strategy and Guidance is what makes the difference—the only thing that makes the difference.”
Many candidates have scored the rank in their very first attempt. And, that’s a great motivational proof that clearly demonstrates the point, contrary to the candidates’ belief and statistics that says UPSC at least demands three attempts, that it’s possible to crack it in one go.
There are broadly two ways:
One: you consistently appear for the exam, year after year—generally three times, get an assessment, and then accordingly work on your score. It’s an excellent methodology for a long-term shoot.
Two: you appear for the exam when you are ready and then score a rank on the very first go.
Here, in this article, we are focusing on the second approach—appearing when one is READY. This, in no manner, indicates that one-time attempt is equivalent to one year of preparation. We CANNOT generalize the statement for every candidate—simply because different candidates start their preparation at the different level—and where one might take a year to prepare—another could stretch it for three with his day job—with a new family or with a new disability.
Does that make sense?
This article is broadly to help people with their mundane dilemmas—their numerous personal crisis; their nonsensical self-estimations, various distractions, their skepticism and so on.
We also wittingly acknowledge that UPSC stands for Un-Predictable Service Commission and there are several factors that determine one’s success in UPSC which are not in control of an average aspirant. But, who said you are an average student?
There are several mistakes that one makes as an amateur aspirant. So, before we discuss what should be done—let’s see what one should avoid.
Avoid extra study material
Since there are so many study materials and so many experts to follow on the internet—it’s ever challenging task to stick to what matters the most. One must start with the basic books, preferably NCERTs and then go along with the detailed versions of academic course material.
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Having unrealistic goals
It might be tempting to look at the candidates like Tina Dabi and Roman Saini and wonder about your chances of clearing it on the very first attempt. Wishfully thinking and daydreaming and investing ample amount of time on planning— ‘how you are about to do it’—is the number one reason why candidates lag. Don’t! There is a saying that explains this phenomenon – ‘All hat, But No Cattle.’
Opting a popular optional instead of your favorite one
Getting a subject that is popular among the community but doesn’t fall under your interests could hurt you inevitably. Your trendy optional would not help you in scoring well in the exam—rather go for a subject which you trust you can study in detail—which you would want to read in detail. After all, no matter what you choose—there is a vast syllabus adjoined to that subject. It’s your keen interest that would sail you through, not its trendy nature.
Avoiding Notes Making
During your preparation—you’d devour a plethora of course material, and most of it would go waste if you’d not make notes. Your best asset during your preparation is your notes and it’s a must to make them for your revisions and importantly, for your information retention. So, unless you know a mind trick which enables you to have an eidetic memory—make notes. Please!
No revision slot in you Time-Table
There are several candidates who invest all their time in reading books—crossing one module after another—but not revising them periodically. You must acknowledge that whatever you read evaporates after a certain period unless you revise it which helps you in its retention. It’s highly advisable to revise your course material at regular intervals.
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The reasons that keep the majority of the candidates from the pinnacle ranks of UPSC are their petty mistakes and lack of an appropriate strategy and guidance.
Considering 10 months as an ideal time to crack UPSC, followings are our suggestion by our subject matter experts;
Coaching is not an End
You must understand at the very beginning about what’s helping you and what plainly wasting your time. If as a student, you feel that certain classes are coming out as unhelpful—avoid going for them. You can spend the same time at self-study or watch some relevant documentaries.
As Ishan Pratap Singh, AIR 201, CSE 2015 articulately puts it – “People tend to believe that since they have paid money, they need to “extract everything”. You have paid money to get knowledge not to attend classes. Remember the end purpose.”
Evaluate yourself on a monthly basis and pick out the most challenging subjects for you. Enroll yourself for test series—and get an assessment done on regular gaps. This would give you weak subjects to work upon. Post figuring out your weak subjects—start with reading the standard text and avoid over strategizing it. Once you start with this method—with time your weak subjects would change and subsequently all your subjects would be strong. A consistent change in your weak subjects is a good sign and it indicates that you are working on yourself.
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If your medium of the exam is English, improve it!
It’s not necessary to get a coaching for your broken English—the best way to improve it is by regular reading, be it your academic books or fictional comics, followed by writing practice sessions. For learning a new vocabulary—’The Hindu’ suffices. It’s highly advisable to maintain a dictionary and make notes of the new words and revise them.
Your expression is as important as your factual knowledge. You must practice writing rhetoric essays from the very start of your preparation and get it assessed by a peer or a faculty.
Avoid Social Media
Its fruit is so minute compared with the time that it demands, you can do anything else but scrolling through your news feed. Certain regular updates from UPSC related pages and groups might give you a sense that it’s necessary to upgrade yourself with ever updating news feed and strategies. Serious aspirants avoid this and keep their social media very limited.
Of course, you could experiment with blogs or some writers in Quora to get an insight from the first-hand fighters, but that’s your own call.
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Get out of the illusion
There is a stadium full of aspirants who want to be an IAS officer under three months—or less. Our social media pages are filled with these amateur candidates—demanding for a quick strategy for UPSC 2018 with only a couple of months left for it. These are the same candidates who think they are destined to be an IAS officer, or worse—our country needs their service from tomorrow—that they would change the intricate structure of administration in India from the day one—like that actor in a Bollywood movie.
You can easily differentiate serious contenders from the amateur ones from the way they approach the Civil services.
Get Real! The preparation required to be a Civil Servant is much more than one amateur aspirant would imagine. Consider this: under three months or less, you can’t expect to know about the history of our great nation, or its great independence struggle, or the problems it faced and facing, or its relationship with the other countries, its political and demographic structure, its economic problems or security problems, or ample knowledge of constitution and its working, or global events—let alone its diversity and geography.
Keep Yourself Motivated
The entire system of UPSC is meant to break you down. It tests your patience and hard-work on so many levels—that if your inspiration comes from the power and perks the position of IAS offers, you’re doomed to failure. This nature of this exam is designed to exhaust you.
Look at the scene—you prepare for this exam for at least a year and then the exam itself is conducted in three stages—in a stretch of a year. It does have that effect—which at the back of your head—whispers—every now and then—Give Up! Give Up! Give Up!
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Bottom Line: One must not run behind the success in a very first attempt but, look for the learning that comes with a year of preparation—enjoy that. It’s the journey that makes you a Civil Servant, not just cracking it in three parts. The moment you get the inner meaning of that sentence—your journey would start.