MYTHS AND FAQs
A) I am an average or below average student throughout my career. Can I crack civil services?
Dear aspirant, I must tell you that this exam of civil services is of academically average students, majorly, but with a common sence. One that has remained average in his/her pursuit throughout the career has good chances of clearing this exam. In fact, I was an average student throughout my school life and a little less than average in arts subject. Moreover, I ended up being a five pointer in my graduation. Thus, I feel that once a person who has performed average or even below average in his/her career till now, takes up with a determination that this tag of mediocrity should be undone, the chances of clearing the paper becomes tremendous.
B) Do the people from IITs, IIMs, SRCC, JNU, AIIMS, Maulana etc. have better chances in civil services?
In the recent times we see a lot of engineers and doctors clearing civil services, especially those who are from institutes of national importance with an international fame as well. But the question can be reframed as to why do above say people perform well. It is the pressure of keeping up to the expectations of the society that helps them perform well. One of my friends from IIT failed in preliminary in his second attempt. Thinking over the course of events he said candidly, “I am ashamed as it is not expected of an IITian to fail in preliminary.” What is this? It is the pressure of expectation from the immediate society that helps these people put in the last mile effort. But here is the catch. During the course of preparations one must forget that he/she has a legacy of successful graduation, otherwise I have seen stalwarts becoming complacent and ended up with nothing at their hands even after four attempts.
C) I am not from IIT, IIM, SRCC, AIIMS etc. Do I have a chance? How do I start?
Now if that external pressure is missing owing to your college not being ‘reputed enough’ and thus the people from that college or institute are expected to remain mediocre throughout their life, then the internal pressure of expectation has to be created. All those aspirants who are not from IITs, IIMs, AIIMS etc. must raise their own expectations. They must create their own internal pressure as the people around them do not expect them to go for targets that are considered big and neither do they want that!
Dear aspirant, think on these lines. Why would a person from a college – that which is not among the top league colleges - want one of his friends to even set up the goal of civil services? For the demotivating person surely knows two things; a) that he/she does not have the will to sit back and study patiently for one year and b)he/she may suffer inferiority if you crack civil services and that person is left behind in career. Thus, he/she will use all the soft skills to terrorize you of UPSC civil services preparations.
Thus, once you have made up your mind to sit for study, the best way to create an internal pressure is to make your position public. Do not shy away or try to hide the fact that you are studying for UPSC. This tendency I have seen in many people. They study for civil services but never admit. It reflects the insecurity of failure and makes you weak. This is not a trait of an administrator. You have to be firm on your decision, stick to it and even face consequences if they arise. Be firm and polite to whosoever ask you, “Yes. I am studying for civil services and I expect your cooperation to the desired end.” Try this. You will definitely find yourself stronger and a group of such people will automatically reinforce each other and those who are cynical about you will find some other victim!
D) What if all the attempts are exhausted and I don’t get through?
What would have been the fun in life if the future could be so deterministic? In every field we talk of chances and this study is not an exception to this rule. The risk of defeat in this game is real. But it can be and has to be minimized. Make yourself a little secure professionally. Taste partial success before the grand one. Fill in the forms of exams that are closely related to civil services such as common graduate level of SSC, Assistant Commandant, APFC etc. Be vigilant of the new openings that are being created by the government.
Selection in any exam will help you in two ways for civil services; a) there will always be a security in your sub conscious mind that I have something to fall back upon and b) it will help you in interview. (Read in detail in the chapter on preparation for interview)
When I was filling in the form of junior engineer recruited by SSC one of my college friends told me, “IITians are not supposed to do middle grade jobs. It is pathetic that you are doing this.” Never did he realize that I considered SSC and Engineering services both as a stepping stone to the final goal. The same holds true when graduates from SRCC or college of business studies or let us say, NLUs are found filling the forms of common graduate level examination conducted by SSC. The argument that a particular exam is not up to my standards does not hold any water in it. Fill in for all those exams where you fit into, clear it and be a little secure.
E) If I don’t get through CSE even then I will surely make into some state public service examination.
That is a myth. Do not fall prey to it. I would consider state public service examinations tougher than CSE simply for two reasons; a) the content and structure of course is quite different from that of CSE and there exists differences from state to state also and b) the age limit is generally five years higher than that of CSE, this makes the competition tough as more mature and experienced minds are writing exam.
The line of thought must be that the state PSC exams are not a cake walk for those who are through with their CSE course and thus, do not take solace in the above misconception and become complacent in studies. You have to study with an altogether different approach for state PSC.
F) I have more attempts as I am from reserved category. I will surely make it through in any one of these.
