Coaching for the MPPSC and UPSC Exam: Is It Necessary?

February 4, 2022

This is a perennial question I get asked the most. And it’s understandable too. Many aspirants who begin their MPPSC preparation are clueless about this exam’s demands.
There are a lot of doubts and misconceptions regarding whether to take coaching for State Services Exam MPPSC. So let me break it down for you.
Q. Is coaching necessary?
Think of an elite sportsman like Virat Kohli. Does he have a personal coach? Yes, he does. But would you say his career success is purely down to his coach? Of course not. Kohli trains and suffers day in day out, practices consistently to learn and improve his game. His self-discipline, hard work and the burning determination to excel at the game is what makes him the elite player he is.
Same goes with success in the MPPSC exam. Coaching merely helps you, it does not ensure you a rank. Your self-study, consistency, and the hard work you put in sitting at your study table matters far more than what you do in coaching classes.
So if you are attending coaching classes, do take their mppsc notes, but you should not rely excessively on them and neglect standard books. In my first Mains, I did this mistake of depending on coaching notes disproportionately— I barely read any of the standard books. When I wrote my first Mains in 2012, my lack of conceptual clarity was evident. Unsurprisingly, I failed to get an interview call.
Always remember that roughly, not more than 25-30% of your preparation should depend on mppsc coaching classes. To say that without coaching you cannot crack UPSC is to tell a lie. There are people who put in even that 25% of work by themselves and have cracked this exam (that is, they might have read coaching notes, but did not attend any classes.) So, it depends on your personal belief, self-discipline and your basic level of knowledge to determine whether you need coaching.
Suppose you know what standard books to study, what coaching notes to refer to, and by reading them you can understand the subject, that’s brilliant and you don’t need coaching.
On the other hand, if you are clueless about the exam process or the books you need to study, coaching institutes will help you get a broad idea. But as I said, you still must-read standard books, make required notes and put in the work to outshine your competition.
Q. How do you compare coaching in Delhi versus elsewhere?
As I had said, coaching does not constitute more than 25-30% of your preparation. And there’s nothing profound about coaching institutes in Delhi.
For those preparing in far flung areas, if you cannot afford to go to Delhi, that’s perfectly alright. You can get MPPSC notes of all the major coaching institutes in most cities. So make a trip once to your nearby city, buy them from a bookstore and study on your own.
Also, I believe internet has truly democratised information and made it accessible even to rural areas. These days many institutes are providing coaching classes via video lectures. You can opt for them too.
Moreover, online websites have emerged as brilliant and affordable alternatives to traditional coaching institutes. So if you cannot go to Delhi to take coaching, you are not losing out on anything.
Q. How helpful are coaching notes? Can they substitute standard books?
Standard books are important because they are written from the ground up and they form the foundation of your knowledge. Once you read standard books, reading coaching notes not only becomes much easier, but you can also see where in that big picture does a small topic fit in.
The problem with reading just the mppsc coaching notes is that they fail to you give you such big picture perspective. What you will be left with are fragmented concepts and broken knowledge which doesn’t stick for long in your memory. For long term memory, we need a topic’s context which is why you should always start with standard books.
For example, when I started Anthropology, I first read Ember & Ember to get an overview of the subject. Afterward, when I referred to Sharma Academy mppsc coaching material, I could clearly see how a particular topic such as Primate Adaptation fit into the larger concept of Human Evolution. This is why standard books are indispensable.
While reading coaching notes, remember these:
 Coaching notes are helpful and easy to revise before the exam. But they can only supplement but never substitute standard books.
 Always map your notes onto the chapters and topics in syllabus. Most coaching institutes do not cover the syllabus entirely. Even if they do, they usually rush through some chapters. So when you see a topic not covered well in your notes, read on your own from other sources and make notes.
 Coaching notes and material come in handy to cover a specific topic. For example for a topic like Govt schemes, instead of you labouring to compile them from ministries’ websites, it’s better that you buy a compilation booklet of any institute. Smart work saves you a lot of time.
 You have to remember that UPSC is not at all like a graduation exam. In college, it’s fairly easy to read just the notes and score really well. But in UPSC, the questions are of higher standard and of deeper analytical depth. None of the questions usually come directly from your coaching notes. It’s your clarity of concepts— especially in optional— that will help you write good answers.

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