Myths and Lies About UPSC IAS Preparation

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We often hear about various lies or myths about IAS exam preparation. Most of them demoralize freshers, and some even perturb veterans. Following write-up is an effort to bust such myths/lies to help new aspirants focus on their preparation.


1) They say IAS is the mother of all exams. Is it?

Wrong. This is just  another exam. The mother of all exams is Life. You can afford to fail in IAS, but not in Life. So, take IAS preparation as a phase in Life, not as your Life.

2) They say IAS is not for faint-hearted. Is it?

If you think you are faint-hearted, better start preparing for IAS soon – it makes you stone-hearted.

3) One topper in an interview said that she studied 20 hours every day for 365 days. Is this true?

May be she suffered from insomnia. Even now she will be working 20 hours a day as an officer. On a serious note, good sleep is very necessary to prepare well for this exam.  It keeps you in good health. Don’t study beyond 14 hours unless you suffer from Insomnia.

4) Now you are saying 14 Hours! Are you mad?

Calm down. If you have left your job, as a punishment you should devote these many hours. Didn’t you work 12 hours for your company? Anyway, every day at least 8 hours of  planned study is required. If you can study more than that, it is well and good. But please ensure that you also get 6-8 hours of sound sleep.

5) My English is very poor. They say I am out of the race. Am I?

No. You are still part of the race. Now you have figured out the problem – that your English is poor. Work on it. All you need is basic English. Moreover, you can write this exam and give the interview in your mother-tongue. Buy a basic  Grammar book – read it, listen to English news on TV and radio, try to write something in English, everyday (don’t worry if it is very bad, keep trying) Necessity should push you to learn. Push yourself. Win the race.

6) I  am worried. I can’t go to Delhi because of some personal reasons. They say it is Mecca for IAS aspirants. 

Can’t go to Delhi? Wow. That’s great. These days you can study from home itself. IAS preparation is neither religion nor life to seek enlightenment in a far away concrete desert. Do your duty sincerely, if pleased, almighty UPSC will call you to its shrine, if pleased with your personality, it will give you a pass to Heaven – the IAS. Why go there uninvited?

7) So how can I study from my home?

These days you can buy books from online. Every topper has studied the same set of books as lakhs of aspirants do every year. The difference is that toppers plan their studies and execute those plans well. They practice writing. They take tests. They are confident. And they also have some luck.

8) Oh! So luck is needed for this exam.

Ya, only if you think you are unlucky. Anyway, let me modify a famous quote for you – Success is one percent luck and ninety-nine percent perspiration. Don’t let that 99% thing slip from your hand. Toil sincerely, and you will be rewarded with that 1 percent luck.

9) It was my last attempt. I failed in Prelims. Now I want to kill myself. Help me.

To kill you? First, kill your ego, not yourself. You took a journey but couldn’t reach the destination. It doesn’t mean the end of your life or the end of the road – start a new phase in your Life from where you are now. What matters in the end is how well you lived your Life, not how many successes you achieved. If the King has painful piles in his anus, what is the use of diamond studded golden throne?

10) Lakhs of aspirants give this exam and only few get into IAS. I am scared.

Though lakhs of aspirants apply and write this exam, the real competition is between only 2000-3000 serious aspirants. Those who study systematically and consistently, get into service. If you do the same, you will be one among them. Don’t have fears even before you start. You must enter the race and work hard to win it.

Remember this: “I never did a day’s work in all my Life. It was all fun” (Edison). Make the process fun, enjoy reading, love what you do and do everything to please your heart. Not the society.

11) They say there is corruption in recruiting IAS officers. Is it true?

This allegation is utterly false. The whole examination is so opaque that you have to trust it blindly (Oxymoron). There may be lacunae in the way examination is held, or there may be loopholes in how an UPSC member is appointed, but there is never corruption involved in the recruitment of civil service officers. The steel produced is pure. You can trust it. (it gets corroded later, that is a different story though)

12) Those veterans laugh when I tell them I am preparing for IAS. Instead, they insist I should say that I am preparing for civil services. What is the difference?

