Tips to Get Success in Civil Services Exam in First Attempt
Even big rocks can be broken with proper effort and strategy, so is the true for IAS exam.
There is a reason we ask this question. The reason is not because each of the candidates would want to get in this most contested exam in their first attempt. That is of course the right fact or statement but is not the right reason.
If we could understand the right reason, we would perhaps also get closer to this goal of success in the first attempt. No one asks how to get success in the bank exam in the first attempt or how to get success in SSC exam in the first attempt.
How UPSC is Different with Other Exams?
In banking or the most other exams, there is a limited syllabus. In fact, it’s not even the syllabus exactly but numerical and language skill test. So, if you are good at it, you are in it. There is a high degree of certainty. This luxury is not to be seen in the civil services exam.
There are uncertainties all the way pretty much reflected in the results. A topper may fail, a mediocre may crack the exam. Someone who reads too much may fail while someone who devotes relatively less time may pass.
Someone may get very high score in the first attempt but despite reading relatively much more in the subsequent attempts, he/she may not improve the score in subsequent attempts. Someone may crack prelims and subsequent round but may fail prelims in the next attempt for improvement. And there are a hundred other uncertainties.
Yes, it is Crack-able in First Attempt
The additional trouble is that there is no discernible pattern in the uncertainties cited above. In other words, each student has their unique success or failure experience. However, there is one pattern that you can certainly discover.
Most of the toppers crack it in their first attempt. If you note the list of 1 to 10 rank, nearly 5 to 8 students on average crack the exam in their first attempt. In the entire merit list, there is a luxurious distribution of the selections from the first, second, third and subsequent attempters.
However, if you take a closer look at the selections, you may note (as also revealed by the UPSC reports) that the maximum proportion of candidates selected are those who have cracked in their first attempt.
Is Age an Affecting Factor?
Can we then take the liberty to guess that the UPSC selectors are positively disposed towards the first time candidates? These facts are still under the domain of closely guarded secrets even in the present age of RTI and transparency.
However, if you read the past reports of the UPSC selection committee recommendations, it will easily become clear that the committee favors early age of joining the service. There have been debates on whether qualification for civil services exam for selection should be plus 2.
Raising the age limit to 32 today for general category candidates was almost unthinkable back in 80s and 90s. Students had to agitate politically to raise the age from 26 to 28 back in 90s. In other words, raising of the age limit is a political move rather than the UPSC recommendation.
It Depends on How You Take the Advantage
In addition, it is a well known secret that the UPSC does a variety of moderations to ensure a fair exam in which there are students from diverse backgrounds, age groups, universities, and the optional subjects.
We cannot be sure, but it should not be surprising to learn that UPSC ensures that unfair advantage does not accrue to those who have multiple experience of taking the exam vis-à-vis those who are appearing for the first time.
In other words, UPSC could possibly be tweaking and weeding out more experienced candidates. Otherwise, nothing else explains disproportionately large number of first time students who are selected. In other words, you have a greater probability of success in the first attempt. It all depends on you as to how you take the advantage of this once in a life favorable opportunity.
More precisely, many students take their first attempt to experience the exam so that they would be better prepared next time. This is a huge mistake. If you do not make it the first time, the subsequent attempts will get relatively more difficult.
Judge Yourself Realistically
Therefore, if you want to crack the civil services exam in your first attempt go ahead with it as if it is your one and only chance. If you are going with this approach, it is obvious you will have to make a rigorous plan ahead. Whatever your plan may be, the important thing is to continually enhance your learning curve till the time the curve plateaus out.
This could mean two years for some or 6 months to the others. You have to judge yourself realistically. You also need to test yourself continually under the rigorous test conditions: the initial test for prelims and means to judge your current level and the subsequent tests to determine your constant growth. Get yourself evaluated by an expert.
Everything should Begin with a Sound Strategy
How to get success in the civil services in the first attempt is not an easy question to answer, not even by those who ranked high and made it there in their first attempt. If you read their interviews, they will merely say the books they read, their daily routine and so on.
It will not reveal the extent to which they were ready to sacrifice everything to this single most goal. That is the most important factor that will be your driving force. However, everything should begin with a sound strategy and planning.
Moral of the Story
If you want to crack the civil services exam in your first attempt, here are the dos and don’ts:
1. Go ahead as if it is your one and only chance. Don’t take the exam to experience the exam.
2. It means say no to casual approach
3. Make a plan of action and adhere strictly to it.
4. Note the learning curve rise up (use practice sets to measure the learning curve)
5. Learning curve may last 6 months or two years. Decide your timeline.
6. Test yourself continually and get your test examined by an expert.
7. If you are not confident in writing. Do the writing practice as much as you can.
8. Handwriting plays an important role. I have given low marks to some deserving candidates because their handwriting was not legible.
9. Work on Prelims and Mains together. Nothing in Prelims is out of bounds for Mains including the essay.
10. Maintain a healthy work and relaxation balance. You will lose the quality of performance if you are stressed.
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