What are the must do’s and don’t do’s for self-studying IAS aspirants? -Self study is the best and only way to clear this exam. However, there are many pitfalls that one must avoid during preparation.
- Proliferation of resources: We usually tend to accumulate magazines and articles at a speed far greater than what we can handle. As a result we get into a state of depression where we think that we are not on the right track as the mountains of books lying on our table give us sleepless nights. It is best to stick to limited resources and revise them multiple times.
- Lack of writing practice: We usually tend to think that we will start writing practice when we are done with the reading stuff. Truth is that day will never come. The scope of UPSC syllabus is so huge that one cannot possibly cover it ! So the best practice would be to do written practice of whatever you have studied. For example writing 1 or 2 answers daily from will really help.
- Inferiority Complex: If you are not attending coaching then it’s a human psychology to think that you are missing out something. While in case of IIT type exam it may be true but definitely not in UPSC. All coaching institutes dictate notes from the same standard materials. With the availability of excellent online resources (mrunal, insights, unacademy, quora) you will never find yourself short of correct guidance.
- Poor Revision: Unless and until we have a proper revision strategy our whole preparation is meaningless. We generally love reading (because it is easier to do) and hate revising (because it’s tough) and we have our brain to blame for it as it is conditioned to stay in the comfort zone and moving out of it requires some good amount of will power. So pick up something to read only if you are sure that you will be able to revise the stuff at least 2-3 times before the exam.
- Crappy Study Material: We tend to think that coaching factory material must be goldmine but one should always keep in mind that almost everyone tends to write the same coaching material stuff in the paper. Public Administration is the best example of this where students tend to reproduce notes from Mohanty Sir, Vajiram etc in the exam hall and as a consequence they get rewarded with very poor marks. Unless your answer (essay, GS, optional, interview) has some novelty factor in it you will always get average marks. Therefore, please shun these crap resources and make it a habit to read from authentic sources. For example, I have often seen students reading gist of Economic Survey which is hilarious. Please read the whole Economic Survey even if it takes 3 times more time !
- Big Study Group:Please restrict your study circle to maximum of 2-3 friends as there is negative rate of return on having too large a study group. We usually tend to do more gossip and bakar rather than actual study.
- PhD: It is a general misconception that UPSC aspirants should know the in and out of everything. This is wrong. At max a question can be asked for 10 marks in mains or you would have to answer for 1 – 2 minutes during interview. Therefore, have a generalist approach towards study. If you have 5 +ve and 5 -ve points for a topic then that is enough. There is no need to engage into hairsplitting exercise on a particular topic and waste precious time on mining resources on internet.