Want to be a part of the Indian Administrative Services? Have you decided that the corridors of power are for you? Great. But, if you are still some years from appearing in the UPSC, you can well utilize the interim period to strengthen some core skills required. Concentrate on finishing your graduation and then embark on serious study only at the right time.
You should get going now, but, as I said I do not mean at all that you should immediately open your books and start cramming. No point in doing that, as you might not remember all that you study now.
But, you could decide when you shall be appearing for the exam. Maybe, 3-4 years down the line. It will help you focus. Now, what can you do,that will help you in your preparation? You need to develop skills that are a must if you want to clear the UPSC.
So what are those skills?
1. You Have To Read A Lot
It is a well-known fact that you have to read a thousand pages across various subjects to develop a knowledge base to answer questions asked in the exam.
So, if you have not cultivated the habit of reading, then now is a good time to start. And how do you do that?
- Read varied literature by scholars. Expand your horizons and come out of the comfort zone of your favorite subject and preferred place to be in. Here are some amazing non-fiction books that you should read to develop a good knowledge base.
- Start reading newspapers like ‘The Hindu’ and ‘Indian Express’. Their news is well written and balanced. Read their editorials as well.
You should train yourself to imbibe multiple views, even those that differ from your opinion. All of this should become a habit.
This will also help you develop current affairs knowledge, which is one of the most crucial elements of UPSC preparation.
2. Multi-Dimensional Thinking
Reading a lot has to become a habit, but just reading is not enough.You must know that UPSC questions are always multi-dimensional – more than one aspect is asked in each question. Do try to go through a paper or two to see for yourself.
You should able to look at any problem from multiple angles. In fact, that is how an IAS officer has to look at issues in real life. So, developing this ability is crucial to succeeding in the UPSC exam.
Now how do you develop a such an innate skill? Its actually easier than you think.
- Pick up any issue that is currently in the news and try to objectively analyze it. Get a hold of its history and any other connected issue. Reason it out objectively, without letting personal bias cloud your judgement.
- You have a lot of knowledge (developed through reading) and are open to alternating points of view (having read editorials and other neutrally poised articles). This will help broaden your horizon. So, the next time you read a question, your mind will automatically start creating multiple threads around it.
Here is a detailed article on how you can train your mind to think like an IAS officer.
3. You should be a good writer
Hold your horses!
No, you don’t have to be a Shakespeare to clear UPSC. You just need to be able to present your thoughts in a well-structured and cohesive manner.
What you write in your answers and how you present them are two extremely important factors for candidates. This aspect alone can make or break your rank. You get about 9 minutes per question in which you are supposed to think your answer through and write it.
You don’t need a ‘writer’s language’, but nevertheless, you need to be good enough to present your thoughts coherently and cohesively. This brings us to the next question; how do you develop this skill?
- Make a lot of notes: By now you have realized reading and thinking about what you read are essential. Very closely related to that is making notes about them. Start penning down your thoughts, and on a piece of paper. No typing here.
- Practice writing essays: Start writing essays on important topics with a strict word count of 250 words. To challenge yourself even further, summarize a topic where you have a lot of information and write in length about issues where there isn’t a lot of information available. Here are some more tips on improving your writing skills for UPSC
So now you know the three most crucial skills that you need to work on. This is doable even with college or even a job.If you take care of these three aspects now, you will be on a firmer footing when you start preparing in all seriousness.
‘A Stitch in Time Saves Nine’. It is as if this idiom was coined for the UPSC aspirants!
Go for it, victory be yours.