Update : Open Letter #2 -Click here
Open Letter #1
This years' Prelims was tougher than the past decade - that is a settled debate now.
However, this is a note - some sort of open letter to all those who did not clear Prelims 2021.
First, as much as the dictum - that you are either 'IN' or 'OUT' remains the most relevant fact, what is sometimes missed in the cacophony is an objective assessment of where you stand at the end of your prelims 2021 results.
The Prelims failure is often as humiliating as the Interview low score. You always think there is somethingfundamentallywrong with you - something beyond correction, and perhaps you are beyond redemption.
This is far from truth.
As a professional or a Mentor I can tell you that what is more important that wheather you are in or out, is what you are scoring, and what is the natural progression from here.
I happened to meet two people, close friends two weeks back in New Delhi - one of them scoring something like 60 and another something like 88. They both had one thing in common - they both had not cleared the prelims.
But the stupidest thing to assume that you belong at the same point in your preparation journey based on the binary result of IN or OUT.
As a matter of fact, for those of you who have flunked prelims, look beyond the facts wheather you are IN or OUT.
And try to look how much you have scored.
Let me explain , and make it more objective.
If you have scored somewhere in 80s, it is certain that you had a decently good preparation, and in most likelihood if you give about 3.5 - 4 months for Prelims - with a laser sharp focus, you will clear Prelims 2022.
In short, stop crying over the fear of not clearing the Prelims in CSE 2022 also. Those are irrational fears, even if they are deep seated.
Two, make a plan as to how you will balance your GS Mains, Optional & Essay next year, apart from the Prelims. Also you will need to stick to some rules like
- 4 Months at least to Prelims
- 4 Months ONLY to Prelims and no touching Mains
- Studying for 8 hours for the first two months and upto 10-11 hours in the last 2 months
- Developing Ability to study under stress, and not resort to binge watching / eating / pron etc, and accepting that stress is a part of the exam process. We have to perform despite the stress.
- Solve at leas two coaching Test Papers and revise like a maniac
- Expand your reading list, ( but stick to the multiple revisions of Primary sources ) , so that you are able to answer a bit off track questions. You can take a look at the SFG Booklist for reference.
Three, do not put yourself in the category of all those who have not cleared prelims. There are people who have not cleared Prelims this year, but will clear it by all means in 2022.
And there are people who have not cleared prelims in 2021, and wont clear in 2022 and 2023. You are not the same people. Nor are your study style, commitments, and understanding of the exam, or idea of what constitutes hard work the same.
Also, there is a massive difference in Attitude itself.
For those who are scoring in the range of 60-85 types, it simply means you have not given the exam the time it requires. You have not done the umpteen revisions that the exam demands. Also, you have not developed the right paper solving strategy, which comes from writing more tests, with the purpose of figuring out how to increase attempts, how to manage time, and where all places has the paper setter asked the question from.
You at best require 5 months of dedicated prelims preparation. 5 months, accounting for loss of 1.5 months to heart break, sardi khansi, nazla, zukaaam, anxiety and depression, and for some people plain laziness and procrastination - which are a different class of diseases altogether.
If you give it 5 months, with 6-8 hours of studies religiously - excluding newspaper and classes and 10-11 hours in the last 2 months, you should be sorted out.
For those who are scoring less than 60, you will need to ask yourself the below questions.
First, was this your first attempt? If the answer is yes, you will do well, and there is often a 60-80% jump in marks, given that first attempt + less than 60 marks simply means not finishing the syllabus and reading the syllabus only once or twice. You will do fine in 2022, if you are cautious, give 5 months to prelims, and go for revisions like a maniac. You should see your score hugely improve.
Secondly, if this is your third attempt or more and you are scoring less than 60, dude, you have not been preparing. The habitual offender that you are, you are liklely to flunk the next prelims as well and the year after. Less than 60 marks after 3 attempts is not about ability to work hard or understanding of the exam.
It has to do with poor study culture and study ethics. By poor study culture and study ethics I mean
- Saying that I will something on my own, and not take coaching - and then neither taking coaching, nor doing self study
- Saying - Yes I have read Laxmikant, but like a ghost govt employee ( weeding out whom will be one of your key tasks in Civil Service ) who cant answer anything related to his work, you cant answer any questions from there. To find out such people, I often ask two questions. One, Who was the Chairman of the Drafting Committe, and two b) Who was the chairman of the committee for negotiating with States. Most people answer Sardar Patel for (2), becuase they want to guess and not read the damn book.
- Not able study for 3+ hours at a stretch, and spend hours dreaming of IAS, or how life will be after they become IAS. They are the ones, who form a majority who provide the 3 crore views to IAS / IPS Entry videos.
- Not studying throughout the year, and then doing two things. Six months before the prelims, joining Optional classes / Test Series and 2 months before prelims suddenly realizing that they are not prepared. And then looking for IAS Gurus asking how they can clear the prelims in 2 months, and that they are willing to do "anything" for clearing the prelims.
If you are a seasonal aspirant like above, and have clocked 3+ years like above, the best and only course of action for you is to go for a rehab.
And by rehab, I mean joining a foundation course, where you see younger people study, and with much more energy, and you feel guilty and you study as well. No amount of guidance can put you back on track. The second way to get out of the rut is to take up something like SFG , right from Level 1, and write it as a Test with twin goals of scoring well and improving learning, and not as a question bank to solve at home. You will be able to break the chain that way.
And those of you who are Type 1, that is getting in 80s and have worked hard this year, for not only 1-2 months, but for at least 3-4 months AND have seen their marks increase from 50-60 to 80+ this year, do not over react to the situation. Give Prelims sometime, you will be through.
In the end remember, this exam is about having a little faith in ourselves, and taking that leap of faith.
You will do okay next year, like 10,000 other people. Do not have a pity party and under estimate yourself, trying to solve a problem that does not exist in the first place.
Remember, competitive examination is also about time and timing. Get both these right, set up and fix your non changing first principles, follow them to the hilt and you should be through for CSE 2022.
Wishing you only success,
and no sympathy