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Are You Buying Too Many Books? Study Material?

Mr X could not stop the urge to buy latest current affairs compendium that was released yesterday by a renowned coaching centre. Day before yesterday he had bought current affairs ‘material’ from a photocopy shop. He was not satisfied with its quality. There were also other magazines in his  room – Yojana, Chronicle, Civils service Times, Frontline, Kurukshetra, Wizard and even CSR! – all fresh copies, hardly touched, or even if touched – only first few pages.

Last night his friend called him and told him that an online coaching site has released a current affairs magazine and he would forward him a copy if he wanted it. Mr X said yes. Thus one more soft copy was added to his recently created 10 GB folder dedicated to UPSC ‘materials’.

Mr X would always argue with his inner voice whenever it tried to warn him about his follies.

Sample this:

Mr X is about to buy another current affairs magazine.

Inner Voice: “Don’t buy it. It will ruin you. First complete Yojana, then think of Kurukshetra.”

Mr X: “I will buy it today. I can finish this book in two days. It’s thin and has only few pages. This is important for this year’s Mains. Who knows few questions can be asked from this book too. You never know this UPSC. So unpredictable.”

Inner Voice: “He He. Same dialogue again!.”

Mr X: “Bhaiyya, woh magazine dena.”

Mr X goes to his room. Browses newly bought magazine. Reads all titles. Thinks this and that article is very important. He marks them. He then picks up newspaper. After reading the Sports section, he feels sleepy. Picks up Optional subject book. Boring. Goes to sleep.

Two days later.

Inner Voice: ” Did you ‘finish’ reading the new magazine?”

Mr X: “Not yet. Right now I am preparing for Optional. I will read it later. Anyway all articles are not important. I bought it for reference purpose.”

Inner Voice: “But when you buy, you always tell me that you will read whole book in 2-3 days! ”

Mr.X(Confused): “Bhaiyya, ek garam chai dena…”

After Six months:

Inner Voice: “Don’t feel sad. You will clear next time. You should have read only few authentic books completely. PhD karne ka jaroorat nahi tha”

Mr X: “Books are always useful. I will give these magazines to some junior. Or I will sell them. Or they will be useful when I start taking classes at Vajiram”

This is what happens. First, you want to read all. Then you think of these materials as just reference books. Finally their number is so staggering that you want to sell them all. You want to remove them from your sight.

And coming to soft copies; some day you will delete them too, making space for movies and TV series.

Accumulating books or study material is the worst thing you can do as an IAS aspirant. You know that all you have to do is to buy few standard textbooks, read one or two reputed magazines and daily religiously follow two good newspapers.

Have you ever asked yourself why you buy so many study materials?

If you are buying novels and non-fiction stuff that you would love to read during leisure, then it’s a great thing. Accumulate them as many as possible. They will always be useful. They are your friends.

But if you are buying these civil service related magazines and study material as and when new one is released, it’s a bad thing.

Coming to why you buy why so many useless stuff, the reasons are simple:

Firstly, you do not have a concrete plan of study. That is why you don’t know what exactly to read. You tend to think every new material  from a reputed institute or a website is worth reading. If you analyse carefully, every magazine covers the same news from same original sources. When you have access to original sources, you should not depend upon these study materials – which are mostly ‘copy’paste’ of standard sources all put at one place.

To access any extra information you have internet. Today all you need is good internet connection and willingness to do self-study.

The second reasons is, your confidence level regarding your exam preparation is very low. This is why you want to buy as many study materials as possible and feel secure. If you have observed carefully, this tendency actually breeds insecurity and causes anxiety in the long-term. When you have so much stuff lying around you, you will mostly neglect it. You won’t even touch it for the fear of not ‘finishing’ the rest of the materials.

Thirdly, you might have a tendency to do research and try to achieve ‘perfection’ by referring as many books as possible to make best notes in the world. Remember, you will never achieve perfection. You just need to learn enough to write a General answer to a question on any topic that is given in syllabus – not a Specialist answer.

Finally you should really ask this particular question to yourself- Am I really ‘preparing’ for this exam?

Observe carefully  the pattern of this exam. At the first stage you mostly need to recall whatever you have read; during the second stage, you need to reproduce (original and consolidated) content. And during the third stage you need to Recall, Reproduce and Respond and Reply effectively to finally see your name in the final list.

But, what most aspirants do is – Read, Read and Read. More than 90 per cent never practice recalling, reproducing and responding. All the study material you acquire will just make you read and read. To succeed you need to practice writing, interacting and thinking. Daily newspapers provide you enough stuff to prepare for this exam meaningfully. Add to this 2-3 standard magazines.

Of course you need standard textbooks. But their utility is limited. They help you create strong base and later act as reference books.

What you don’t need is ‘study material’ sold by coaching institutes. Create your own material. Best way is to start answering questions daily – both for general Studies papers and Optional Paper. Keep your content organised. They will be immensely useful when you want to revise them later. You will also feel proud  about your writing. It gives you lots of confidence – unlike Mr X.

Mr X will end up becoming a Collector.

A Collector of study materials.

PS: We are not against any study material. All we want to tell you is that complete the book you have in your room, and then buy the new one that too if it’s very important and is of standard quality. We believe that you should make use of internet effectively instead of wasting your money on unnecessary study materials. It’s all in your hands – to become which type of Collector. District or Study materials?