Clearing civil service exam is about staying consistent
By: Vijay Garg
The mantra for cracking the UPSC Civil Services Exam (CSE), one of India’s most competitive and prestigious examinations, is synonymous with consistent efforts, dedication and utmost focus.
Many UPSC toppers have reiterated that the success behind cracking the exam is not just intelligence and hard work. It is essential for the candidates to also maintain focus and consistency for long periods, often years.
It may be easy for candidates to stay consistent for a week, a month, or even three months. If your target is the UPSC 2024 examination, you need to maintain that level of consistency for one and a half years. And to help you with tips, we have compiled 7 points to keep in mind while charting your preparation strategy.
- Setting goals with timelines
The first step in this process is to set your goal and establish the timelines. For example, a 6-month-period is probably too short for a beginner to successfully crack the UPSC. Instead, the candidate should focus on pushing his or her timeline to the next year. Juggling additional tasks together can be overburdening and act counterproductive to staying consistent. Instead, candidates should prioritize tasks and focus on finishing one before moving to another.
- Benefits of a broad strategy
Note that making a timetable and strategy is something that requires expertise and skill. Know that your specific strategy or timetable will work for you as some past ranker’s strategies worked for them. Your strategy must incorporate all the factors and variables that have an impact on your preparation. This includes the time needed on a daily/weekly basis for preparation, learning style, and financial factors like coaching fees, rent, etc. One also must break down the more than year-long study preparation into small, measurable, and manageable chunks. Do not feel shy to ask for help when it is needed. In case, if you don’t have anyone to help you with it, get a UPSC mentor’s guidance and expertise.
- Evaluate your learning
Preparing for the UPSC CSE exams needs long dedicated hours of studying and reading. UPSC preparation is not just about reading alone. You must analyse, retain, and learn how to utilize whatever you are reading, something which is similar to answer writing. Remember that you can improve only what you can measure. So, monitoring your progress and evaluating whatever you have covered through tests becomes essential. Prelims mock, Mains answer writing and discussion with mentors and peers must be incorporated from the first week of your preparation.
- Create a feedback-improvement loop
You need to be accountable not only to yourself but to that person or system for the completion of a specific task. UPSC mentors, in many institutes, establish such a system through which your planning, target setting, monitoring, evaluation, and feedback-improvement loop is systematized into one. They will use their priceless experience to help you not divert from your goals. Thus, you should outsource accountability to other people and ace your preparation.
- Focus on daily improvement
UPSC success is all about small measurable gains over a period of time. Remember, consistency always beats intensity. Setting new goals is easy. However, displaying consistent improvement is a daily grind. So, plan and select your suitable life-saving hacks to stay consistent with your daily routines and targets.
- Avoid prolonged Isolation
You will get exhausted, and feel burnt out in just a matter of a few weeks. Do not wait to recharge your battery when you are fully drained out. Incorporate breaks in your UPSC timetable with exercise, extra-curricular activities, or any physical activity. Preparing with a group of highly motivated individuals while having a common goal will only take you forward and make you more focused on your goal. At the same time, you won’t even feel exhausted.
- Maintaining emotional stability
Another perspective towards UPSC success is staying emotionally fit during this 1.5 year long journey. The biggest hurdle in achieving your highest level of consistency is the emotional bit of it. Every now and then, there is a tendency to surround yourself with negative thoughts like fear or depression. Instead of resolving negative thoughts and emotional issues like fear or depression, many avoid these. However, you have to understand that ignoring emotional troubles will only worsen the problems. It is time to rely on your UPSC mentors, teachers, friends, and family. Talk to them and spend some quality time with them.
(The author is a Retired Principal and an Educational Columnist)