- Act IV: Conquering your own brain
- Doubt: Should I join coaching class or not?
- Option one: You study back home without Coaching
- Option two : You go to Delhi to attend coaching.
- If You join a class
- #1 don’t take mock tests lightly
- #2 Classmates are not your enemies
- #3 clarify your doubts
- #4 follow up action immediately
- #5 Never remain absent
- If you don’t join a class
- #1: don’t feel guilty
- #2: Self control
- #3: Company
- Doubt: Optional subjects will be removed or not?
- Doubt Hindi Medium aspirant
- Doubt Non-Hindi, Non-English Medium aspirant
- Doubt: Inferiority complex
- Future Candidates Still in College
- Doubt: Taking a job / PG
- Doubt: Working Professionals: Leave the job or not?
- #A: you leave the job
- #B: you can’t leave the job
- #1: Rent a room close to office
- #2: Burn the midnight lamp
- #3 Use pendrive
- #4 Use mobile
- Time Management
- Mood swings
- Technical doubts
- You already know the mindset of your enemy: Act I
- you already know the weapons required to defeat him: Act II
- you already know how to effectively utilize the weapons: Act III
but before you defeat him, you must conquer your own brain, cleanse it from all the doubts and weaknesses. Else you cannot concentrate in studies. The first and foremost doubt, faced by every new player:
Answer is: If you’ve the time, money and mood, join them, else don’t feel guilty or inferior about it.
I’m copy pasting the Cost comparision by Mr.Gokul G R (IAS, AIR 19, CSE-2010)
1. General Studies
- Books : Rs. 3000 – 4000
- Newspapers : Rs. 250 monthly ( Total : 6000 for 2 years; you will anyway subscribe, whether you are preparing or not)
- Periodicals : around 1500
- Internet Net connection : 250 per month ( Total : 6000; you will anyway subscribe, whether you are preparing or not)
- Total Cost : Around 17000 ( over 2 years )
- Total Extra cost : Rs. 6000 maximum (minus newspaper and net )
- Books: 4-5 books for humanities optionals ( Mostly Indian Authors). Total cost : Not more than Rs. 3000.
- 7-8 books for science optionals. Total cost: Not more than Rs. 5000 ( If you are not downloading pirated copies).
- Total Extra cost : Rs. 14000 ( Highly liberal estimate and spend over 2 years). Use library, old books and you can bring that down to a few thousand rupess.
1. Coaching fees :
- G.S : Rs, 50,000
- Optionals : Rs. 30,000 each
- Total : Rs. 1,10,000 (spot payment)
2. Periodicals, newspapers, net for personal use : Rs. 13,000 over 2 years.
3. High rent and cost of living : Around 10k every month.
Total extra Cost : Around 3 Lakhs ( Conservative estimate; multiply with no.of failed attempts, extra fee for extra coaching etc).
And even after paying such huge, exorbitant costs, the quality of teaching ( as i get to know from fellow aspirants) may not always be up to the mark.
–End of copy paste.
|Type of teacher||Your action|
||Keep noting down whatever he says- atleast in ‘summery’ form. Even if it given in the books, note down because that will help you in quick revision.|
||Curse yourself that you joined his class.Make friends with some serious players in his class and do group study/discussion.|
||Just note down any important fact/fodder material, else Curse yourself that you joined his class.|
In case you wonder why Type#2 teacher behaves in such bad way, Won’t it hurt his long term business prospects?
- No it won’t. He’d simply setup shop in a new city or change his brand name. Besides, people usually don’t drag him to consumer court, so he never changes his ways.
- And he’s good at marketing tricks, so he’d keep getting new sacrificial lambs every year.
And never join a coaching class only because the ad says XYZ topper was from their class, such ads are usually false or half-truths!
There are some State Government run coaching classes in various parts of India
- Gujarat has SPIPA, Ahmedabad
- Maharahstra has SIAC,Mumbai
- Tamil Nadu and UP too have it, I can’t remember the name.
Apart from that, many Caste based coaching classes.
- While the teaching quality may not be very good in such classes, but fees are cheap, library and atmosphere, peer-group is good.
