Even the best ias coaching in the nation says that the formula to passing the UPSC conducted civil services exam is not straightforward. Every aspirant who sits for the test has access to the same books. They are equally dedicated to clearing it. They have most probably, enrolled in some coaching institute. When all the students have the proper guidance through books, mentor and teachers, then what is it that makes one aspirant win and another work on the next try?
How is it that a person who studied for more than 15 hours a day is unable to sit for the mains while someone else who worked for only 8 hours clears it? Experts say the difference is hair thin and similar to the distinction between an ordinary person and an extraordinary one. Discussed below are some of the tactics that can be used for the IAS competitive exam to leverage that difference. To triumph, the 4 mantras should be incorporated by a civil service aspirant
- Create Your Own Strategy
Nothing is achieved by simple hard work in today’s world. The need of the hour is to work smart along with effort. The logic works on the Civil service test too. It is not about counting how many hours were put in studying a subject. It is about knowing:
- What to read
- What not to study
- How much of it has to be read
- How to use the learning to answer correctly and precisely
The first mantra, therefore, is to have an explicit picture of the topics that need to be learned. The ideal method would be to ask for a strategy from a mentor or former IAS topper, then tweak it to suit oneself. The mistake most students make is to follow the tactic that was used by another person blindly. IAS demand creativity and innovativeness and thus the approach should be so too.
- A Strong Grasp of the Syllabus
The second tip to winning in the IAS exam is to know the syllabus from top to bottom. Knowing the outline means paying attention to every topic that can be questioned in the paper. To do so, pick up the General Studies curriculum and read it thoroughly. It will give an idea of what topic should be read and what not. Hence, directly aid in fulfilling mantra one. Also, make a note of any additional subjects or issues that have been added to the syllabus.
Complete information of the syllabus IAS Exam is 20% of the hard work. Once that is done, the candidate can move on to learning. A further tip here is, if the syllabus is altered during the year one sits for the test, do not tense up. As explained before, civil services are about being imaginative. As long as one is creative and aware of day to day circumstances, there is hope.
- Aim for small questions
It is the small things that can make or break a big task. The third mantra for IAS test takers is based on this adage. Aim for the two marks questions that can be answered in 20 words. Majority of candidates sit for the exam with the belief that such small questions can be answered easily. They don’t look at the 2 markers with a steady approach and thus fail to write them comprehensively. The policy every candidate should employ is to practice for these questions that can score up to 300 marks in General Studies.
One basic method is to pick up a newspaper and then select the places, terms or personalities mentioned in it. Try to write 20 words about each of them. Keep practicing till a succinct answer is formed. Another practice tool would be to answer previous years two-mark questions.
- Build answering skills
While many exam takers are able to clear the Prelims, it is the Mains that seems to be the biggest hurdle. The reason for it is that the main civil service test is not just about studying. It is about having the skill and knowledge of presenting the answers perfectly. To clear the mains, a few factors need to be borne in the mind:
- It is not how much one has learnt.
- It is how they use that learning.
- How one answers the questions in 3 hours is vital.
To strengthen answering skills, utilise these tricks:
- Draw pie-charts, flow-charts or graphs, if they are needed in the answer. It will help the examiner judge quickly that the candidate knows the topic.
- Never repeat the same points in different paragraphs.
- Always stick to the word limit. The more time one spends on a single question, the less there is to complete the rest of the paper. At the end, there will not be enough time left.
- Answer question with positive points or creative inputs that mark you apart from other competitors.
A Brief Recall
Tailor make the studying strategy, know the syllabus inside out, keep the short answers as the goal and practice answering for the mains. These are the four major pillars to succeeding in the IAS exam. Every aspirant who keeps them as the priority will pass in the first attempt.