What is the harsh reality that every aspirant should know before starting preparation for the UPSC exam?

The UPSC exam is one of the most competitive exams in India with a success rate of just 0.1-0.3%. Every year, lakhs of aspirants start preparing for the exam with the dream of becoming an IAS/IPS officer. However, only a few of them are able to achieve their dream. The main reason for the failure of most aspirants is that they are not aware of the harsh reality of the UPSC exam. In this article, we will highlight the harsh reality that every aspirant should know before starting preparation for the UPSC exam.

What is the harsh reality that every aspirant should know before starting preparation for the UPSC exam?

Myths and Reality about UPSC Exam

  • Myth: IAS candidates and officers should be well-versed in every subject and issue imaginable.
  • Reality: They don't. However, because this is a generalist exam, students should be generally well-read and have a balanced perspective on subjects. The exam syllabus is also extensive and covers various topics. 
  • An IAS candidate is, therefore, typically far better informed than others. A broad comprehension of the subject and conceptual clarity is necessary. Examinees do not need to be subject-matter experts; instead, they should be able to think critically and demonstrate general knowledge.
  • Myth: To pass the CSE, I must recall numerous facts.
  • Reality: The exam does not at all measure factual knowledge. It tests your comprehension, mental clarity, and analytical abilities. However, some information is thought to be the cornerstone for creating perspective. Thus, it's crucial to understand. 
  • You should be familiar with some basic information, such as the GDP's size and demographics. Still, it will be simpler to recall these statistics once you know their importance.
  • Myth: You must attempt more than 90 questions to pass the preliminary exam.
  • Reality: This is untrue. Another misconception spread by some of the "hacks" and "shortcuts" available on the market is that it is simpler to earn more points if you attempt more questions. That is not how it operates. 
  • One needs to have a certain amount of "intuition" to answer additional questions accurately. And that level of intuition results from years of reading and internalizing knowledge, facilitating connections across subjects. 
  • A well-read person may attempt an abnormally high number of questions and still succeed in answering them correctly, but not everyone is capable of doing so.
  • Myth: To pass, one must study for 16 hours each day.
  • Reality: Nobody can study for 16 hours a day for a lengthy period without getting exhausted. Furthermore, quality rather than quantity is what counts. As a result, some succeed by studying four to five hours a day while working, and those who pass after months of an ongoing study at a rate of 12 hours per day. It would help if you struck a balance.
  • Myth: To obtain complete "mastery" over a subject, you must read numerous books about it.
  • Reality: First of all, "mastery" of any subject is a highly ambitious goal in the case of the UPSC exam. Second, reading numerous books to grasp an issue is never preferable to thoroughly understanding one book. 
  • Additionally, even after reading and comprehending anything, it takes time to internalize it because you will be studying a lot of new material. You might not be able to remember things well if you don't take notes and edit. 
  • Reading additional books can undoubtedly be beneficial if you truly understand a subject and wish to deepen your understanding or broaden your perspective.
  • Myth: To fully understand each topic included in the syllabus, one must study standard volumes from cover to cover.
  • Reality: Not. Nothing must be read from beginning to end, save the NCERTs and a few books. Although reading and learning are virtually always beneficial, it is far preferable to take a topic-by-topic approach. 
  • Please list the syllabus's essential terms and try to cover them in books and other related sources. Additionally, taking notes is crucial. But they shouldn't develop into a goal unto themselves. 
  • They ought to improve your comprehension and make revision more fruitful.
  • Making a mental map or writing in the margins is much more effective than taking regular notes.

Every aspirant should know the harsh reality before preparing for the UPSC exam

  • IAS does little to help the "poor of the poorest" (once you belong to this group or are marginalized, you will understand this without a doubt). 99% of applicants do not wish to work in N-E states or rural, underdeveloped areas (this is the commitment to serve).
  • IAS "exudes an aura of being an officer" to the average civilian. Once in the workforce, it becomes immediately apparent that you are above many top IAS officers and political bosses. New IAS Officers, who believe they are talented, and senior IAS Officers, who believe they are seasoned and have "ego," are constantly at odds with one another.
  • IAS officers are not well-respected at all. Respect is a false idea. People are drawn to positions of money and power. Transferring an IAS officer from a plum job to a non-plum one is not cause for concern. Hence there is no need to become upset.
  • IAS refers to a person. He can make mistakes, contract illnesses, have extramarital affairs, end his life, etc. He is not a demi-god or a half-god.
  • IAS officers lack innate abilities (the power source is posted). They fear losing control because of this (non-plum posting). A person with critical thinking skills and a love of reading has natural power.
  • IAS officers and other members of the elite class experience first-world issues.
  • Most aspirants begin living in delusion once they enter the services. 
  • They begin to think they are naturally gifted (superman/superwoman), talented, attractive, more responsible than others, loved by society, etc. 
  • When these delusions are exposed to reality, it hurts.
  • Some police officers are not content with the alleged respect or authority they receive from their position. 
  • To enhance their image, they hire PR firms. 
  • They seek to be treated as gods.
  • IAS hopefuls who succeed in the UPSC CSE acquire an unexpectedly deep affinity with other aspirants (in fact, most are misguiding by working hand in glove with the coaching industry).


In conclusion, the harsh reality that every aspirant should know before preparing for the UPSC exam is that the odds of success are very low. Out of the lakhs of people who take the exam every year, only a handful make it to the final stage. 

The competition is stiff, and the journey is long and complex. However, for those willing to put in the hard work and persevere, the UPSC exam is the perfect platform to pursue their dreams.

Frequently Asekd Question (FAQs)

Q.1. How should a novice begin preparing for the UPSC?

Ans. Beginners should preferably begin their preparation at least 10 to 12 months before the UPSC prelims exam. Only then can you thoroughly cover the material and get enough exam prep. Before tackling the optional papers, you need to finish the standard GS exams.

Q.2. Are 4 hours sufficient for UPSC?

Ans. An aspirant must study GS, optional, current affairs, etc., every day; therefore, dividing the 5 hours may not be effective. An aspirant may not be able to concentrate entirely for the entire 5 hours, resulting in gaps. Therefore, a candidate should make an effort to dedicate at least 7-8 hours every day, then progressively expand it.

Q.3. What is the most crucial component to passing UPSC?

Ans. Write appropriate analytical responses and analyze yourself before the UPSC evaluates you. Make sure you allow time in your schedule to plan your study for at least two revisions. Two times, one week before the test, you should review both general studies and the CSAT syllabus.

Q.4. Which stream suits IAS the best?

Ans. To prepare better and perform better on all three IAS Exam stages, it is advised that you choose the arts stream. Therefore, it seems to sense that choosing Humanities in class eleven would improve your chances of passing the IAS Exam.

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