Ten Common Mistakes Committed by Students during Competitive Exam Preparation

Clearing a competitive exam can change your life for good. It can open the door to a new and rewarding career. If you are reading this article you are probably preparing for the UPSC civil services exam. This article talks about ten common mistakes that students make while preparing for the civil services or any other competitive exam like the SSC or bank PO exams.

10 Mistakes to Avoid during UPSC/Competitive Exams

Mistake #1: Relying on someone else

Candidates should remember that since they are taking the exam, they should be responsible for the preparation as well. A lot of people rely on external factors like a teacher, mentor, friends or online videos, etc. to help them understand certain topics or motivate them. The first thrust should come from within them. Help should be taken only when needed.

Mistake #2: Relying on past credentials

Some people make the mistake of thinking, ‘Since I am from IIM/IIT, I can easily crack this exam’. Every exam is different and different set of attributes are tested in each. So, candidates should treat each exam as new and prepare adequately.

Mistake #3: Planning but not executing

When it comes to exams, actions speak louder than words. Merely thinking and planning about preparation will bear no fruits. Those plans have to be worked upon.

Mistake #4: Collecting hordes of study material

This is indeed a common mistake. A lot of material is available especially for the IAS exam and there would be a tendency to buy everything available. Also, these days a lot of material is available online as well. Candidates tend to horde all that electronic data with them. This exercise is pointless since it is humanly impossible to study everything. It is advisable to select the most recommended study material and prepare from them. For a complete list of books to read for the civil services, click on the link below:

Study Material for IAS Exam: The Complete Guide

Mistake #5: Ignoring self-study

Candidates can choose to attend coaching classes or stay away from them. It is a matter of personal liking and interest. However, self-study should not be ignored at any cost. Only actual studying will help in writing answers in the exams.

Mistake #6: Focusing on too many exams

Again, this is a matter of personal choice whether the candidate wants to take many competitive exams or not. But, for better results, it is better to focus on one exam at a time.

Mistake #7: Not focusing on tests

A lot of candidates keep on studying. So far, so good. But for competitive exams, it is extremely important to take mock tests. Only this will actually help them assess their strengths and weaknesses and also make them exam-ready. There are a lot of things at play here like negative marking, time constraints, etc. that decide the final outcome.

Mistake #8: Not pacing the preparation properly

This is particularly true for the IAS exam. Unlike the other competitive exam, the UPSC exam is a long-drawn process stretching out to at least ten months. If candidates start their preparation at 8 hours of reading per day, it is possible that they would suffer from burnout sooner or later. It is always prudent to start in smaller steps. Pacing the preparation in smaller chunks and slowly building it up to the exam day is the right approach.

Mistake #9: Wasting time while “studying”

This is another common mistake. Candidates might have observed how easy it is to become drawn into the world of rumours especially on the net during the preparation. Out of a total of ten hours that were spent at the study table, effectively only 5-6 hours were spent in actual exam-related studies.

Mistake #10: Not studying smart

A lot of candidates fail to make the cut despite seemingly having done everything. They would have studied hard and spent a lot of time practicing tests and previous questions papers. Then, why didn’t they clear the exam? The reason lies in ‘the right approach’. It is important to know how to study, what to study and what not to do during the preparation process. It is not enough to solve papers; one must know which the best mock tests are. One must also know which the most relevant topics for the exam are. One must know how to study smart for the exam.

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