- So if you’re not a working professional, and not going to Delhi mainly for financial reasons, then just go ahead get admission in such classes. (PS sometimes they’ve entrance exam, but they’re usually similar to UPSC Prelims)
Anyways, once you’ve joined a class anywhere, what to do?
If there was a school-test, you’d be worried because your parents or teachers would scold you for low marks. But in coaching class, there is no such pressure.
So, many people take the mock tests very lightly. For e.g. there is mock test of ancient History topic, but you’re preparing polity as per your ‘own time table.’ So you appear in the mock test only for namesake, =you get low marks but you try to placate yourself and make excuse to yourself “koi nai, I had not prepared so I did not get the marks” this approach is wrong. Prepare seriously for every test.
- In the mock tests, If someone is getting more marks than you. He is not your enemy. Try to learn what are you lacking that he has? And make amendments in your preparation accordingly.
- Make friends with people who’re as serious or more serious than you in studies. Keep in touch with them even when classes are over.
- During class, many people have doubt in a topic, but they don’t ask the teacher thinking “I would look silly, or other people will also know the answer and they’re my enemies!.”
- Usually teachers immediately leave after the class, because they’ve classes elsewhere (or because they don’t want to be bogged down by all querries after class hehehe).
- So, whenever you’ve doubt, immediately ask it.
- If your sir taught xyz topic today. Then go home, immediately read the relevant printed material / books/ internet at home. Prepare or upgrade notes if required.
- In this way, you’ll get better command over the topic.
- If you postpone this work for 15-20 days, then you’re digging your own grave.
- Some distant relative/friend’s marriage is no excuse to remain absent in the class. In fact ignore all such marriage ceremonies whether you’ve coaching or not. Your main aim to clear UPSC exam, everything can and must wait.
- Even if the ‘sir’s’ teaching quality is bogus, still attend the class, you’ll come home learning two three more things (or revising them during his class)
That is- you’re doing self preparation.
- First of all, throw away any doubt, guilt or inferiority complex that you have e.g.“I’m not going to Delhi so my success chances are less.”
- Don’t think in that manner. please avoid company of people who’re thinking in that manner. Because negative vibes are infectious. It creates demotivation and affects your studies.
- And once you’ve decided, then don’t doubt your decision or caliber.
- Success is very much possible, without coaching. And Following people cracked the exam without coaching (list is not exhaustive):
All India Rank (2011) Year Harshika Singh 8 2011 Om Kasera 17 2011 Gokul G.R. 19 2010 Mohd.Safi 55 2009
- If you goto gym, you see other people are doing more exercise, and got better body than yours. It automatically motivates you to do exercise further.
- But if you’re at home, it is easy to lose track, and become complacent about preparation e.g. koi nai, thik hai, there are still many months left before the exam, I’ll ‘manage’
- Sorry you can’t manage. Weeks and months will pass like this and just 30 days before the exam, you’ll realize that you haven’t really prepared much throughout the year. Then you start looking for shortcuts i.e. readymade current affairs material etc. = #epicfail.
- Don’t let your mood dictate your studies. Spend majority of your day with books, magazines and newspapers only. (if you’re not a working professional).
- Make a few friends from the field, either in real life or on internet. Peer pressure helps in keeping the ‘tempo’ and motivation for studies.
- More time Management tips are given separately in the later part of this article.
I hope the coaching doubt is clear. Now to the second doubt that is bothering every aspirant:
- Will UPSC remove Optional subject from mains?=Yes.
- When exactly will UPSC remove the optional subject from mains? Is it 2013 or 2014? =I don’t know yet.
Few months back I had filled an R.T.I to UPSC regarding this question,
they replied “we’ve appointed Committee headed by Prof. Nigvenkar, to look into the matter. We cannot tell when optional will be removed”
At the moment, The aspirant community is divided into two viewpoints: both based on the timetable published on official site: http://upsc.gov.in/exams/exams.htm#PageTop
|Viewpoint: Change||Viewpoint: Status Quo|
|Optionals will be removed in 2013 because||Optionals will not be removed in 2013 because,|
|Fact: Usually UPSC gave notification in Dec/January. This time notification is going to come in February.Fact: usually UPSC started Mains exam in October, this time it has been shifted to November.All this suggest that UPSC is planning to remove optionals and change syllabus.||Agreed but, The same page of UPSC mentions that UPSC Mains starts from 08.11.2013 (FRIDAY) and duration 21 DAYS. So how can exam duration be 21 days if there are no optionals?|
- Last month I filed another R.T.I to seek the status update of this Prof. Nigvenkar Committee.
