They call it ‘the mother of all exams’; and they have good enough reasons for it. With one of the most minute success percentages in the world, the UPSC civil services exam tests much more than just the knowledge of the candidate. But perhaps this is where the charm of this exam lies. While the civil services exam preparation journey is usually hailed as a long and arduous one, you can certainly ease out the creases if you are aware of a few crucial pointers before you begin your preparation.
This will be a long, stressful process, but the rewards make it worth the effort
The UPSC exam is conducted in three stages- Prelims, Mains and Interview, which makes it more than a year long process, starting from applying for the exam to the declaration of final list of selected candidates, after the interview. Add to it at least one year (in the best case scenario) which you would put in for your preparation and you would understand why they call it a long process. If you are looking for a job to join within 6-8 months, the Civil Services may not be the best option for you.
It is the Civil Services exam, not just the IAS exam
IAS is one of the most coveted posts in the country and only the top rankers of the civil services exam are inducted into it. Calling the UPSC Civil Services exam the ‘IAS exam’ has become a trend which is often misleading. There are about 24 All India and central services, candidates for which are recruited with the CSE exam. Hence, even if you clear the CSE exam, you may not necessarily become an IAS officer. The other services include IPS (Indian Police Service), IFS (Indian Foreign Service) and IRS (Indian Revenue Service).
The Civil Services syllabus is wide, demanding and sometimes scary – Try to enjoy the learning process
One of the greatest myths about the CSE exam is that it can ask you anything and the syllabus is irrelevant. In reality, it is just the opposite. The UPSC adheres to the syllabus strictly. Though some questions may force you to think otherwise, if you really apply your mind, you will get to know how it is connected to the prescribed syllabus.
Get into it if you are really passionate about making a difference
Let’s be honest here. A number of candidates (majority of aspirants) start preparing for the CSE exam thinking about the perks that the job of a civil servant offers. While there is no fault in this thinking, it may not take you very far in the preparation. You are certain to have some low days during the preparation phase, days where you question your decision to sit for the CSE exam, days where you look for alternatives. On such days, you might find the jobs which give you equivalent perks, but it would be hard to find a job where you would have an equal opportunity to contribute to the society. Your true motivation to join the services is the only thing that would keep you going in your hard days.
Poor English is not a ground for rejection
Here is a fact – English is not our first language. So if you aren’t great at it, this is not a matter of shame. The fact that you have figured out your problem is a great beginning. It is only once you have identified it that you would start working on your problem. All that the CSE exam requires of you is Basic English proficiency. You are given an option to write the exam and appear in the interview in your own mother tongue, thus negating any disadvantage that poor English might have given you.
If you have decided to give a shot to the CSE exam, pat yourself on the back since it takes courage to make up your mind. Whatever be the eventual result, the UPSC CSE preparation is a huge learning experience that transforms you as a person. Make the most of the immense knowledge you gain during the preparation because at the end of the day, it is the journey that matters, not the destination!