We continue our series on guiding the candidates from being “An aspirant to an IAS officer” in the most objective fashion without taking sides and coloring their opinions and judgments.
As a newcomer IAS aspirant, there are several questions that cloud your mind including whether to join a coaching institute or to rely on self studies for IAS? Which institute to join? What books to refer to? Whether to join a test series or not? When to start preparing exclusively for Prelims? et al.
We shall take them up one by one. At this point, with all the objectivity we can bring to the board, let us try to find out whether an IAS aspirant should necessarily seek classroom coaching or rely on self-study?
#1. Self-Study Vs Classroom Coaching – Comparison before Internet became common
If you could afford and move to a Metro and attend a coaching centre, you could interact with like-minded people, understand their perspectives, take tips from their learning styles, improve your knowledge and be abreast with latest updates.
The competitive environment would keep up your motivation levels. Inputs from faculty would help grasp more knowledge within limited period of time. Taking tests that they conduct regularly would help you improve your speed and ability to handle different types of questions.
On the other hand, several aspirants could crack the examination in a single attempt without taking any coaching because of their confidence, determination and persistence.
So, if you had a track record of achieving your goals without much external support, you took the Civil Services Examination without any coaching.
If you were preparing on your own, you would have the privilege to study at a time and place+pace convenient to you. You could schedule your preparation according to your priorities.
You could avoid losing time and energy in travelling from one coaching institute to another and then further to home/college.
#2. Self-Study Vs Traditional Coaching – Contemporary Comparison
The advent and reach of Internet has changed the whole debate about Self-Study and Classroom Coaching. It had the most profound and visible impact on self-study. Some of the benefits that it offered are as under:
- Pooling of information from various sources at one place.
- Stories/issues explained in the most lucid and palatable fashion.
- Opinions of multitude of fellow aspirants/administrators/coaches available to firm up your views and add different dimensions to it.
- Facility to read anywhere and anytime. At home or on the move. Day or night.
- Obviates any need of spending lakhs of Rupees as fees to the coaching institutes, in relocation and sustenance through a metro.
- You can request the administrators to take up particular issues/stories.
- Test series are available where you get reviews not from the administrators but from the fellow aspirants from across the country.
- Most of the information available is free.
- No exhaustion of travelling and no homesickness due to relocation.
- No need to subscribe to multiple magazines/newspapers and prepare notes.
- Follows wherever you go.
All the benefits that were traditionally associated with classroom coaching have become available at the click of a mouse.
It is a secret of Polichinelle (aka an open secret) that a sort of undeclared war is under-way between UPSC and the coaching factories with each side trying to outsmart the other. Coaching institutes wait till few days before Prelims/Mains to come out with their ‘digests’ hoping UPSC must have already framed the papers and can do little to change them and the institutes can claim victory by announcing that questions appeared from their ‘digests’.
UPSC on the other hand has adopted, in my opinion a rather pleasant, stance wherein they frame questions which are largely based on the current events and from hitherto neglected topics, obviating any need to attend any coaching if a candidate is regularly following the news stories and the issues facing the nation.
Now some of you might still prefer traditional coaching over self-study then here are few suggestions from our side:
- Do not join a coaching because someone advised you to. Join it if you feel the need of it.
- Before you join any coaching institute, get in touch with the aspirants who are reliable, been there and seek their feedback.
- Do not join it because you would get a chance to spend time ‘friends’.
- Do not join an institute based on the claims made by it in the ads. Verify them.
- Ring them up and have a talk with the faculty.
- Check on their post-batch support they provide to their past students.
- Attend a few classes, if allowed, before you decide to join a particular institute.
That is all on coaching vs. self-study from our side. Whatever mode you wish to choose, just ensure you are doing it for all the rights reasons and what you are doing is your own decision. Happy learning!