- I’m yet to receive a reply from UPSC. Although I’m not really sure UPSC will give clear cut answers, given its history of taking sadistic pleasure by keeping things in limbo, else UPSC can issue a Press-statement right now to clear the air on this matter and save aspirants the agony and stress they’re going through.
- Anyways for the moment- finish the syllabus of topics that are present in GS mains but absent in prelims i.e. first aid, statistics etc. and do the Yojana, Kurukshetra issues from Jan 2012 onwards. There is enough food in your platter, try to finish most of it.
And once this optional subject controversy is settled (most probably in February 2013 notification), there will be some new conspiracy theory -most probably regarding separation of IPS exam. So overall how to deal with rumor bombs? Click ME.
So this doubt of optional subjects =remains unsettled (for now). Moving on to next doubt
Booklist and strategy remains the same. Only titles change.
|NCERTs||Available in Hindi, both in market as well as official site: http://www.ncert.nic.in/|
|NOS (National open school)||Some are available in Hindi, some are not.http://www.nios.ac.in/online-course-material.aspx|
|General Studies Manual||Samanya Adhyayan|
|India Yearbook (India 2013)||Bharat 2013|
|Indian Polity by M.Laxmikanth||Bharat Ki Rajya Vyavashta by M.Laxmikanth|
|Indian Economy by Ramesh Singh||Bharat ki Artha-vyavastha by Ramesh Singh|
|Yojana Kurukshetra, PD,CST||Available in Hindi|
|Spectrum publication books (History, Culture, Statistics)||Available in Hindi|
|Bipin Chandra||He has books in Hindi,but Not really sure of about exact title.|
|2nd ARC||Available in Hindi on their official website|
|The Hindu||No alternative. Must be read in English|
|IGNOU BA/MA PDF files||Available in Hindi. www.Egyankosh.ac.inSome file are not uploaded. Have to purchase Hindi booklets from university. Instructions given here: click ME|
Starting with Gujarati aspirants.
- For prelims, consult the same books English / Hindi, because you’ve to only tick the MCQ answer.
- Gujarati books for IAS exam= useless and waste of time. (Amuk loko ujjad van maa erando pradhan thayi ne behelaa chhe.) But for mains, to write descriptive answers In Gujarati….you need the Gujarati Vocabulary for Geography, Polity etc. buy any ^one of them or any GPSC material.
- If you think you can rely Gujarati books meant for GPSC and succeed in UPSC = mistake. Because there are always some senior players who keep reading English newspapers, magazines, reference books and convert them into their own handwritten notes in Gujarati so their answer quality will be better than yours. Therefore Always prefer to maintain your own notes from standard reference books of Hindi/English.
- If UPSC keeps optionals – use the Hindi/English standard reference books and then consult Baba Saheb Amedkar Univ.’s material for Gujarati BA/MA exam (where applicable) or books from “University Granth Nirmaan Board” to get the vocabulary and formal answer writing.
- The Hindu/Indianexpress =must. You may read Gujarati newspaper columns, only for getting Gujarati vocabulary for Essay. But your essay quality, content and depth should be higher than them.
Now Marathi,Tamil,Punjabi,Telugu etc. similar advice as above.
- For prelims use either English /Hindi books as such.
- For mains, you need to write descriptive answers, so you need the formal vocabulary for your language. So to get that vocabulary, buy any book or State PSC material written in your language. Using that vocabulary, maintain your notes from standard reference books / English newspapers.
- For more suggestions, consult some senior players in your area/ via internet.
So this Hindi/Gujarati/Marathi/Tamil language and material doubt is partially settled. Now moving to next problem.
Some people have this feeling of insecurity, throughout preparation
- I’m not from a reputed college.
- I’ve very low score in graduation, I failed in some semester.
- I don’t have work-experience or extra-curricular certificates.
- I’m not from English medium…And so on.
^don’t worry. Many People with such profile have cleared the civil service exam.
- When an examiner checks your mains answersheet he doesn’t know about all those things.