The most dangerous misconception. Can anyone quantitatively express what reduction in effort is allowable for a category student owing to his/her reservation as compared to the input of a general category student? If 6 hours of average daily study for one year is sufficient for a general category student to clear civil services, then 5 hrs may be sufficient for an OBC candidate, 4 hours for an SC candidate and 3 hours for one who is an ST. It may be a laughable proposition for many if we try to quantize the efforts in number of hours of study for different category students.
One of my dearest friends belongs to a reserved category. He resigned from a prestigious private sector company in 2008 to study for civil services. In 2009 I met him before the preliminary of CSE and he said, “Don’t you worry. I shall be an IPS one day. My attempts are many and I know I will get through any one of these.” It is 2014 now and that golden attempt is yet to arrive!
Every candidate, irrespective of category, should study the maximum that is possible and write the exam to the best of his/her efforts. Has anyone from the category thought that we should write one question less in the exam because we have a category? Then why do we seek solace in the number of attempts? Dear aspirants from reserved section, you must not take refuge in the thought that you possess more number of attempts than that of the general candidates. An aspirant should always consider the upcoming attempt as his/her last attempt!
G) I am from Hindi medium and very much disappointed to see the result of CSE 2013 as far as Hindi students are concerned. What should I do?
The disappointment and concern for Hindi students is shared by me as by many among us. And thus, the peaceful protest in Delhi has found voice among many circles of the government also. The root cause of their problem CSAT. After speaking to some Hindi aspirants who took exams in 2012 and 2013 and taking into view the experiences of faculties who teach in Hindi I came to the following proposition;
The contention of the Hindi medium aspirants is that the verbatim translation of comprehensions in English to Hindi leads to distortions in the meaning of paragraphs if read in Hindi and thereby in the questions of the comprehension. Further, it is written that in case of any discrepancy the meaning of comprehension in English will be upheld. Thus, the Hindi students reading the ‘distorted versions’ of the comprehensions have to refer back and forth to both the versions of the same passage so as to draw up concrete inference. This not only decreases the accuracy of their answers but also consumes their precious time. And hence the dismal results of Hindi students in the first stage only.
The solution to this problem can be that the Hindi medium student may give the CSAT exam while reading the comprehensions in English language. The mains examination would be given in the selected medium. If the Hindi aspirant may feel that his/her English is not up to mark then you can refer to the section that deals with the preparation of preliminary exam. The controversy has been further elaborated there in.
H) I have brain-stormed very hard but yet not discovered my reason of taking to study for civil services. Should I start my preparation without knowing the exact cause?
As we have discussed that transformation of personal reasons into broader social goals of civil services is an evolutionary process, the same is for the profound introspection of the reasons. So it is no wonder that when you purchase your books at the stall you may not know why you are going for it. You may enroll in some coaching by paying a hefty amount and still not be aware of convincing reason for doing so. You may have invested in a good accommodation in Delhi and yet not sure whether it would produce fruitful results or not. These doubts and confusions will melt slowly and by that time remain patient but constantly pose questions to your mind for taking all these pains. It may take you even a full month into the preparation to realize what may be your actual agenda of preparation. Thus, do not pause your preparation even if you are yet to decipher the cause.
I) My friends have joined the coaching right from the time they entered into the first year of their college. Will it create an early start advantage for these aspirants when they appear for CSE after the graduation?
Not necessarily. In fact, if the candidates are not serious enough it would further diminish their chances of selection. Because the non-serious ones would have imbibed perverted and wrong concepts in the coaching and it would be difficult for them to unlearn it when they begin their serious preparations. This scenario is analogous to early-head start given to IIT JEE aspirants by training students from class 8th. Does it increase their chances of selection? I don’t think so. Further, the study environment of the coaching institute which takes massive admission of college going students becomes more or less like a college-classroom, majority numbers of which are the non-serious non-compliant ones. Quality learning in such environment become difficult for a serious aspirant. Thus, I would recommend that for a serious aspirant undergoing graduation the best would be to concentrate on the area of his/her majors and side-by-side develop hobbies and interests as well as read classic novels of various genres.
J) If it is not intelligence then what it takes to be successful at CSE?
Being intelligent is advantageous but certainly not the sole prerequisite to crack CSE. When I refer to intelligence I mean two things ‘academic intelligence’ – that is, you must have a history of constant good grades whether in school or college and the second I refer to the high IQ scores in various standard IQ tests. Both being helpful but not sufficient conditions to crack CSE. Then what else is required? A reasonable man would put every good virtue in this domain – hard work, perseverance, concentration, focus, communication skills, memory, time management etc etc. Haven’t we heard it several times and that too not from a single person or not limited to a single exam? All these attributes are necessary, some are more essential than the others, but without a smart strategy all such efforts will be futile. This is the single-most goal of this book – to make you arrive at your own smart strategy for CSE by optimizing the usage of the limited energies which a man has at a given period of time. (See the energy – optimization principle in the chapter 11)