Self study is the best and only way to clear this exam. However, there are many pitfalls that one must avoid during preparation.
- Go through UPSC CSE syllabus and last 4–5 years question papers to understand the pattern of the exam.
- Rely (mostly) on self study.
- Make a proper study schedule and abide by it every single day. For example my study schedule before Mains 2017 looked liked this:
- Chose your optional subject carefully. It must be based on your interest.
- Read newspaper religiously every single day without fail. Make your own short notes.
- Restrict your resources to a select few.
- Focus on revision.
- Never ignore basic resources such as NCERT books, Newspaper, Laxmikanth, PIB, PRS etc.
- Solve last 4–5 year’s prelims test papers. Also solve a good test series.
- Do answer writing practice for GS Mains and Essay.
- Attempt all the questions in GS papers. Remember, its a relative exam.
- Utilise your time efficiently and effectively. Unit of time should be minute rather than hours or days.
- Log off from social media, avoid going to parties too often. Avoid every distraction.
- Focus on work i.e. preparation rather than results, cut off, number of seats, optional removal and so on.
- Use your parents hard money judiciously.
- Do morning/evening walk or Yoga or something to remain fit.
- Don’t tell too many people that you are preparing for world’s toughest examination (?).
- Don’t do Chai Pe Charcha at ORN/Batra.
- Don’t blindly follow what toppers say at coaching institutes. Apply your mind.
- Internet + Social media addiction(including Quora) is strict no.
- Do not procrastinate. People often make plans like they will start studying seriously/sincerely from Monday/1st Jan/from Diwali/after Prelims etc but often they fail to start.
- Do not depend too much on coaching institutes.
- Don’t compare your marks with others. Compete with yourself and not with others.
- Don’t read too many books for single topic.
- Don’t join too many Whatsapp/Telegram group for CSE preparation.
- Don’t do PhD on one topic.
- Don’t waste time on things like pattern change, optional removal, age and attempt reduction.
- Don’t follow too many online channel for CSE preparation. Read books, printed materials.
All the Best. Source: Ram Prakash, IAS Officer Trainee at LBSNAA, Mussoorie