Myths and wrong notions: Dispel all these to come closer to Success

Some frequently asked questions which candidates ask relating to Civil Services Examination

‘Civil Services’ - A dream career which attract almost every youngster who desire to appear in Civil Services Examination and try luck here. But, on contrary, for many aspirants, this whole process is surrounded by a lot of myths, fears and phobias, wrong notions and above all the fear of failure inhibit them from initiating the first step towards truly fascinating career.

We have made an attempt to identify a few of these and tried to address these here:


  It is a very tough examination. Very difficult to crack hence I will give it a pass.

IAS PASSION: No denial. It is tough; but, those who argue that Civil Services examination is beyond reach of common aspirants are not genuine.
As far as process of exam is concerned, it evaluates overall knowledge and personality of the aspirants. But, every year hundreds of common aspirants like you come and make career in ‘Civil Services’.
After all there is something special that attracts youngsters in such a large number who dream to have career in ‘Civil Services’. I don’t know it excites you or not but every year approx. 4 lakh aspirants try their luck here.
I am sure, if you have interest in this career; you must have heard or read what Shubhra Saxena (CSE 2008, Rank 1) expressed about her dream. She left her lucrative job in IT to pursue a career in ‘Civil Services’ and how passionately she slogged for it and finally achieved it.
Have courage and work hard in right direction without giving heed to these negative thoughts.

  Fine, then I will take my first attempt to get acquainted with subject and examination requirements.

IAS PASSION: The aspirants who don’t have faith in their abilities and are not ready to put in hard work required to crack this examination talk such words.
Come on; are you ready to waste such important period of life like that?
Better devote another year for preparation instead of wasting attempts after attempts with this lackluster attitude.
In today’s environment, you can always learn from other’s experiences, can make use of their skills, knowledge and understanding and even seek expert advice. So, where is the need of such experiments?
If it would have been so difficult, you would not have found aspirants who appear in Civil Services Examination immediately after completing graduation or higher level education and succeed in very first attempt.
Don’t go far; even this year Mukesh Kumar (CSE 08, 36th Rank) and Manoj Singh (CSE 2008, 58th Rank) have achieved success in very first attempt. You will find many more such examples of successes in very first attempt.
So, be serious and start preparing for this examination in a planned manner.

  First, I will test waters with appearing in State Civil Services Examination before applying for UPSC.

IAS PASSION: Why to limit yourself to State Services Examinations. Prepare for UPSC and as most of the state PCS syllabus is such that State focused examinations get prepared easily along with UPSC preparation.
I would like to quote an example of Neelam (CSE 2008, 98th Rank) who comes from rural background from Haryana. During conversation, she told me that her first aim was Haryana Civil Services but once she came to Delhi, she gained insights and on her friend’s advice prepared with UPSC focus and in second attempt she got selected in UPSC.

  I can’t prepare the optional subjects within a short span of few months.

IAS PASSION: It is not as difficult as it seems. When others can do why can’t you?
Moreover, if you plan your preparation, you get a lot of time, if you manage it well, to prepare for this examination. You need to believe in your abilities, keep on making focused hard work have patience, and you will be able to manage it.
Again, every year we come across aspirants who prepare second optional just in few months, before writing Mains Written.
And why to forget role of coaching institutes who spell the magic during short span of 3-4 months and help aspirants gain good marks.
Few days back, in my interaction with Manoj Singh (CSE 2008, 58th Rank) he shared the secrets of success and experiences he had during preparation. He pointed out how he got help from one popular coaching institute for preparing optional subject ‘Philosophy’ which he could manage during 3 months regular classes.

  In General Studies the syllabus is vague and not well defined. I can’t manage that.

IAS PASSION: Agreed, General Studies can’t be prepared within 2-3 months. It requires a long-term approach. Again, it has few components which are traditional and some areas where current events, happenings and developments continuously impact your preparation.
With some components you have familiarity and some may be new to you. Prioritize your needs and plan your strategies in such a way that you are able to have effective preparation along with your optional subjects.

  In Prelims, only those with few popular optional subjects like History, Public Administration, and Geography etc are able to clear Prelims.

IAS PASSION: Probably you are not well acquainted with complete information. At prelims level, aspirants choose subjects from Agriculture to Zoology and succeed.
Further, here at Prelims level, as it is understood, your competition is among same subject aspirants and for each and every optional subject UPSC has cut-off which they don’t disclose but put into effect in making result.

  In Prelims UPSC does not reveal the cut-off so how can I compare and evaluate my attempt?

IAS PASSION: UPSC is not transparent on this but you can always discuss your answers among aspirants with same subjects. Now-a-days, solutions to prelims papers are available in newspapers, magazines and on some web-site where you can check and evaluate your performance.
You can approach faculty and subject experts in coaching institutes also to have a rough estimation of cut-off based on their observation on performance of many aspirants like you.
But, this is not a matter which should take much of your attention after a satisfactory performance in Prelims. Whatever the outcome is, you will come to know in due course of time. Immediately after Prelims, you should make use of the time available and continue preparation with Mains focus.

  In Mains, compulsory papers act as waterloo.

IAS PASSION: Yes, these can if you don’t take these seriously. Among Hindi medium aspirants, it is a big problem and many good quality aspirants fail to clear English compulsory paper. And as the process of examination is, their rest of question papers are not evaluated who fail to clear the compulsory papers.
As you look at syllabus, it is not so difficult that require special efforts. But, certainly it requires you to take these earnestly.

