The Union Public Service Commission conducts the most contested exam in India, the Civil Services Examination. People start aspiring for the exam ever since they are in primary classes.
They then attempt to understand the exam gradually and by the time they are done with schooling, some even start coaching for it. Different people with different socio-economic backgrounds start their journey at different phases in their life.
While to some 10 long years of preparation might seem too less, others might be able to clear the exam with just 2 years of preparation. One can never judge what is right for the other as you might not know what circumstances are bringing to them. Plus, no thumb rule applies to all.
Despite these reasons, we may infer that one and a half years before the first stage of the exam is the most crucial period for preparation. This is the time when you need to be devoted to the exam despite anything happening in your life. If you can’t, then clearing the exam will remain a distant dream.
If you have already cracked the preparation strategy for yourself, kudos to you! You are doing great for yourself. However, if you are still confused, please keep reading the article. We acknowledge the fact that the same thing does not work for all.
But we shall attempt to give a framework that is likely to suit most people. You can make changes here and there. Attempt trial and error and you will be able to reach a solution.
- The 18-hour Myth
Right at the outset, we would like to clear that you are no robot. Studying 18 hours a day is an almost impossible thing to do. Your day just has 24 hours. Dedicating 18 hours to study means that only 6 hours are left with you.
And ancient scriptures to modern-day lifestyle coaches advise a sleep cycle of at least 6 hours a day. This means that you will not have any time left to do the other routine tasks.
Most of you will then say that we can sleep a little less. But we have already mentioned that compromising sleep is not a good solution. Moreover, constant 18 hours of information will be way too heavy for your head.
Hence, for all the humane reasons, let it get straight into the heads that one cannot and need not study for 18 or even 16 hours a day.
It might work well for the first few days but will eventually lead to saturation and exhaustion. 10 to 12 hours of self-study will suffice. This is both the minimum and the maximum time frame that you need to engage with the books and other study material.
- Other Prerequisites
Another word of caution, especially for people who are too nervous about the exam. The preparation years do not mean that your day has to be inclusive only of studying, sleeping, and other routine jobs of the body.
The importance of sleep has already been mentioned, but your mind might need other forms of rest too. Once every 15 days, you can take out some time for recreational activities like watching a movie, visiting friends, family bonding, etc.
This will help your brain function better because a break from monotony is always good. Moreover, activities like these will help keep the negativity that is most likely to seep in, at a distance from you.
The next step is keeping your body healthy. No matter how near the exam might be, practice some form of body movement. It could be anything ranging from just stretching to jogging to yoga, etc. But do not overstrain yourself too.
Remember that the main focus has to be your studies. Along with the workout, hydration and proper nourishment are also important. Students tend to neglect these two aspects most often. Do not find your resort in Maggi too often. Your brain and body need good food and enough water.
- Early Mornings or Late Nights
Well, this is a rather debated topic, often drawing a line of disagreements between the boomers on one side and the millennials and GenZs on the other. No point of view can be outrightly rejected.
Hence, you should try and test what is best for yourself. We, however, would like to suggest that mornings can comfortably start at 6 and the day might end at 12. This satiates both schools of thought and will give you the advantages of and experience of both.
- An Overall Plan
The first plan of action must be to divide the total time of preparation into months dedicated to specific tasks. For example, demarcate months in which you plan to finish the syllabus while also ensuring that you know when you wish to start solving question papers.
- Undisturbed Slots
Your day should have at least 3 and at max 4 slots where you study without any distractions. They could be a combination of 2 to 3 hours and be organized in a way that you can focus on the objective plus subjective parts of the study while also making space for newspapers and magazines.
Certain things need daily practice while others might be done in rotation. For example, you cannot miss newspapers but you may read political science one day and philosophy the other day. No distractions during these slots are the key. You can schedule your breakfast, lunch, dinner, and bathing time around these slots so that you get a proper break without really wasting time.
While self-study is the need of the hour in the last league of preparation, it is not sufficient to practice. While taking offline classes might seem like a waste of time, online classes for UPSC can be opted for.
Online classes for the preliminary examination might turn out to be the most beneficial because studying objectively might be slightly trickier. Enrolling in online current affairs classes will be a smart move. In addition to that, these institutes offer mock tests and mock interviews which should never be skipped. They help boost experience and confidence.