Hard work undoubtedly is the most critical factor in Civil Services preparation. However, the effect sharpens when it is complemented by smart work. The strategy to prepare, what to stress upon, what to spare, what to give passive reference, what to analyze in great detail, how proportionately the time is to be allocated among the subjects and so on are equally vital in addition to the sheer hard work. In light of this, an IAS aspirant must keep in mind the few following probable mistakes, he/she should avoid:
Believing the rumors
First and foremost is to avoid rumors spread by the fellow IAS aspirants and the senior persons. The IAS aspirants should not believe the rumors and insist on the government sources of information. There are some miscreants who generally spread the half baked information and do not know the clear reasons or miss out the big picture. The IAS aspirants should always keep in mind the big picture and the macro concerns of the nation so that they can comprehend and interrelate the various aspects of the issue.
Consulting too many books
The enormity of study materials and the plethora of books available in the market for Civil Services Examination preparation today has surpassed all the limits. There are hundreds of books and notes on every topic. Moreover, most of these books cover all the topics and sub-parts. It becomes really a difficult choice for the aspirants at times to choose the desired book. In fact, many students go for multiple books on the same topic.
It should be evident that the demand of UPSC from appearing candidates is the analysis of the topic, rather than mere explanation of the facts. Books or magazines contain the facts, established opinions and related data substantiating these. Therefore, reading books are necessary to instill knowledge vis-a-vis any particular topic. However more vital is their analysis and elucidation rather than mere collecting facts. Choosing multiple books on the same topic will only enhance the knowledge with regards to the topic and may not inculcate the ability to analyze from one’s own perspective. Therefore, consulting too many books on the same topic will only create redundancy and inefficient utilization of time. It is strictly advisable to read a book many times rather than many books of the same topic.
Reading not writing
Civil Services examination is considered to be the mother of all the competitive examination and hence the justification to read scores of books is apt.The number and the varieties of the books are huge. No matter how much one reads, the void is still felt and hence the aspirant goes for further study and revision. However, reading constitutes only a portion of the Civil Services Examination preparation. Reading enables an aspirant to gather enormous books, facts and knowledge. However, Civil Services Examination is not the test of knowledge only. It checks the thinking ability, analytical ability, understandibility, rationality and the time management of a candidate in the examination hall as well. A candidate performs miserably in an examination, if he has read a lot but, without any writing practice.
Having gathered appropriate knowledge, it is equally important to learn how to use it for becoming successful in the Civil Services Examination. One should have done ample practices of Multiple Choice Questions before his Preliminary examination, as it comprises of Multiple Choice Questions only. The candidate should be adroit in solving an MCQ by elimination, connecting options with the question statement, making backward linkages from the various options and so on; in addition to using their knowledge. It requires to write for 27 hours with an average of more than 1500 words per hour in the mains examination. It is very vital for a candidate to practice writing answers in quick time to develop writing skills. Good reading with enhanced writing skill will make a candidate perform much better than someone who has only read.
Heavily relying on newspapers
Newspapers, undoubtedly are the backbone of civil services examination preparation. It is an important source for the current affairs, opinions and analysis of a topic. Substantial portion of the preliminary examination and huge portions of General Studies paper 2 and 3 in the mains examination are directly related to the newspaper. Moreover, current issues are again a vital part for the interview. Students have the habit of spending a lot of time on the newspaper. Many of them spend hours getting into the detail of every news, every opinion and every discussions mentioned in the newspaper. The efforts are further multiplied in case of aspirants going for multiple newspapers.
The newspaper should be a source for selected news, opinions and analysis. Reading newspapers should be well strategized and smart. Government policies, Discussions about important legislations, major environmental issues, welfare schemes and so on should be the topics to be read from the newspaper. It is not too important to make summary and notes of newspaper contents. International issues should also be avoided to be read for a long time, as its proportion in the main examination has drastically reduced.
Studying not sleeping
Long hours of studies are undoubtedly critical for the success of Civil Services Examination. However, there are certain limits, beyond which the efficiency of mind deteriorates. Human mind cannot process and analyze the data beyond some time span. However, owing to immense cut-throat competition, an IAS aspirant wants to read as much as he want which leads him to work for hours. So much so that the aspirants start cutting their time from sleep, entertainments and recreational activities.
Excessive and continuous studies without any break and without ample sleep may not keep a candidate efficient and sharp. The knowledge, one instils need to be settled through sound sleep. Actually the sleep acts as a stabilizer and makes an aspirants fresh and healthy after every sleep break. Having 7-8 hours of sound sleep is equally necessary for the preparation of Civil Services Examination.
Reliance on coaching institutes and lesser on self studies
Off lately, this has become an established norm to take admission while doing college studies or immediately after that. People consider relying on the coaching institutes makes one’s chances quite high to become successful in the Civil Services Examination. Most of the students consider attending classes to be the most important portion of the civil studies examination preparation.
Students who rely excessive and only on the methods of coaching institutes often regret not having self studied. Coaching institutes merely guide an aspirant on the path to be taken and topics to be read about. They helped the students ease out a concept and makes them practice. However, Such practices and preparation will be futile if not complemented, aided and supported by hard labor, self studies and self reliance.