Only the top 2% of candidates succeed in UPSC CSE Prelims.
If you wish to be in the top 2% you need to think like a topper. You need a combination of smart work and hard work to be successful. Yet, you have to prioritise.
Smart work is easy and that should always be your priority. As part of smart work, ClearIAS suggest three action items that will be extremely useful to improve your marks.
(1) Training by ClearIAS (Online Classes)
Students take formal training to crack school exams and college exams, don’t they?
However, when it comes to highly competitive exams like UPSC CSE, somehow there is a wrong notion that self-study is sufficient.
Self-study is important. However, in most cases, it may not be sufficient. Self-study needs to be complemented with the right training. This will help you save time, effort, and money.
Proper training helps in all competitive fields – be it sports, business, or academics.
Training (Online or Offline Coaching) is adopted by most toppers who crack UPSC CSE. Those who secure a top rank entirely by self-study is definitely an exception and should not be generalised. This is because vacancies are less and one needs to be extremely competitive to top the rank list. Otherwise, he/she will be just wasting his/her precious youth years. The right training will help an aspirant to prepare focused.
Both are online programs. Equal importance is given to Knowledge and Exam-Skills in both programs. Also, techniques to score more marks like Intelligent Elimination Techniques are taught in the program.
(2) Prelims Test Series by ClearIAS (Online Mock Exams)
Practice is important for success in every field. The same applies to UPSC CSE as well.
For proper time management, answer elimination, and stress management you need to practise MCQs in a timed environment with negative marking.
Also, if you are lucky, you may get direct or indirect questions in UPSC CSE Prelims from the model questions.
We recommend you join ClearIAS Prelims Online Mock Test Series.
(3) UPSC CSE Previous Year Re-Take Tests (Online Mock Exams)
There is no better source of learning other than the previous year’s UPSC question papers.
ClearIAS recommends re-take of last 10 previous year UPSC Question Papers in a timed environment with negative marking.
Our solutions are based on the official UPSC key. Also, all India ranking and performance reports are available.
Smart Work vs Hard Work – 80:20 Principle
As mentioned before, a combination of smart work and hard work is necessary to crack UPSC CSE.
I also said that smart work is easy and that should always be your priority.
Let’s recollect Pareto’s 80:20 principle here.
There are 20% items that will bring 80% results. The other 80% can bring only 20% results.
In that perspective, the 3 action items listed above ie ClearIAS Online Classes, ClearIAS Online Mock Exams, and UPSC CSE Re-Take Exams are part of the initial 20% effort which can bring huge returns. That is part of the ClearIAS Smart Work Approach.
There are plenty of other things which you can do as part of hard work – like going behind tons of online and offline study materials and books.
However, remember, smart work can bring better results in a short time.
Nothing is enough in UPSC CSE: But first things first!
There is another set of questions that I come across almost every day.
The usual questions from aspirants are something like this:
“Is Laxmikanth’s Indian Polity Book enough for the entire Polity subject?”
“Is the monthly compilations of XYZ institute enough for Current Affairs”?
“Is ClearIAS Prelims Test Series enough to crack UPSC CSE?”
“Are NCERT Text Books enough to succeed in UPSC CSE”?
Dear students, the answer to all these questions is this: Nothing is enough in UPSC CSE. But first things first!
Core Resources (Smart-Work) and Supplementary Resources (Hard-Work)
UPSC does not stick to one particular textbook or source for preparing questions.
In recent years, they have greatly increased the sources from which questions are being set.
So there is nothing that can assure 100% returns.
However, you can prioritise.
Focus on what gives you maximum results in a short time. Then expand your preparation to the other sources (supplementary resources).
The supplementary resources include value-addition materials, textbooks, monthly compilations etc.
Care should be taken to ensure that what should be considered supplementary resources should not act as your core resources. Unfortunately, that is the case with many aspirants. That is one of the reasons why many aspirants fail repeatedly in UPSC CSE.
Traditional Preparation: 80% HardWork: 20% Result
The usual methods of preparation adopted by most aspirants (be it self-study or with the help of traditional coaching institutes) are heavily dependent on items that nowadays are no longer relevant.
Many aspirants prepare without proper guidance regarding the priority question areas and effective processes to bring maximum output. Very often, the study materials which many collect and refer from online sources like Telegram, YouTube etc only add to the workload producing no major effects on the exam-hall performance.
The focus of traditional coaching is only on the knowledge part and exam skills are mostly ignored.
I hope all readers now have answers about why despite the hard work many aspirants fail to clear even the first stage of UPSC CSE ie Prelims.
You should not be under-resourced. However, there should be some core resources.
A few other relevant books or online study materials can also be added to the Core Resources Group. Examples – ClearIAS Online Study Materials, ClearIAS Ebooks, NCERT Books etc.
The rest of the things may be considered supplementary. Being supplementary does not mean they can be skipped. No. That’s not what I meant.
Supplementary items should be covered (maybe glanced through), once you cover the Core resources.
This strategy will work wonders for you in UPSC CSE. All the best!