How to Overcome Your Fear of UPSC Mains

“There would be nothing to frighten you if you refused to be afraid.” – Gandhi

You have given your UPSC prelims and your preparation is going according to plan. Suddenly, you start counting days and you mark the D-day in red in your calendar. You sense a little something in your tummy every time you see it. With every passing day this feeling intensifies until you almost start choking because of FEAR. You doubt your abilities and your preparation. Instead of studying, you spend time wondering what would happen if you fail. Many a talented UPSC candidate give up just before taking the mains even after clearing the UPSC prelims just because of fear.

Fear is a natural instinct that human beings have. It has been around right from when we were cavemen. It is an instinct that protected us from the real dangers of the world then. Even today, fear has the ability to keep us on our toes. It is fear that teaches us to be cautious. An idiom goes, ‘Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.’ But fear also has the ability to stifle you into inaction. It can also cause a lack of faith and depression. The UPSC civil services preparation is a grilling process spread over 10 – 12 months and it is important not to give up. No amount of intelligence and preparation can help if you chicken out at the last moment.

You have done your homework. Remember author Stephen Richards’ words – ‘Fear can make a moth seem the size of a bull elephant.’ What should be a challenging yet smooth affair turns out to be a painful ordeal.

When you started out your IAS preparation you knew what you were in for. You knew it was going to be tough and it would require utmost dedication on your part to make it through till the end. You knew the road to Mussoorie wouldn’t be an easy one. It would be filled with hurdles. But you still took the plunge and decided to enrol for the UPSC exams because you wanted to achieve something in life. You have a grand dream of joining the elite civil services of our country.

When the going gets tough, the tough gets going.”

An old Sanskrit saying goes, ‘in order to overcome fear, you have to face it.’ There are no two ways about it. If you feel sweaty anytime you think about the UPSC mains, practise the following:

  • Remind yourself that you have prepared for the UPSC mains to your fullest ability.
  • Tell yourself that you have taken all the necessary help needed for it (family, teachers, coaching, study material, etc.).
  • Do calming techniques like meditation, yoga.
  • Know that fear is an illusion. False Evidence Appearing Real (F.E.A.R.)
  • Do your job without thinking about the consequences. Rewards will follow actions.
  • Tell yourself that you have cleared the first step, the UPSC prelims, now you can tackle the mains too. Out of all the lakhs who take the prelims, only a few thousands go through. That should assail any fear you have.

The toughest exam, i.e. the UPSC civil services exams have been cracked by people from underprivileged and challenging backgrounds. With the right preparation and frame of mind, you can also ace the civil services exams. Remember Mark Twain’s words of wisdom.


“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.”

Also read: