Seven Myths About Civil Service Examination

The exam is not as tough as it is made out to be

DEMYSTIFYING IAS

NAVEED TRAMBOO

Civil service examination is quite an arduous task as most would agree – not only because of the tough competition, but also because of the lengthy time process, which stretches to over a year. Clearly, this exam requires a sincere effort and well planned strategy for success. I started my preparation in 2011 after completing my graduation and with the grace of Almighty, I qualified the exam in my first attempt with 386 rank. The experience gained during these eighteen months has cleared many doubts, which I had, and has brought the reality about civil service examinations to the fore-front. It is this experience which I want to share with other aspirants, who like other freshers find themselves in a quandary about this exam.
There are many myths which surround the civil service examination:
Myth 1: One has to be very intelligent to qualify this exam.
This is a common perception among many aspirants. While, quick grasping power does help in this exam, however, the truth is that it is only hard work, which is the basic pre-requisite. There is no substitute for hard work. During my preparation, I had a chance to interact with students from all sorts of backgrounds ranging from IITs and IIMs to ordinary college graduates. Like any other fresher I also used to feel a little nervous when I thought about the kind of talent that is competing. However, when the results came out, the only people who qualified were the ones who were sincere during those eighteen months. Past achievements or failures did not really matter. Bottom-line, no amount of intelligence can help you crack this exam if you are not putting in those hours of study consistently.
Myth 2: One needs to study for a minimum of eighteen hours to qualify the exam.
This is the most popular myth among aspirants and it keeps many bright students away. Plain truth is that it is not the quantity but the quality which matters. I have seen students who put in more than fifteen hours of study and students who could never manage beyond five hours daily. Both sets could qualify. The essential thing is not hours, but achievable and well planned targets. Considering the vast syllabus and the limited time, one has to remain on heels to achieve these targets. However, as long as you are on schedule, the number of hours should not matter. If at all I had to give a number, I would say that nine hours consistently over a period of eighteen months is more than enough for this exam.
Myth 3: Command over English is necessary in this exam.
Many students are hesitant to enter this stream only because they are not conversant enough in English language – written or spoken. Whereas good English skills might give some psychological confidence, nevertheless the design of civil service examination is such that a student can get good score in any medium he or she chooses.  The best proof is the fact that this year's topper had one optional subject as Malayalam literature. Besides, many other toppers I know wrote their papers in the language they were most comfortable with - and not English necessarily. It is the content and presentation which is most important rather than the style of writing. A simple and clear language can work wonders rather than a flowery and complex language. And same goes for the interview also.
Myth 4: It is necessary to take admission in coaching classes.
One of the most puzzling questions for any aspirant is the issue of coaching. I was myself a victim of this myth and so headed to Delhi for coaching classes. No doubt, the classes help the fresher, who otherwise has no clue about this examination. However what I understood during my coaching period was that it is guidance which is most important. The coaching classes provide that guidance which is not usually available, especially in a region like Kashmir. If you have access to a good guidance you may not need any other coaching class. Because this exam is more about self-study, introspection and analysis and less about classroom teaching. Besides, the best possible material is available in the market these days. What is required is the will to read it and keep revising it.
Myth 5: Prelims and mains exam requires a different strategy.
Quite a many aspirants have posed this question to me and have sought an answer. The pattern of this examination is not segmented. It is very much integrated. So, assuming that there is a need to separately study for prelims and mains is wrong. Both the prelims and mains require a strategy which helps complete targets in time. The only difference I found was that Prelims requires a lot of practice with objective tests, while Mains requires answer writing practice. Other than that they are both coupled together.
Myth 6: Some subjects like Urdu are more scoring than others.
I have found that many students have come to believe that a particular subject is better than others. This perception is more common about Urdu in Kashmir, with many students opting for it just because of this myth. The truth in fact is quite different. It is not the subject rather the candidate's depth and interest in the subject which scores well in the examination. Many students opt for an optional in which they cannot even write properly. By the time they get some hold of the subject, Mains has already arrived and they do not get time to master answer writing. Thus, they lose precious marks and fail to qualify. Just because one topper scored well in some optional does not mean you will too. My advice to all aspirants is to go through the syllabus of the selected subjects and choose an optional which genuinely interests you. Do not be a part of the herd behavior.
Myth 7: Change in pattern has made this exam tougher. 
UPSC has changed the pattern of this exam and most aspirants are feeling anxious about this change. While, their anxiousness is genuine considering the unpredictability factor, however, in my opinion this is a positive change. Firstly, the new pattern increases the level playing field. Secondly, the new pattern is advantageous to a student who understands basic concepts and does an in-depth analysis of the current issues. Given the increasing weightage to general studies, it is even more important to make notes and update them periodically.
As long as you are working hard, following the right strategy and correcting your mistakes, civil service examination is not as tough as it seems to be. Considering what you achieve, or should I say what is at stake (in terms of your time, career and life) it is very much worth it to work sincerely for a year or so and qualify the exam as soon as possible. And if you are in need of any guidance, you can contact any of the qualifiers, including me, who will be more than happy to help you further.

(Naveed Tramboo, after finishing his Bachelors of Engineering degree, qualified civil service examination in his first attempt with AIR 386. Feedback at Naveedtramboo@gmail.com) 

Lastupdate on : Tue, 28 May 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 28 May 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 29 May 2013 00:00:00 IST




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Seven Myths About Civil Service Examination

The exam is not as tough as it is made out to be

DEMYSTIFYING IAS

NAVEED TRAMBOO

Civil service examination is quite an arduous task as most would agree – not only because of the tough competition, but also because of the lengthy time process, which stretches to over a year. Clearly More



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