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Myth Buster

Myth 1. UPSC Exams – “Toughest exam”

It is often said by IAS aspirants and laypersons alike that the IAS exam is the toughest exam in the country. Some even call it the ‘mother of all exams’.
This is because the exam does have a very low pass percentage, less than 1%.
However, the truth is, out of the almost 9 – 10 lakh candidates who apply for the exam, only about half actually take it. And, out of this 4 – 5 lakh who actually appear for the UPSC prelims, not all are serious.
Since the exam allows at least 6 attempts to the candidates depending upon the IAS eligibility, many just appear once to get a feel of the exam.
Every candidate who has cleared the civil services exam will tell you that, a persistent and dedicated approach, coupled with the right kind of IAS coaching will help you crack this ‘mother of all exams’.

Myth 2. UPSC aspirant should know everything from “pin to plane”?

Another myth surrounding the UPSC Exam and which builds stress in a candidate is that an IAS aspirant should know and be aware of everything.
Undeniably, the UPSC Syllabus is vast. But, it is also defined except for the current affairs part.
And, even for the daily current affairs, there is a method by which it can be covered. A systematic approach in which the candidate follows the daily news covers important magazines, RSTV programs, etc. is good enough.
You can also download the monthly current affairs magazine for the UPSC exam for free here. This segment contains all the important exam-worthy news of the month classified and explained.

Myth 3. Can only School and College toppers can crack UPSC?

A look at the list of IAS toppers every year will only reveal the lack of truth in this myth.
Many toppers come from nondescript schools and colleges. Many of them come from backward regions of the country with little or no scope for any kind of IAS guidance.
In fact, many toppers were average or rather weak academic performers.
However, all this has no bearing whatsoever on the UPSC results.
All it takes in this exam is how a student approaches the IAS exam, how he/she prepares for it, what kind of guidance is offered, and how diligently the IAS preparation is done.
Past academic performance does not matter one bit.

Myth 4. Is Medium of language a barrier in UPSC?

This is a very prevalent misconception among the Hindi Medium IAS aspirants that only English Medium candidates can become IAS Officer.
This is not true because each year Hindi Medium candidates are also passing the IAS Exam and getting their posting as the IAS officer.
The IAS exam is not a concern with the medium of instruction or the medium of answer writing but with the clarity of expression and the indigenous problem solving and pragmatic solution to the socio-economic problems.
However, the ratio of candidates selected in the IAS Exam is skewed towards the English Medium.
One reason which can contribute to this is the English study material.

Myth 5. Being an IAS officer is the best job in India?

This is a well-established notion that IAS is the best job in India as compared to any other job.
But in reality, It is not so.
In terms of salary and perks, it is not the best job and the private sector has various positions having a better salary and perks than an IAS officer.
In addition to it, the IAS gets his posting in the rural areas and sometime in the drought-prone areas where there are no facilities.
But in case of a private-sector job, one will always get their posting in the metropolitan as well as on the International Assignments.
In addition to it, IAS is the first person who is transferred in case of any mishappening and political leadership change, which creates a very uncertain future in terms of place of residence for an IAS Officer.
Myth 6. Remembering ‘lot of facts’ is a key to success?
The IAS exam does not have the intention to check one’s factual knowledge.
Instead, the UPSC assesses one’s understanding and conceptual clarity as well as analytical abilities.
The UPSC has defined its syllabus in a very lucid manner, which can be followed in the IAS preparation.
Secondly, the topics can be decided on the basis of importance to our nation and society.
There are certain standard books through which we can cover the UPSC syllabus. So the bottom line is that we can cover the syllabus through standard books, news events, and the likes.

Myth 7. Are coaching classes mandatory to crack Civil Services Exam?

It differs from person to person. Each person has a different set of requirements and different understanding related to the same subject and topic.
Each year, there are various candidates who never attended any coaching crack the Civil Services Exam with flying colours and getting their desired cadre.
In today’s age, it is no longer mandatory for candidates to attend coaching classes.
Everything is available at the click of a button.
With the internet, candidates can access the best notes for UPSC exam, current affairs magazines, RSTV programs, etc. online, and mostly for free!

Myth 8. Does prescribed numbers of study hours decide my selection?

The number of hours of study is less important. The quality of the hours put in matter more.
This number depends on the individual.
While some may find it easy to read for 14 – 16 hours a day, others cannot go past 6 – 7 hours.
IAS Toppers and the teachers related to the IAS Classes suggest to study for 8 hours in a day is sufficient in order to crack the IAS Exam but these 8 hours study should be an effective study in a much-focused manner and with the selected quality study material.
It depends on what the individual is accustomed to and finds comfortable.
No matter how many hours you study, make sure that the quality of study-time is good and without distractions.

Myth 9. Does IAS officers are mostly posted as District Magistrate?

Most of the IAS aspirants dream about the District Magistrate (DM) post and the powers associated with the post.
But the reality is this, there are hundreds of IAS officers posted in a state and the post of DM is not given to everyone.
There are very few IAS officers which are bestowed with the responsibility of DM.
On an average, the DM posting is given to the IAS Officer for 4 to 5 years only in the whole career as an IAS Officer.
Some IAS officers never get an opportunity to become a DM at their career.

Myth 10. Is it necessary for a candidate to attempt the maximum number of questions to clear IAS Prelims?

The UPSC prelims has negative marking for incorrect answers.
This implies that candidates should be very confident about the answers, and guesswork would not help. Rather, it could backfire.
However, intelligent guesswork through elimination principle should be followed. This will be possible only if you practice the maximum number of prelims test papers.
You can read about how to beat negative marking in the IAS prelims at the linked article.