Table of contents
I've given 6 attempts at UPSC CSE. I've failed prelims twice, failed Mains twice and I've cleared the exam twice.
Here are 10 things I wish I knew in my first attempt:
1. UPSC prep is BORING
Success in UPSC comes from doing boring things everyday - for months on end.
The charm of reading new subjects fades fast when you realise you have to re-read the same books multiple times.
2. All subjects are NOT equal
In UPSC prep you need to do a lot of subjects, but not at the same time. Learn to prioritise, it will save you a lot of headaches.
Ex: complete polity and economy before ancient and medieval.
3. You will NOT be able to complete the syllabus
Because of the vast syllabus, at best you'll be able to cover 85 - 90% of the syllabus.
You shouldn't even try to cover 100%, it's a waste of effort.
Learn to live with that sense of incompleteness.
4. Get used to failing
Controlled failure is essential during prep.
You need to fail in:
• Mock tests
• Mock interviews
• Achieving your daily targets
And then figure out how to fail less next time.
5. Some things just need time
You will not improve tomorrow. But in order to improve you need to show up everyday.
Even when you don't see progress, trust the process.
Prepare for UPSC CSE from home with a mentor.
6. ONE thing at a time
Doing 4 different subjects in a day is a sure way of wasting precious time and effort.
UPSC prep is hard as it is, don't make it harder by being distracted all the time.
7. Take responsibility for your studies
UPSC prep is a full time job. If you're not studying 8-10 hours/day you're not serious about your prep.
Take responsibility for your studies.
8. Too much advice is bad advice
If you keep asking for the best strategy, the best institute, the best books, you will never start.
The people who succeed are the ones who act, not just ask. Make mistakes and then ask how it can be done better.
9. Learn to manage your emotions
During prep you will come across:
• Low self esteem
The faster you learn to deal with these emotions the easier it will be for you to stay consistent.
Meditation helps but YOU are responsible for managing YOUR emotions. Find out what works for you.
No one else is coming to save you.
10. You are human
You are not a machine. Expecting yourself to perform at 101% everyday is a recipe for failure.
Set realistic targets, make it easy for yourself to win.