Upsc mistakes: things to avoid & do in upsc preparation

UPSC civil service exam is one of the most competitive exams on the planet, it is because more than 1 million students apply for the exam out of which only a few thousand get selected.

Many students who apply for this exam aim to become IAS officers and become civil servants and amid such a huge competition there is a very little to no room for errors and mistakes because small mistakes can have a big impact on your overall exam result,

you should also keep in mind that these exams are conducted only once every year and every candidate has Limited chances to attend the exam so every aspirant should try to avoid as many common mistakes as possible so that they can have higher chances of success in the exam.

On that note in this article let’s take a look at 6 common Mistakes of UPSC which the majority of aspirants do which you should avoid achieving success in the exam.

So let’s get started.

10 Common mistakes to avoid during UPSC preparation.

  1. Ignoring NCERTS

One of the mistakes many UPSC aspirants do is that they ignore NCERTS books while preparing for CSE exam.

For the majority of these students, NCERT books are the most important books to read for UPSC preparation because they are not only the basic books which help you get a strong foundation of the subject but

also they are very simple and easy to read and they are designed and published bynational Council of educational research and training which is an autonomous body unit & is a part of ministry of education in Government of India.

I would highly recommend all the UPSC aspirants to first cover important NCERT books of UPSC and by the way they are also very affordable and easily available books both online and offline.

  1. Not creating notes during studies

Second mistake many UPSC aspirant do is not creating notes during studies and revision.

Note making is very important part of UPSC preparation because you not only save time by revising the notes during revision of the subject in the last days of the exam but writing the notes whenever you are studying will help you to improve your memory and

memorize the facts and information for a longer period because their are numerous scientific studies which show that writing something by hand on a piece of paper will help improve the memory of the brain.

  1. Selecting wrong optional subject

Another important mistake you should avoid is to select wrong optional subject.

Selecting the right optional subject is very important in the mains exam of UPSC civil service because you can get a chance to score maximum marks and selecting the right optional subject has been the game changer for many UPSC aspirants in clearing the exam.

There are few things you need to consider while selecting right optional subject which are that you must first of all have interest in the subject and try to select a subject which has some overlapping on other general studies paper like humanities subject or

you can consider any optional subject which you have already studied in your under graduation so that you can spend more time on revising general studies paper in mains exam, also consider if the optional subject you choose has study materials and coaching facilities easily availableand

make sure that you analyze the previous year’s question papers of that optional subject to check what type of questions will be asked to familiarise yourself with the paper and its pattern and to understand the difficulty level of the subject before you decide an optional subject.

  1. Avoiding mock tests

Another important thing many UPSC aspirants ignore is they avoid giving mock tests.

First of all mock tests are very important because they not only help you identify your strengths and weaknesses in the subject but also test your memory and effectiveness of your revision, it also help you prepare for the final exam,

It let’s you know how you will perform under pressure so that you can work on yourself both mentally and physically to perform good in the final exam, and performing good in mock test can also boost of confidence for students, all of the small things can really add up & help you clear the exam.

So, please don’t avoid mock tests, they play a huge role in UPSC preparation.

  1. Current affairs

There are a couple of mistakes that UPSC aspirants do with regards to current affairs.

First of all current affairs are very important part of UPSC preparation because there are important in both prelims and mains exam and they can be useful in interview round as well.

The mistakes that students do with current affairs is that they either neglect current affairs and prepare it in the last stage of exam or they put so much time on current affairs.

Ideally, you should try to build a habit of reading newspapers from the right sources like Times of India and other popular newspapers for at least 1 hour and 1.5 hours at maximum & from at least one or two years before the exam.

Try to make notes of the important information, editorials and things you have learnt from the newspapers in your notebook so that you can revise them later on and if you don’t have enough time to read newspapers every day then I would recommend you to check out this article on how you can get current affairs knowledge apart from reading newspapers.

  1. Not creating a time table & being consistent

Another mistake which majority of UPSC aspirants do is not creating a time table and being consistent over their preparation.

Creating a time table and work schedule is most important thing you should do you before you start preparation because UPSC preparation is like a marathon not a sprint.

It would easily take around at least 2 years or even more if you want to clear UPSC exam and many UPSC toppers always advise to create a time table Because it not only helps you become consistent over your preparation but it also helps you have a clear road map and direction during preparation instead of being confused & demotivated or lazy.

Alternative career option

Another mistake you should avoid doing when it comes to UPSC preparation is that you should always try to have an alternative career option when you decide to prepare for UPSC in the first place.