- Even in interview, they don’t really dwell into those topics (unlike IIM interviews hehehe), and even if they notice it, your interview score doesn’t depend on a single variable or single question.
- So stop all those negative thoughts. And avoid company of any other person who is spreading such negative vibes.
- Besides you can’t go back in History using a time-machine to fix all those things in your life. So just keep moving forward.
Having said this, I’m must also precaution the
Please donot ignore your college studies. You must strive to get atleast first class (60%) in college exam.
Because usually your backup plans will require it. For example
- A General category candidate cannot apply for CAT, if he has less than 50%.
- In certain specialized State PSC jobs*, Bank recruitments, they explicitly mention it that you’ll need minimum xyz score in your graduation or post graduation.
- Whenever you go for private company job interview, they look into your graduation score especially if you’ve zero or low work experiance.
- *In State PSC there are two type of recruitment one is general large scale recruitment e.g. Deputy collector, DySP, Range Forest officer, Sales Tax inspector etc. in such exams, college marks don’t matter much.
- And other type is specialized small scale recruitment e.g. only one or two vacancies in Food and drug Department. Then they want to reduce number of applicants to save time. So they device high graduation marks e.g. only minimum 60% in Graduation or 55% in PG can apply” Same goes for certain Banks. So don’t ignore college studies.
In some colleges and universities, you can get first class with almost zero preparation. But it doesn’t mean you should completely ignore studies.
- Because during interview @UPSC, State PSC, or any private company…basically at any interview, they usually ask a few questions on your graduation.
- And you can’t make an excuse that “sorry I don’t know the answer because I was preparing for UPSC/CAT during college!”
- That answer will ruin rest of your interview because then board will start asking uncomfortable questions and turn it into a stress interview.
- I hope this doubt is settled. Moving on to next doubt
Q. I just graduated from college. Should I take job, or pickup Post-Graduation course or directly start preparing for UPSC?
Ans. Depends on your financial situation and family support.
- If Civil Service is your ultimate goal, you just want a job for pocketmoney and preparation, then look for a job that has minimum workload and travel time = then you can allot max energy for preparation.
- For example Computer Lab assistant, receptionist, temporary lecturer etc.
- Ofcourse there are no big salaries or quick promotions in such jobs but then you can’t eat “Laddu” with both the hands.
Pros: atleast your backup is secured i.e. if you fail in IAS, you can go back private company at a decent job (compared to having single bachelor degree)
- Doing PG from some half**** bogus college hardly has any market value. You’re way better off in bank clerk’s job than the amount of salary one gets through such overhyped PG courses. (more explained in backup plan, in Act V)
- To get admission in reputed college, one has to give some sort of entrance exam.
- In reputed college, You may not be left with sufficient time left for UPSC preparation due to assignments and semester exams. But still there is more time and energy than available to working professionals in some fields.
In the end depends on your taste for career backup. Consider all factors and then decide.
Question: I’m a working professional, find it hard to allot time for studies. Should I leave job or not?
- There are toppers who cleared civil service exam without leaving job (Om Kasera, Mohd.Safi to cite a few)
- On the hand there toppers who left the job for preparation because it had become impossible to manage studies with job.
So door swings both ways. Whether you should leave the job or not, depends on many factors
- Your age
- Marital status, support of the spouse. (if they ‘superficially’ support but then they and their relatives indirectly keep nagging you all the time =problem.)
- Family support and family responsibilities (e.g. father is retired or not, sister’s wedding etc.)
- Financial situation, outstanding loans and EMIs (do you have enough bank balance from your job to survive for next one or two years)
- Work load, travelling (if it is very low, then no point in leaving job.)
- Opportunity cost of leaving the job- in terms of promotion and seniority in the private sector (particularly for 27-35 age group candidates.)
Then proceed according to the suggestions given for coaching/no-coaching case.
Five rules for working professionals, already given CLICK ME.
Here are some more
Travel-fatigue is the main cause of under-preparation. If you’ve to commute for 3-4 hours a day to and from home to office, then it becomes very difficult to wake up till late night. So ideally try to rent a room very close to office (but usually rooms near office, have higher rent- life is always cruel to UPSC aspirant.)
