Small things go a long way. The following are some mistakes an aspirant can avoid while preparing
- Skipping the basics
By basics I mean, NCERTs, The Hindu newspaper, Yojana and Kuruskshetra magazines. Reading them religiously and making your own notes is your fundamental duty for both Prelims as well as mains. The UPSC market is filled with guide books, summaries, magazines and innumerable current affairs websites. Apply caution before they hijack your preparation. You could of course refer to them, but only much later and only for value addition. Basics are non-negotiable and irreplaceable.
- Not having a clear focus
Well planned is half done. Take a lot of time to decide your course of action in preparing for prelims, mains or optionals. Which subject you will study when, which test series, what reference books, how you’re planning to revise etc. Your mentor can help you with the planning. Once you’re done planning, stick to it with complete faith and trust. Drown out all the noises and show consistency in your effort till you reach your goal.
- Not making notes
Effective note making makes all the difference when it comes to saving time and revising. When you read on a topic, ensure you jot down as micro-points all that you are understanding from your reading. Make these notes in your own words and never copy anything directly into your notes. When you revise from your notes later, you should be able to recollect what you read.
- Following the herd while choosing the Optional
Blindly picking the optional based on what is offered at an institute, choosing an optional because a certain topper has scored so much, choosing your friend’s optional for company in preparation are common mistakes that cost aspirants very dearly in pursuit of their dreams. The criteria should instead be: your academic background, your writing skill set, inclination based on browsing through previous year question papers etc. Every optional is a scoring optional.
- Ignoring previous years question papers
You may think how it could be useful, as these questions have already been asked and no chance they would ask the same questions again. You are perfectly wrong if you thought so. There are two reasons it is important 1. You will understand the mentality of UPSC and internalize it. This will teach you what you should avoid, while preparing. Ex-Political topics. 2. UPSC does rephrase and ask the same questions a lot of times. Especially in Optionals.
- Not identifying mistakes made in previous attempts
Some aspirants tend to overlook the mistakes in their previous attempts. They make an effort to ignore their faults and continue doing what they did in their previous years of preparation. Please realise, by doing that, you are on the way to waste yet another year.
- Ignoring the UPSC syllabus
This perhaps could be the gravest of mistakes you can make. You should be able to plot anything you ever read into where it fits in the syllabus. If something doesn’t fit into the syllabus or it’s sub-parts it is not relevant for the examination. This is even more important for mains than prelims. Read and re-read the syllabus multiple times and internalize it.
- Not revising or not revising enough
Like we always tell our students, keep your study resources limited and your revision unlimited. Less luggage, more travel. Reading anything without a revision plan is worse than not reading at all. Not reading at least saves you time.
- Rushing at the last minute
UPSC is a marathon. Consistency is the ultimate trait that can take you to your goal. Rewards will not be immediate. You need patience and a sense of dutifulness in getting your daily work done. Remember, the journey is going to be hard but the destination a beautiful one. J
- Inappropriate use of technology
Access to the Internet and online coaching is a boon to those who use it wisely. But the minute internet consumes you, and you have no control over its use, you are doomed.
Best wishes !