The Union Public Service Commission will conduct the civil services examination (CSE) to select suitable candidates for appointment to various administrative posts under Government of India. Over the years, a large number of students have found this examination as a tough nut to crack. In this article we will analyse the reasons behind this belief. Besides, we will also understand why Civil Services Examination is not a hard nut to crack.
Civil Services Exam: Why UPSC exam is considered so tough?
The UPSC civil services exam is considered as the “Mother of all competitions”. There is a colloquial saying, “UPSC can ask anything under the Sun”. The process through which aspirants go to archive their desired post is considered the toughest of all. UPSC Civil Services exam is the toughest exam in the country because around 10,00,000 people apply every year for around 70 General Category IAS seats. The probability of an aspirants getting IAS in a year is around 0.00007%.
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Factors to be considered to clear UPSC Civil Services Exam?
- Understand the pattern of exams: –
The aspirants should focus on the syllabus. They must have must have clear understanding about the UPSC prelims syllabus. The Preliminary Examination consist of two papers of Objective type and carry a maximum of 400 marks. Thus, the aspirants should analyse the thoroughly.
- Early Preparation: –
The aspirants should start the preparation during the graduation days that can provide immense tactical advantage to the candidates in the final competition. Such candidates form the bulk of those aspirants who qualify the civil services examination in the very first attempt.
- Clear your Basics
Candidates should focus on strengthening their basic knowledge rather than just understanding the entire subject. For this they know very sources of information, but they should not get confused by referring to so many books.
- Choose proper study material: –
It is very importance to refer to the standard study material to achieve highest success in civil services. The competitive exams are aimed at evaluating your application of knowledge and not theory. The content of the study material should be the latest and geared towards helping you ace the examination. The aspirants can pick up study material that involves a modern approach for understanding the concepts. It should be a learner-friendly method for a better understanding.
- Current affairs:
The aspirants should follow the newspaper reading regularly. Newspapers will give you a good insight on current issues. To study multiple dimensions and understand the issue from different sides the aspirants should visit several websites. They can focus on reading current affairs magazines and stuff, downloading mobile applications to get daily updates, etc. These are some of the ways to keep oneself abreast of the country’s contemporary issues and situations.
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Consider the following previous year Prelims question from 2016. This topic was in detail in the Economic survey that year: –
Which of the following is/are the advantage/advantages of practising drip irrigation?
- reduction of weed
- reduction in soil salinity
- reduction in soil erosion
Select the correct answer using the code is given below: –
A. 1 and 2 only
B. 3 only
C. 1 and 3 only
D. None of the above is an advantage of practising drip irrigation
- Mock Tests:
The aspirants should focus on solving the previous years’ papers candidates. This will help them to understand the level of the examination. They will also learn how to manage the time in the examination hall. Previous year’s questions papers, sample papers are the most reliable and an authenticated sources to get an idea of what the paper is all about. It also gives them a clear idea of which section is to be attempted first in the exam. Solving different kinds of a paper teaches a candidate to manage his/her time efficiently in an examination hall by giving a glimpse of the pattern and the difficulty level of the paper. These mock tests act as a benchmark to test one’s understanding and preparation.
- Keeping Crisp Notes: –
The aspirants should prepare their own notes and write down important points. This good habit will help the aspirants to easily revise the concepts. Besides it will also help in consolidation, memorization, and easy revision before the conduction of the examination. These notes are the summarized form of the whole syllabus that acts as a last-minute saviour for a candidate. he/she can have a look at them any time before the examination. It is a good revision tactic.
- Revision: –
Revision is the most significant part of UPSC CSE examination. The aspirants should get into this practice of revising the concepts and should make it a habit. Whatever memorized, whatever studied should be reviewed before getting in bed and even the following days to keep a track of whatever is absorbed. Revision is a must, whatever you have prepared so far, or you have notes for the exam, candidates need to revise the same at least for three to four times before appearing in the examination. Revision is the key to succeeding in the competitive exams as candidates with only a clear understanding of the concepts would be able to apply it under pressure during the examination.
- Time Management: –
Another important aspect of understanding the Competitive exams is to manage the time and utilise it judiciously. UPSC aspirants should focus on managing your time and efficiently answering the questions. Time management is necessary to cover the whole syllabus before the exams. Besides, proper time management will also give the aspirants more time for revision and value addition.
- Focus on weekly targets: –
It is essential that you fix weekly targets until the date of your final examination. If you are preparing on your own and not with some coaching classes, then the targets become even more important. Weekly targets will help to cover vast portion of syllabus. It will also keep an track on the preparation process of aspirants. Besides, weekly targets will ensure that the aspirants are able to understand the concepts and improve their applicability.
- Focus on Repeating questions
The most important source to understand the UPSC pattern of is analysing previous year questions. The aspirants should study and solve the previous year’s questions. Over the years there are many repeating questions being asked by UPSC. These repeated questions are easy target for aspirants and should not be missed by aspirants. Some question keeps resurfacing from the previous year’s papers.
