We usually discuss and read about things we should do for preparing for the UPSC exams, let us today discuss some things you should not do while preparing for them. Below are 8 mistakes you should avoid making when preparing for your UPSC examinations.

Having no study plan:

One of the biggest mistakes to make is to not have a study plan. Remember, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. You must have a study plan and a timetable for your daily activities. Remember you need to course out your preparation and make a habit out of studying, remembering, recalling and reproducing. Here is a sample 1 year detailed study plan and ideas for making a good timetable for your reference. Follow the advice rigorously and make sure you have both a study plan and a timetable.

Being a collector of books

Another mistake people make quite often is that they become a collector of books. Aspirants ask everyone they know for suggestions of books to study for the UPSC Exam and keep on adding to their collection of books as each person gives a fresh book suggestion or booklist. This is a big mistake to make especially if you are going to try to read all those books. You need to be extremely selective about the sources and their numbers from where to prepare for UPSC. if you lose track of either the qualitative or quantitative aspect of it, you will only lose yourself in the maze of preparation and not reach your goal.

Not reading the syllabus properly

This is a fairly common mistake. While most aspirants will go through the syllabus, they will not bother to know the syllabus like the back of their hands. While you don’t have to sit and memorize the syllabus, you need to go through it so many times that you can relate the things happening around you to the relevant parts of the syllabus. This is crucial in terms of both notes making and answer writing.

Overuse of internet

Today being the age of internet and free data, this is a mistake that’s easy to make. Thank technology, today preparation for many means just watching video after video on YouTube. Now as long as you are doing that with a focused approach, learning while watching, making notes, adding to your knowledge base for UPSC, it is good. However, it is easy to lose track of time and suddenly find yourself at the end of the day having achieved almost nothing while having watched a hundred useless videos. Be aware of this trap and remain vigilant of your internet use.

Discontinuous preparations

In order to prepare throughout a time period of about a year to year and a half, you need to make studying a habit. This can only happen if you sit down and study at a particular time every day and continue studying until you have finished the day’s .planned portion. Also, you need to do this every day. Doing it for a couple of days and then taking off for another couple will not help. UPSC is not for aspirants who cannot be disciplined. So this mistake of studying discontinuously will only trip up your preparations and make your shot at UPSC weaker.

Not revising

A big and costly mistake to make is not revising. You need to revise daily and make revising a habit. Make notes and revise with the help of notes. Keep a time slot for note-making and another for revision. Also, remake your notes frequently. Make them concise every time you revise. This will make it easier for you to recall and reproduce at the exam.

Not practicing for mains and prelims

Another costly mistake to make is not taking mocks and not practicing answer writing. This is also a very common mistake made by aspirants. They keep on studying and ignore writing practice and especially answer writing practice. You need to understand that the answers need to follow a certain structure and logical flow. This doesn’t come just by knowing the facts. You need to regularly sit down and write such structured answers, logically framing them and citing relevant examples, to make it habitual enough to be able to reproduce the same effect during the 7 / 8 minutes you get during the exam.

Too many discussions

You need to have fruitful, logical and structured discussions to help your thinking develop logically. However, some students take it too far and get into too many discussions; with everyone, all the time. If you are getting into structured discussions with a mentor or peers that actually help you to add something to what you already know, that is fine and quite recommended. But if you are spending a major part of your day just arguing offline or online casually just to win arguments, you are wasting your time.

Now that you know which mistakes you should avoid, we hope you go out there and prepare yourself for the toughest examination in the right manner.


So all in all, avoid these 8 mistakes when you are preparing for your UPSC and stay focused on the task at hand. Remember to do a check on your schedule every now and then to get a reality check on how much time you are spending in what activity and whether the said activity is really helping your preparation or not.

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About the Author

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.

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