“Now add the coffee pouch in the boiling water and wait for 2 minutes. Tadaaa! Your coffee is ready”.
“First add the coffee pouch in the lukewarm water and let the two boil together. Thereafter, add sugar in the solution and your coffee is ready”.
“First add the coffee in milk and cream and shrivel it for some time. Adding the blended coffee in water enhances the flavor of the coffee”.
Rihana was learning to prepare an ideal coffee and as a consequence she followed three youtube channels but the three suggested different strategies to prepare the same coffee. Rihana ended up being more confused than ever.
So, as there is nothing “ideal/best” in preparing a cup of coffee, so is the case with UPSC. There is no “ideal” strategy to prepare for UPSC. As is said, every lock has different key, so does every aspirant has- different strategy. The only object that remains same is becoming the part of the coveted services or the bureaucracy be it the IAS, IPS, IRS, Railways.
And remember it is the services that choose YOU and not YOU who choose the services. So, always the focus should be on learning in your journey of UPSC preparation as in the end whichever services you enter you should be able to ACHIEVE, ADAPT and Sustain.
Still, because I have been allocated this job of guiding you, I am sharing a broad yet simple perspective to prepare for UPSC but don’t forget to add your own flavors, hard work and an approach based on your life experiences so as to make your preparation realistic and suitable to your background and needs.
The “ideal” is only an “idea” limited to the utopian world. Welcome to the real-world folks!
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To begin with, there are two stages in the preparation. These two stages cover the period from “Before Preparation” to “During the Preparation”.
So, let’s first focus on the “before preparation strategy”.
- Go through syllabus and pattern of exam
It is important to go through the syllabus and past year papers in order to understand the pattern of the exam and figure out your own interest and capability.
- Understand the hierarchy and functioning of the IAS and other allied services to be able to understand the How and Why of writing the UPSC exam.
- Explore the market and look out for resources available and that can be made available so that you can make a wise decision of choosing the books and start your preparation accordingly.
- Understand the syllabus of the optional papers of your interest and then make the decision to choose the right optional for yourself.
- Relax and introspect
If you are working make sure that you have the time available to start with your preparation and figure out if you can study along with your job. Make this decision keeping in mind your family and financial requirements. If you are non-working, just put few questions to yourself as to why do you wish to prepare for UPSC.
Is it because of the family pressure or the pomp and show this exam carries behind it or is it the genuine desire to serve the country?. Because once you become a bureaucrat you don’t become the boss but a public servant and if you are willing to offer those services, the nation is calling you..:-)
- Also, keep in mind the fact that you become eligible to write the exam once you turn 21 and are done with your graduation be it from the distance learning mode or regular and this eligibility lasts till you turn 32 (general category) with a total of 6 attempts. Accordingly, plan out your preparation strategy.
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Now once you have made the decision to embark on this journey of knowledge, keep the following pointers in mind during your preparation:
- Start with the basics i.e. the NCERTS are the bible for this exam as it requires you to study the history, geography, polity etc. from an analytical point of view. As I said, it is a journey, so start reading and understanding the subjects as if you are living them. Visualize what you read and go slow in your preparation because you don’t have to maximize the information that you take in but absorb it.
- Read the newspaper regularly because no monthly magazine can build the empire of knowledge just months before the exam. It is a slow and gradual process and the newspaper will help you in connecting the dots of the news that you read.
You can substantiate your preparation with the help of Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha videos or debates and discussions and magazines like Yojana and Kurukshetra will aid your preparation.
- Give yourself time to revise what you read on weekly basis and it is advisable to practice your preparation with the help of mock tests and MCQs.
- It would not pain to practice writing and making notes with your preparation. So, make sure that you prepare the flashcards or basic notes in order to make the revision easier. Writing answers become important because it again is a practice that gets better with time and help you understand the topic thoroughly and the mains after all is all about 9 subjective papers.
- The next in the procedure is to add liveliness to your reading experience which can be done by visiting the places of historical importance or if you are travelling, then “why read geography when you can feel it! Further, it is important to be inquisitive as the more you explore the more you learn and retain.
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Don’t forget to live your life in a bid to prepare for this exam. Yes, it is advised to minimize your distractions like Facebook or electronic gadgets or hangouts with your friends but it is better to RESTRAINT your activities than REMOVE them in totality from the list.
- Also, it is important that you interact with friends, family and intellectual people because the exam offers an integrated and holistic approach as in Prelims it tests your knowledge, in Mains your observation and analytical skills and in Interview you are judged as a human being. So, the day you decide to appear for this exam, the preparation for all the three stages begins.
Therefore, it is important to cultivate some good habits and few hobbies which can aid in de-stressing you and help you hone your personality as an individual. Because in the end this journey is about your evolution as an individual and not losing what you already have.
- And finally repeat the above steps as an anonymous guru says “REPEAT, REPEAT AND REAP”.
I hope I have made myself loud and clear in this article. So, what are you waiting for folks? Devise your strategy and jump into the pool of knowledge. Wish to drown or swim- choice is yours!