Abhijeet Profile picture
20 Jul, 14 tweets, 3 min read
After the first few attempts at UPSC CSE

I developed an almost instinctive sense of when I was going off track.

But in the earlier attempts
I had faced a lot of fear, uncertainty and doubt.

= Reflections on the early days =
During the first two attempts I remember being scared.

I was confident that I had what it took to clear the exam.

But I was also scared.

If this doesn't happen then what?
If I waste 2 years of my life, will I ever get a job?
(giving 6 attempts was unimaginable back then)
During my 3rd attempt

(I had failed 2 prelims by then)

I remember having vivid dreams where I was chasing something and despite my best efforts unable to catch it.

I was seriously doubting my intentions and my efforts by this point.
Could I chase down this goal?

Despite considering myself a bright student, I had failed Prelims twice.

I even questioned myself:
• Am I really a bright student?
• What if I never figured out how to do it right?

I really didn't like the idea of failing, again.
Over time
I realised that there is no answer to these questions.

Doubts come because we're scared of an uncertain future.

But all we have is the present moment.

The Stoics really helped drive that point home for me.
Given this premise

In my later attempts, I was easily able to focus on the planning and execution.

I knew I could still go wrong, but I also knew that given a chance I would correct my mistakes as well.

And that's all there is to it.
The doubts will always remain.

There is no way for you to remove the doubts.

Because to doubt, is human.

What you need to practice instead is not giving attention to those doubts.
Next time you ask yourself, what if I can't clear it?

Tell yourself to study the subject twice.

Because that's what you can control, your efforts.

If you try to control the outcome, the only result of that will be misery. Focus on your efforts instead.
With UPSC preparation, I had learnt to shut these demons out.

Ignore the voices that said, what if you don't make it.

And I figured having shut them out once I would not be bothered by them again.
Now working with @PensilTeam I faced those same fears again.

I was doubtful about what I was doing, whether I'd be able to execute as expected.

I was not sure if I would succeed.

But then success lies in the future, and all I have is the present.
You cannot depend on the mental muscle that you built built in the past to remain with you forever.

Just like you need to keep exercising to stay fit, you need to remind yourself that you have what it takes to achieve your goals.

If you don't tell yourself this, no one will.
And the hardest thing about life: no gain is permanent.
The obstacle is the way.

Something bothering you?
Figure out how to gamify it.

This is the mindset that leads to eventual success.

Be it UPSC preparation or entrepreneurship.
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More from @abhiwhy

20 Jul
With UPSC preparation focus on perfecting the process.

Positive results will soon follow.
The process:
• Study limited sources
• Revise frequently
• Give tests
• Analyse tests
• Re-orient preparation based on data.
How to perfect it:
• Choosing your sources well
• Setting up a revision schedule
• Recognising tests as a means to an end
• Getting feedback
Read 5 tweets
19 Jul
During UPSC preparation there are two parts:

• Planning
• Execution

You need to be good at both parts.
Planning

You need to have a plan.

The plan must be built on solid grounds such as:
• Limited sources
• Multiple revisions
• Regular tests

Without such a plan, it's difficult to coordinate the coverage of such a vast syllabus.
Execution

You now have a plan. Awesome!

But till the time you don't execute that plan daily, you're not going anywhere.

This is the hard part about preparation.

You have to show up everyday, regardless of your mood, the weather, what not.
Read 6 tweets
13 Jul
UPSC preparation as a video game

= A Thread =
Tutorial - NCERTs

You're being handheld through the basics.

Just like with a tutorial, don't worry too much about the NCERTs. They're just something to get you started.

Soon you're going to have to handle real game quests with Laxmikant and Shankar.
UPSC as an Open World Game

In the beginning UPSC prep can seem like an open world game.

So much to explore, so much to learn, so much to do.

In time you realise it's the same few quests again and again.

Clear that dungeon. Kill that dragon.
Give those tests. Revise them.
Read 17 tweets
1 Jul
Why is UPSC CSE Prelims so hard?

• 10 lakh people apply for Prelims.
• 5 lakh people appear for Prelims.
• 10,000 people qualify Prelims.

That's a success rate of 2%.

Are there other reasons?

= A Thread =
Randomness.

In UPSC Prelims, half a mark can make or break your game.

And it can feel like Prelims is purely a game of chance with questions like below.

But remember, the randomness is equal for everyone.

Focus on the things you can control, your efforts.
MCQ Trickery.

UPSC knows how to confuse people.

They use options which are closely related or confusing because for them it's all about elimination.

UPSC cares about the candidates.
But only if you make it to Mains.
Read 9 tweets
28 Jun
My booklist during UPSC CSE Preparation

Resources that I used & changes over time.

= Thread =
Polity I

M. Laxmikanth is the holy grail here. Used it during 3 attempts.

But in CSE2018/20, preferred reading DD Basu.

It's not a book for beginners but if you can understand the language, there's nothing quite like it.
Polity II

In Polity, questions in prelims are theoretical and for that you need conceptual clarity.

Laxmikanth is great for understanding the structure of the Indian Constitution.

But DD Basu gives you a feel of the logic behind it.
Read 16 tweets
21 Jun
During UPSC CSE prep

Covering current affairs is essential.

= 3 ways to go about it =
1. Making your own current affairs notes

Highest difficulty.
You need to do it everyday, without fail.

But if done well, you will have higher retention.

Because you'll:
• Organise your notes
• Know the syllabus inside out
• Learn to skim the newspaper
2. Monthly magazines

Current affairs magazines from any major institute can be used. But you must revise them multiple times.

Since you're only reading, and not organising the notes, retention can be a little lower.
Read 9 tweets

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