I have seen people who jokingly refer that UPSC stands for Un-Predictable Services Commission instead of Union Public Services Commission. This is because UPSC examination poses to be a difficult nut to crack and students perceive UPSC expectations and question to be too high to compete with. This is a common complaint, I always hear from students discussing among themselves in the library, book stores, examination centers etc. But for this reason no students quit taking the examination. They perceive UPSC to be heartless, specifically on the examination day and result declaration date. The problem is if you see your opponent as huge as a dinosaur, it is implicit you lose your strength because of fear and subsequently the fight.
I have seen several candidates, who are dedicated, with excellent knowledge and skill set required to be a civil servant, but failed the examination for no vital reasons. In most cases there can be no excuse or reason that optimally suit to explain their failure.
On my analysis and interaction with so many such students. I can see a common thread/psychological brake which they apply in their preparation. They set their task to confront UPSC question paper, its evaluation methods and its expectation which is usually very high. It is a bitter truth that as far as you see the exam from this frame of reference, there is little or no chance to succeed in the examination.
A simple but important paradigm shift is required to overcome this psychological brake to push hard on the accelerator to reach your goal as fast as possible.
Consider the below parable
Two men A and B are hiking bare foot through a thick forest. Suddenly, they see a ferocious tiger in the distance, approaching towards them. Both of them started sweating on the site of the tiger and decided to run away from the tiger to save their lives. At that moment, B pulled a Nike shoes from his bag and started wearing it in his legs.
On seeing this A was surprised and asked B “What are you doing? Do you think you will run faster than the tiger by wearing those shoes?”
B replied “I don’t have to run faster than the tiger, I just have to run faster than you.”
Now tell me who is going to be eaten by the tiger and who will survive. It is obvious that A will be eaten by tiger because for A the enemy is the tiger and he decides to compete with the tiger which is much stronger and faster than him.
On the other hand B is going to survive, because he understood the rule of the game. The hungry tiger needs to prey on one of them and the tiger is stronger and faster. Hence there is no reason to compete with it. B just changed his competition with A who is equal to him. B just equipped him little more to be efficient than A to succeed and survive.
The tiger doesn’t have any preference among A and B, it is unbiased. All it wants is to attack one among the two and that too the weaker one who will be of least resistance to its attack.
In real time A and B are the civil services aspirants, the tiger is UPSC. All that UPSC wants is to eliminate and select. So candidates who see UPSC as the competitor get eliminated in the exam and candidates who compete with other candidates and see UPSC as an examination system succeeds. B is the candidate who understands the exam format in detail and proceeds to equip himself with the required skill set.
From now on realize that your competitor is other candidates and not the examination body. Make your preparation to stand out from all your competitors. Read more, write more and keep thinking about the preparation, subjects and examination.
To be successful you have to be selfish, or else you never achieve. And once you get to your highest level, then you have to be unselfish. Stay reachable. Stay in touch. Don’t isolate.
- Michael Jordan
All you have to do is just do more than what other candidates are doing. Read little extra than the ordinary preparation. Equip yourself with additional soft knowledge on improving your reading speed, memory techniques, handwriting (legibility and speed), comprehension skills etc., Keep moving towards your goal. Keep the map, dictionary and thesaurus handy. Take notes and take time often to review your notes.
Some of the additional skills you can develop is Speed Reading and Speed Writing. You can read more books and take more notes. Imagine you read more books than your competitors, you write faster than your competitors. Doesn’t it provide a winning edge over others who still ponder over guide books and bullet point notes who struggle to write even few pages. Improve your memory, work on that skill, create anagrams, story board, flash cards etc…… One of the my favorite quotes of Mark Twain is “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority it is time to reform”. This perfectly applies for UPSC exams.
Be innovative; just do more than what other candidates are doing. Don’t settle for less.
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All the best
Purush & Team
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