IAS/UPSC Exam Preparation – You must ask this question now how UPSC will assess you for everything that is required in an administrative officer through this exam. If this question is occurring to you then it is a good sign that you have the potential to be an IAS officer.
It is obvious that if you opt for history and become a district collector you will not be asked to write a history of the district. If you take geography you will not have to produce a map of the district when you are a District Magistrate. Your vast reserves of general knowledge will not be of much use, once you start working as an administrative officer. So if all this is not required later, why does UPSC make us toil overeat?
The answer is simple, it is through these methods only that UPSC test your mind thoughts and character. This is similar to how before buying a new pot you tap it with your fingeres to check it. If you do not like UPSC pattern then I would like you to suggest another improved pattern which is full proof with no errors. This is not just difficult but almost impossible. You may hold any opinion about the UPSC selection process but as of now you have to say that whatsoever it is, howsoever it is, you have to tackle the current scenario and prove that you are IAS material.
I decided to talk about this because I have seen young students study for up to twelve hours, year after year. They have this misconception that the more they will study; the more likely they are to pass the exam. This reasoning steams from there successful experience of university exams. However, the requirements of civil services and university are different. University exams test one’s knowledge not personality but knowledge is not required for civil services. Knowledge is only the means to test the analytical ability of the mind. If you do not develop the ability to critically analyze the knowledge you have gained, it will be difficult to qualify the civil services exam, even if you have memorized the entire syllabus. Civil services require strong personality and the way you analyze your knowledge can give clues to your personality.
Another thing I would like to mention here is that UPSC is not bothered whether you get IPS or IRS or any other service if you have proven that you have the desired metal in you, the UPSC will recommend you that’s it. It is your personal preferences which service you want to be in but please do not let this preference influence your preparation. You just have to prove your mettle that you deserve to be a civil servant. All the ministries have their own training institute. You will be trained according to the service you get. You are to remember that if you have the mettle the training institutes will handle everything themselves. Your job is only to follow instructions.
The qualities that requires following:-
1. Clarity of mind – If you have ever taken the UPSC exam you must have felt I have read about this somewhere while attempting the questions. I know the question, I am familiar with it. This is what you think but still answer incorrectly. This is the biggest challenge posed by the preliminary exam. You read a question and you feel you have read it somewhere but when you read the options you have to choose from to answer you get confused in most cases all the options contain some truth in them, the all seem correct. The option evaluate how clear you are about your subject. They are written in such a manner so as to confuse you.
2. Speed Of Mind – As you are well aware you get 120 minutes to solve around 100 questions of general studies and another 80 of CSAT. This means you have approximately one and a half minute for each question. I have a theory that may not be applicable to general reasoning but it is definitely valid for CSAT. The theory is that students can increase their scores by 50% compared to their previous scores instead of 2 hours they were given 3-4 hours to write the exam if they get more time to thin and calculate they will be able to get more correct answer but if such a thing is done how a good mind would be selected if there is ample time then it will bring all minds to the same level. A mind that answers fast and calculates with speed is considered great.
3. Focus – CSAT paper includes comprehension questions. Truly speaking looking at the level of civil services exam, these questions seem sort of assuming. I have seen many students take these questions lightly. But if you take it seriously, you will realize what a challenge these comprehensions pose to your mind. The biggest challenges is that of focus. You read the comprehension and you are asked 3-4 multiple choice questions based on it when you read the options you face 2 major issues. The first is that all the options you have to choose from seem to be correct. They are correct. But the question is which option is related to what you have studied in the comprehension you will only be able to choose the correct answer. If you have remained focused while reading the comprehension. The second problem is how much of your mind could you control. You will notice that most of the answers that are given are correct if viewed from the perspective of general knowledge. In fact it is not compulsory to answer keeping the comprehension in mind. The option you decided on the basis of the general knowledge, each probably is the better match. So when you are deciding upon an answer based on the comprehension your general knowledge will invade your mind. So you face the challenge of ignoring this invasion and keep your mind from drifting.
4. Decision Making Power – The challenge of choosing the correct answer from so many confusing ones is also linked to your decision making power. An administrator’s success depends on how many correct decisions he could take in his life. Although, every person’s success depends on the decisions he took. In the case of an administrator this becomes even more important. This is because a common man’s decision will affect him personally but an administrator’s decision can affect the country and its people. Keeping this in mind the CSAT paper have the questions related to decision making. The questions associated with decision making that are asked in civil services also have to do with a person’s characters, his moral values, his life values, his understanding and his personality. Any decision that a candidate takes will be influenced by all these factors. In this scenario, your answer is representative of your whole personality.
