Exam Preparation

6 criteria to decide if a particular online IAS coaching is right for you

Before you enroll for a coaching class, you must know exactly how to evaluate their quality, and sincerity towards your success. Here...

Avatar Written by Payal Ghosh · 4 min read >
Choose your online coaching wisely

Before you enroll for a coaching class, you must know exactly how to evaluate their quality, and sincerity towards your success. Here are 6 clear criteria to rank online coaching classes. Never make a mistake again…

Common Misconceptions

When thinking of which online coaching to enroll with for UPSC preparations, the common misconception is to focus on the completion of the syllabus. Specifically, trying to answer the question: who will make me complete the huge syllabus? Understandably, you, the new aspirant are rather lost at this point after getting to terms with the huge and largely undefined syllabus for UPSC. If you have come to terms with the actual task of mapping out the syllabus, important questions now plague you. Whether you should take coaching, whether that will be online or offline and finally which coaching option will be the exact right fit for you.

Purpose of the UPSC Examinations

Let us first look at the purpose of a UPSC coaching class. Unlike what appears at first glance, the purpose of a coaching class, especially one for UPSC, isn’t only to complete the syllabus. The information for that exists in books too, then, what exactly is the coaching class bringing to the table other than just information?

The one very important thing that you need to understand about UPSC exams is that the preparation strives to open up your view of India from a narrow closeted view to that of a very inclusive and all encompassing one. It strives to change your outlook of what is India and expects you to understand the country from a more holistic, analytical and relatable point of view.

Coaching classes typically ignore this requirement of clearing the UPSC exams. They don’t contribute to this transformation that a student needs to necessarily go through in order to clear the UPSC exams.

The other thing that coaching classes ignore for the most part is making you work hard, work smart and be on track. At the end of the day, irrespective of how hard or diligently your coaching classes are conducting their teaching it won’t result in anything unless you are the one studying hard, smartly, and on time.

Are they even taking care of the minimum?

You need to select a coaching class that takes care of all the three points in order to get through the final selection. Most coaching classes take care of only covering the syllabus. Make sure you choose one that takes care of all three for you.

1.     Content Quality

Check for the quality of the content uploaded for demo purposes. Are they slideshow videos that just show slides after slides with a voice over? Are they just recordings of a classroom session? Don’t forget that you will be paying for online content, so don’t settle for a copy of offline content that is not optimized for online usage. For example, if a teacher is spending time repeating the content to an offline group, you don’t need to waste your time listening to that. You being online are free to pause or revisit any part of the video at any time.

Also, if the teacher is spending time looking away from the screen and writing on the board, you are not getting the best of that teaching. Even time taken to erase the board is a waste of your time. So check if the videos have been optimized for online viewing. Are the sharply edited? Is the teacher able to look at the screen while writing on the board? Is the teacher going at the pace of a single person learning from the screen, rather than the pace of 50 or 100 students learning in the classroom? Below is a video fully customized for viewing by an online audience. Take a look!

2.     Teaching Style

Notice the style of teaching. Remember, the demo video is probably one of their best videos. So it is a good place to get an idea of the best they have to offer. Ask yourself if the teaching is just listing of information or a real analysis driven by reasoning. Remember, you don’t need anyone to read off what is already there in the books. The teacher must be relating the subject matter to everyday events and explaining the reasoning behind them or analyzing the effects and the consequences of these. Take a look at the video below to get an idea of reasoning and analysis based teaching.

3.     Current Affairs, are they current?

This is an extremely difficult part of the syllabus to cover because of its dynamic nature and this has about 50% weigh in the exams. Most coaching offline classes just avoid this topic whereas online classes will either avoid or do a substandard job of covering it through slideshows and other methods.

Again, the important thing to note here is not whether the information is being provided, but rather, how it is being delivered. Are they analyzing the current events and relating them to the syllabus? Are they giving the relevance of the pertinent static content when presenting the analysis and linking them to understand possible UPSC questions? Here’s a sample UPSC question from 2017.

 In order to prevent tampering of EVMs there is a need for some urgent technical and administrative changes. Discuss. (250 words)

4.     Free Trial or Demo

Look for a free trial or demo. If your coaching class isn’t offering one, ask for it. An absence of any demo or free trial can, and should ring alarm bells. Check how forthcoming they are about sharing a demo. Ask for a sample video from the subject or topic you want, not just any demo that they have predesigned to show you.

5.     Do you get personalized content?

UPSC preparations are about motivation, planning, and discussion. You are only half equipped if you are trying to do it by yourself. And even in a coaching class, whether offline or online, you are at a disadvantage without a mentor. So the next thing to check is if the coaching class offers you a mentor through your preparation period. It is imperative that you get a mentor to guide and push you throughout your preparation.

6.     Original tests and questions

Is your coaching class providing you with original tests and questions daily? If they are not, they probably are either not as invested in your success as you are, or lack the capability to prepare you.

Choose wisely!

So once you have found the coaching class that fits all the criteria above, you can rest assured that clearing UPSC will be much more easily achievable for you and you will find yourself at a definite advantage over other aspirants.

Written by Payal Ghosh
Payal is an FRM and an XLRI Jamshedpur alumnus interested in things as diverse as Waste Management and photography. She has over 16 years of work experience and is passionate about writing, teaching and sustainable living. Helping students and seeing them succeed makes gives her motivation to push herself further. Profile

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