Wednesday, January 13, 2016

I don't want to go to Delhi to prepare for IAS exam. Can I make it?

Can you clear IAS exam without going to Delhi? Yes.
Can you stay at home and prepare for IAS exam? Yes.
Do people go to Delhi and crack the IAS exam? Yes.
Do people go to Delhi and fail to crack the IAS exam? Yes.

I started with the range of possibilities we witness every year. So it is safe to say that you can prepare well for the UPSC IAS exam, even while remaining at home (or while working), if you are disciplined enough to stay focussed, sincere enough to prepare structured notes daily, and intelligent enough to realise what's important and what's not. And this discipline + sincerity + intelligence has to be sustained, and not sporadic or spasmodic.
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We're with you, even at home

You can also try and get hold of a comprehensive solution for Self Prep that can help you go step-by-step in this long and arduous journey. Such a solution has to go way beyond being just a "collection of books, newspapers and internet content". It has to be a comprehensive solution.

Now coming to the broad and generalised "Delhi-jaoon-ki-nahin" conundrum, here's what I feel:

A complete answer to your question depends on knowing certain things about you:
  1. Is this your first attempt? (from the question, it appears so)
  2. What is your reading background so far?
  3. What is your educational background?
  4. How much do you know about the demands of the UPSC exam?
  5. Which location do you hail from?
I asked the first question to judge your present state of exposure to the various dynamics of UPSC preparations. If you have written the exam even once, then you surely come to know about (a) the names of top classes in India, (b) the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly about perceptions of people regarding the exam, the teachers, the course materials, and the Optionals, and (c) your own standing vis-a-vis what is needed to crack the Test. So, if you have no idea about what the UPSC prep is all about, going to Delhi is not a bad idea, if you can afford it. A lot of well-intentioned people on this forum and on the internet may aggressively advise you against it because it did not work out for them. But it does work for many people who may not write any answers here! So, it is not proper, IMPO, to totally depend on someone's personal experience of Delhi. That "someone" is not you, and does not share your constraints or resources.

The second question is very important because if you have been an aggressive reader across multiple areas over past many years, then you have all the raw material needed to start a serious preparation for GS portion of the Test, which is at least 70% of the game (at least it was in 2015). However, if you have never read newspapers and magazines seriously at a stretch for several months, then you should mentally prepare yourself for a 2 or 3 or 4 year long haul. Sorry for being blunt on this one, but this is how it is. The vastness of the syllabus and the depth to which some questions require you to dive, will soon make you realise this indeed is so. Now you may wonder, reading about the UPSC Exam Toppers (on this platform and elsewhere) that some people cracked it in the first attempt. My sincere advice to you - check their backgrounds. Is an overwhelming majority of such bright people from a handful of elite colleges that perhaps even you struggled to get into a few years ago? (This is a dangerously loaded topic that's likely to evoke instant reactions; I'll treat it at length in some other post). If yes, then maybe you should try to analyse why I am saying so! And remember - reading includes having read your school text books seriously. So if you were lucky enough to digest your NCERT text books, you already have the raw material. If not, do it now. (By the way, this "NCERT kar lo" remains one of the most recommended and proportionately least followed advice! More on it later).

The third question will help you decide which Optional can you choose in case you have been sincere with college studies, or are comfortable in some subject area. It will also be an indication of how much pressure can you take while preparing for the UPSC exam. If you are already exhausted by now (due to preparations for exams in XI and XII, and then Graduation studies), then UPSC will be a tough nut to crack in the first, or even the second attempt. Why? Simply because the sheer number of bright people trying to get in is huge. But some people can charge themselves after a small break intended to aid introspection, and can resurface with renewed passion. It all depends, and you should analyse your personal condition rigorously.

The fourth question looks mundane, but is not. The demands of the UPSC exam, in the present format are : (a) Extensive knowledge across the spectrum on topics you may never have read, (b) Connection between seemingly disconnected topics which is difficult to develop without a Connecting-the-Dots approach, (c) Excellent writing ability in the language you choose for the exam (many students simply are not upto the mark on this parameter despite being knowledgeable and bright), and (d) The ability to take pressure during the Prelims and Mains, i.e. the ability to compete on the D-Day. A lot of these 4 things may be present in you in differing quantities and you will now be suddenly required to bring all of these together in a magical manner. It is never easy, not even for the toppers (no matter what they say later! Ha ha)

Finally, the location you hail from will decide how much time you'll take to adjust in the Delhi environment. I was from Indore when I joined IIT Delhi in 1989, and it took me some time to adjust despite Hindi being my mother-tongue. If you are from deep down south, or east, you may face initial teething troubles especially if you are not in a group. And then again, you may not depending on your versatility.

It is indeed true that the internet is making the process of learning more and more accessible now. But it is a myth to assume that just because free resources are easily available, hence you will become a master learner by default. A plethora of options may only confuse you. Every provider will have a certain style, and many of these styles may clash. Further, everyone has a strong and personal take on UPSC exams, and you may discover that your assessment is at variance with what is available. If you perform best when tutored or mentored by a live human being, then self-learning may just not work for you. And vice-versa. Hence, every student must make a personal judgement of what works (or is likely to work) best for them.

It is also suggested by many that read this - read that - read this - read that - ... and you will crack the Test. If only it were this simple. There are many topics that require multiple readings to just get a basic handle on them, and as a stand-alone student you may take more time that you should, trying to master them. Some examples? World History, World Geography, Morality, Government Finances ... etc.

From years of experience of helping students in their preparations, we have evolved an excellent programme that can help students like you. It is our Self Prep course that combines multiple elements intelligently, directs your efforts smartly, and significantly increases your chances. View it here :

UPSC Civil Services Exams (Prelim + Mains) Preparation Course

I strongly suggest you go through this carefully, and check the various features etc. We offer a comprehensive solution (sessions + printed courseware + Mock Test Series + hand-holding) that can give your confidence a boost. Despite a two-decades long exposure to intense reading across disciplines and texts, the effort that my team and I had to put into the course was stupendous. We proudly claim that it is one of the best options for a serious student preparing at home. Many of my students whom you see on this page UPSC Prelims 2015 Results will agree.

And the approach we follow? You can check out an ideal approach here - UPSC Civil Services Prelims and Mains Approach This is really serious stuff, and even before you start, you should try to understand what I mean by an ideal approach (in terms of depth to cover). Of course, if you are reasonably certain of doing it all alone, go ahead with full confidence.

If you wish to know more, get in touch. I will be happy to help! All the best :)

For the best prep course, check this out


Unknown said...

Boon can be curse sometimes! "I'm going to Delhi that's is why I will be selected " this kind of mentality can harm your preparations and future! You will have to work hard even in Delhi. Coaching classes are not going to help you if you're preparation is not up to the mark !

Unknown said...

This happens in my state Gujarat when it comes to GPSC exams.If you go to Ahmadabad you will be successful in exam.
People fail in civil services exam because they do what others say rather then doing what their heart says!
Be honest to your self.prepare according your needs and capacity and don't try to copy someone's aproch and style.

Sunil said...

Thx a lot!

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