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Some Popular Myths about UPSC Civil Services Exam Busted

Some Popular Myths about UPSC Civil Services Exam Busted

Some Popular Myths about UPSC Civil Services Exam Busted

Some mistakes, ‘hacks’ and ‘shortcuts’ to avoid while preparing for the civil services exam.

The challenging Civil Services Examination (CSE) conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) is spread over an entire year, divided into three extremely competitive stages, in which anything can go wrong at any stage leading to one’s failure.

This must sound scary to over seven lakh aspirants who will be sitting for the exam. While beginning their preparation, many students have partial knowledge about the exam, its nitty-gritties and preparation strategy. Confused by half knowledge and filled with fear, many of the students start believing in myths floating around. Here are some things aspirants should avoid.

So now Let’s Discus Some Popular Myths about UPSC Civil Services Exam

Start With this Beautiful Myth

Those veterans laugh when I tell them I am preparing for IAS. Instead, they insist I should say that I am preparing for civil services. What is the difference?

When you say you are preparing for civil services, you are not sure about getting into IAS/IPS. When you say you are preparing for IAS, you are confident that you want only IAS and you know how to get it. Choose the one suits you best. Not the veterans’.


Myth No 1: I need to remember a lot of facts to clear CSE.

Reality: No, the exam does not test factual knowledge at all. It tests your understanding, conceptual clarity and analytical skills. However, some facts are considered to be the basis of building perspective, which are important to know. So, you should know a few basic facts such as size of the GDP, demographic data, and so on, but it will be easier to remember them once you understand their significance.

Myth No 2: One topper in an interview said that she studied 20 hours every day for 365 days. Is this true?

Reality: May be she suffered from insomnia. Even now she will be working 20 hours a day as an officer. On a serious note, good sleep is very necessary to prepare well for this exam.  It keeps you in good health. Don’t study beyond 14 hours unless you suffer from Insomnia. Hence, time management and a right study plan are important in one’s preparation.

Myth No 3: They say IAS is the mother of all exams. Is it?

Reality: This is just  another exam. The mother of all exams is Life. You can afford to fail in IAS, but not in Life. So, take IAS preparation as a phase in Life, not as your Life. If a candidate examines this properly, this is a just a blowout because every year more than lakhs of candidates apply for the exam and only a thousand odd get into the post. Considering the success rate which is less than a percent many candidates make up their mind that it is the toughest exam but when it is deeply interpreted and the UPSC exam success rate is analysed one gets to know that UPSC exam is not that tough as considered.With proper strategy,one can crack this exam.

To crack this exam all a candidate need is diligent, prompt, sincerity, passion and a right preparation plan though not the perfect one (as there is nothing called a perfect plan!).

Myth No 4: Only highly intelligent students with an excellent academic record are successful at the CSE.  or  You need to be a topper throughout to clear the exam.

Reality: How does one measure intelligence? Can we call someone highly intelligent just because he/she scores 100% in Mathematics or Physics at the 10th Class level? Or do we call a student who has consistently secured a first division intelligent? The fact is, the notion of intelligence is susceptible to varied definitions.

However that may be, a survey conducted a few years back indicated that most of the successful aspirants had secured only a second division in graduation. So while a high academic score is a definite asset, a second or a third division in no way hits your chances. You may yet prove yourself.

Myth No 5: You cannot clear the exam without the help of a coaching institute. 

Reality: Totally Wrong. In the new era, one can make use of various great resources, such as mobile apps and websites. Coaching centres do have a study plan that they enforce on you, but it cannot guarantee success and they charge an astronomical fee, which many aspirants cannot afford. It is important to first understand where you stand and how much you need to improve. Once you know your study objectives, you can decide between self-study or joining a coaching institute.

Myth No 6:  I have a disease. I keep buying all the magazines and coaching material. Is there any cure for this?

Reality: If you are rich, donate some money to this site.  Jokes apart, yes there is a cure. You know very well that you don’t read all the magazine and materials you buy. When you buy more and don’t use them, it only worsens your situation. The sight of those books frightens you. The cure is simple: first understand why you are buying so many books.

You buy them to buy yourself momentary satisfaction, that you are doing right thing in your preparation. No, wrong. Always finish reading what you have now. If something is really missing from the book you have, then go for a new one.

When you become aware that you are not going to read all the books you buy, you will stop buying them.

Myth No 7: You must attempt more Number of questions to clear Prelims.

