With over 10 lakh applicants each year, and only 1,000 selections – the UPSC exams can seem like an insurmountable hurdle. But it can be crossed! In ‘UPSC Simplified’, The Better India catches up with toppers to uncover the dos and don’ts for India’s toughest exam.
Follow the series for all the tips you need!
K Vijaykarthikeyan is a doctor by qualification, who chose to appear for the UPSC examination in 2011 and went on to ace it. Currently posted as Commissioner, Coimbatore Municipal Corporation, he is the youngest bureaucrat to hold this position.
In this second part of an exclusive interview, we find out about the importance of choosing the right coaching centre and resources aspirants could use while preparing for the examination.
Click here to read the first part, where he discusses examination strategy and negative marking.
“While this is very specific to each aspirant, one common book that everyone uses extensively for the general studies preparation is the NCERT textbook. It is the best for conventional subjects like history, geography, polity, and economics,” he says.
For aspirants also looking for a more comprehensive book that covers topics like annual budget, and current affairs, he suggests looking at getting a general studies manual. This, he says, will cover both conventional subjects as well as contemporary subjects.
Dividing time between subjects
An interesting way of dividing time between the various subjects for the prelims, according to Dr Vijaykarthikeyan, is to take up one subject a day.
“I followed a timetable–Monday for history, Tuesday for Polity, Wednesday for Geography and so on. This way, I could give each subject dedicated time.”
This formed the core of what Dr Vijaykarthikeyan studied each day. He would supplement this with reading the newspaper and a few magazines.
One magazine that he recommends for comprehensive information is ‘Pratiyogita Darpan’. Available as both monthly editions and a comprehensive year-end booklet, it has long been a choice for aspirants of administrative services. Another online resource he recommends is GK Today.
Dr Vijaykarthikeyan also warns against over-doing it. He says, “Refrain from the tendency to buy and read too many magazines. Pick one or two and stick to reading those. Too much of information can also be confusing.”
Importance of Coaching Centres
“Coaching centres are important because they give us a chance to evaluate ourselves. For those who feel motivated seeing their peers studying and working hard, this is a great place to be,” he shares.
Having said this, he adds, “It is good to be in the loop and know what is happening but at the same time, ensure that you choose the right centre. They are expensive so one could take the test series, which will also be helpful. It is not mandatory to join a centre.”
Before an aspirant joins a coaching centre, Dr Vijaykarthikeyan suggests verifying its previous results, faculty, and course material.
This will help make an informed decision.
“Do not sign up for a very intensive coaching schedule, you might find them eating into your study schedule and that is not something you want,” he advises.
Tips before you attempt the paper
1. Be honest
Attempt only what you are sure about. Do not try and figure out answers to questions you don’t know. Remember that there is negative marking as well. Do not bluff and try to answer beyond the scope of what is asked.
2. Be calm
Circumstances might be beyond your control, but do not let any of that affect you. Focus on the task at hand and concentrate on getting through the examination.
3. Don’t stress
If, at first glance, you seem to know the answers to only a few questions, do not worry. Maintain your composure, focus on what you know and start with attempting those.
Aspirants tend to develop their own methods and techniques of cracking this mammoth exam. Some work, some don’t. But it doesn’t mean that you stop trying!
Create your own unique methodology and incorporate pointers from people like Dr Vijaykarthikeyan, as every bit helps.
With these pointers, we wish you all the very best for your examination!
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)