Majority of aspirants do go to Delhi in the crowded lanes of Rajendra Nagar or Mukherjee Nagar to sweat it out for the coveted civil services. Yet there are some who choose- willingly or forced by circumstances- to prepare from other parts of the country (even world!). This blog posts is primarily meant for them who have either never joined a coaching for civil services preparation or have experienced little benefit out of it.
I, myself, prepared from Lucknow, my hometown. I was too lazy to step out of my comfort zone. I joined a coaching near my house only to drop soon think I would do better on my own. Life at home was never difficult- food, clothing, transport- everything is taken care of. But then one needs a schedule and iron will to stick to the schedule.
Here are some guidelines to follow in order to sail through without a coaching:
- Make a daily time table: With comfort of home also come distraction- TV, pets, relatives, friends etc. It is important that one draws a daily timetable dedicated to studying. Of course take out time for leisure activities but for a restricted time. A time table ensures that you don’t waste time. Over the time when you follow a time table, your mind starts working as a click and sends you alarm (call it a guilt feeling) when you indulge too much in extraneous activities. So from today itself, chart out a study plan over the 24 hours of the day and paste it on your study room wall!
- Fix a study place: Look a place where you can find silence (and of course a table and chair!). This should be the place where you must study. No lingering in the lobby or in the balcony. Also, do not make it too comfortable. It can induce sleep. I remember I had removed the air conditioner from my room despite humid June Summers just to ensure that I don’t fall sleep instead of completing Laxmikanth!
- Complete syllabus on time: Wrap up NCERTs in the first three months. Next three months should be for standard text books. All this while ensure that you read the newspaper daily. There are variois resources available online. You don’t really need a coaching. Just make sure to stick longer with the problem. Don’t give up something you don’t understand. Try and learn on your own. It will have better retention than someone spoon feeding you in a classroom. Revise periodically and do make notes. For note making strategy, you may read here
- Write a lot of mock tests. A lot: To give you my personal example, I had written 30 mock tests by the time I appeared in Mains examination. And I credit my marks (GS-427, Sociology- 301) solely to answer writing practice. Remember that UPSC is not an exam that tests your knowledge but your expression. And you can express yourself effectively only if you practice well in advance. Solve previous years question papers. Online test series are a great way for those not a part of the (with all due respect) ORN brigade. I’d joined Vision IAS for GS online test series.
Do remember that Delhi or No Delhi, Coaching or No coaching, nothing is a guaranteed full proof formula for success in CSE. Do not think that you are reducing your selection chances merely by not joining a coaching. But you certainly will reduce your success probability if you keep thinking about it.
Not being in a coaching gives you a lot of time to self study and with internet all over the place, your mobile/laptop is the best teacher.
Have faith in yourself and study hard. That’s all that matters.