  X subject is scoring other is not; UPSC is intentionally taking particular subject down and some other new subject emerge as rising subject; paper evaluators are strict, so can’t expect good marks etc.

IAS PASSION: In context to this examination, this is pure myth. I have seen aspirants score sub 200 marks in academically scoring subjects like Mathematics, Physics and in those subjects which are quite popular in CSE like History, Geography and Public administration etc which are considered as safe optional subjects.
At the same time, I have seen aspirants score 380+ marks in subjects like Economics, Sanskrit, Maithali and even in subjects mentioned above.
Each subject is good and produces results in CSE. Few popular optional subjects are picked up by large number of aspirants and their success when comes in our eyes, these subjects start looking scoring and attractive.
All stories related to subjects going down or up and strict scoring are unsubstantiated. Subjects go up or down based on performance of aspirants in that particular subject.
If by chance, some strict marking has been done by particular examiner, UPSC adopts undisclosed but scientific scaling system and thus, probably neutralize such limitation.

  A lot of subjectivity is involved in Essay and the papers of optional subjects; so can’t ascertain how I performed?

IAS PASSION: Accept this truth. Nothing except excellent preparation can save you in Mains (Written).
But, you are not the only one there is a level playing field and everyone face the same situation as you do.
UPSC expects originality and if your attempt is good comparing the standard of the examination, you should feel contented. Good performances are always recognized and rewarded.

  What is moderation? How UPSC manages the unexpected subject-wise scores?

IAS PASSION: It is not clear and UPSC do not reveal the process. The only thing they disclosed was that it is scientific process to tone down the favor to particular subject’s extraordinary results.
It is not a thing which you need to give much attention during preparation.
No doubt, regarding This exam, it is said sometimes 'Luck' also plays a little role in your success.

  It is an advantage to attend mock interviews and interview sessions at coaching institutes.

IAS PASSION: You can take benefit of mock interviews, if you wish to. But, how many of these institutes deliver? How many of them are even close to the real one? How many of the coaching institutes manage to get the people of such vast experience and caliber as members of Mock Interview Board?
If you are able to reach right place, fine otherwise many a times you are given such advice that you may loose your originality and express yourself in copy-cat manner.
Most of these institutes have a specific purpose; to get photographs of candidates as many of them find place in the final merit-list. You find same toppers photograph appearing in many institute’s advertisements claiming their role in topper’s success.
The best way is to form a group of 5-6 candidates and friends and conduct mock interviews. Doesn’t matter if you don’t belong to Delhi or have not attend any coaching institute, it is not difficult to find out other candidates with such requirements.
When the opportunity is so big, plan out your visit to Delhi about 2 weeks before the interview date and you will find such candidates where you can be benefitted by being a part of that group.

  It is tense atmosphere inside Hall and interview room.

IAS PASSION: who says? Aspirants bound to be nervous but the atmosphere is light and interview board’s approach is co-operative and they try to make you feel at ease.

  Chairman and other members grill aspirant for 30-35 minutes during interview.

IAS PASSION: They respect originality and their aim is to select the most deserving candidates. If they try to recognize, be acquainted with your capabilities, your hidden talents, you can say so.
But, they are eager to open their bag once they feel you deserve that.
Abhishek (CSE 08, Rank 48) told me about his recent experience, “I was confident and relaxed during interview and I tried to project in front of interview board as I am”. He got 228 marks in interview and his interview lasted for 19 minutes only.

  Never ask any question from Board members.

IAS PASSION: Depends on situation. Your humility can win hearts.
They are respected and seasoned people who have vast experience under their belt.
If atmosphere turns favourable, you can.

  Wear only formal cloths/ cloths with particular colours to impress Board.

IAS PASSION: Don’t do such blunders. Wear what looks good on you and makes you feel comfortable.
Recently, I came across a candidate who was pointed out about particular colour of shirt & trouser, and when asked, told the interview board about such advice came from a particular institute. Guess what impression interview board would have got and kind of marks he would have got.
Don’t follow what some coaching institutes recommend. This puts you in disadvantageous position.

  Be serious during the interview.

IAS PASSION: It is good to show respect to the board by humbleness.
Be comfortable. After all, they are exploring the qualities and skill-set that matches with the job requirement.
Have confidence and boldly face the interview board. 

  Interview board is biased with ‘Hindi Medium’ aspirants

IAS PASSION: No way, I have seen many a Hindi Medium aspirants scoring 200+ marks in Interview. During past few months, I came across Bhanu Goswami (CSE 08 Rank 33) who secured 213 marks, Abhishek (CSE 08 Rank 48) got 228, Vaibhav (CSE 08 Rank 74) obtained 216 and even Anoop Sharma (CSE 08 Rank 356) got 235 marks which is probably in top scores.
Still, have some doubts about any discrimination against Hindi medium aspirants.

… and what not. This list even continue even after results are announced related to choice of service, cadre etc.
List out the apprehensions/fears, if you have any, related to this examination. We will try to dispel all those to make you comfortable and helping many others who face something similar.
Last Update Friday 15th January 2010     

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IASPASSION is all about success in Civil Services Examination. With an eye on coveted Indian Administrative Service aspiring youngsters chase their dreams and give their best to achieve success.
We are passionately working on making their journey uncomplicated and enjoyable and our mission is to dispel the myths and wrong notions that surround this big examination.
It is our continuous endeavor to bring in relevant information and inspiring stories that instill confidence and help you persevere as it is a fierce competition that sometimes requires just sticking to the GOAL.


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