Civil Service Examination (CSE) contains three stages, namely preliminary, mains and the interview stage. All three stages are extremely competitive in which anything can be asked by Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). Examination is spread over an entire year, comprising of three stages- go wrong leading to one’s failure.
As said by Albert Einstein, “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing”. Same is the case with civil service exam preparation. Most of the candidates do not have sufficient knowledge which mislead them into underestimating or overestimating their potential.
Here are 10 lies which an aspirant must know before starting his preparation-
Lie 1- Over 8-10 lacs candidates appear for the exam.
Truth- While it is fact that over 8-10 lacs forms are filled for UPSC CSE but the candidates taking the preliminary exams are nearly half, i.e. somewhere between 4-5 lacs.
For example, 11,35,943 candidates applied for prelims in 2016 but only 4,59,659 appeared in the exam.
Further, out of those who sit for prelims, about 1-1.5 lacs are serious candidates. So, yes the competition is stiff but not as much as it appears from sheer numbers.
Lie 2- You need to study 14-18 hours a day to clear the exam.
Truth- No normal human can study 14-18 hours in a day. UPSC CSE is a tough exam which covers a vast span of syllabus. So, to cover the syllabus a continuous and dedicated study is required for at least 10-12 months.
Moreover, it is not the hours that matter, rather the quality. So, you have people who clear by studying for four to five hours a day alongside a job, and people who have studied for 12 hours per day continuously for months. You must find your balance.
Lie 3- Coaching is a must for clearing the exam.
Truth- Coaching centres do have a study plan but they don’t guarantee success.
Further, large number of selections come from Delhi and other coaching hubs because of vast number of students appearing from there.
If number of students selected per number of students not selected is calculated it will come out to be very low. So, if you can carve out a study plan and effectively follow it, you can clear it without coaching.
Lie 4- You need to have outstanding academic credentials to clear the exam.
Truth- While being a topper helps but it is not sure shot for success. General awareness, conceptual clarity and most importantly perseverance is key to clear the exam.
Lie 5- You need to remember a lot of facts.
Truth- UPSC does not check the factual knowledge or memory of the candidate but the conceptual clarity and originality. However, some facts which are the basics of a subject need to be remembered.
Lie 6- You should be expert at every subject.
Truth- The exam does not require you to be an expert in a topic rather you should have general awareness and analytical skills. CSE is not about writing perfect answers but it is about how less bad answers you write from others.
Lie 7- You must read a lot of books and of study material to clear the exam.
Truth- While the syllabus is literally everything under the sky, but NCERTs and a few standard books and sources are sufficient to clear the exam.
Lie 8- Writing skills can’t be improved. So, only those who are good at writing should consider taking the exam.
Truth- Writing is a skill just like any other skill. With conscious and continuous practise it can also be improved and mastered. So, don’t be disheartened. Instead, work on your answer writing skills and get it evaluated by experts and improve from the feedbacks.
Lie 9- You must attempt more than 90 questions to clear the prelims.
Truth- There is no point in attempting the questions which you are not sure of. You will lose marks as there is negative marking in the exam.
Attempting 70 questions with 90% efficiency is much better than attempting 90 questions with 70% efficiency.
Lie 10- You must totally isolate yourself from the outer world while preparing for the UPSC.
Truth- You should never do it. Instead of isolating yourself, you should regulate your timetable and interaction with the outer world. Focus on regular exercise, healthy diet and a little time daily to your hobby will keep you recharged and energised during the long and tedious journey of preparation for UPSC.
What you hear and see are not real, always in your life analyse and understand what is true and what is false before you come to a conclusion.