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Common Myths about Civil Services/UPSC/IAS – Busted

These are the myths that generally make rounds among some IAS apirants and laypersons across the country. This is an account of fact-checks that provides evidence against all the 14 myths that persist out there.

Myth 1: Toughest of all Exams- “Mother of all exams”

Reality: With right strategy and a proper guidance, any exam can be cracked. This is true for IAS exam as well. The fact that this exam is a lengthy process which extends well over a year, makes it appear difficult. Another factor contributing to such widespread fear of exam being the toughest is its vast syllabus. The syllabus, though huge, can be completed if the aspirant sticks to right set of study material (especially for building the fundamentals) and keeps oneself abreast with the Current Affairs

Myth 2: IAS aspirants have to study for long hours – 15-18 hours per day

Reality: Many students who study less than 10 hours have cracked the IAS exam. Toppers and IAS tutors often suggest IAS aspirants to study for 8 hrs per day. Many examples people who work regular jobs (Full-time) have cracked the IAS exam with the help of guidance from the Weekend classes. All that is to be kept in mind is that the hours you put in must be effective hours (meaning one should not factor in the breaks on takes) of study in a day. Also the preparation should be planned according to the IAS aspirant’s commitment and his/her most active hours of the day

So, the rule of long hours is just another myth that makes rounds without any evidence to back it.

Myth 3: Must learn everything under the Sun

Reality: Usually this is the premise with which most of the IAS aspirants start their preparation and eventually lose out in the race to Success. This all pervasive notion goes against the definitive syllabus provided by UPSC. The Syllabus is quite easy to understand and it clearly points out the areas from where Questions would asked. Moreover, the focus of the syllabus is on India and its facets – Cultural, Historical, Geographical, Sociological, Political and Economic. NCERTs and some standard books would suffice to grasp the basics mentioned in the syllabus. Given that IAS is a generalist service, a civil services aspirant is supposed to have conceptual clarity in the above mentioned areas. And hence one need not delve deep into every subject and become an expert. UPSC expects the IAS aspirants to be good observers and genuine learners

Myth 4: Aspirants with better academic record excel

Reality : Very common myth again. Several Toppers have failed at various stages of their Education or secured less than average marks. In fact, the beauty of this exam lies here. It is a platform which treats all graduates/post graduates equally and those with dedication and smart work are rewarded.

Myth 5: Have to study a load of books for IAS exam

Reality: The syllabus is very well prescribed. Accordingly, selection of study material is to be made by the IAS aspirants. Understanding the need of the exam (be a generalist) is of utmost importance. If one fails to acknowledge this fact, he/she would lay hands on every book in the market to dive deeper and become an expert. Observation of the events with underlying concepts in the back of your head and rethinking the solutions to the problems is what UPSC expects from you in answers. Good teachers and IAS Toppers often stress that you should revise limited number of books multiple times. Need not build a library for the exam’s sake

Myth 6: Online Coaching is much better

Reality: Online coaching has several drawbacks. Poor internet connection would distract the aspirant from studies. Since too much material is available online, it becomes difficult for one to choose from several – ‘the problem of plenty’. Post-Class support is not available in online coaching. This would compel the aspirant to surf internet for answers often, which eventually would lead him to content which isn’t important. Doubt clearance wouldn’t happen so easily if one opts for online classes

Myth 7: English medium IAS aspirants have an upper hand

Reality: Every year candidates with various regional languages as medium are clearing the IAS Exam. The exam is not about the medium of answer writing, it is about the expression of answers with clarity and articulating pragmatic solutions to the socio-economic problems prevailing in the society. More number of English medium students do get selected because most of the applicants are from English medium. Another factor that could have skewed the results in favour of English medium students is the availability of study material.

Myth 8: IAS officer means a District Magistrate/District Collector.

Reality: Many IAS aspirants dream to become a District Magistrate(DM) and enjoy the powers associated with the post. But the reality is that posted in a state and the post of DM is limited to few. Some IAS officers never become DM in their entire career. And if they do, they remain in the DM posting only for 4 to 5 years.

Myth 9: IAS officers are bestowed with more power than IPS, IRS, IFS

Reality: The powers and responsibilities of any Officer is associated with the department he works for. IAS Officers are generalists and hence not chosen to head a specialised commission or board. On the other hand, all other services have their defined scope of duty and area of jurisdiction. However, it is a fact that secretaries in various ministries are IAS officers.

Myth 10: IAS officers can never be removed until retirement

Reality: The Constitution of country has a procedure to remove even the first Citizen of the country, the President, from the Office. Likewise the IAS officer can be removed too in a specified manner on the grounds of corruption, misbehavior, and incompetence. He/she can be removed from the service by the President of India.

Further, the procedures for removing IAS officers are almost the same as any other Group A officer of Government of India. Every year several IAS officers are suspended, arrested and removed from service for various reasons.

Myth 11: You have to be lucky to pass IAS exam

Reality: Luck comes to them who are dedicated and hardworking towards a cause. Several factors will be at play which eventually determine the result.

Myth 12: Pass percentage is too low

Reality: Around 10 lakh candidates apply for Prelims examination. Less than half of them appear to take the exam. Of all those who are appearing, hardly 10000-12000 candidates will be serious, who get through the prelims stage.

Of them, those who have prepared really well for the main exam can enter the next stage, the interview. Here the competition is among 5000 odd students.

In a nutshell, if you are preparing for the exam holistically from the start, your competition is only with these 5000 aspirants. You can now calculate the pass percentage.

Myth 13: Coaching is a must for UPSC Exam

Reality: With the digital transformation, the world today brings information to your doorstep speedily. So, there’s no dearth of study material.

It is however preferable have a mentor or a guide who can facilitate the process of preparation. Guide/mentor is needed for course correcting an IAS aspirant’s preparation and to clear his/her doubts

Myth 14: Preparation in Delhi ensures IAS posting

Reality: It is true that most aspirants preferred Delhi over other locations for preparation. It’s is a changed world now. You can lay hands on good study material from any remote place in the country, thanks to internet

Also, if you feel the need for guidance/mentoring, choose a coaching institution of your choice in your region or beyond, and then visit that Centre physically. Get proper course details, their strategies and tests before joining

March 2024