How To Start Preparing for Civil Services?

To start the Civil Services Exam preparation, it is not a must to attend any coaching institutes. But good coaching – either online or offline – can be of great help to the candidates for proper guidance and knowledge.

Self-Study (Online Coaching and Books): Pros and Cons -

Self-study can be done at the comfort of one’s own home at less than 1/10th of the amount charged by many coaching institutes. There are no time/space constraints. This type of approach is suitable for working professionals and all others who feel that classroom coaching is unnecessary.

However, while doing self-preparation, if not following a systematic approach by referring right IAS booksprelims mock exams, magazines and websites, one will lose focus.

Follow a good strategy.
Learn what UPSC toppers did.
Adopt a test-based approach to learn faster. Take periodic mock tests to evaluate your performance.

IAS Classroom Coaching: Pros and Cons -

Classroom coaching is a good idea provided you are lucky enough to get a good teacher or a mentor, you can learn a lot from them – directly. But, If not, it may be a time killer!

If classroom IAS coaching is focused, according to the latest requirements of  UPSC, this approach can quickly place aspirants on the right path. Besides, there will be the advantage of peer learning and competition, mock tests, analysis, etc.
However, classroom coaching for UPSC is very expensive. Many institutes have turned money-making factories.
Time/space constraints, unavailability of coaching outside metros like Delhi, outdated study materials, misguidance, etc. are other problems.

