The road to LBSNA where IAS/IPS/IFS aspirants undergo training is a rough one. The journey is long and arduous. Thousands of aspirants studying in IAS coaching institutes in Chandigarh at present aspire to reach its gates and come out as officers. To help aspirants realise their goal of becoming a civil servant in India we at O2 IAS academy in Chandigarh regularly post about all major issues relating to various dimensions of UPSC preparation.
UPSC CSE is touted as one of the world’s toughest exams to crack. Hence, devoted aspirants do not waste even a minute of their precious time. Most dedicated aspirants have this doubt whether they should discuss newspaper and other GS subjects with their peers, what should be the duration and topics of discussion etc. Today we will discuss this topic and all its dimensions in detail. We have already established in our previous blog posts that execution of daily, weekly and monthly plans and revisions are the recipe for success in UPSC CSE. Lets discuss the relevance of having meaningful discussions related to various topics of UPSC syllabus and all the dos and don’ts related to it.
When we say “purpose” we do not mean purpose at a large scale or in general. We are not referring to the larger purpose in life or purpose in becoming civil servant. What we mean by purposeful is the aim, goal or reason behind having discussions during your UPSC journey.
We believe that while you are studying for long durations on a daily basis it becomes very important to break the monotony of the day with some light discussion with friends and family. But, we are not talking about aimless gossip sessions with friends on daily basis. While discussions and debates with your peers can be beneficial but what matters the most are the contents and topic being discussed. Thus spending hours and hours on futile gossip is irrelevant. What matters is how much you have learnt during your discussions from your friend, family or teachers.
Thus, it is very important to have a purpose behind what you are discussing. The scope of discussion should be specific and defined and not vague and pointless. We would consider it a success if the only take away from this blog is that students should not indulge in sort of aimless gossip and should have structured discussions or debates with purpose i.e. related to UPSC syllabus directly. This mantra will aid in streamlining your study and discussions. This will make you more productive and reducing the amount of time you are wasting drastically. Since every human being crave some sort of minimum social interaction and UPSC journey is a long one which cannot be completed without social interactions. So it is beneficial in longer run if aspirants streamline and customise their social life according to their upsc journey’s requirements.
Before you start forming big social circles and indulging in deep discussions in the name of upsc preparation caution must be taken in ensuring that you are well equipped to have a well informed discussion which is expected of a well read UPSC aspirant. There are certain pre-requisites of that: you should have read the NCERTS, have gone through UPSC syllabus, previous year question papers and should have started reading at least one newspaper. These are absolute minimum essentials that you HAVE to cover. No discussion has to be done on whether standard books and newspaper is necessary for UPSC. So, for clearing your doubts we will address some widely talked about topics amongst aspirants.
If you don’t have the habit of reading newspapers daily then it will take at least two months to get accustomed to daily newspaper reading. You should read either The Hindu or The Indian express. You may read both if you are a fast reader. Do not refer to any other newspaper. Random selection of newspaper and moreover news is futile for UPSC preparation. You should choose a standard newspaper for preparation of UPSC CSE. An aspirant must never skip out on reading newspaper since it forms the basis of many questions directly and indirectly.
Do not spend 3-5 hours on Newspapers daily as it is not the optimum strategy to cover the IAS syllabus! Avoid anything on Politics (read polity related news not politics), Sports, Entertainment. Avoid making notes in the first reading. There is no point in creating parallel news paper type notes of your own!
Newspapers are written with a very specific formula: the who, what, when, where, why, and how always come first. As an IAS Aspirant, you have to focus on the underlying theme or issue rather than specific technicalities.
Go through PYQ’s and prescribed UPSC syllabus and analyse each topic of syllabus properly. You will understand the trend and type of news which is of significance in newspaper. Mainly the news related to sports, entertainment and fiction are not required. Local news which is related to national policy is important, otherwise ignore. In addition national and international news related to socio-economic, environmental and economy should be analysed. Recent happenings in science and technology and International Relations of India with neighbouring countries and other organisations are also very important. Moreover, Editorial section is the most important part of the newspaper and must never be missed.
