Self Preparation For IAS: Does It Really Work?
This is the question that hits every IAS aspirant. The answer, however, is not a simple YES or a NO, because it depends on individuals’ preferences. That being for those who are strongly motivated self preparation is the way to go.
If you should invest some time in search and research there are tones of videos and resource material one can get online for free, however people would encounter many challenges during self preparation.
Where to begin?
This is the first challenge. For people contemplating to start their preparation, if they are not certain of their optional yet, then challenge gets harder.
A good way to begin is with NCERT text books of 10th, 11th and 12th classes, respectively. History, Geography, Economics, Political Science, Physics, Chemistry and Biology text books to be exact. NCERT books should be taken as beginners Bibles The concepts are laid perfect and written well to get anyone introduced to the subject. After reading NCERT books, people can switch to standard reference books of same subjects.
If you are unable to finalize on the optional subjects you could meet fellow aspirants and borrow their optional books. After reading these for a week or 10 days you could check previous papers of the respective subjects and learn how the optional subjects performed. You could then pick the subject that you are most comfortable as well as the one that has been showing good performance in the previous years.
This is the biggest hurdle in the self preparation. The aspirants have to stay motivated 24x7x365. That is a gigantic task. There could be lows and highs in days of preparation, yet keeping up the tempo is critical lest finishing syllabus becomes impossible almost.
You could set a definite routine and strictly adhere to it come what may. Changing your sleep and study routines too often can jeopardize the tempo. Talk to fellow aspirants who have similar frequency and seriousness for the exam whenever you are off your tempo. Unwind and relax and it should help you.
How can you measure your performance?
According to some self preparation saves a lot of time. Agree. You could be religiously following a study routine and covering all the prescribed syllabus, staying motivated and all. But how do you know if you are at par with other serious aspirants? How do you know you are doing in an exam? Ultimately that’s the point of your preparation. Isn’t it? You will have no clue if you are beating your competition or you are in the race or not if you cannot measure your performance. This is one of the hugest challenges of self preparation.
But if you still want to stick to that you could join a test series of prelims as well as mains online and keep a track of how you are doing and how you could improve.
Finally self study doesn’t mean you should not take help when you need it. You could do bulk of your preparation and get some help for the areas you are lagging.
Bottom line, do not be harsh and do not stress yourself. Remember Vivekananda’s words of work incessantly but be not attached to it. Do your work and let things work!!