While preparing, I came across various tips and fundaes that somehow helped me in keeping track of things. Many of them may seem like bol bachhan, but the reason they worked might help in digesting them 😛 . Here they are:
Disclaimer: Many of these are not mine. I have come across them from various sources, but I would want to sum them up with my own take on them.
- Don’t read 10 books 1 time, but read 1 book 10 times. Almost every topper would say so. I always picked any new reference book if I felt confident enough that I would be able to revise it during the last one week of exam. Because, revision is a key in this exam. There is already a lot to remember and retain. Thus, if we can’t revise in last days, there is very little chance that we will actually use the new information in our final answers.
- This exam is about going beyond the books. ~ Vajpeyi Sir. I would say go beyond every written or read word. Invest your own energy in what you are going to study. Engage yourself. Participate in your readings/lectures. How? start making connections in your 3rd or 4th reading. Or ask questions before accepting what is written or suggested. For ex: an editorial might recommend full farm loan waiver – but ask rationally, can it be really done? or SHOULD it be done at all?
- Always keep a balanced approach. Neither of extremes are desirable. For example India can neither stop investing in space programs for we have large number of poor people but simultaneously we also cannot ignore the misery of such people. We got to balance our resources so that none is sacrificed at the cost of others. So better be balanced. An administrator usually has good amount of discretion at his/her disposal so extreme viewpoints might reflect despotic personality and thus, would be eliminated in the exam process – if not in prelims and mains, but definitely in interview.
- This Exam is all about the basics with a lot of clarity. The exam can be written well when the preparation is simple and the aspirant is very strong in basics with clarity. An officer would get to deal with various kind of issues in his/her tenure. Thus, knack of basic understanding of things might help in coming to the roots of problem and thus, solving it in a more efficient manner. So no need of complexity at any stage. Keep it well and simple and just understand the basics of things. For instance if an editorial is talking about Naxalism, try to understand what is naxalism basically, what do they want, why do they still exist after near 70 years of independence, why only in specific region of the country, international parallels of such a movement etc.
- One can’t know everything. No one can. So manage it according to oneself. Also, everyone would have their own weak and strong points. Identify them, prioritize them and play around them. Build upon your strengths and improve upon weaknesses. Strengths can be essay or GS1 paper or optional or interview or economy and so on. But never foresake any topic completely, for we never know what might come. Thus, ensure atleast minimum in your weak points as well.
- Sometimes our mind get’s choked and we feel saturated, if we keep on reading same subject, say Geography for too long. So in that case, leave it in middle and start something else, say maybe economy or polity. Thus, one can have a mix of topics in a day or two to break the monotony.
- There will be own set of highs and lows in given 2 years of preparation; there will be usual frustration over any and many of things, say for as simple as ‘Why should I know how earthquakes are caused’ or ‘which soil is found in which part of the country’ and so on. In such moments of despair and anger, keep calm and just believe that whatever is there in syllabus it’s there for a reason. Try to imagine and wonder the cases in which you might actually apply this knowledge as an administrator… a DM in North East must know how earthquakes are caused or a secretary of agriculture would be required to know which soil is present in which part of the country. If this perspective would do no help in remembering but least it would alleviate mood and state of frustration for a bit. 😀
First thing you should be doing is removing all pressures from your head. Become independent completely, from thoughts of making parents happy, revenging the ex girlfriend/boyfriend, becoming a local celebrity, saving India from the corrupt, and importantly from the thoughts of gaining huge prestige in the society.
Prepare for this exam keeping your focus on Today. List the things you want to do today and finish those things. If you are preparing for Prelims, let the focus be on it. Not on the day of final result where you are giving TV interviews.
Second, find a purpose. Yes, you want to be an IAS officer, but to prepare well today, this is not the purpose. If you are preparing for Main exam, then your purpose will be to make notes, or to solve previous question papers.Every day, find a purpose. And fulfill it.
Third, love what you do. Love reading newspaper, love writing something on what you read; love it because every day you are evolving into a knowledgeable and stable person.
I would also add the word Enjoy to it. I consider this years of preparation as a journey, and thus ask you to enjoy it. Enjoy the highs and lows. Enjoy the frustration and whining. For they will not be there for ever. So love and enjoy this process.
- Save yourself from dark thoughts. Defeat the defeatist thoughts. Keep an upright and positive attitude. If want to hold on, read this: Desiderata
- If even after this advice, if one begins to dwindle or thinking to give upon or starting to re-evaluate the whole decision of preparing for services, I have one last thing to ask, just remember the start. Once recall the day or fine moment when you set your sails for this path. I had my own times of second thoughts but every-time I read the following quote, I was back on my plan.
” I can write more than ten pages describing various powers of IAS. But, Gaurav Dwivedi Sir, IAS Chattisgarh Cadre who brought about PDS reform in the state, nicely summed up all in one line –
” An IAS officer has the ability, opportunity and freedom to innovate and improve the life of a poor man. ” ” ~ Varun Ranjan IAS
Do pardon me if gyaan seemed overstretched, but I had to convey it all.