When you say you are preparing for civil services, you are not sure about getting into IAS/IPS. When you say you are preparing for IAS, you are confident that you want only IAS and you know how to get it. Choose the one suits you best. Not the veterans’.

13) I am getting headache while making notes. There are so many books to refer and I want my notes to be the best. What to do?

Note this. Leo Tolstoy writes in Anna Karenina “If you look for perfection, you’ll never be content.” Also  someone said, “Perfection is the child of time“. When you scout too many sources to make that perfect notes, you end up both loosing invaluable time and discontented. Managing time during the preparation is the most important aspect of this examination. Read one or two books for a topic. Re-read the same book even if some coaching institution or a publication house releases new notes/book in the market that has become famous.

 14) They say IAS is the best job on Earth! Is it?

Well, I thought becoming the President of US was the best thing on Earth. Anyway, the above statement is wrong. Ask Durga Shakti Nagpal.

15) At least in India it is the best job. Right?

Yes. If you want to make a positive impact on the lives of thousands of poor, IAS is the best job. But you have to swim in the ocean infested by so many sharks.  You should know how to swim, be fearless and armed with  ammunition. There is a silver lining though. The ammunition is personal integrity and The People – if you do a good work, help the poor man on the streets and in the huts, people will love you. Sharks love votes. And the ocean will be safe for you.

16) Some say this exam is like a vast ocean and question are asked from  outside the syllabus, even from extraterrestrial sources. Is it?

No. Again wrong. UPSC strictly adheres to the syllabus. Though sometimes it seems like question are asked from outside of the syllabus, they are actually in some ways related to it. For example, if there is a question like this, ‘Opportunity on Mars‘, one should not get bedazzled why UPSC is asking questions from ET source and start answering like, ‘If  Nuclear war takes place and the Earth is destroyed, the opportunities on Mars are immense for the Humankind…...’

Opportunity is the name of a Robot that was sent to mars in 2003. Awareness on ‘Robotics‘ and ‘Space‘ is part of the UPSC syllabus (Paper-IV).

  • Gopikrishna

    people say it is necessary to go through newspaper thoroughly everyday……y do we need to do it actually and which parts of the newspaper is it that we need to concentrate seriously…!!! please help me with this…..thanx in advance

  • vikram

    I want to prepare for civil services but I am 29 and in doubt if I am too late to start? Currently I am working in IT for past 5 years. Please give me some advice.

    • prashanth

      @vikram if u r an reserved category u can have claim age exemption

    • Aakaa

      if u are from the “cradle to grave” reserved category, by this time u would have become a Collector or Doctor with 35% pass marks. No need to study, no hardwork needed, no toiling in midnights…just show ur reservation certificate, u are assured of govt jobs in india.

      • AAKaa

        I guess u have very wrong perception regarding the candidates who belongs to reserved category. before prearing for IAS and working for people of this country you should have purity in mind and some positive thoughts for peoples around you. If you just want to earn money than go for private business or some other job and if you are thinking of earning in plenty in terms of bribe from these civil services then just take a bowl of water and keep your nose into the bowl till your body is separated from your soul……Idoit

  • dipika singh

    Namsty sir maine grad mein english elevtive music vocal music instrumental subjects rkhe the but main ias prep strat krna chahti hoon plz suggest me ki main optional subjects kya rakhu plz am confused plz suggest me

    • Kishor

      Miss Dipika,
      You can choose Geography & History or Polity as your optional subjects. Because these are interesting to prepare irrespective of your educational background.

  • Narendra

    Hello Sir :)
    I have just passed the 12th class examination and from now onwards I want to prepare for the UPSC examination, my question is as graduation is necessary for UPSC so which graduation course would help me to prepare for IAS examination.
    thank you !!

