So finally, you have decided to prepare for UPSC CSE. We are assuming this because of you reading this post. Or perhaps you
are making up your mind. So we will now be explaining the thing for which you have come to this page.
Every Year Lakhs of Students appear in UPSC CSE. Out of these, only a few make it into the Mains List with the number further decreasing as we move up
the ladder of CSE Stages. You might be thinking that we are demotivating you. Am I Right? But the Answer to this is big “No”. Why we started this post
with a negative approach is to tell you what not to do in this Journey of Preparation. There are lot of Articles over internet or other social media platforms
that explain you how to approach this examination. But we will first make you aware of the “Not to do” list and then we will come to “To Do” list.
What not to do:
1. Doing Publicity about Preparation over Social Media or at any other Public Platform:
Many students will find it weird. They will say: “There is nothing wrong in it.” Strangely, we also agree with it. But there is a term called “Social Pressure”. This is a thing which makes you think: “What will others say if I could not clear the exam? I will be considered Unworthy. They will laugh at me. They will make mockery of me.” These thoughts will not come in your mind in the beginning. Rather they will strike you when you are in the midst of your preparation. They will strike you when you will be feeling demotivated. Because these are negative thoughts. You are bound to feel low at multiple points during the course of your preparation. In that particular situation, these questions and thoughts will disturb and affect you adversely. There might be some aspirants who don’t care about “Social Pressure”. But such kind of individuals are rare. Most of the students do feel pressure of society. And if you don’t want to let this pressure dominate you, it would be wiser to keep society unaware of the things you are doing. As some wise Person said once: “Work Hard in Silence. Let the Success make the Noise”.
2. Running after Multiple Sources:
Motivation brings you people to this exam. But sometimes, this motivation increases to the level of insanity. You think that you will become perfect in each and every topic. You start reading every subtopic in a minute detail to the extent that you even start buying specific books or notes for it. This is total nonsense. Have you seen the syllabus of UPSC CSE? The majority of the exams that you will be giving bear the name “General Studies”. It means that you need only a general understanding of the topic. In this context, it would be wise to stick one or maximum two comprehensive sources rather than buying everything that you see in the Photocopy Shops of Old Rajendra Nagar or Mukherjee Nagar. Leo Tolstoy writes in Anna Karenina “If you look for perfection, you’ll never be content.” Also someone said, “Perfection is the child of time“. Bruce Lee, the famous American actor once said: “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once. I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.”
3. Reading 17 Hours a Day and running away from your other responsibilities:
Many students believe that IAS is a game of Number of Hours you read daily. It is utter stupidity. Can you read for 16-18 Hours a Day? Don’t you have to sleep? Don’t you have to manage other responsibilities? It is not the number of Hours that matter, it is the quality reading along with consistency that matters. You can read 18 Hours a day for a week. Or even a Month. We are sure that after that, you will feel exhausted. It is natural. Human Body is not machine. Even Machine needs rest. 6-8 Hours of Daily Reading is sufficient. Near the exam, you can stretch it to 10-12 Hours. 8 Hours of Sound Sleep with some leisure activity (1 Hour) e.g. Meditation, Jogging, Gym, or whatever you like is necessary to keep your mind calm and receptive enough to learn new things.
4. Reading everything, revising and observing nothing:
Majority of the Students who fail in this exam commit the major mistake of just reading and reading. They spend little time on revision or for that matter on observing the things. What the students don’t realize is that UPSC CSE is all about what you can retain and reproduce in the examination hall. Nobody will care that you have read 10 Books for History. The thing that will matter is your reproducing ability in the examination hall. Add to this the aspect of observing things. UPSC wants to know your opinion on the things. It wants to know about how you comprehend the issues. Reading makes you aware about various aspects of a particular issue. It is necessary to reflect upon that issue in your free time so that you can build your own sound opinion over it.
5. Preparing without time-table:
UPSC CSE is nothing but Seriousness and this comes with Time Management. We are sure that you have a dream to clear UPSC CSE. But As the Worldly Wise goes on to say: “A dream without a plan is just a wish.”
6. Thinking that I will Test myself once the syllabus is over:
Majority of the students do this. The day you start preparation is the day you should start testing yourself. It gives you the much needed orientation and direction which is necessary if you want to reach your destination. Take for example you start reading Modern History. You may start with the topic “Coming of Europeans in India”. In the evening, start solving the past year Modern History question bank. Nobody is saying that you have to complete it or learn it the same day. It will obviously take multiple revisions if you want to retain it. But you may encounter on the first day of your practice the question on “Non Cooperation Movement of 1920”. Solve it and read its explanation. You will get some idea about the topic. Next time, when you will be reading the Non Cooperation Movement in your Standard Book, you will be able to recall what you have read earlier about the topic. This time, you will be doing the second revision. Your mind will also be looking at the topic from the angle of Examination i.e. you will have an idea that what type of questions could be asked in Exam from this topic as you have already solved a question relating to it. This will be a kind of conscious reading rather than general reading which even a general reader does while reading a book.
7. Thinking Life is all about IAS and everything else is unworthy:
This would be the biggest mistake as per our opinion. IAS is one of the many dreams you saw in your life or may see in future. Try to make it true. The whole journey will take your personality to a level that you will never be the same person when you started this journey. Life is all about Happiness. IAS may be a path towards Happiness but is certainly not the only path. Give yourself a chance but don’t let society dictate you what the Happiness and Success is.
Still curious about “What to do List”? Come on. Read the whole article again. Anyways, we will deal with this list in another article. Till then, stay tuned.