So, you are interested in career in ‘Civil Services’ and are appearing in Civil Services Examination this year or planning to take a plunge in coming years.
No doubt, the Goal you have set for yourself is real and each year hundreds of capable candidates accomplish the goal. For each candidate the ultimate aim is a positive result and for that confidence and commitment plays a vital role.
The challenge to appear in Civil Services Examination is taken by a wide gamut of the aspirants – a mix of both conscious, discerning as well as many of those who are ignorant even about the exam-requirements.
Most of the candidates with competence within find it easy to handle it effectively as their clarity about the goals helps them in taking the right steps. For fresher, candidate unaware of intricacies involved, it is little difficult; but, not impossible to understand UPSC’s intent.
For each candidate, beginning is always enthusiastic and you imagine that your preparation is going to be reasonably good; but, as preparation advance, some doubts, confusions surround your mind.
Moreover, the gruelling exam-plan poses big challenge for candidates as you have to tackle different stages with different game-plan.
It is not straight and simple; the journey is full of ups and down. So, be it a fresher or a candidate taking next attempt, unsure of appropriate approach adopted for preparation, many candidates ask:
“Am I moving in the right direction?”
It is said that having a good plan, quality books, relevant study material and right guidance are a great start, but certainly not enough as achieving at each stage needs a lot of manoeuvring.
The exam-process involves approx. 15 months’ time (from notification to result) one needs to be motivated throughout the preparation period. This is so when one succeed finally and get good rank that ensures desired post; but, if someone fails at any stage, the chances falter and once again the journey begins afresh with Preliminary Examination next year.
It is full of challenges!
Understand it clearly that the exam-plan is such that at each stage with diverse evaluation methods UPSC tests your knowledge, awareness, your expression, ideas and opinion about the issues, critical thinking and decision making capabilities.
This is a big challenge and there is no single strategy that can be used as template. But, if you care for few things, you can expect good show in examination.
You should understand the complete exam-plan and should be clear about related requirements at each stage of examination.
What I need to care in beginning?
Before you begin, self-analysis is must and being aware of your strength and weaknesses will help you in prioritizing needs.
You should commence your preparation by adopting integrated approach with aim to cover the maximum with least effort so that you can utilize the time saved for other areas that require more attention.
You should break the syllabus in small units and try to cover each unit in time-bound manner. While preparing plans, keep some provisions for extra time in case you are not able to meet targets, you can cover-up such back logs. This will help in keeping interest alive all the time and groundwork would continue smoothly without adding pressure.
Make efforts to uplift your preparation level
Be it Preliminary Examination or Main, you need to understand clearly that syllabus defines the boundary and previous years’ papers gives you lead to identify the latest trends and examiner’s expectations. You should follow syllabus and choose relevant study material accordingly. But, be sure you are not missing out some inter-related issues with topics covered under the syllabus.
Continue updating your knowledge with contemporary developments, and be sure you are clear with the basic concepts and are able to interlink information within and across the topics.
What I need to do?
Understand the pattern for both Preliminary as well as Main Examination and related requirements at each stage. The rules of the game have changed; so, you need adopt a different approach. Moreover, the reducing gap between Preliminary and main Examination calls for a complete new strategy and preparation style.
Understand the game-plan and allocate appropriate time for General Studies preparation that requires the maximum attention.
Although, Essay paper does not require separate preparation plan but, writing-skills are important and practice would help you in better presentation.
Optional subject has limited but, still a significant role to play; so, that requires due consideration.
A general observation is that in recent years, in Main Examination General Studies papers UPSC has shown creativity and innovation. The type and nature of questions asked is such that the level of candidates’ accumulated knowledge and awareness is at test. One thing is sure that you need not to master of everything but UPSC expects you to know a little about everything and it is expected that with good communication skills you should be able to express yourself effectively.
In an era where questions require short crisp answers within limited words, your generalist approach will prove to be handy and to develop this skill, you should do a lot of answer writing practice.
This will improve and make answer writing more effective as well as will help in ‘Time Management’ during preparation and examination hall.
In case you get distracted, the best way to counter doubts and uncertainties is to get a small break for 2-3 hours. Try to reach out to the people you trust and discuss your concerns.
Relax and once again think about the end result and that would be enough to inspire and motivate you for the endeavour.
Keep preparing, keep moving ahead, have faith on your abilities and develop killing instinct to counter the challenges this exam throws.