UPSC Civil Services is an examination that changes your life for good. There is a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson that says, “It’s not the destination. It’s the journey”. I firmly believe that it is an apt reference for the UPSC preparation as well. This is one such examination that will allow you to serve the Nation when you clear and, at the same time, improve you as a person intellectually and morally. Even if you do not clear the Civil Services Examination, the person you have evolved to be will help you overcome many obstacles in life and make you a better person altogether. That is the beauty of this exam. What you study and the different stages of the exam teach you various life lessons regardless.
There are two possibilities when you prepare for UPSC: either you clear the exam, or you don’t. What would happen if you clear the exam; you are tasked with one of the most critical responsibilities of building the Nation and serving the people. In this scenario, you now have enormous power and responsibilities and many people would look up to you. The satisfaction that you would get by helping many is a truly immeasurable feeling.
Now, what would happen if you don’t clear this exam? The vast majority of aspirants who apply for this exam do not clear, and it’s a fact. But that does not mean that you have wasted your time in preparing for this exam? If an aspirant looks back at how he/she changed because of this exam, the changes would be enormous. For example, the subjects you study – Polity, Economics, History, Environment, Geography etc. You are being exposed to the fundamentals of various streams that make you knowledgeable about different topics. Each subject that you have to study to clear the Civil Services Examination helps you in your life. The polity that you learn enables you to realize how India’s Constitution works and your rights as a citizen. Economics teaches you about how the World and the Indian economy work and other nitty-gritty like how a small thing such as a price rise happens. History helps you make better decisions in life and allows you to understand your roots and culture better. The list continues for other subjects as well. Now, think about the amount of knowledge and wisdom you will get once you start studying for this exam. Ask yourself whether it is a waste of time, irrespective of you clearing the exam or not. The knowledge that you will possess after studying these subjects will give you something precious in life- Clarity of Thought.
Now, an aspirant might be thinking that with this knowledge that he/she has acquired, one becomes an informed citizen, but how will it help one get employed? If you have this question, I urge you to look at the Civil Services Exam structure- Prelims, Mains and Interview. Apart from the knowledge added, the Prelims exam tests your thinking and decision-making skills and aptitude. The GS and CSAT paper of Prelims exam polishes these skills inside you, and these skills are what today’s top companies look for in a candidate.
Moreover, by preparing the Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT), you are involuntarily preparing for various other competitive exams with a paper on aptitude, reasoning and verbal ability. The next stage of the exam- Mains, is where you must answer subjective type questions. For this, an aspirant will have to assimilate the thoughts he/she possess and create the answer to the question posed with the help of the knowledge he/she has. In any problem that he/she faces in life, be it personal or professional, the process is the same to find an answer- assimilation of thoughts with the knowledge one holds—the next sage, the Interview- where an aspirant’s character is tested. A strong will, morals and confidence are what the UPSC board wants from an aspirant. Imagine you churn yourself into having one. You get selected into the service or not; you are now equipped with something that is the most desirable in any human being: A Defining Character. What more can an individual hope to achieve?
Ask yourself now if preparing for UPSC is a waste of time? Every subject you learn, every stage you prepare for, teaches you something valuable. That is the beauty of this exam. It is a valuable learning process.