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In 2013, UPSC asked a question on leaf modification. The question was: –
Which of the following leaf modifications occurs/occur?
in desert areas to inhibit water loss?
1. Hard and waxy leaves
2. Tiny leaves or no leaves
3. Thorns instead of leaves
Select the correct answer using the codes given below.
A. 1 and 2 only
B. 2 only
C. 1 and 3 only
D. 1, 2 and 3
Again in 2018, the same question was repeated in the Preliminary exam.
Which of the following leaf modifications occur(s) in the desert areas to inhibit water loss?
1. Hard and waxy leaves
2. Tiny leaves
3. Thorns instead of leaves
Select the correct answer using the code given below:
A. 2 and 3 only
B. 2 only
C. 3 only
D. 1, 2 and 3
- Eat Healthy: –
The aspirants should take healthy and safe diet. This is important to keep their mind and body healthy. The aspirants should avoid frequent intake of junk food. Instead they must have a proper healthy food.
- Proper Sleep: –
The UPSC civil service preparation is a long process. Along with proper study plan and time management the aspirants should also focus on getting adequate sleep. All the students should note that sleep deprivation will take you nowhere; so, sleep well on the eve of the examination and don’t go through any book. This is important in order to maintain the physical and mental health of the aspirants.
Standard Books to simplify UPSC Preparation
- Indian History & Culture
- India’s Struggle for Independence by Bipin Chandra
- A New Look at Modern Indian History by B L Grover & Alka Mehta
- World History
- Mastering Modern World History by Norman Lowe
- India & World Geography
- Certificate Physical & Human Geography by Goh Cheng Leong
- India: A Comprehensive Geography by D R Khullar
- World Geography by Majid Hussain
- Indian Society
- Social Problems in India by Ram Ahuja
- Indian Polity
- Indian Polity by M Laxmikanth
- Introduction to the Constitution of India by D D Basu
- Our Constitution by Subash Kashyap
- International Relations
- India’s Foreign Policy by V P Dutt
- Rethinking India’s Foreign Policy by Rajiv Sikri
- Economic Development
- Indian Economy Since Independence by Uma Kapila
- Indian Economy Key Concepts by K. Shankarganesh
- Latest Economic Survey and Budget
- Ethics, Integrity & Aptitude
- Ethics, Integrity & Aptitude by G Subba Rao
- The Lexicon for Ethics, Integrity & Aptitude by Niraj Kumar
- Ethics, Integrity & Values in Public Services by Ramesh K Arora.
Some myths about the UPSC Civil services preparation: –
- Myth: You need to study 15-18 hours daily
Reality: This is probably the biggest one. It is nearly impossible to sustain this level of preparation for a year-long cycle. The number of hours put in does not guarantee success. What is required is a proper strategy. Ensure you get enough sleep and work on your physical and mental health to be able to focus properly.
- Myth: A UPSC aspirant should know everything about everything
Reality: It is true that the syllabus is vast and diverse, but there is a pattern that can be deduced. Serious aspirants analyse the syllabus carefully by going through each topic/sub-topic and past question papers. Stick to a short and manageable list of books and give emphasis to being up-to-date with current affairs.
- Myth: Only those with top academic credentials can clear the exam
Reality: UPSC only asks for a graduate degree in any stream. This implies that it is ready to welcome anyone who displays perseverance and leadership qualities as well as the intellect to help in nation building. While it is true that many from the IITs or IIMs clear the exam, there is a greater number from relatively modest academic exams who have also made it through.
- Myth: Only people with good English can clear the exam
Reality: UPSC encourages candidates from diverse backgrounds to apply. The exam and interview can be taken in any of the 22 languages listed in the Constitution. The aspirant should be able to convey his knowledge and views in a simple and straightforward manner.
- Myth: You cannot clear the exam without coaching
Reality: While coaching may help provide some direction, it is not a necessity. Plenty of online resources and guidance are available which help one create a smart personalised strategy and resource bank. Perseverance, hard work, self-confidence and proper strategy are the keys that can unlock your dreams of being in the Civil Services.
Before starting the preparation the aspirants should have answers to these questions: –
- Why do you want to become an IAS?
- How strong minded you are?
- Are you self-driven or externally motivated?
- How do you spend your day?
- Do you take any process one at a time?
- Do you plan and appraise your preparation process often?
- Do little things rankle & disorient your preparation process?
- Is there any familial or peer pressure in terms of expectations?
- Do you surprise yourself in doing things which look difficult?
- Do you introspect about your preparation or your daily effort?
- Is there positivity and hope around you?
- Have you given your honest day’s effort?
- Are you enjoying what you are doing?
- Is there a positive tension or negative tension in your psyche?
- How do you handle negative externalities around?