The civil services exam is one of India’s toughest and those clearing it are hailed as India’s brightest. The exam requires continuous dedicated efforts on part of the aspirants. As said, “there are no shortcuts to any place worth going.’ Thus, it is important to strive hard to improve with each passing day.
The journey through the entire process of being a civil servant helps you to gain a better perspective towards life. It will instill in a sense of contentment and satisfaction and will nurture your mind with knowledge. For an academically and intellectually dense student with a pristine strategy, the road to becoming an IAS officer is a year’s task. In all, a disciplined and focused mind with a passion for learning and reading is the basic trait of all successful candidates.
The bed rock of preparation for this exam is essentially based on two pillars which can be delineated as:
- The right counsel and direction
- The right and precise study material
The work begins by mastering the basics of all subjects especially history, geography and science to have an edge on general studies. One needs to refine one’s skill and knowledge across the Indian constitution and the Indian economy supplemented by newspaper analysis on a daily basis which will keep you at pace with respect to the international and national affairs.
Active involvement in essay writings hones your skills in the analysis of an issue and its importance. Debates and extempore helps you to maintain your calm under pressure and is thus an excellent hobby that needs to be cultivated when aspiring for this exam. Using the internet and news channels, both regional and global, must be liberally used. The choice of choosing an optional subject should be wisely done keeping in mind your strengths. One’s academic ambitions and the pursuit of the civil services should mutually reinforce each other.
It is important to be your own coach and introspect on a regular basis. However the importance of discussion and group study can’t be overlooked as it allows you to feed off each other’s knowledge. The exam needs and tests your speed, skill and stamina on each of its three stages. Prelims screen your knowledge of general studies along with the qualifying ability in CSAT. Mains filter those who are best in professional ethic, aptitude and have above average writing skills. The personality test needs an interactive individual with good values and integrity.
Professionalism should dominate your code of conduct while preparing for the exam. The process of learning and evolving is continuous and thus, one should be open to broadening one’s horizon keeping a multi disciplinary approach. A structured schedule for the forthcoming year complemented with a rigorous and through knowledge of the concepts of NCERT is one of the primary factors responsible for stellar performance of students in this exam. The importance of personal guidance during this exam cannot be undermined as what one can learn on a one on one basis cannot be done in herd. Seek a mentor who would watch for unique problems in your answer writing, someone who is able to frankly point out your mistakes. And help you improve upon your answers. Ultimately, a mentor would help you maximize your marks and keep you in line with your goal.
Coming to the choice of optional, then clearly the choice of Optional in civil service exam is most crucial part. One should take into consideration of factors like your own academic background, interest, time available and access to resources before selecting optional. In case one does not feel inclined towards their graduation subject, they need not opt for it as UPSC’s preparation is a long and a tedious job and a subject that cannot generate an interest in you must be avoided. Also, deciding the optional on the basis of success of others is never advisable. Optional if chosen carefully, not only helps you beat the cut throat competition but also can make the preparation a lot easier and interesting. IAS exams demand a long term commitment. So be sure that this is what you are seeking. One cannot opt for an optional just on the basis of its success rate.
Coming to another paradigm of this exam which is remarkably important, is answer writing. This is important because answer writing is an art which can be learnt. To learn it you need to make mistakes, write horrible answers, and get proper feedback. It is better to do all that in a mock exam rather than in the actual exam.
Your answers need to be more holistic, with decent levels of analysis, properly formatted structuring with proper introductions and conclusions while being less data/information heavy. Each one you have different strengths and skills and you must play wisely to your strengths
The clarity of your goal to become a civil servant should be crystal clear. The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence. And this will happen when you know what you want and why. The need is to be focussed with the preparation strategy and not deviate by adopting myriads of streams to study all at a time. If you are disciplined in your approach, consistent and perseverant in your preparation you are good to go and reach the pinnacles of success.
All the very best!