Irrespective of travel fatigue, try to wake up till 12pm to 1AM. Ya all the fancy medical talk and arguments of long term negative impacts on health. But 6 hours sleep Is sufficient.
- Lot of teenagers and college kids in metro cities, they usually wake up until midnight doing nothing but facebook, internet surfing and yahoo chat.
- On the other hand those Corporate barons, IIM grads etc. who mint lakhs of rupees per month. Yes once in while they can indulge in luxuries and fun but otherwise they too work until late night. They may not have travel fatigue but mental stress is even higher.
- So on both ends of the spectrum, if people can wake up until late night- why can’t you?
- You don’t want to leave job, you don’t wake up till midnight, ….well once again can’t eat “laddu” with both the hands. Success requires sacrifice.
- Plus late night preparation would be necessary during ‘loading doze’ period. Not much during “maintenance doze”. So consider this as a temporary problem.
- Prepare some notes/mindmaps on homePC or laptop.
- Transfer them to pendrive/mobile phone so that you can revise it in office PC or on your mobile phone (if it has windows or android system with all those funky softwares) tablet during free time. Or upload It on google docs for sync between office vs home PC.
If you’ve a mobile with Windows system, you can install following softwares
- Caligrapher (it lets you convert handwriting into text…if phone comes with stylus). There are other programs as well.
- Evernote or Phatnotes (for arranging notes and data, maintaining diary)
- Freemind (mobile version)
- Or export mindmaps made in home/office PC into .jpeg or .png files, transfer it into your mobile/tablet and review them when free.
- Record notes in your own voice, listen to them when free (instead of listing to music)
These are just examples, there are many good softwares, just google (or try Softpedia.com’s mobile section)
- And There will be similar apps for android phone/apple/blackberry/tablets.
- In the end use whatever technology or gadget you can afford or use, to help you in preparation.
- Now moving to the doubt/issue that affects everyone irrespective of his language medium, job and coaching situation.
- Donot try to quantify your study in terms of hours. don’t consciously look at watch “oh yes, I’ve been studying for 1 hour 34 minutes, so let me watch TV now to get ‘fresh’.” This is not a board exam.
- Some people start drinking tea/coffee or cigarette after every 2 hours. They think it helps them concentrate in studies. (a habit usually picked up during hostel days). Real men don’t need external stimulants. Drinking tea only takes 5 minute, but they’d spend next 30-40 minutes chatting with their buddies at tea stall or doing nothing on mobile phone. This is not how your prepare for IAS exam.
- Grow up. Stop sending chain emails and chain SMS around.
- Avoid pseudo-IAS aspirants. They’re “looking at the finger rather than moon” type. They spend more time in chit-chat, UPSC rumors, politics etc. Can be found on internet, and in coaching classes and library.
- Avoid Chipkoo people in life and on phone. All they care is timepass.
- Always Remain offline in gtalk/facebook messanger/yahoo messenger.
- Einstein said time is relative. You can easily waste 20 minutes surfing TV-channels even if there is no good program on TV. Previously there was orkut, now we’ve facebook. You can easily waste 45 minutes to two hours, doing nothing but clicking your mouse. There is no need to comment on every photo you get tagged in, there is no need to give birthday wishes. There is no need to add more friends to your profile.
- Fix your email checking time. E.g. only @2PM or 7PM. There is no need to reply to every mail. Use the Gmail “filters” to get rid of bogus people who send Chain email, jokes etc.
- There are somedays when you’re in absolute good mood and read for 7-8-12-15 hours. There are somedays when you’ve no mood and you don’t even touch the newspaper.
- Perseverance is necessary for success in any competitive exams. Donot let your ^mood to dictate your studies. (Although it is easier said than done.)
- The mindset “haa thik hai, ho jaayegaa, abhi bahot der hai” (ok, It’ll be done, there is still lot of time left). With this attitude, you’ll digup your own grave.
- Peace of mind is most important. You fight, debate or argue with someone, then even after the argument is over, you still keep thinking about it, “I should have said this or that. Saale ko thik kar doongaa (I’ll teach him a lesson)”. No my friend, your primary target is UPSC, put your time and energy in studies. Everything else is secondary- don’t waste your time or energy in them. So, Avoid arguments, debates, fights both online and offline.
