‘Dil na umeed toh nahin , nakaam hi toh hain/ Lambi hain gham ki sham magar sham hi to hain’
– Faiz Ahmed Faiz
This one is a self-introspection post. A reminder to awake me from the complacency whenever I feel lazy. I had worked hard for the civil services examination and yet could not make it, falling 46 marks short of the cut-off. I had not expected to make it this time because I wasn’t satisfied with my mains examination and my fears were true, I had just marginally passed the mains. Although close, I shall not sugar-coat it, a miss is as good as a mile. And it hurts.
I am now aware of my strengths and my weaknesses, and can channelize my hard work better this time. I can pull off an impromptu essay pretty well and my understanding of ancient and medieval Indian history is something I am happy about. And now for my faults.
1. I had not written enough answers for practice
2. Piling up newspaper cuttings which I could not revise properly
3. I had planned to finish the syllabus before beginning revision. The syllabus is so vast that it never finishes off. I need to revise simultaneously as I read.
I am sorry to disappoint all those who ardently wished for my success. My parents, Suvro Sir, my dear cousin Moonie, my dear friends, especially Pritam, Suchandra, Paulami, Vaagisha, Reeti, Saurabh, Shishir, Shikha, Rajarshi and a few others ( I am sorry if I miss out any of you :-P) and most of my relatives. Among the ones mentioned last, there were many who discouraged me as well. I shall get back to you when I succeed, now I do not have much to say. For the rest, I shall strive hard to succeed this time and mention all of you again next year in my Oscar speech. 🙂 My special thanks to Sir for taking out time and painstakingly preparing me for the interview, where I was confident and happy with my performance. I hope to better it next year.
I did not want to include the following part. But suddenly, there has been a spurt of ‘friend’ requests on Facebook, all wanting to know the secret recipe for cracking civils.
To all those who have been asking me about tips to crack this examination, I am sorry that I have no such tips since I couldn’t crack it. I can only share my experience.
My preliminary examinations had gone well so I hoped to crack it. I had studied NCERT textbooks (history, geography, political science, economics) of Class XI and XII (available here), India Year Book by Publications Division, General Studies Manual by TMH and the Economic Survey (in full). The Year Book and the Economic Survey are very boring to read, but I had completed them. For paper II of prelims, I had only solved previous years’ question papers. I am good at English comprehension and also reasonably good at reasoning and data interpretation and basic mathematics. If you are not, you may require more practice. Do not follow me blindly, judge on your own.
The mains examination had a completely different pattern this time. I scored dismally in General Studies, so I do not know how to prepare it. I am myself trying to figure out the right method. You may check this website, which provides numerous topper interviews that can guide you better. For my history optional, I read Bipan Chandra’s books on modern India, Satish Chandra for medieval India, IGNOU notes and DN Jha for ancient India, Jain and Mathur and LN Mukherjee and IGNOU notes for World History. IGNOU notes are available in the egyankosh.ac.in website and also in College Street. I did not attend any coaching or mock tests because it is difficult for me to travel and stay in Delhi/Kolkata. I like to study at home and self-study makes me more confident than coaching. I have always been against tuition since childhood. However, it may not suit everyone, so do not blindly follow, I repeat. I read The Hindu daily and Yojana and Kurukshetra magazines. Check Publications Division’s website for the procedure to subscribe them. You can get previous years’ question papers and syllabus in the UPSC website. That’s all I can tell you as of now. If I succeed this year, I may give you the details of GS preparation next year.
A piece of advice: Please go for it only if you have a strong desire and not just a plain whim. Chalk out your own strategy assessing what you are good at. To each, his own.
And now all that haunted me put to rest. Back to my books. 🙂