Aspirants who are preparing at home or studying in UPSC coaching institutes in Chandigarh and other parts of India make following most common mistakes during their UPSC journey: Wasting time on online forums, debating on irrelevant issues which have no connection with your UPSC preparation, and wasting time and effort to impress people with your knowledge, wasting time on social media platforms.
Indulging in debates on any topic on social media is a wastage of time. Facebook, whatsapp, and other forms of social media’s should be used sparingly. It is not beneficial and has low cost to benefit ratio.
In addition try to limit your time on internet over all. Also aspirants should avoid reading too much on one sub topic as our aim is not to become a scholar on some topics/ subjects, without focusing on the whole syllabus. This will not serve the purpose.
Many aspirants have the tendency to blindly follow ‘Toppers Strategies’ – how many hours they sleep, what they eat, what movies they watch, what software they use for taking notes, etc. This is a very wrong strategy. You should never discuss anybody’s strategy too much in your group since every aspirant has different strengths and weaknesses and preferences which vary as per their educational background and understanding.
As the main ingredient is revision of standard text books. Everything else is just secondary insignificant technical stuff – One Note or Evernote or paper for taking notes? Should I take test series or not? Should I also join the coaching that my friend is attending? How many hours to study? What to eat?
There are many aspirants who spend more time observing other aspirants than themselves and scrambling for more books, materials, websites, YouTube channel, news papers, and magazines during discussions with fellow UPSC aspirants. This should never be done.
In the company of fellow aspirants avoid day dreaming about which schemes and policies all of you will implement when after becoming officers, what kind of facilities the officers get, and what kind of cadre to get in the future. Do not waste time in thinking such things even without clearing Prelims or Mains once.
A huge chunk of aspirants reach library even before the gate opens at the break of dawn. Their sole goal is to occupy that one magical seat they adore in library. After that you will never find them on seat or studying. This is a sheer wastage of time. A upsc aspirant should never waste their time arguing and disturbing other aspirants for not getting their choice of seat. You aim is to complete your syllabus not to attain that fav seat in library.
Also avoid discussion the time table again and again about what to study for the exam every day. In addition also avoid discussing about the institute and the faculties. Many people wasteb their time in this futile discussion and do not even complete daily targets. and later wate time at Chai pe charcha indulging in pointless discussions on trivial matters. Such as changing optionals and strategies, whether to Postpone the prelims attempt just since their preparation is not upto the mark, discussing family matters too seriously and relationships.
For aspirant who are preparing during or just after finishing your graduation, college friends also a major source of disturbance. But you have to remind yourself that they already placed in some good jobs. But you still a student studying for UPSC CSE and they have plenty of time after their classes or jobs. So if they distract you from your studies by their unnecessary gossip then you should be mentally strong to not deter from your aim. You should minimise such social obligations. Do not indulge is petty gossip of who said what to whom and why, who wore what to which place etc. If somebody is being a bad influence then you should minimise your interaction since it will be better for you in long run.
At times even the coaching friends can act as a major distraction during our preparation. Some the mutual competition which is supposed to act as external motivation can be too much and end up distracting you from your goal. So do not take the competition in class tests and mock tests too seriously. If during discussion and debates the other aspirants do not conform to your opinions then do not get worked up. Sometimes there can be more than one correct opinion with varying perspectives. Opinions should be shared and taken with a pinch of salt.
most common mistake made by many UPSC aspirants is that they reinforcement their mistakes. Since many of them never take or accept any feedback. Sometimes it can be difficult to see and realise one’s own mistakes. One can be blind to one’s own flaws at times. So, always take a feedback of your answers from teachers or from mains qualified fellow aspirants and have discussions with them. Such purposeful structured discussions will relieve a lot of your doubts, fears and worries. The social company provided by them is also fulfilling basic human need for interaction. Thus take full benefit of your free time by having news related or GS related discussions. Sometimes discuss major rivers, industries may be social issues like dowry, labour laws, fundamental rights, IR etc and enrich your UPSC preparation even in your free time.
We hope that these tips will help you. These were our views and opinions on this topic. What are your thoughts and inputs or queries on this topic? Comment below and share your views with us. We would be happy to assist you in your IAS preparation battles and answer your queries.