How important is coaching role in cracking civil services is something yet to be demystified. But as the aspirant decides to prepare for the exam, many are clueless about this exam’s demand. Many have no idea of how to go about the IAS Exam preparation. Not all are lucky to get guidance from their relatives, seniors, and friends.
Many are aspiring to be first generation, civil servants. Also, not all can afford to go to Delhi to attend coaching classes. So it’s understandable to raise the question of the relevance of civil services in the context of IAS Exam preparation.
I have always felt that coaching centers are like the lighthouses of the seashore. It guides the sailors to embark on their journey or to finish it off. It’s the traveler who must traverse the journey. The whole onus of making it a memorable one lies upon the traveler.
The lighthouse only shows the way. Similarly, the civil services exam is a tough journey which requires right guidance to embark on the right path. Unless the beginning is made right, reaching destination would not be easy. So a lot depends on how the aspirant started his IAS Exam preparation.
Experts say, “Direction of preparation in this IAS exam matters on equal terms with quantity and quality of preparation, if not more or less”. I believe that it’s important to have that guidance so that we avoid the mistakes commonly made by aspirants. Because if we start learning only from our mistakes, then life would be too short to do greater things.
Hence I believe that coaching has a role to play in civil services preparation. Though I don’t claim that exam can’t be cleared without the IAS coaching. Both options are there, but you must see what suits your interest as per your strengths and weaknesses.
What follows below is to highlight the relevance of coaching centers in simplifying the UPSC Exam preparation.
A Structured and Patterned Preparation
We all want to do things in life in a structured manner. Because we understand the results of doing things in a systematic way than being hap hazardous with our approach. Civil services preparation is no exception. It requires the systematic planning to begin the preparation, cover the syllabus, prepare revision strategy, answer writing practice and thus to address all components of the exam preparation.
Without planning, our preparation would lack the killer instinct and thus preparation may fall flat anytime. That does not help the aspirant at all. So it becomes extremely important to have a well thought out strategy with the vision to approach the preparation. And not all beginners have the capability to do that at the beginning of the preparation.
One understands it as goes deep into preparation. Here coaching can make the task simpler. They have the experts who have gone through the rigor the exam before and based on their experience can prepare a timed strategy for preparation. They can also help the aspirants prepare their individual preparation strategy which suits their study timing. essential point is that preparation needs a planned approach which is systematic & well designed and coaching institutes are too good at its execution.
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Knowing what to study makes a big difference
One of the biggest puzzles faced by the aspirants in this exam has been the problem of plenty. There are so much of study materials, books, notes in the market that one is often lost in the sea of materials. It’s not that easy to find out the best sources to refer to on our own. And by the time we resolve this issue, a lot of time is lost only prolonging the preparation. This is one aspect which IAS coaching institute are quite good at.
They start the IAS preparation and continue based on what is relevant for this exam. Coaching will not teach you more than what is required. They may not also cover the entire subtopics within a topic due to a paucity of time. But they do provide you the IAS Exam study materials and the direction of what all to read. It’s important to know what to read and what not to read. And the experts at institutes would help you sort out this big problem.
The Competitive Spirit
It was the first time I felt the spirit of IAS exam competitiveness was at the coaching. Because here you will find aspirants from multiple backgrounds giving a fight at the exam. That is one of the most peculiar thing about this exam. That brings too much of diversity into the competition which expects the aspirants to be at his best to crack this exam. unbelievably, but the spirit of competition resonates in the air of the coaching. That would always propel you to do better than others.
Coaching is beneficial in the sense that it awakens the fighting spirit within you which is imperative to face the IAS exam with zeal and never say die attitude.
Once you develop that spirit of competition you will not just prepare to compete with others but your biggest competitor would be none other than you. Frankly speaking, you must compete with yourself every day. You must strive to improve by each day being the better person than yesterday. The more you compete with yourself, the better you try to become. This is a most important aspect in this journey.
Because ultimately, what matters is not how others have performed but how well you could. That would only decide your fate, so awaken that competitive spirit which pushes you to come out of your comfort zone each day and inspires you to enhance efficiency and effectiveness of the preparation. If you learn to compete with your yesterday to make today better, you will truly be a successful person irrespective of the result in this exam.
Dedication and Motivation for Success
As the journey of civil services is a rigorous one it expects the aspirants to be self-motivated all the time. And it is not possible to be so all the time. Times will come when you may feel like it’s too difficult an exam too clear. All sort of negative thoughts starts creeping into our mind which do not help aspirant at all. This is something all aspirants must go through during the preparation phase.
Everyone must find out the way to cope up with these difficult situations. But one thing is clear, you will never fall short of motivation if having joined any coaching. Because every day you meet many of your competitors which keep reminding you of the purpose of this journey. That inspires you from within that all these efforts are worth it as you see your competitors putting serious efforts. As a civil service aspirant, every day you must push yourself beyond your limits.
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You must keep motivating yourself because no one else can do it for you for a long time. The motivation must come from within because you must get the kick from within to do it because it matters. External motivation may perceive to be influential and moving but it does not last long and fades away soon. But once you generate that source of inner motivation which awakens your soul and moves your body every day to strive hard then nothing better than that. only that would keep you going through the tough phases of life.
