It is often presumed that the Civil Services Exam is meant only for the most brilliant and intelligent people and that commoners can’t even dream of clearing it. Is it true? There are three ways to answer this question: firstly, it can be a motivational answer guiding you to strive for your dreams; secondly, it can be a harsh and honest opinion and thirdly, the reality. This is an exam which judges much more than mere intelligence.
It is true that most of the aspirants who get selected are meticulous in their preparation and have excellent academic records. But, this is a practice carried out for years together. I can be a motivational speaker in this case and try to propel you to pursue your dreams, but, one has to face some harsh realities. The reality here is that if you have had a bad academic record, it is mostly because you haven’t studied, or never taken studies seriously. One can bounce back from illnesses, but never from lethargy. The Civil Services exam won’t be so forgiving. One has to be on top of things at all times. Time is of utmost importance.
If you are studying full-time, you can certainly coverup on lost time. It will be a difficult task, and I say difficult because your will be doing nothing but studying. It is very difficult to focus for long hours of studying, your friends are moving ahead their lives; they get married, buy cars/bikes, move out of the country while here you are being judged for ‘doing nothing’, even if you have a gigantic syllabus in front of you. Here, the word ‘aspirant’ comes into picture. ‘Aspirant’ means having ambitions to achieve something. In this case, it also defines your stage of apparent nothingness. For some aspirants, money becomes an issue and hence they start working. All of these problems are faced by every aspirant, even if not all at once, or maybe in few cases.
The point behind this is, it is extremely difficult for someone who doesn’t like studying for hours. Yet, all can be forgotten before starting anew. This is an exam which can change lives drastically, even by merely starting preparation. If you clear it, no one will ever point out your weaknesses, or that you failed multiple times in degree college. You might be taunted for not supporting the family, or for having no social standing. I can tell you from a personal experience, all of this changes once you get close to clearing this exam. If you haven’t studied in the past, you can at least work hard for a better future.
As for the aspirants who have a clean academic record, studying for them isn’t that a big a task as it will be for you. You have a disadvantage, that you haven’t studied in the past, reasons might be of sorts. But, in order to even attempt this exam decently, you will need to do extra, find an edge for yourself, strategise your studies, make a timetable and ensure you follow it strictly. What you haven’t done in the past 15 years will be extremely tough to do it in a year or two, which is ‘getting a discipline’. Disciplining yourself is the toughest part, be it in anything, especially in studying. You will have to do 15 hours of studying in 10 hours in order to catchup with others. You will have to program your mind and body to work coherently in that direction. This won’t obviously come in a day or two. There will be pessimism at every stage of preparation, but don’t let it work against you. Bridging this gap should be paramount to everything else if you wish to clear this exam.
The candidates who clear mostly have good-very good academic records. Of course, there are exceptions who have created a place for themselves in the IAS out of nothing. Read about such candidates for inspiration, tips for studying, time & money management etc. One person’s method will not work for everyone, but you can learn from it and develop your own methods and strategies.
Also, you must have a backup in terms of career. If not the Civil Services, then what? Because, the Civil Services Exam is undoubtedly one of the toughest exam, and even tougher given your track record. It will certainly be trying, but I’m equally certain, it is not impossible!