We have received few mails from aspirants on strategy, preparation and general doubts and through this article, we are trying to answer them and hope to clear your doubts.
Question-Sir, I have been reading almost all strategies but at the end could not figure out what to do exactly or how to tune them and adopt them for my preparation ?
Answer- There is no harm in reading strategies. You can read it for varied reasons, for inspiration, to get ideas or to find out short-cuts (although there is none) . Nevertheless, almost all strategies have a common ground and beyond the convergence the strategies are individualistic in nature.
The Common Ground :-
All the successful candidates were consistent.
All of them wrote tests diligently.
All of them knew their strength and worked on their weaknesses.
The books and reference materials are almost same for all. (For GS papers)
The marks for all toppers for the fours GS papers are more or less the same.
All of them secured different marks in interview owing to their personality and profile ( That makes a difference in Ranks)
The optional is varied and hence it can help you secure a rank or put you out of the list, depending upon what UPSC is targeting for the given year.(Some years are good for some optional and some years are bad)
The third one is essay, invariably every topper has to a get an above average mark in this paper
What You should do:-
Before we delve in to answering what you should do, allow us to recite the story of Buddha to you:-
Many of us think that Buddha was a Social Reformer. This is one of the greatest misconception in understanding Buddha. He never wanted to reform the society and even if he did he did it “marginally”. On the contrary, Buddha gave emphasis on Individual Reform. So his many thrust was to reform the individual and not the society as whole.
Before attaining Nirvana, Buddha wandered from place to place, sought help of many saints and seers, but in the end, he understood that Nirvana can not be sought or understood, it only can be attained. And if one has to attain Nirvana, one has to do it on his own. You carry your virtues and vices. No one else can carry them for you and no one else ever will.
Thus he gave the gospel of truth – “Atto Deepo Bhava” – “Be Your Own Light”
So the learning from life of Buddha applies to civil service exam as well. The exam tests every aspect of your personality – Physical, Psychological etc. All of you know that. And when you started preparing , you also knew that this is going to be tough.
So, while there are hundred of strategies are out there, what you can essentially do is, fine-tune them according to your needs. But how to fine-tune them is the bigger question. So, allow us to help you. We will give your targets which will help you decide accordingly.
Targets for Success:-
Here are the targets that can help you fine-tune your strategy:-
Target 1 – Securing 300 marks in optional ( 250 will do fine , but target for 300, you will secure 250 at least).
So If any topper related to your optional is giving strategy, listen to it and find out what can you adopt from it. Any article regarding strategy for your optional should be given priority.
Don’t rely solely on ready-made notes from shops, because then you will not have the intimate relationship with the optional paper. You have to prepare your own notes. You can go for standard material for GS papers, but not for optional. You can read ready-made notes, but they should be supplementary in nature. Read the books and prepare your own note.
After all , what is the last time you heard a topper saying that s/he secured the rank because s/he read somebody’s note for optional. ?(If someone did say so, that would be an exception rather than a norm)
Target 2 – Securing 150+ marks in essay.
The paper has no syllabus and hence can be a huge advantage or disadvantage. This paper almost every year decides your rank. ( apart from your Optional papers). Hence, it should be given second priority.
Not to brag, but we excel in this paper ( Many of our students have secured more than 140 this yr).
For essay, you should write to know where it can go wrong. We also know that many institutes and websites run essay initiatives but writing on a topic which has very little chance of being asked in the real exam will not help you either. So, invest your time wisely. Drop a mail to us in case you want to write on a certain topic (irrespective of whether your are part of our program or not), and we will guide you on that. Read couple of strategies selectively, but you have to write to know your strength or weakness and work upon it.
Essay has learning curve, so it takes time to build and secure 140 and above. Start early if you can.
Target 3 – Securing 400+ marks in General Studies.
This is doable because, reference materials are abundant, but you have to score better in each paper. Each paper has its own set of critical words. In addition to that, each question also has its “set of critical words” and if you know them and judiciously use them, you will score well.
A note of advise would be to join a test series, because that can help you cope with the demand of exam, especially time management and content management.( We also opened registration for our Mains Test series 2017)
Listen to one or two strategy from toppers for GS papers, no need to read all the strategies in this regard.(Almost all of the student follow the same strategy for these papers)
Target 4 – Interview
This is mostly based on your personality. Read interview transcripts to get an understanding but don’t over do it. Take time to introspect and understand and have to-the-point answers ready for current affairs based questions. Prepare your DAF carefully.
Now that you have your targets with you, we hope that it will help you save some precious time and help you where to focus and where to defocus.
Lastly, when you chose to appear for this exam, there is a certain degree of conviction in you which propelled you to go for it. Don’t loose that conviction. We can provide “wise counsel” but the last mile has to be walked by you, not by your friends or family. It is a lonely and only mile that you will ever need to achieve your goal.Lonely because no one else can study for you, nor one can write the exam for you or appear for the interview.
It is YOU, thus the focus on – Atto Deepoo Bhava- BE YOUR OWN LIGHT !!!