She began preparations for Civil Services exam with an objective of being successful and building a good career. She knew she would either emerge successful or exit the field as a learned person.
In 2011, she first attempted Prelims. Naive and enthusiastic, she took the exam just after reading TMH (Tata McGraw Hill), and as expected she couldn’t clear Prelims that year. In 2012, she lost her selection because she took CSAT for granted. In 2013, she got married and there was a brief hiatus of one year.
By January 2014, she was back to her preparations. Marriage made her a stronger person. It never posed as a hindrance to the preparations. She managed home and was also studying for the exams. She in fact became a more efficient and responsible person.
In her third attempt, she only banked upon online preparation. She realised that practice was essential to break the jinx of not clearing Prelims before. Unfortunately, this time too she could not make it to the Final List after clearing mains with her limited preparations.
After the CSE result of 2014, she was left with hardly a month to prepare for prelims of CSE 2015. She took test series that helped her in a very quick revision and it was extremely helpful in clearing the exam.
A good test series covers entire syllabus and helps in retaining the information. In addition to the regular syllabus, the test series covered India Year Book, Various Government reports, Old question papers & Current affairs. Following study schedule and test schedule boosts one’s confidence in the preparation.
Don’ts of the exam
Giving first attempt with no knowledge of the exam at all is absolutely wrong as it leads to losing a precious attempt and creates a mental block, especially when one talks about the number of attempts one have made.
A belief that reading more would help in formulating ideas and one can automatically reproduce them on paper is wrong.
UPSC preparation teaches its aspirants to see things in a more positive and focused way. The unsuccessful attempts and years lost are not waste, they go a long way in contributing to making one an emotionally stronger person. The strength and convictions derived from such strenuous circumstances keeps you motivated.
Do not ever undervalue or overestimate your skills.
About half the questions being asked in Mains can very well be attempted if one has a decent understanding of current political and social events.
Accept that there is very little time and you have to utilise most of it. In my third attempt, she could read the syllabus only once and did not practice writing at all.
Whereas, in the fourth attempt, in a span of three and half months she managed to read the syllabus three times, revise it, and take 30 mock tests. One has to learn how to use the time at hand efficiently.
There is no scope for procrastination, framing and reframing of the timetables and making excuses as one has to stick to a tight schedule.
Perseverance, determination, and hard work coupled with a respect towards one’s decisions goes a long way in defining one’s life – whether one qualifies the exam or not.