Mistakes to be avoided:
1. Having inferiority complex that you are not from a good college, have lesser grades or started preparation late or did not take the coaching or your optional subject is not related to your graduation. It dilutes your confidence which is very important for cracking any exam not only UPSC.
Forget about what you have achieved till now. The only thing that matters is how determined you are to crack this exam. You can easily find students from a government school at LBSNAA while those from India’s most prestigious universities may end up in Rajender Nagar or Mukherjee Nagar for years.
2. Inconsistency in preparation. 
Consistency is very important, some aspirants study 15 hours on one day and get frustrated, a human being is not a machine, so do not get frustrated after 2-3 spikes. Daily 8-10 hour study with efficiency in the right direction is enough.
3. Relying too much on the internet may result in wasting your precious time. 
Internet is for gaining the edge not losing the edge, it is a double-edged sword, even we do not realize when we reach from big picture to big boss. That is a different thing that some guys have the habit of studying online otherwise books cannot be replaced by any source.
4. Spending too much time on Facebook and other Timepass websites. 
UPSC preparation does not demand isolation but even after starting preparation addiction to Facebook is very dangerous, Similarly IAS forums are very important especially for those who far away from Delhi coaching adds but aspirant get addict to it, anonymity provides them platform to elicit all the frustration they have related to UPSC preparation and UPSC related life. Use these sources prudently.
5. Reading from too many sources for a single topic. 
No need to love any topic and show loyalty towards that whole syllabus and all the topics have their own importance according to marks. We are here to crack the exam, so there is a need to cover the full syllabus comprehensively.
6. Reading form too many sources and not compiling them. 
If you are reading from too many sources, you need to compile the notes form all the sources, like you are studying many books for history like Bipin Chandra, spectrum, Grover. Can we revise from all these books in exam time? Probably no, so compile them.
7. Not making proper notes of newspapers. 
Newspaper reading is an utmost important activity, newspaper cover paper 2 and paper 3 completely and these days current affairs question in prelim also, so better make your own notes online or cut article and arrange them separately.
8. Purchasing too many books for a single subject. Believe us, it does more harm than good
9. Joining too many coaching institutes. 
Coaching cannot help you to crack this exam after an extent.
10. Not doing answer practice. 
No book or coaching institutes can give you ready-made answers of UPSC questions. They are dynamic and analytical. So the more you practice such questions, the more comfortable you will be in writing the answer on the d-day.
11. Not having Plan B while preparing for the IAS exam. 
Why not prepare plan B, what if not UPSC? It helps us to throw down the pressure.
Be practical. Every year lakhs appear for the exam but only a few are selected, didn’t mean others were not hardworking enough. But there is a multitude of factors that facilitate your success and you can’t control all. So work hard for Plan A but do have Plan B.
12. Wasting too much time on making notes. 
Notes making is very important because, without notes or compiling the material, we will face a lot of difficulties near exam time, But we have to make notes discretely like Laxmikant of polity does not need notes, it just needs the highlighting of few points with marker, some aspirants tend to make notes of that book too line by line and waste a lot of time.
13. Isolating yourself from the external world. 
This kind of people have more tendency to go in depression, do not isolate yourself, its just exam, have some important people in your life with whom you share everything.
14. Became ascetic. 
Some people immerse so much into the study that they start eating less and start taking bath once in three days to save time (and disturbing others studies with their smell), UPSC never asks you stop taking baths, keep your surroundings neat and clean, it gives up positive vibes.(Ha Ha Ha)
15. Not preparing according to the syllabus, you go directionless. 
How can we reach the destination without having a map in hand, so always have the syllabus, we have to read every topic according to syllabus, so that we can utilize our time.
16. Doing a PhD on any topic. 
Strong command on only a few topics will not help to crack UPSC exam, it takes time of other topic and also cost-benefit of this is very poor, right to equality for other topic, that is different thing that everyone has their strategy like making some topic strong and just go through other topics but doing PhD is altogether different which will not help you.
17. Not  enough emphasis on essay 
First, we ignore essay completely and later repent citing its worth in mains exam, essay preparation cannot be isolated while reading newspapers observe the writhing style of famous writer and note down good points and lines.
18. Counting hours while studying literally people count the hour for which they have studied, having almost nil efficiency.
19. Daydreaming what will you do after becoming IAS. 
20. Becoming complacent after the first attempt. 
People lose enthusiasm after 1st attempt and start thinking now there is there a lot of time and they never pick the momentum again and start convincing themselves that there is huge role luck and there are a lot of toppers who also cracked in later attempts.
21. Just reading but not thinking. 
22. Spending time on the study but not studying. 
23. Watching too many videos, just to convince yourself that I am studying but to find later that those videos are of no use. 
24. Focus too much on prelim initially later to find that do not have any preparation for the mains. 
We have to win the war not battles, yes this battle is essential in winning the war but until your name does not come in the final list, it does not matter how many battles you win.
25. studying while watching the videos on YouTube and TV. 
26. Purchase and start studying after observing what others are studying. 
27. Not making micro notes. 
Make micro notes for revision, it is very necessary, UPSC preparation is like horse latitudes so throw your horses(means extra things or fodder material, not important for the exam) to take your ship further.
28. Studying linearly without frequent self-assessment, you may diverge from UPSC demand and proceed in the wrong direction, so always keep previous papers and if possible join any topic series to know at times where you lack. Test yourself before UPSC tests you.
29. Reading every book madly from the first page to the last page. 
Always try to go syllabus wise, do not waste time in unnecessary reading like some people suggest India after Gandhi, certainly that is good book provided you have sufficient time, but that book is not like Laxmi Kant for the polity.
30. Preparing for prelim and mains separately. 
It is the most common mistake of aspirants in the first attempt, they read for prelim all the time and after taking prelim only realize that mains is different ball game so always integrate it together. Prelim is more about facts mains is more about the analysis part.
31. Planning all the time but not executing it. 
I will read this, this is my schedule, will cover everything till last of the month, these things are pretty common, first make realistic plans and after that do not go by famous red-tapism even before joining the service, actions speak louder than words.
32. Discussing all the time with your friends that this exam is too much based on luck 
Luck matters in this exam, there is no doubt about that but we can minimize luck factor by our factors, we do not study but accuse the luck of failure, so be hardworking and consistent, One day luck will also have a date with you.
33. Getting tensed and frustrated after listening to the roadside discussion. 
34. Reading too much but not focusing on revision. 
35. Not underlining or making notes while reading. 
Books are like 
gold mines, we have to extract gold out of it, So it is important to extract the good points, not underlining is like seeing where the gold is present in the mine and not extracting, Do you think you will be able to remember when you will read the book again next time.
36. Focusing too much on dynamic topics. 
Some topics always remain myth for aspirants like sci and tech, there is no good material available in the market, also the syllabus of sci and tech is a bottomless and borderless sea. of course, we cannot afford to leave any topic in the syllabus but aspirants should also cover traditional parts like polity, history, geography before remaining tensed over the coverage of sci and tech. Because they tend to waste a lot of time on the net searching for the topics. So first cover the traditional subjects, if we have studied them properly, all our questions may be correct, but one cannot say about sci and tech.
37. Reading something and start asking friends. 
Whom we are showing our knowledge to friends, sooner or later friend will be aware how knowledge you are, you have to crack Exam and knowledge here does not matter, it gives false satisfaction for one of two hours, So focus on clearing the exam.
38. Reading everything in newspapers. 
Some aspirants read everything in the newspapers except what is needed for the exam point of view. Newspaper is the most important weapon of the preparation, have to use it prudently, if one user uses the newspaper to best extent, it saves efforts and time in mains and nowadays in prelim also, as they have started to focus on current affairs.

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