And the very ecosystem of any coaching institute is enabling in the sense that it develops your cognitive skills. It also intensifies the desire within you to crack this exam with flying colours because you find greater goals of life getting fulfilled from the platform provided by civil services. occasionally you keep getting the pep talk from the experts at coaching institute which will keep the fire within you burning by providing much needed fuel through motivation.
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It’s important to recharge our batteries to feel rejuvenated in life and you will realize that coaching does play that role for a better performance from the aspirants. At coaching, you will also get the opportunity to interact with civil services toppers who will answer your several doubts and inject an enormous amount of self-confidence. With closer interaction, you will feel that if they can do it then I can as well.
Having said that, I do not claim that coaching institutes are indispensable for the motivation required to clear civil services. There are n number of ways to be motivated and inspired in life. If you find none during your preparation and are quite inconsistent with your preparation, then coaching would be an enriching experience for you. Ultimately you must decide for yourself if you really need one.
Covering Syllabus in Time Bound Manner
If there is one common issue that every aspirant faces in civil services preparation is finishing the syllabus on time. By the time I mean that you must have prepared a study schedule for yourself though it may vary from person to person depending on time availability.
I started the preparation expecting to finish the syllabus within 1 year and as I had joined a coaching I could do it by end of 10 months. It’s important to finish the syllabus before the exam as it gives the much needed confidence to face the examination. Here I have seen that aspirants are not able to abide by the time in finishing UPSC syllabus because they are not aware of what and how much to read w.r.t every topic in the syllabus.
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Given the vastness of syllabus its quite tempting to keep preparing into the depth and thus delay the coverage of syllabus. It’s important to cover syllabus at length and breadth first before you go into the depth. Coaching institutes have proven record of accomplishment at finishing the syllabus in time.
I do not say that coaching will give you entire knowledge required to write any question related to a topic but they will let you know what else you must refer related to a topic.
Continued Guidance: The ‘X’ Factor for Preparation
Any journey needs the traveller to know about the path to his destination. Similarly, in civil services, the aspirant must know how to go about the preparation. Once having started the IAS Exam preparation, which IAS Preparation books to study, how to study, when to start writing IAS answers, how to prepare specifically for prelims, how to cover syllabus, how to prioritize study of different subjects etc. are some of the common questions faced by aspirants.
You may get these answers in a seminar or an address by any successful candidate but they are not enough to address the real issues you face in between the preparation.
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You need a source of continued guidance to help you resolve the issues that arise during the exam preparation. I accept that you may be lucky enough to have a civil servant in your family to help you sail through it but not all are so fortunate especially the first generation civil aspirants. Before I cleared the UPSC exam I had only a few interactions with successful candidates without having any source of continued guidance. In this context, coaching was like a boon to me because the experts there guided through each subject and topics well. It makes a difference to your preparation and saves your precious time thus shortening the duration of preparation.
Broadening the scope of Improvement
The civil services preparation requires improvement daily to sharpen your skills and enhance efficiency. The more you prepare in isolation it makes it a bit tedious to identify your own mistakes. We keep putting tremendous efforts considering it to be adding to our preparation. But it is important to get our preparation verified and certified by an expert who has gone through the rigour of the exam.
The evaluation would enable you to sharpen your writing skills which would decide your fate in the mains exam. Similarly, tests are conducted for prelims also and you get to understand your problem solving skills and related deficiency in objective papers. I understand that coaching is dispensable for your improvement if you have some other sources of guidance.
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The Edge called Psychological Advantage
I have found many aspirants raising the same question, “Sir, do I really need to join a coaching, Can’t I make it happen without that”? I can see the palpable dilemma on the face of the aspirant. They want to join and at the same time don’t want to join. I usually suggest them “If you don’t have any financial issues in life then go for the coaching” for two reasons.
First, they will not have that sense of regret in life that having joined the coaching could have brought better results. This keeps hurting you within if you missed by few marks here or there. Secondly, Coaching is not going to reduce your chances of selection at all, it will only enhance your probability.
Coaching may add many wings to your competitive spirit apart from the rightful guidance provided by it. That confidence matters which you get by finishing the syllabus in a structured and patterned way in time bound manner. Please take your time and take a wise and informed decision as you must be the driver of your journey.
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In hindsight, I can say that having joined the coaching was the turning point in my preparation journey at it made my life simpler afterwards. I had minimal awareness about the nitty gritty of this exam. So I decided to go for coaching and rest is a successful story. I do not compel you to join as I have no idea about your strengths and weaknesses. You must assess whether you really need the help of a coaching to see your dream come true.
You may or may not require one. The more systematic you are with it, the better you become at it. Just being a hardworking person is not enough. You must possess that discipline and bring consistency in your preparation to keep improving yourself. Coaching is only going to play the supporting role in your preparation, you must play the lead role. Result heavily depends upon you and your sincere efforts. Have a clear vision of your future and take action every day to move towards it.
Please remember, Success does not just come and find you, you must go out and get it.