Does hard work really produce results in the UPSC
Your success and failure in a competition like CSE depends not only on your knowledge but on your luck and your state of mind on the day of examination. Your luck plays a very important role because even if a couple of question in the CSE are such whose answers you don’t know correctly, it may lead to losing lots of marks. Further, if your state of mind is not good due to some physical, mental or emotional condition on the day, you may commit silly mistakes and lose lots of marks.
I remember that in 1989, one of our friends was discussed very widely among all civil service applicants, because he failed in Prelims the year before but got under 10 rank that year. A good friend of mine, who got 1st rank in Engineering Services Examination actually failed to qualify even Mains in the same year. In the next attempt he got 4th rank in UPSC. Very recently in 2015, one of the officers of our service got under-50 rank in her 6th attempt.
The fact is that perseverance plays the most important role in CSE. It is because the papers are quite subjective and even 5% swing in the marks can make or mar your prospect in IAS. The more attempts you take, the more you improve your chances of success.
I advice you not to lose heart, and try your best in your next attempt. You have already shown your mettle by qualifying the Prelims earlier, and I see no difficulty for you to succeed in CSE and get a good rank in it.