Reality: This is not true. Another myth that has been made popular by some of the ‘hacks’ and ‘shortcuts’ floating in the market is that if you attempt more questions it is easier to get more marks. It doesn’t work like that. To attempt more number of questions correctly, one needs to have a certain level of “intuition”. And that level of intuition comes from years of reading and internalising information which helps in creating links between topics.While a well-read person may attempt a disproportionately large number of questions and still manage to get them correct, not everyone can do it. So, one should attempt only those questions one is reasonably sure of, and not because someone gave you a hack. You need to practice and figure out a strategy that works well for you.

Myth No 8: You need to read many books on a single topic to gain absolute “mastery” over the subject.

Reality: First, “mastery” over any subject is a super ambitious target, in case of UPSC exam. Second, it is always better to understand a single book in great depth rather than reading multiple books to understand a topic. Also, even though you have read and understood something, it takes time to get internalised as you are going to study many new topics. If you don’t make notes and revise, you might not be able to retain them effectively. If you genuinely understand a topic and want to expand your knowledge and/or build more perspective, reading more books can certainly help.

Myth No 9: One must read standard books from cover to cover and make notes on every topic in the syllabus.

Reality: Absolutely not. Apart from NCERTs and some books, nothing is required to be read cover to cover. Though reading and acquiring knowledge is almost always helpful, it is far better to adopt a topic-wise approach. Break down the syllabus in keywords and try to cover them from relevant sources and books. Also, making notes is important. But they shouldn’t become an end-in-themselves. They should aid in your understanding and help in effective revision. Making a mind map is far better, and so is scribbling on the margins, than making traditional notes.

Myth No 10: Make notes on every single topic in the syllabus.

Reality: Undeniably, the UPSC Syllabus is vast and covering the syllabus is a daunting task. But that doesn’t mean that IAS aspirants to make notes on each and every topic of the syllabus. Instead, candidates should decide on the topics that need attention in the UPSC Exam perspective and start making notes on them and one thing to keep in mind while making notes is to keep it crisp and short as it will come handy in last minute revision.

In a nutshell, the UPSC Civil Services Exam is a-year-long process and the preparation is definitely a daunting task, hence if candidates understand the basic UPSC Exam pattern and the syllabus this will make their preparation process more organized and effective and definitely will give an edge over the other aspirants.

Disregarding all the myths, aim your goal to become an IAS Officer with a positive attitude, right preparation plan, and never give up mindset then see the wonders for yourself and you will believe and start saying that UPSC Civil Services IAS Exam is an easy nut that anyone can crack.

Myth No 11: My English is very poor. They say I am out of the race. Am I?

Reality: No. You are still part of the race. Now you have figured out the problem – that your English is poor. Work on it. All you need is basic English. Moreover, you can write this exam and give the interview in your mother-tongue. Buy a basic  Grammar book – read it, listen to English news on TV and radio, try to write something in English, everyday (don’t worry if it is very bad, keep trying) Necessity should push you to learn. Push yourself. Win the race.

Myth No 12: I am worried. I can’t go to Delhi because of some personal reasons. They say it is Mecca for IAS aspirants. 

Reality: Can’t go to Delhi? Wow. That’s great. These days you can study from home itself. IAS preparation is neither religion nor life to seek enlightenment in a far away concrete desert. Do your duty sincerely, if pleased, almighty UPSC will call you to its shrine, if pleased with your personality, it will give you a pass to Heaven – the IAS. Why go there uninvited?

Myth No 13: So how can I study from my home?

Reality: These days you can buy books from online. Every topper has studied the same set of books as lakhs of aspirants do every year. The difference is that toppers plan their studies and execute those plans well. They practice writing. They take tests. They are confident. And they also have some luck.

Myth No 13: Oh! So luck is needed for this exam.

Reality: Ya, only if you think you are unlucky. Anyway, let me modify a famous quote for you – Success is one percent luck and ninety-nine percent perspiration. Don’t let that 99% thing slip from your hand. Toil sincerely, and you will be rewarded with that 1 percent luck.

Myth No 14: It was my last attempt. I failed in Prelims. Now I want to kill myself. Help me.

Reality: To kill you? First, kill your ego, not yourself. You took a journey but couldn’t reach the destination. It doesn’t mean the end of your life or the end of the road – start a new phase in your Life from where you are now. What matters in the end is how well you lived your Life, not how many successes you achieved. If the King has painful piles in his anus, what is the use of diamond studded golden throne?

To sum up, we know you face a daunting task. But we hope that you’ll enjoy the learning experience instead of becoming anxious and burning out. Focus on the mantra of “Read, Revise, Internalise.” It is also important not to blindly follow any advice that is doled out to you, including this one.

Source – Mixture of lots of article / Internet.  

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