1) They say IAS is the mother of all exams. Is it?
Wrong. This is just another exam. The mother of all exams is Life. You can afford to fail in IAS, but not in Life. So, take IAS preparation as a phase in Life, not as your Life.
2) They say IAS is not for faint-hearted. Is it?
If you think you are faint-hearted, better start preparing for IAS soon – it makes you stone-hearted.
3) One topper in an interview said that she studied 20 hours every day for 365 days. Is this true?
May be she suffered from insomnia. Even now she will be working 20 hours a day as an officer. On a serious note, good sleep is very necessary to prepare well for this exam. It keeps you in good health. Don’t study beyond 14 hours unless you suffer from Insomnia.
4) Now you are saying 14 Hours! Are you mad?
Calm down. If you have left your job, as a punishment you should devote these many hours. Didn’t you work 12 hours for your company? Anyway, every day at least 8 hours of planned study is required. If you can study more than that, it is well and good. But please ensure that you also get 6-8 hours of sound sleep.
5) My English is very poor. They say I am out of the race. Am I?
No. You are still part of the race. Now you have figured out the problem – that your English is poor. Work on it. All you need is basic English. Moreover, you can write this exam and give the interview in your mother-tongue. Buy a basic Grammar book – read it, listen to English news on TV and radio, try to write something in English, everyday (don’t worry if it is very bad, keep trying) Necessity should push you to learn. Push yourself. Win the race.
6) I am worried. I can’t go to Delhi because of some personal reasons. They say it is Mecca for IAS aspirants.
Can’t go to Delhi? Wow. That’s great. These days you can study from home itself. IAS preparation is neither religion nor life to seek enlightenment in a far away concrete desert. Do your duty sincerely, if pleased, almighty UPSC will call you to its shrine, if pleased with your personality, it will give you a pass to Heaven – the IAS. Why go there uninvited?
7) So how can I study from my home?
These days you can buy books from online. Every topper has studied the same set of books as lakhs of aspirants do every year. The difference is that toppers plan their studies and execute those plans well. They practice writing. They take tests. They are confident. And they also have some luck.
Oh! So luck is needed for this exam.
Ya, only if you think you are unlucky. Anyway, let me modify a famous quote for you – Success is one percent luck and ninety-nine percent perspiration. Don’t let that 99% thing slip from your hand. Toil sincerely, and you will be rewarded with that 1 percent luck.
9) It was my last attempt. I failed in Prelims. Now I want to kill myself. Help me.
To kill you? First, kill your ego, not yourself. You took a journey but couldn’t reach the destination. It doesn’t mean the end of your life or the end of the road – start a new phase in your Life from where you are now. What matters in the end is how well you lived your Life, not how many successes you achieved. If the King has painful piles in his anus, what is the use of diamond studded golden throne?
10) Lakhs of aspirants give this exam and only few get into IAS. I am scared.
Though lakhs of aspirants apply and write this exam, the real competition is between only 2000-3000 serious aspirants. Those who study systematically and consistently, get into service. If you do the same, you will be one among them. Don’t have fears even before you start. You must enter the race and work hard to win it.
Remember this: “I never did a day’s work in all my Life. It was all fun” (Edison). Make the process fun, enjoy reading, love what you do and do everything to please your heart. Not the society.
11) They say there is corruption in recruiting IAS officers. Is it true?
This allegation is utterly false. The whole examination is so opaque that you have to trust it blindly (Oxymoron). There may be lacunae in the way examination is held, or there may be loopholes in how an UPSC member is appointed, but there is never corruption involved in the recruitment of civil service officers. The steel produced is pure. You can trust it. (it gets corroded later, that is a different story though)
12) Those veterans laugh when I tell them I am preparing for IAS. Instead, they insist I should say that I am preparing for civil services. What is the difference?
When you say you are preparing for civil services, you are not sure about getting into IAS/IPS. When you say you are preparing for IAS, you are confident that you want only IAS and you know how to get it. Choose the one suits you best. Not the veterans’.
13) I am getting headache while making notes. There are so many books to refer and I want my notes to be the best. What to do?
Note this. Leo Tolstoy writes in Anna Karenina “If you look for perfection, you’ll never be content.” Also someone said, “Perfection is the child of time“. When you scout too many sources to make that perfect notes, you end up both loosing invaluable time and discontented. Managing time during the preparation is the most important aspect of this examination. Read one or two books for a topic. Re-read the same book even if some coaching institution or a publication house releases new notes/book in the market that has become famous.
14) They say IAS is the best job on Earth! Is it?
Well, I thought becoming the President of US was the best thing on Earth. Anyway, the above statement is wrong. Ask Durga Shakti Nagpal.
15) At least in India it is the best job. Right?
Yes. If you want to make a positive impact on the lives of thousands of poor, IAS is the best job. But you have to swim in the ocean infested by so many sharks. You should know how to swim, be fearless and armed with ammunition. There is a silver lining though. The ammunition is personal integrity and The People – if you do a good work, help the poor man on the streets and in the huts, people will love you. Sharks love votes. And the ocean will be safe for you.
16) Some say this exam is like a vast ocean and question are asked from outside the syllabus, even from extraterritorial sources. Is it?
No. Again wrong. UPSC strictly adheres to the syllabus. Though sometimes it seems like question are asked from outside of the syllabus, they are actually in some ways related to it. For example, if there is a question like this, ‘Opportunity on Mars‘, one should not get bedazzled why UPSC is asking questions from ET source and start answering like, ‘If Nuclear war takes place and the Earth is destroyed, the opportunities on Mars are immense for the Humankind…...’
Source *- — with Saurabh Mangal, Gaurav Mangal and Kimberly Lashell Walker.