There is no doubt in the fact that the exam needs hard work and a large dollop of luck. Historically, IAS is touted to be the toughest exam we have in the country and people put in their blood and sweat for the preparation. It is believed that candidates migrate to Delhi to prepare full-time, spending hours every day and a huge amount of money in terms of fees and other expenses. If you are going to compromise on your hard work by working full time elsewhere, it is going to be a tough task to make it. The question here is, do people make it? Obviously there is a major chunk, which is not able to crack it, but there are people who have managed both.
Challenges for a working professional
• The preparation for Civil Services is a strenuous one and lack of touch with studies and subject knowledge due to a full time work cannot be fruitful, thereby making the study very challenging.
• There exist constraints of time, resources, energy, focus, and responsibilities for the working professionals.
• There is always a location constraint for working professionals. Working full time can restrict you from the connectivity of guidance and books from your own office, so it becomes a little tedious to manage these things along with the office.
• Preparation of UPSC requires a certain dynamic environment in which your studies and effort can compete. A not so competitive environment as a whole limits the flexibility of your studies.
Plan your time wisely
UPSC has a vast syllabus, but may be not!
• UPSC is an exam for everyone out there, irrespective of the field you come from, whether it is humanities, medical, engineering, business. It does not target a specific field of students. An engineering student can score more in technology and maths, while a medical student will score more in Biology. So, know your focus points, and work on them. But since this is a generalist exam, one is supposed to be generally well read, with a balanced outlook towards issues.
• It is a myth to be bust that IAS officers/aspirants should know everything about every topic/subject under the sun. The exam does not require one to be an expert in a topic; rather, aspirants should have general awareness and analytical skills.
• The Cutoff is NOT 100% it is 60% for UPSC, hence, the target can never be 100% to crack the exam.One can clear cutoff by knowing everything about 50%, current affairs for the rest 50%.
Consistency is scored over long hours
Let’s face it. No one can study for 10 hours per day for an extended period if you are working. To complete the entire syllabus you need 3 hours of daily study. Knowing you have 300 days for exam, that is 900 hours and it is enough for you to go through. When an unavoidable occasion comes up, and the study is interrupted, you can always cover it up over the weekend. Most people are not able to follow this discipline every day. Make sure that you maintain the consistency.
Study planning over book cramming
It is always better to understand a single book in great depth rather than reading multiple books to understand a topic. Also, even though you have read and understood something, it takes time to get internalized as you are going to study many new topics. There are no officially prescribed books by UPSC; just topics mentioned. Choose a source that gives you basic in depth descriptors. Break down the syllabus in keywords and try to cover them from relevant sources and books only.
Understanding over Fact finding
• In last 5 years UPSC has shifted towards understanding rather than knowledge of facts and dates.
• To attempt more number of questions correctly, one needs to have a certain level of “intuition”. And that level of intuition comes from years of reading and internalizing information which helps in creating links between topics
• Your questions will be based on your ability to interpret current events and link it to concepts of economics, polity, culture, history. This means focus is on analysis of what you read rather than memorizing it.
• In conclusion, while choosing a preparatory material always go for in-depth analysis rather than vast coverage
Chose a Study mode that offers suits your requirement
• Go for an online course which offers excellent video lectures by a qualified faculty. Make sure you see samples and affirm that emphasis is on analysis rather than covering a lot of content in one go.
• It is very essential to keep yourself updated with the latest buzz around. In today’s world of digital learning, it has become a little easier to keep yourself updated with the day to day news.Make sure your course gives you current affairs material.
• Make sure your online course offers your mentoring and doubt solving and discussion support at all times, which is available 24/7 and allows you to discuss online with your mentors and access on.
Preparing for IAS while working is seemingly hard but the journey is very much possible once you decide to undertake it. Do so today.