- Therefore Avoid people that ruin your mood: both online and offline (except your boss or client!).
- Avoid “Dukhi Aatmaa” (cry-babies). They’re just too worried about everything. “My friend from Delhi said, UPSC is going to remove optionals and introduce paper on policy science…what will be do!?” “Xyz sir said UPSC will reduce age limit!” They spread their negative vibes on you.
- Girlfriend usually leaves after 2nd failed attempt in UPSC (can’t blame, you can’t and shouldn’t expect her or her parents to wait for you that long.) Then it creates more heartburning, depression= not good for studies. Therefore UPSC and love affairs are usually not compatible. Pick only one at a time.
- Similarly avoid temptation or persuasion from parents to get married. Don’t get married until you’re selected in UPSC or you’ve fully executed your career backup plan.
Life of a UPSC aspirant is very cruel. “Outsiders” cannot understand it and they ruin mood with their questions and unwanted advices. For example
|A||He is a UPSC Aspirant. Minding his own damn business, busy eating daal-chawal @wedding reception.|
|B||Kya kar rahe ho? (what are you doing?)|
|A||Preparing for UPSC.|
|B||Still preparing for that exam? You said the same thing last year!|
|A||(In his head) because UPSC is three stage process, takes one year to complete.(on face) some diplomatic answer.|
|B||Acchaa, my uncle’s son got selected. Why don’t you take tips from him?|
|A||(In his head) If UPSC is hellbent in scaling system and BackbreakingTM, there is nothing anybody can do.(on face) sure I’ll contact him.|
|A||Resumes Minding his own damn business, busy eating daal-chawal.|
|C||Makes entry. Repeats the question :Kya kar rahe ho? (what are you doing?)|
|C||(He has no interest in knowing what you’re doing. He asked you question only to start conversation and show off how his son is better.)Acchaa.. My Son **** has done MBA from ****. Salary Package is * lakhs and he has ** number of people under his command. So, you Leave this IAS, Bi-AS, join that college!|
|A||(in His head) Why the hell do I care how much he earns or how much staff he got! My definition of success is different. (on face) That is really good.|
|A||Resumes Minding his own damn business.|
|D||D is an old-college batchmate. Same question cycle.|
|D||Do you know that our batchmate Mr.X has left company Y and joined company Z and now his salary package is 6 lakhs. He also bought a Honda city (car) and getting married next month.|
|A||(in His head) Ya but he was a complete *Gangaajal adjective* so even if he earns 60 crores, buys a Ferrari and marries Katrina Kaif, he is not going to earn my respect or even jealousy. (on face) very good yaar.|
|D||Do you remember that girl **** from our college, she and ***** got married/ she started affair with *****, recently I spotted her at *****.|
|A||(in His head) because of my UPSC (mis)adventures, I’ve grown up: mentally and emotionally. I don’t care about those things like I used to, during the college years hahaha. (on face) some diplomatic answer.|
|D||Ok then best of luck.|
Throughout your journey, these conversations are going to repeat in one form or another.
Very few people actually understand the pain and struggle involved, rest of them are just phony lip service and mood killers. Therefore:
- Have tough skin of a salesman. Don’t let their talks affect you. When you come back home, your head should be clear else you cannot concentrate in studies and will ponder more and more about the ‘past’. Sometimes you might even start thinking of quitting UPSC game to join their world- don’t.
- Don’t announce to everyone that you’re preparing for UPSC. Keep it to yourself, and very few close friends.
- Avoid social gatherings unless absolutely necessary.
- Never compare yourself with your batchmates, colleagues, kids of relatives and neighbors.
Now some other technical doubts
|Age and attempt limit||https://mrunal.org/upsc/faq-age-trialsCentral Service employees don’t get age relaxation.But CRPF,BSF etc now comes under “Ex-servicemen” category hence get age relaxation.|
|Physical requirements / Medical checkup disability related queries||https://mrunal.org/2012/07/med-gazette-upsc.html|
|OBC Creamy layer||https://mrunal.org/2012/05/q-creamy-layer-obc-gets-4-attempts-only.html|
|Postal Graduation /Distance Education Degree and its validity for UPSC exam||https://mrunal.org/2010/12/update-my-distant-education-degree-is.html|