For more than a decade, O2 IAS academy has been guiding and helping students to realize their goal of becoming a civil servant. Through the experience and insight gained by witnessing the numerous changes in UPSC pattern and various ways by which aspirants cope up with them, in this blog, we have tried to summarize some common issues faced UPSC aspirants and our suggestions on how to overcome them.
It is a commonly held view that UPSC civil services exam is one of the world’s toughest exams to crack. Thus, even before the actual preparation for the exam begins many aspirants start doubting themselves. Many aspirants have this misconception that one has to be a born genius, a university topper or from IIT/IIM to clear and secure top ranks in this exam. This is one of the biggest issues faced by candidates: lack of faith and confidence in their capabilities.
The next issue faced by aspirants is the choice between studying at a coaching institute or self preparation. Many aspirants waste many precious weeks on deciding whether they will be joining an institute or not and later on the choice of the institute. Our advice to candidates is that they should attend a few demo classes at 2-3 institutes of their choice to see if they prefer studying at an institute or self preparation and then narrow down to their final option.
The next biggest issue faced my aspirants is time management. Many students are intimidated by rumours regarding UPSC: you will only clear the exam if you study for 16 hours, in order to clear the exam you have to wake up at 4am and start studying from 5am onwards etc. Our suggestion is that it is never wise to follow the mob. What we mean by that is you should follow the time table which works best for you.
Optional subject comprises of 500 marks which a considerable chunk of the total marks and can often make or break your rank. It is not wrong to say that it plays a major role in clearing the UPSC exam. Thus, choosing the right optional forms one of the most critical decisions of every aspirant’s UPSC journey and is definitely not an easy task.
The next aspect is the enormous syllabus prescribed by UPSC. Many aspirants feel that UPSC syllabus is very lengthy and cannot be completed in one year. Some have problem in understand the syllabus as well as on the face of it the syllabus seems to be very static. But when you analyse the previous year question papers many questions are based on the current happening in India and the world.
Many aspirants have doubts regarding how to approach their preparation regarding the various stages of the exam: whether to focus solely on clearing prelims and then prepare for mains, focus completely on mains or to follow an integrated strategy for mains and prelims.
During UPSC preparation many aspirants have problem in selecting books for subjects since there is a flood of UPSC preparation books in the market. Many publishers claim that their book for a particular subject is the best book. This results in confusion for aspirants in selecting standard books. Thus it is very common to see students buying two, three or even four books for a single subject (excluding NCERTs). This is a wasted exercise and must be avoided at all costs since repeating the same topics from different books will only lead to wastage of precious time and effort. Instead candidates should follow minimum number of books and focus more on maximum number of revisions of the single source material.
Every year after UPSC pre and mains exams are conducted there is a lot of discussion and debates on the number and the kind of questions asked from different subjects and sub topics. Much of that discussion is focussed on whether the paper was mainly current affair based or static portion based. Due to this frivolous exercise many aspirants fall victim to the so called predicted trends based on past papers. And if one year more current based questions are asked in the pre they start ignoring the static portion for next year’s pre exam.
Another common issue is whether to study in groups or alone. Just like many other aspects of UPSC preparation this is a very subjective issue. There is no wrong or right way to study as some people are more productive while studying certain topics in groups while others cannot study unless they are alone sitting in a quiet corner of their home or a library.
Lastly after the end of their preparation many aspirants are still unsure about whether they should attempt the paper this or not. Our advice to the aspirants is to take their attempts seriously and to have confidence. You should always take your 1st attempt as the last attempt meaning that you should prepare for it with such dedication and hard work that you are able to clear the exam in the 1st attempt itself.