The myth and the reality
You need to dispel certain confusions about the civil services examination before you gear up for the next challenge, counsels Zubair Ahmad.
The fact that you have qualified the Prelims does not confirm your inclusion in the final selection to the coveted Civil Services list for which the Prelims was held. It is definitely an indication that luck and hard work have given you the crucial chance to gear up yourself to appear and pass the Main examination for which 11,600 other competitors are pitched against you. The race is tough and demands all your energy and effort. Remember the fact that passing the Prelims and failing the Main only makes one’s pain more difficult to bear. It is, therefore, absolutely upto you whether you want to live with the pain of failure or the pleasure of success. But, success cannot come through any stroke of good luck. It has to be hard earned and the sweat of your brow alone can ensure that a genuine effort has been made and the fruit can be awaited with expectation. Half-hearted attempts interestingly have never helped anybody to get through in this examination where the qualifying cut off is determined not only by how well you have done, but also how comparatively less has been done by your competitors.
While receiving enquiries from the aspirants on phone, e mail and in various counseling sessions about the KAS Main Examination, one could understand beyond doubt that there are lot of myths in circulation about this examination. Some of the candidates are about to commit big follies as a result. Please remember this examination demands total awareness.
Based on my understanding of this examination process I have come up with some realities for you. Please forgive me if these defy your reasons and logic.
Myth 1: Could not do well in my optional in the Preliminary examination and therefore, it is better to change my Preliminary optional at the Main examination for better scores.
Reality: When we perceive we have not been able to do better with our selected optional in the Prelims, it means our efforts have remained inadequate or our plan has faltered somewhere. Perhaps, one can’t imagine to abandon the optional for which one has put in so much of investment in terms of time & efforts. When different optionals are taken for Main, it means a tragic waste of time.
You are thus heading for a suicide with the new idea. Remember you have to prepare two optionals for the Main and you are not going to get more than 5 to 7 months of preparation. There is always a scope for improvement and you can improve more in that optional during the preparation time you get for the Main examination.
Myth 2: I am a post graduate in subject X. But my subject is not scoring. Let me choose some scoring subject even if it means taking a new subject.
Reality: This is simply unacceptable. To me there is nothing like a ‘scoring ’ and a ‘non scorings’ optional, when you are abandoning your subject of specialization in the process. This myth has been in circulation as some students have not done well with their subjects, may be because such aspirants become complacent as they feel they know the subject ‘too well’ and can tackle the Mains with ease or they lack the required writing skills. Otherwise taking your subject of specialization is a great benefit and could put you in tremendous advantage. What we call scoring subjects are in fact relatively safer bets for such graduate candidates who do not have specific parent subject or for those who have not been able to develop confidence in their parent subjects.
Myth 3: An aspirant has to have a very deep insight into the optional subjects to succeed.
Reality: I haven’t so for come across any successful candidate in whom one could visualize scholarly ability. The trends observed in previous selections indicate that the PSC expects a general level of knowledge in any optional rather than a scholarly attitude. Aspirants who have acquired good knowledge about the subject with clarity of its fundamentals have made it to the select list. Off course good writing skills and a proper approach to the subject make the big difference.
Myth 4: When the same optional is chosen for the Prelim and the Mains one need not prepare separately for the Main. Preparation for the Prelim would suffice.
Reality: True, most of the preliminary syllabus is included in the mains. But different methods of preparation are required. The Preliminary being of MCQ type demands a micro approach requiring close acquaintance with details whereas the Main being subjective demands a broad perspective with greater details, sound knowledge, greater clarity of concepts and appropriate presentation.
Myth 5: For success at the Main Examination an aspirant has to work for at least 18 hours a day.
Reality: It is not the number of hours that is important but how much productive you are in those hours is important. It varies from individual to individual. Each one of us has his own productive working schedule so the preparation has to be tailored accordingly. There is no need to be obsessed with the number of hours as long as you feel that you are making adequate daily preparations. But try to avoid wasting any moment that you feel could be productively used in preparations.
Myth 6: This examination is a ‘gamble’. Whatever the extent of preparation, one can never be sure of success.
Reality: Each examination has a ‘chance’ factor but the element of chance can be reduced to a great extent by well-directed and focused effort. While a student, who has prepared in the right direction, has maximum chance of being successful, the candidate who does not prepare well will never make it, that is certain. Luck alone cannot work for you in four optional papers, two General Studies papers and an Essay.
Myth 7: Only students with an excellent academic record are successful at this type of examinations.
Reality: Most of the aspirants who succeed in such examinations are second division holders in their graduations. While a high academic score is an advantage, a second or a third division in no way hits your chances. Believe me you can yet prove yourself, but all you need is well directed hard work.
Myth 8: Some simply believe they can’t make it.
Reality: This is absurd and only a presumption. You will be surprised to know that sixty percent of those candidates who make it to Civil Services ultimately come from that group of aspirants who initially believed that making it to top service had been beyond their reach. This clearly proves that given the right mindset and approach, all of those who dare to enter the competition have an equal chance to make it with flying colours. But you need to become a serious contender for the job and adopt a more rational, more systematic strategy and approach.
Myth 9: Better to choose an optional in which there is less competition.
Reality : Choosing an optional in which you perceive could be less competition is not going to help you any way as long as you are not getting a good score in that. Getting a good score in both the optional subjects should be your concern rather than the competition seen in the optional subjects. So please choose the optionals which give you greatest scores irrespective of the competition you witness in the optional.
Myth 10: One can’t succeed without coaching.
Reality : Though the coaching facility of some reputed coaching houses is certainly giving you some advantage by helping you in understanding the process of the examination or new subjects you are opting as optional but self studies would be equally rewarding if you have understood genuinely the plan and demands of this examination. All you need to know is the actual direction for achieving the success. All of you are at least graduates and can comprehend well the texts and concepts you read but you must know exactly what to read and how to read.
Dear Aspirants, You have now read the myths and believe me these myths are to be exploded and the realities to be matched by your hard work. The decision to pass the Main or to fail in it is absolutely in your own hands. Make your choice today for tomorrow never comes. Some one has said for some moment, “ This is the time when optimism has to conquer pessimism, when proaction has to defeat apathy, when firmness has to annihilate vacillation, when hard work has to take precedence over laziness and when clarity of purpose has to overcome confusion." Friends, that moment for you has come. This is your fight and the BIG FIGHT. We can only wish you good luck.
(Zubair Ahmad is a KAS officer of 99 Batch, presently posted as Joint Director IMPA. Can be contacted on e mail firstname.lastname@example.org or Cell Number 9419000988)
Lastupdate on : Mon, 7 Sep 2009 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Mon, 7 Sep 2009 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Tue, 8 Sep 2009 00:00:00 IST
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