You have heard it a million times and maybe even thought about it yourself-
Should I join an IAS coaching institute?
Are IAS coaching institutes a scam? Is it necessary to join an IAS coaching institute for clearing the UPSC exam? Are Coaching institutes predatory?Are they evil? Are they the good guys? Should you trust them?
If yes, then which one? And for what subject? Whose notes are better? Whose is the best teacher for my optional subject? Online or offline? Test-series or no?
There is raging debate and plenty of conspiracy theories about the role of IAS coaching institutes for the preparation of the UPSC exam. It’s enough to drive anyone mad.
But dont blame yourself. This is not your fault.
I tried to find out the truth about IAS coaching institutes.
So I started to research and methodically searched the internet for as much data as possible and began conducting interviews with people from both sides- The coaching institutes AND the students.
I want to dig deep and analyse to find the truth about coaching institutes.
Here’s what’s going on-
You are caught in the middle of a huge industry.
You have to understand that coaching institutes are businesses. To survive, they need money. And for money they must offer their customers something in return.
You are the customer for their product.
Their product is content and study material. Basically, information about different parts of the syllabus. The test-series is a product. Just like a course on General Studies is a product. So are all the notes and mock interviews.
Anything you pay money for is someone’s product.
As businesses, coaching institutes find themselves competing with one another.
So to outdo their competition they offer you better and better products. Better videos, More notes, More classes, more mock tests.
The coaching industry depends on people like you for their survival. And their flourishing.
IAS Coaching Institutes have the upper-hand
But before you actually make the purchase, they need to do two things-
1) Grab your attention.
2) Prove that they are credible by showing you past results.
This is called ‘Conversion’ or Converting potential clients into customers.
How do they get your attention? The internet.
Because you ask every question to the GREAT GOOGLE GOD and GGG responds by throwing up millions of search results. But beware – this is not as innocent as it looks.
Google is a search engine and ALSO a Business. And businesses help each other , if it benefits them mutually.
Google benefits if you ask it more questions. Coaching institutes benefit if Google recommends their links and Page on its search results . So they try to rank higher and higher on Google search results.
This is called SEO or Search Engine Optimization.
That is not good for you because businesses have become EXTREMELY MASTERFUL at capturing your attention ONLINE.
If Google shows their website when you ask questions, they get more visitors, more visitors means more money. More visitors mean more click through rate (CTR) and that means more product sales – be that test-series or notes.
Look at what happens when I ask google about ‘UPSC SYLLABUS’
EVERY SINGLE search result EXCEPT one (The official website of UPSC, which is highlighted in yellow) was from a Private business interest.
And when you go to www.upsc.gov.in , you find this page-
But it does not give me the information I’m looking for. I found that the USPC website is huge and it is not easy to find the UPSC syllabus for the IAS exam.
You will ultimately have to find the Official Notification and find the syllabus hidden somewhere between hundred pages. So you have no choice but to find the UPSC syllabus on the websites of IAS Coaching institutes.
Many coaching institutes hire professionals to write their articles and design their websites for maximum sales. You are no match for their marketing skills.
Phase one is successful. They have your attention.
As businesses trying to be successful, they must tell you that they are credible and that you can trust them.
When you see the AMAZING past results of these institutes, it seems like you have hit the jackpot. If all these successful candidates studied there, so it must be right place.
But wait. Something else is going on.
Whenever you see the long list of successful candidates, the IAS coaching institutes are are just saying- “THIS PERSON STUDIED PSYCHOLOGY OR ETHICS or G.S with us’’. That’s it.
It DOES NOT mean that the coaching institute is the MAIN REASON for the success of these people.
Have you ever wondered why EVERY SINGLE ONE of the coaching institutes have a long list of successful candidates that they take credit for?
Ask yourself- If Mr X or Ms Y had gone and studied the same subject at a different Coaching institute, would the result really have been different? Is it a coincidence, the bigger the coaching institute , the more successful candidates there are?
Typically, one aspirant usually takes coaching from more than 1 institute. This means that when thousands of people buy one or more of their products, there are bound to be a few people every year who clear the exam.
It is a matter of statistical probability that when thousands of people go through their doors, some of them will certainly clear the exam.
Just like you are bound to get lucky while driving and catch a green light every once in a while. It is just probability.
There is no magic. No special sauce.
What no one asks is the actual PASS PERCENTAGE of people from the TOTAL STUDENT intake over an year for a coaching institute. Including ALL people who join test-series or offline or online coaching etc.
Also, how do you know HOW much the IAS coaching institute helped versus the other coaching institute? What about the role of self-study, which the candidate must have put in? How did the academic background contribute to the success of the candidate?