I had no hesitation in saying that this and I want to convince you to that the true IAS potential of yours is judged by the main exam. It is to that you would not reach this level without clearing the preliminary examination but the true assessment of your knowledge understanding with etc. is at this level only. It has been observed that sometimes students who clear the preliminary exams can not even score 25% in the main exam. On the other hand there are students who fear the preliminary exam but are well prepared for the main examination. I am discussing this fact here so that you can understand the difference between the two exams. This will help you approach your studies in a scientific manner and you can mold your brain and personality accordingly. Now we shall see what expectations UPSC has from you in the main papers.
The nature of main exam is as follow:-
1. There are four question papers on General Studies.
2. There are two optional papers.
3. There is paper on general English and a paper on general Hindi/any Indian language.
4. There are hardly any straight forward questions.
5. The questions are such that they allow you to express your thoughts on the matter.
6. There is a word limit on the questions on general studies and optional papers.
Analytical Ability – Your ability to memorise will not work here. The questions asked in the exams are such that you can’t write a memorized asked in the facts you have memorized will be useful so far as to provide content for your analysis. Whatever you have studied will be the raw material to feed your answer just like you need potatoes, cabbage, chilies, salt and spices to make vegetable curry. You can’t make a curry simply by mixing the vegetables you also have to cook them. This applies to the mains too.
Originality – An analytical ability alone is not enough. You read the questions in the unsolved papers again. You will notice that most questions end with ‘give a critical analysis’ or ‘what steps should be taken’ etc. You have read the subject and you have the general knowledge. It is fine. You can analyze what you have read. Fine again, whatever you have studied and absorbed indicates the awareness and alertness of your mind. An ability to analyze what have been studied and absorbed hints at the brightness and productivity of your mind but when you express your thoughts about the subject it reveals what exactly your productive mind has produced. This test the originality of your mind. This shows what and how your mind thinks on a certain subject. Don not forget that when we think of something which is origin one and present our thoughts, it unveils our entire personality. Consequently UPSC finds the originality of the mind needed to be a good administrator missing.
Language Proficiency – Civil services included and an essay writing paper before 1979. It was discontinued for a decade. It was then re-introduced for various reasons. First was to test a student’s thought on any given topic. Secondly, it tested the language profanely and style of the candidate. Essay writing is a paper that you can’t really prepare for it. It is sort of a self-writing exercise and there is no students who does not attempt the essay. They may choose their topics and write differently but all students write the essay.
It is the simplest paper but also full of challenges. The challenge is that the paper is more of an art and less science. Here the role of writer is that of a bee which has to suck nectar from many flowers to create honey. Similarly, to write an essay the writer collects his wisdom from many sources. This reveals how vast the ocean of writer’s knowledge is, how well understanding of facts is and how will he uses the facts to reach a desired conclusion. The most important of all is the presentation and expression. Remember, essays are not written for intellectuals, they are for average readers so the challenge while writing an essay is how to write a piece the common reader can understand even if the topic of the essay is tough or related to science. Now let us address the question of language as an administrator you will deal with all kinds of paper. Some of them may be illiterate. They will come from different backgrounds whichever departments you belong to you role will be that of a leader who guides others. If your language is not simple, not fluent, and not relevant and if it lacks sympathy, it will fail to make an expression and you will not be able to govern people effectively.
Brevity – I feel that if the word limit is removed from the questions asked in general studies papers it would become much easier for students to answer it. But something which is easy for one person would become easy for everyone else too. It will then become difficult to select the best. The purpose of word limit to test which brain has the ability to control and express its thoughts within the limits that it has been asked to. This ability can prove how efficiently we can control our thoughts. To follow the word limit and give the best possible answer is not easy unless the person have thoroughly imbibed the subject. Your ability to say what you need to within the word limit reveals your unique style of expression it is like the ability to drive safely in the narrow, winding roads in the hills. You are in total control of the steering of your car because you know that one mistake will cause the car to fall in the gorge.
Integrity – Whether we talk about an administrator a politician, a farmer, a labor or an average citizen. The quality and the quantity of the gross effect on their surroundings depends on their integrity. You may have heard the name of ENRON, a big MNC that was in the process of setting up and ambitious power project in India but suddenly it caught bankrupt. Nobody can believe it. How can this be possible? People were asking each other. Specialist the traits tried to find out the exact reasons behind this breakdown. Do you know what their findings were? They concluded that though ENRON succeeded in hiring the best engineers in trade. They probably could not hire the best people. Don’t you think if every citizen of India promise to hold his or her integrity we can change the fate of our country? We have never been sought on resources. We can claim to have the best brain in the world. The only thing we are lacking is the integrity that should be an essential part of our character.
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