I know some people may not agree completely with my point and they would say that you should always try to focus on one thing and put all of your energy and determination into that & having a second option will dilute your focus and concentration but to be honest

more than 1 million students attempt UPSC exam every year and there are many things which make this exam one of the most toughest and competitive exams in the world and

there is caste reservation on top of it(I am against caste reservations because it makes this exam unfair and favourable to only a group of students belonging to a certain caste) so it is always good to have a backup option if you fail in UPSC exam because over 90% of the students actually do fail and the vacancies in exam are also very small in figure compared to million of students who apply for the vacancies and write the exam.

You can by the way check out my article on all the alternative career options for UPSC aspirants in detail here.

Not practicing Essay writing early

Another mistake you should avoid is not practising essay writing early itself.

Essay answer writing is very important in UPSC because mains which is the second stage of the exam is all about essay writing where you will have to write long essay answers in general studies papers and

optional papers as well but many students start practising essay writing after when they clear prelims exam which is not a good strategy to use because

you also have to focus on learning the subjects of options subjects and general studies and also language subjects so you may not have much time to prepare and practise for essay writing.

What I would recommend you to do is to start practising answer essay writing At least one hour everyday one year before you write for the exam.

This would not only help you slowly learn the skill of essay writing but you can also maintain a dictionary with yourself so that you can learn different words which you can later include in essay writing and increase your vocabulary.

Getting too many books

UPSC aspirants must understand that collecting multiple books for a single subject is not going to help them in any way. The objective is not just to read the books, rather to imbibe and memorise the knowledge imparted therein.

The correct approach is to zero in on a specific set of books that cover all the topics for a single subject. There is no need to waste money on too many books or study materials and surround yourself with its pile. In the UPSC IAS exam, quality weighs more than quantity.

Studying long hours, not taking rest

It is the biggest myth about the UPSC exams that studying 15 hours is compulsory. You just have heard from your fellow UPSC aspirants, friends, or family that you can’t clear the UPSC prelims exam if you study less than at least 14 -15 hours a day. Each and every individual and their physical and mental stamina level are different.

So, you can’t put all of them in the same line. There are different study strategies for each student. The maximum study hours should be 10 hours. If you try to study all day and night, your energy will be exhausted soon and you won’t be able to perform well in the exam. Don’t experiment with your learning abilities. Do what you can do!

Apart from that you should also try to take breaks regularly when you are studying because breaks are important not only to refresh your mind and body but also regain your concentration and not lose the interest on your subject. There are many studies which show that taking breaks quite regularly and also having a power nap after revising the subject can significantly improve your productivity and increase concentration.

Analyse & solve previous year question papers

To understand the trend, pattern, and idea of the examination paper, it is a must to read and solve question papers from previous years’ papers. Doing this will save you from surprises in the actual exam. The nature of the UPSC exam is very uncertain. You never know what will happen. So, taking ideas from past exam papers really helps to get ready for facing the actual exams. Completing the whole syllabus and then solving past exam papers is the best strategy to enhance the chances to break into the UPSC mains exam

 Not having clarity of syllabus

The UPSC syllabus is humongous, which is why the candidate must check it thoroughly to cover each and every aspect of it and not just rely on notes and study material of institutes. Not only the subjects and topics,

one must be aware of the UPSC Exam pattern where many aspirants go wrong if they blindly follow the IAS mock test series or other Civil Services test series that may not have upgraded themselves with the changing patterns in the UPSC exam over the years. The syllabus is updated each year so the IAS aspirants must keep their eyes open to get the latest information from a reliable source.

Being nervous, anxious and losing confidence

Another mistake you should avoid with regards to UPSC preparation is that you should also try to be positive and stop being anxious, nervous.

There are many students while preparing for UPS exam become anxious nervous and loose conference that they can crack the exam because of after observing the tough competition and large syllabus to read and complete.

But in my opinion, the most important factor is, You should clearly know why you are preparing for the exam whether you want to work for the society or you want to achieve your father’s dream, etc.

having a clear vision and purpose will really help you during the tough times of the exam preparation and will also motivate you to be consistent over your preparation and you can also watch many interviews and life stories of students who became civil servants to get motivation and also read many books to increase your confidence.


These are some important Mistakes of UPSC exam which you should avoid as UPSC aspirant to increase your chances of success in exam.

Do comment on what are your thoughts about the mistakes of UPSC and share the article if you have found it helpful, BTW all the best for your UPSC exam.