Things to Know Before Starting IAS/UPSC Preparation
Choosing Optional Subject
This is very important because you should only choose optional subject which you are comfortable in, which you have preferably done in your graduation. This is something that you enjoy reading, because optional is a place where you will have to give in all your efforts. So, you must choose an optional which you like reading and not something which is selling this year or getting very good marks.
Previous Year Papers
See, this is extremely important from Prelims point of view and if you follow previous year papers & test papers mainly for prelims also for mains may be not so relevant except in case of optional. In prelims this will help you in your time management (questions may not be repeated but it will definitely boost your confidence), and in mains questions will be repeated in optional papers (at least in some optional papers), so you must check previous papers.
Lots of Books
We would like to suggest you (as senior aspirants also recommend) that do not buy more than two or three books on any subject. Try to revise you have read instead of going for more and more newer sources to read because it will reduce you retention on study. The exam is not so much about depth as it is about your basic understanding of stuffs, so try to be very concise or precise about this examination.
Constructive Group Study
Generally in group study people tend to get involved in other discussions (time wasting), but there are also some positives of group study which is that you can try and have a very good intellectual conversations among people you trust who are preparing for examination. Group Study will help you in specially for General Studies papers because your perspective widens and this exam wants your perspective to be widen. So, there is a very well place need for a constructive group study and if you do find a very good, intellectual, hardworking group you are lucky.
Mingling with Seniors
Now this is something we personally feel really benefited aspirants. You should (if possible) be in touch with seniors who can guide you in this examination, because the exam demands a lot of "courage and resilience in addition to knowledge". Senior can clarify your doubts, reduce your anxiety and suggest you to focus on right directions of the preparation.
Reading Complete Newspaper
This is a cumbersome task and a BIG problem among aspirants, Why? because the newspaper has many things which is not relevant to the examination like sports pages, local news, any tip bits or celebrity gossips are not relevant at all. So, please don't waste a lot of time on reading the newspaper, it is essential of course but try to finish it with one or one and half an hour at least at the end of your preparation. See the only important information which corresponds with your main exam syllabus and work on that.
Avoiding Regular Tests
It is strongly recommended for every aspirant to give regular tests because it is extremely important for getting through Prelims and more than extremely essential for getting through Mains examination. It is also applies for both of your optional papers and GS (remember that more that 60% of your preparation lies on giving tests). Do not skip giving tests after prelims at least give 10 to 15 tests because the exam is about expression, you can have all the knowledge in the world but if can't express well in the required time frame you will not score well.
Lack of revision is obviously one of the biggest mistake because if you not revising well you may forget history, geography, all important bills and optional papers etc. So, revision is very important and again instead of buying too many books getting too much knowledge about stuffs REVISE what you have done and it will help you immensely.
Use of Social Media
Try to use social tools sparingly: Try to maintain limit on the amount of the time, emotions and brain that you invest on it. So social media if you want to use use it for constructive purposes, use it also as a distraction if you want to but do not get swayed by it. This time is very important and it will not come again in life. Hope you AVOID THESE MISTAKES and do every right thing in the book and get through with flying colours.