  • Vaibhaw Joshi

    Respected Sir
    I am in class 12 commerce , I want to chose IAS as career ,Can I ? If yes , so how should I plan for it ?

  • sulo

    I heard every civil aspirant in interview told that he came for the service of the people and they want to make a positive impact on the lives of thousands of poor.If this is true, no service is required from new aspirants and no poor is there because of persons who already bureaucrats. Am i wrong? but it is not happening why?

  • ritu raj

    Sir, I have an eye-power of -9. Does that makes me ‘not eligible’ for the Civil Services Exam?

  • saujanya

    Sir ,
    I am doing my Btech 2nd year now. and i want to start my preparation for ias.
    Can you help me out in how to start and suggest some important materials
    Thank you

  • Raxit

    hello sor ,
    i am aged 26 years and expecting my CA Final result in August ..
    Please suggest me for IAS preparation for the examination scheduled to be held in 2015 …

  • Raxit

    hello sor ,
    i am aged 26 years and expecting my CA Final result in August ..
    Please suggest me for IAS preparation for the examination scheduled to be held in 2015 …moreover i have been a BTECH dropout…so will that thing hamper in the interview

  • subha

    How much question in writing prelims is safer in both papers

    • Rajesh

      It is sufficient to answer 60-65 questions in paper I and 65-70 in CSAT.

  • Shadab

    Hello Sir,

    I am a software Professional and working in Singapore but now I want to get through IAS exam. I belongs to OBC caste and my age is around 31 years. Please let me know if I am eligible for the exam and for how many years.

    Please guide me for syllabus as well. Many thanks.

  • dinesh

    hello sir,
    i am pursuing my from mechanical engineering.
    sir is this possssible to fill the ias farm after the last date of fill the ias farm.

  • monu

    sir, i have completed my BTech this year and the opinions and views that UPSC is more difficult than GATE made me sideline UPSC as i am scared even before entering the race. Moreover i am told that its already late now. UPSC can only be prepared by people who prepare since school level. how is this true??

  • Vishal Rana

    Dear sir,
    I want to prepare for IAS 2016 but for the last 5 years i’m working in MNC as a Marketing Executive and now I want to quit the job and fully devote my time for IAS only
    But only thing that is hitting me everyday is my age as I hv attained the age of 29 so not able to decide wht to do..Plz sir give me resolution.
    Vishal rana

  • da

    “But you have to swim in the ocean infested by so many sharks. You should know how to swim, be fearless and armed with ammunition. There is a silver lining though. The ammunition is personal integrity and The People – if you do a good work, help the poor man on the streets and in the huts, people will love you. Sharks love votes. And the ocean will be safe for you.”

    This was the best thing I have read in a long time. Thanks for the perspective.

  • Arup Kumar Roy

    Sir I am confused about the Paper on Indian Languages. In this case may I take English in both the papers or compulsorily I have to choose one language from Eight Schedule other than English ?

  • Vishal Rana

    Sir plz reply

  • shivmohini

    Hey there… first thanks for the myth burst. :)
    I am a first attamptee and a friend has adviced me to do a masters in my optional.( I have chosen public administration.i have been a dna computing expert for good two years and all the subjects are greek to me, never really read a word of any optional except sanskrit in secondary ed. Of which i remember nothing. My hobby has been reading so have read a couple of books from amarty sen- jean dreze, hon’ble APJ Kalam, bimal jalan n shashi tharoor, so i thought pub ad would be easier to grasp. )
    So my ques are:
    1. Is my choice logical? Please offer an opinion.
    2. Would it be correct to get an m.a. in pub ad? I have masters in dna computing though.
    3. If getting the masters is correct, please suggest a better course if any, considering the course’s usefulness in future, particularly as a means of skill development for my tenure as a civil servant. I intend to join IPS or IAS services.

    Please reply soon. :)

  • sanjay choudhary

    sir i have to give exams in 2016 so i have 2 years for preparation what stratergy do i follow……