Top 12 Common Mistakes to Avoid during UPSC IAS Preparation

The UPSC exam is your only chance of becoming an officer in the prestigious civil service of India. Entry into the service would give you the chance of a lifetime to actively take part in the growth story of our country. If you wish to take the UPSC 2020, you have to start preparing right now!

Common Mistake required to be avoided during UPSC Exam Preparation

Before you embark on this journey, there are a few things to bear in mind. The UPSC preparation is not a joyride and there would be several hiccups along the way. The important thing is to be positive and march ahead. The wise thing would be to avoid as many obstacles as possible. For this, we bring you the top mistakes aspirants make while preparing for the IAS exam, in this article.

Mistake #1: Not Sticking to UPSC Syllabus

  • UPSC Syllabus is the most important aspect of the exam.
  • Contrary to popular belief, UPSC syllabus does not comprise of everything under the Sun.
  • The syllabus must be treated as a boundary line for your preparation.
  • It is indicative – and sticking to the syllabus will help a lot in saving time and being well prepared for the paper.
  • The UPSC Syllabus is the roadmap in your preparation process; hence it is advisable to know the syllabus thoroughly before preparing.

Mistake #2: Ignoring Mock Test Practice

  • The IAS exam is highly competitive. It is also based on ranks.
  • To clear the exam, you must outperform most of your competitors. For this, practice is vital.
  • The IAS prelims has the component of negative marking involved. Hence, practice is essential to learn the art of bypassing the negative marking by intelligent guesswork.
  • And, for the IAS mains, the papers are invariably lengthy and only adequate practice can help aspirants complete the paper on time.

Mistake #3: Not Having A Study Plan

  • The IAS exam process is indeed long-drawn and intense.
  • This kind of battle requires a proper plan.
  • Before beginning the preparation process, aspirants should chart out a study course for themselves in tandem with any IAS coaching they might be taking.
  • Only proper planning will help in completing the IAS syllabus on time with time for revision and mock tests to spare.
  • Having daily, weekly and monthly goals which they can check after achieving them will also be a morale booster.

Mistake #4: Not Taking NCERTs Seriously

  • The NCERTs are the most basic books available in the market for IAS preparation.
  • The books explain concepts in a basic and simple manner helping aspirants understand the underlying concepts first.
  • After that, advanced textbooks can be read.
  • Aspirants can download all the NCERT textbooks required for the UPSC Exam for free here.

Mistake #5: Referring To Many Books For One Topic

  • It is true that UPSC Syllabus is very lengthy but that doesn’t mean that you have to refer to many books for preparation.
  • If you refer to many books for a single topic, it will be a blunder. Take one of two sources per topic and cover those UPSC Books well.
  • As they say, “Too many cooks spoil the broth.”

Mistake #6: Covering Current Affairs

  • A common mistake aspirants make while preparing for the IAS exam is not adequately covering current affairs, or covering them from the wrong sources.
  • Current affairs is a very important part of the UPSC question papers and most of the questions are based on current events.
  • The newspapers are the most important part of covering this segment. This brings us to the next mistake.
  • The best sources of UPSC current affairs should be crisp, relevant, easy-to-study, in tune with the UPSC syllabus and free!

Mistake #7: Spending Too Much Time Reading Newspapers

  • Newspapers reading is an important part of preparation but it should be done accurately.
  • Aspirants need to filter the topics and cover important topics in less time.
  • Aspirants should ideally spend only a maximum of 1 hour for it.
  • If this is difficult, it is better to follow a daily news analysis that already filters out the relevant content and presents it in the best manner.
  • This website offers two of the best modes of learning from the newspapers. The Comprehensive News Analysis section gives the daily news analysed in a text format along with downloadable PDF. The Hindu Video section gives a video lecture of the daily news with practice questions.

Mistake #8: Selecting The Wrong Optional

  • Marks scored in both the optional papers are very significant in determining the rank in the final merit list.
  • One huge mistake that most of the aspirants commit is choosing the wrong optional subject.
  • One has to be extremely careful while picking an optional subject.
  • It has to be made sure that the selection of optional for UPSC is not based on silly reasons but is out of interest for the subject and other factors such as availability of study material, coaching etc.
  • It is even better if aspirants can choose the subject of their graduation as the optional subject. But this is again subjective and is best left to the individual.
  • Learn more about how to select an optional subject for the IAS mains here.

Mistake #9: Not Being Balanced

  • The UPSC exam requires aspirants to have a balanced view of things.
  • Today, it is easy to get into debates and have polarised views on topics.
  • The UPSC exam is not a news hour debate, and candidates are not news anchors or participants.
  • The answers should be written like a future civil servant or diplomat.
  • For this, candidates should keep aside their personal biases and talk about the pros and cons of any topic.
  • Answers presented should not be extreme but measured, moderate and positive.

Mistake #10: Avoiding Revision

  • Since the Civil Services Exam syllabus is huge, there are high chances that the student could forget what was studied in the beginning.
  • The only way to remember everything is to make (or get) short notes and revise them regularly.
  • An aspirant must plan the study schedule in such a manner that there is ample time for multiple revisions before appearing for the paper.

Mistake #11: 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 #12: Losing Confidence

  • In the long march to the coveted IAS post, many aspirants tend to give in to pressures of all kinds.
  • They might have to face all kinds of taunts including those of family and friends.
  • If aspirants are clear about their goal, they should shut out negativity and start relying only on themselves.
  • Taking small breaks from the preparation will help in this regard.
  • Most importantly, be positive!

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