How hard is the UPSC Exam for a very regular student
Consider me your mentor, and read with an open mind. It will help you immensely.
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Hello friend! You seem to be angry or upset while framing this question. Perhaps you are tired of hearing the same nonsense again and again – work hard you’ll make it OR work smart and you’ll make it OR work diligently over some years and you’ll make it.
And you don’t believe a word of it. Probably because you’ve never known someone who made it (from your friend circle) or you’ve never seen pretty regular and ordinary people gunning for it, and doing it. It’s sad, because even a single example like this would have totally changed your perspective. But it’s never too late.
Let me start with 3 simple truths –
- Cracking the UPSC IAS exam is very hard
- Anyone who has cracked it has put in many years of effort
- No one does it in a fluke, in a very limited time, or by being ordinary
Before you get even more angry and upset, please read on 🙂
The first truth. Competitive exams are not meant for the ordinary. If you walk into the exam hall with an ordinary preparation, the only result you’ll fetch is known beforehand. This is true for every single competitive exam held in India, at any respectable scale. The bigger is the scale, the tougher it gets. Does that not sound logical to you? Is that not how it should be? Is it not what you would have done as an examiner (test-paper setter)?
The second truth. The more important is the position you will occupy after getting selected in a particular exam, the more stringent the selection parameters will be, and the more rigorous the preparation required will be. Come on, these guys are supposed to run the country. The country! How can the selection process ever be easy? I am sure you realise it.
The third truth. The syllabus for UPSC exams is very vast, and there are no definite boundaries to anything. Even when it is a written (printed) syllabus, the ability to answer questions can require a tremendous mix of insights, facts, conceptual understanding, and plain simple commonsense. A lot of students may miss out on one or more of these components.
So, why is it that so many of the IAS success stories are written by the categories of people you mentioned in your question description? Because they have put in years of efforts doing what’s needed. Reading. Writing. Learning. Understanding. Being ambitious. Developing themselves. Connecting the Dots. [ But not everyone will accept it publicly and say so. Why? Perhaps they fear it will reduce the magical adulation they’ll get. Perhaps they don’t bother. Perhaps it’s too puerile to do so. ]
Did anyone tell you that people made it through the IAS exams with just a few months of preparation? There’s only 2 things happening – either they were geniuses, or they are plain simple lying.
(a) If they were geniuses, then they represent a very tiny minority of test-takers. And rest assured, of the final list of selected people, a very very small number is “the genius category”. (If you don’t want to believe this, I have no problem. I speak from experience of having been at an IIT, and more than two decades of handling students)
(b) If they were plain simple lying, then nothing can be done about it.
This is how most people crack the UPSC test:
- Read, read and read for many years – People read newspapers and magazines. They improve their conceptual grip on topics by reading over many years. They may not realise it yet (while they are in their teens) but they are laying the foundation for the final battle, and all this raw effort proves invaluable later on. [ I’ll be honest – I have never met a single person in my life who cracked UPSC in the first attempt and actually never had serious reading habits read before. The person may not say so explicitly, but did the skills develop magically overnight? Of course not. ]
- Decide early on – Anyone willing to go for UPSC (and become an IAS) decides usually early on that they have to make it. And then they channelise all their energies towards it. They may not publicly declare it by printing an advertisement in prominent dailies, and putting it on hordings all over, or updating their social media statuses, but their families know it.
- Work on the weaknesses, strengthen the strengths – Sincere people realise what their weaknesses are. For example – for many, it is answer writing. The UPSC Mains exam requires you to write a lot of essays. LOT OF THEM. Now writing as a skill is not something you are born with, usually. It is the end result of a combination of many factors (reading, understanding, good & proper hold over the pen, stamina, love for the process …) and it surely takes many years.
So to summarise :
- Do people take years to prepare for the UPSC exam? A big YES.
- Do most of them say so publicly? Usually, NO.
- Will you need to prepare for many years to crack it? YES, if you have done nothing so far (refer to skills mentioned above)
- Will it be a very tiring exercise? YES, if you don’t love it. NO, if you are super-excited.
- Can you make it if you decide to do it? A million times, YES.
- When should you start? TODAY.
- Why? You are wasting time analysing otherwise.
- Really? YES.
- Am I telling the truth? YES.
I wish you great luck. Be positive. There’s nothing to be gained otherwise. God bless!