Millions appear for the Civil Services examination of the Union Public Services Commission every year. Aspirants begin preparation as school kids. Their parents are even more enthusiastic and anxious. That is the brand power of the IAS.
There are more candidates who fear appearing for the Civil Services examination of the UPSC than the ones who actually appear. The reason has more to do with mythology and scare than reality. Let's pick five of the biggest myths and see the true content of each one of them. Are they half-baked or exaggerated or deliberately circulated to generate a sense of awe among the aspirants? It is the need of the hour to critically examine the folklore so that the aspirant is unburdened and their preparation gains true momentum.
Top 5 Misconceptions Centring Around UPSC IAS Exam
The top 5 myths that a genuine eager-beaver needs to dispel before the UPSC IAS exam are as follows:
Myth #1: It is the hardest and mother of all exams.
People are given to understand that the civil service exam syllabus has no limitations and is the most difficult to tackle. It tests at the objective, subjective, and personality levels. A vast syllabus cutting across natural and social sciences which includes the current developments is unheard of for any other examination in the country. Not even the IITs. Take, for example, quantum computing; the aspirant needs to know the concept and the Government initiatives. Take nuclear fusion; the latest breakthrough in the US needs to be understood along with the conventional concept. But it is interesting. There is a lot of literature on it. Indian newspapers are second to none and the clarity with which these developments come across in the media is exciting. So toughness converts to excitement and challenge.
Myth #2: Aspirants need to know everything but the kitchen sink.
Undeniably, the UPSC IAS exam syllabus is vast as indicated above, but that does not mean you have to be a walking encyclopedia to crack the exam. There is a method in the madness. There are thresholds - both in the range and the depth. NCERT books are the base and newspapers are the superstructure. Post-graduation books are toxic for the examination. For any topic to figure on the radar, it should be resoundingly important that any good graduate student knows about it. The key point is that the UPSC is a generalist exam, necessitating a broad conceptual mastery of all areas and topics listed in the syllabus. Threshold and range are everything.
Myth #3: It is a game of luck!
As in life, so in the UPSC. Luck is everywhere. Even after one puts in all that she/he is capable of, there is a chance for luck. Seeing so many aspirants, one has to admit that luck separates two equally brilliant aspirants. But, bad luck does not last. Aspirants do get to their mark of ability and sweat. So how to beat luck or to put it another way, how to invite luck? Luck can be deserved by working hard on a strategy based on previous papers with conceptual clarity and ambition. Ambition in terms of learning a little more clearly and a little more in terms of detail, to be ahead of the competition.
No one ever has been denied entry into civil services purely by luck. Work smart and hard so that you are ready for luck.
Myth #4: You should have a strong command of the English language.
Far from true. UPSC like any other credible and authentic body rewards clarity, simplicity, and effectiveness. It is possible with functional English. Who does not speak basic English in India among the ambitious? English is as much an Indian language today as anybody else's. The preliminary exam may not need so much English as one needs to tick the right code in the multiple-choice questions. In CSAT, however, there is a need for some English. The main exam to requires nice presentation skills. Interviews are available in vernaculars even if one chooses English for the Mains examination and vice versa. Simply put, the medium of instruction is only a vehicle for communicating your ideas and not a main factor in the success of your examination. Rest assured, English is the last and least of the hurdles.
Myth #5: You need to study for extensively long hours to pass the exam.
The number of hours that one should study has been another item of shock and awe. Most say 12-18 hours a day and Sunday hardly enter the dictionary. It could be one of those carefully orchestrated myths once again. How many hours one studies is purely a personal choice. However, 6-8 hours is the bottom line. The excitement about becoming a civil servant and the nature of knowledge one needs to acquire; along with lucid study, material propels the student to study limitlessly. But that is another matter: Purely a personal affair with prep. The need is a regular 8-hour regime, with Sunday excluded for renewal. Many people pass the examination even if they are working full-time. It is a matter of efficiency that comes about with a sense of confidence and urgency.
To conclude, try to ignore all the myths, go for your goal with a positive attitude, and have a proper stage-wise preparation plan to clear the exam and get your dream job.