When you make a #mistake, there are only three things you should ever do about it: admit it, #learn from it, and don't repeat it. 

Mistakes are bound to happen in life and perhaps they happen more during the preparation of a tough examination like UPSC Civil Services. These mistakes sometimes cost the aspirants dearly.

The entire process of the UPSC exam can prove to be daunting and mentally taxing. Most aspirants fail to achieve the final frontier i.e  securing a name in the holy pdf (Final merit list) But those who make it to the list, besides working hard, tend to have one thing in common: they had a well planned strategy, and a road map to avoid common mistakes.

So, you must be aware of a few common mistakes committed by the aspirants to make a well-designed and flexible strategy. In the days remaining, work on targets that will improve your performance in the Prelims and give you a headstart.

Here is a list of common mistakes which applicants commit during their UPSC Civil Services Exam. 

Mistake #1: Missing answer writing practice:

  • Many aspirants wait for finishing syllabus first before practicing answer writing. This is a serious mistake which can hinder the score in the mains exams as it is the criteria for the selection process that includes writing essays.
  • The aspirant should start answer writing immediately. At Least you can do this for current affairs based questions.
  • An aspirant should know the facts and should possess a fluent flow of knowledge in a skillful manner. Apart from this, aspirants should focus on exam pattern oriented writing rather than improving writing and typing skills.

Mistake #2: Neglecting newspapers

  • Many people rely only on various web portals or monthly magazines for current affairs. But newspapers like ‘The Hindu and the Indian Express’ should be the main source of information. 
  • It helps in reading fresh news articles rather than cramming all the truck load of current affairs. 
  • So choose one or two  newspapers  and ensure that you are diligent in reading it throughout your preparation time.

Mistake #3: Reading irrelevant material from newspaper:

  • Newspapers are a bundle of knowledge and are efficient in yielding high result.But the aspirant should be able to filter out the gossip and irrelevant stuff.
  • There are three segments in a newspaper from an exam point of view - Events (that gives facts and figures), Issues (provides views and reviews that helps in developing an individual's understanding and opinion on contemporary subjects.) and Gossips.
  • 'What and how to read' should be clear in the mind of the aspirant in the context of a newspaper.

 Mistake #4: Spending lot of time reading newspapers

  • Aspirants should keep in mind that they should devote a maximum 90 minutes for reading newspapers. Spending more time will eat your time and effort required for GS and optional preparation.
  • If you find it difficult, it is better to follow the daily news analysis which handpicks relevant current events for your preparation.

Mistake #5: Unawareness about the previous years’ question papers:

  • Some aspirants fail to realize the importance of previous year papers. They are very important in aligning the preparation according to the latest trend followed by the UPSC.
  • Previous year UPSC question papers make the aspirants aware of the paper;s changing pattern, important topics which keep on repeating.

Mistake #6: Neglecting Mock Test Practice

  • The UPSC Civil Services Examination is highly competitive and merit based. To clear it, you must practice hard to outperform your competitors.
  • For IAS Prelims, you have to practise mock pacers to avoid the negative markings.
  • In  IAS Mains, the pacers are very lengthy. You won’t be able to complete the paper well in time if you do not practice the mock tests.
  • Mock tests will also help in identifying one’s strengths and weaknesses. Knowing weakness and strength would help the candidate to keep a consistent grip over the strong areas and to improve the weaker section.

Mistake #7: Not studying as per the UPSC Syllabus

  • Aspirants tend to take UPSC syllabus as boundary less ocean. However this is not the case.
  • The UPSC syllabus has a well defined structure. It is like a roadmap to which you have to stick yourself so that your preparation does not go haywire.
  • It will also help you save a lot of  time.

Mistake #8: Not having a strategy:

  • Success in UPSC Civil Services Examination = 50% Knowledge + 50% Strategy. So both knowledge and strategy are important to clear this exam.
  • Preparation for UPSC is a long drawn process. So it is important to have a roadmap before starting the journey.
  • Only proper strategy will help in completion of syllabus well in time with time for revision and mock tests.
  • Make your daily, weekly and monthly targets so that you can keep cross checking your progress.
  • Sometimes aspirants listen to some topper and formulate a strategy. Listening to every topper and changing the strategy is not a good idea. Keep one strategy  and do not deviate until you start getting results.

Mistake #9: Ignoring time- management:

  • An aspirant devotes several years for UPSC preparation but lack of time management may lead to wastage of the precious years of life.
  • Time is one of the most important things to be kept in mind while attempting a paper. The fine line between urgent and important should be clear in the mind of the applicant.

Mistake #10: Not having a Mentor

  • Having a mentor can prove a big advantage in your favour. A mentor is like a lamppost on a dark road of UPSC preparation. You will need guidance from a mentor to keep yourself on the track.
  • Also interacting with your mentor gives you a matured perspective on current events which will be helpful in Mains as well as in the interview.

Mistake #11: Buying too many books for preparation

  • New aspirants have the habit of buying all sorts of books whenever they visit a book shop. But in their excitement to buy new books they forget that they cannot retain and revise excess stuff. Thus all their efforts will go in waste when they cannot recollect those facts in exams. 
  • Instead of picking up multiple texts/books for each subject and reading them all only once, it would be prudent to pick up fewer texts and read them over and over again.
  • Do your research of UPSC books and buy only the books that are absolutely worth it. Resist the urge to buy too many books.

Mistake #12: Not making notes: If you don’t write, forget it

  • Notes making is a scientific technique to retail the facts and analysis in your mind for a long period of time.
  • Also it is very time consuming and difficult to revise from the books during the examination period.
  • Make your own notes after reading a topic and keep revising them. 

Mistake #13: Lack of revision:

  • In order to keep hold on the information gained during the preparation it is necessary to revise frequently.
  • Reading 'something new' and revising the 'old one' should be in parity. The both should go hand in hand.

Mistake #14: Choosing the wrong optional

  • Scores of your optional paper can make or mar your success. So one has to be very careful while selecting the optional. Aspirants often choose optional based on their instincts and pay later.
  • Choose your optional on the basis of your interest, availability of study materials and mentors.

Mistake #15: Ignoring health and exercises

  • Many aspirants just cutoff from the whole world and confine themselves indoors with loads of books. It is quite unhealthy and creates unnecessary stress. 
  • Do not do this. Your body and mind need fresh air for rejuvenation.Taking small breaks from the preparation will help.. 
  • Also interacting with family members and friends can give you a new perspective of things. All these are required to maintain your mind’s freshness.
  • It is essential to take care of one’s health. Good food and exercise help. This is especially important for those who are preparing for the exam far away from home.