The UPSC CSE has perplexed attempting students for ages now due to its ironical blend of questions that are simple yet so hard.

More than the actual complexity of the exam are the myths surrounding it.

For those planning to attempt what’s believed to be ‘the mother of all exams’, here are some things to know before you start your preparation.

Myth 1: Subjects like Economics and Governance are more important than others. Truth: Every topic, big or small, is important.

Rallapalli Jagat Sai who cleared UPSC 2020 in his fifth attempt with an AIR 32 says, “many participants give more weightage to these subjects compared to science, technology and internal security.”

It was only when he rectified this mistake of his and gave all subjects equal weightage that he managed to secure a good rank.

Myth 2: NCERT is the holy grail. Truth: Every source is equally important.

Abhijeet Yadav who cleared UPSC CSE twice notes, “NCERTs are important, but just doing NCERTs won’t get you far. They are simply the starting point from which you need to build expertise in each subject.”

Myth 3: You must choose your graduation subject as your optional. Truth: Your optional subject should be one you would love to learn in-depth.

Debotosh Chatterjee, IRS (C&IT), 2016, is a graduate of chemical engineering but chose political science and international relations as his optional subject. He adds that despite people calling him “crazy” for this choice, he got through his first attempt with only five to six months of preparation.

Myth 4: One should be off social media and isolate themselves to succeed. Truth: One can learn a lot from social media if it is used in the right way.

Odisha’s Simi Karan, who cracked the UPSC in 2019 with an AIR of 31, emphasises that the years spent in college are important for personality development.

She adds that one of her most important sources of information and trending news was Facebook. As Simi elaborates, “I ensured that I followed several relevant newspaper pages and would often go through the articles that would pop up on my feed.”

Myth 5: Faking a personality during the interview will help you succeed. Truth: Be as natural as possible.

Ankur Garg (batch 2002-03) who topped the UPSC exams at the young age of 22 shares that many coaching institutes will guide you on the right way to sit and speak during the interview round.

“I find such artificial training outright useless, if not harmful. The idea should be to come across as natural as your real personality,” he says.