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Did You Fail in 2014 Prelims? Do Not Worry – There is Always a Silver Lining

If you are feeling depressed after your failure to crack this year’s Prelims, it is mostly because of the recurring guilt – that you could not fulfil your parents’ or friends’ expectations. Right from the beginning you had told everyone that you were preparing for civil services examination. Now it is hard to explain them though you don’t owe an explanation to them. These are imaginations. These are burdens that most of you put on yourselves. When confidence runs high, you tell everyone about how good your preparation has been. This creates lots of expectations in others minds. But if they really love you, they will definitely not mind when you fail sometimes. Instead they will support you further. It is only your guilt that is hurting you.

There is another reason why this temporary failure depresses you. Some of you had really worked hard. You did follow a definite plan of preparation, yet somehow could not clear this exam. When your hard work is not rewarded it leads to dejection. All the thoughts come into mind: Did I enter wrong roll number? Did I forget to sign a form? Did I wrongly fill circles on OMR sheets? Is it because I used whitener? Is it because I entered wrong question booklet code? Did the invigilator, by mistake lose my OMR somewhere? etc.

The more you think about what happened the more confused you will grow. It leads to restlessness. It is difficult to reconcile to the fact that despite systematic hard work, you could not clear this exam. But how long will you keep on thinking about the past? Even though you did everything according to plan, there are some factors you should understand which determine outcomes in these exams.

You might have missed cut-off by one or two marks. You might have had less confidence during exam. You might have undergone bout of nervousness during last few minutes and marked wrong answers. Coming to macro – picture, your plan might been wrong itself. In previous articles I had said that more than exam preparation, staying calm in those two hours of exam is of utmost important part of your journey towards success. Common sense prevails only when the mind is calm. And all this exam needs is application of lots of common sense. All your preparation will go waste if you don’t stay calm during exam. This is just a small part. What is needed is acceptance of the fact that failure are very much part of this journey.

When you are ambitious, you should always be ready to face failures. You should know that at certain point of time you are going to face failures. If you have not cleared prelims this year, then you have got lots of time for 2015 preparation than the one who gives interview and fails to get a rank. Do not worry about studying for one more year. Do not think about losing one precious year. Do not, never, think about how studying for one more year would affect feelings of your parents (of girlfriend or boyfriend). When you have an ambition, you should be ready to sacrifice too.  Those who want to be with you no matter what you will become, will stay with you. You follow your dream.

So now what?

Start from basics. Irrespective of whether you had given mains/interview last year, or it was your third or fourth prelims, you need to start again. Most aspirants neglect NCERT textbooks. They think that they have read them and that is sufficient. You need to keep reading them. For some it might be puzzling why there is so much emphasis on NCERT textbooks. You will realize their importance once you solve last fifteen years’ questions papers and read these books. This exam is not just NCERTs – these books are needed to make your fundamentals clear. That is it. Using these basics, you need to read carefully current events and other standard books.

Your aim should be:

1) To finish your optional preparation by January – 2015.

2) Complete NCERTs by February – 2015

3) Thorough reading of The Hindu, Business Standard (or any other business newspaper of your liking) Yojana and any one international newspaper/magazine (NYT/Economist/FP – on internet) – Reading current events and answering questions based on these events completes 60% of your exam preparation.

4) Try to answer at least one or two questions every day at Secure initiative (as soon as Mains-2014 gets over, we will start Secure-2015 )

5) Revision every week – if you do not do this, be prepared to face another failure in 2015. Revision is the key to success. Everybody studies for 12 hours every day for 365 days. It will all go waste if you do not revise regularly.

6) Practice CSAT questions at least 2-3 times a week.

7) Join a good test series. You can join Insights test series or any other good test series (I don’t want this article to sound like invitation to join our test series 🙂 ) You need to take regular tests to test your level of exam preparation. Join any test series. But do enrol to one you like.

Come out of your disappointment. Start again. In the past many have come out of failures like this to get to ranks. You can be one of them. You can get your dream post if you start today. This temporary setback in prelims is just a part of process where you are taught to handle things with patience. This patience will help you later.

The silver lining is that you have got plenty of time to learn from your mistakes and not to repeat them at any cost. You have got plenty of time to work towards realizing your dream. Till now, may be you just wanted a rank – any rank, but make sure that in 2015 you go for only a top rank.  This is the only way to compensate your previous losses – whatever they may be. This is the only way you can let know others that their hopes on you were not misplaced.

But make sure that this time you work silently towards your goal without creating much hype. Wish you all the best!