One Month Left for Prelims – 2015: How to Prepare? What to DO and What Not to DO?

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What to Do and What not to Do for Prelims – 2015

Raju Mishra, Rank – 65, CSE – 2014

There is a month to go for the Prelims . Given the changed Prelims pattern with all emphasis on the unpredictable GS 1 , most of the people would have jittery nerves . I thank god to have escaped this ordeal for the third time and here is my two cents for the Prelims .

( Prelims book list available on many sites including on Mrunal , InightsOnIndia with recent interviews with toppers. Here I shall try to outline a strategy , Do’s and Don’t’s for the next month )

  1. Completion of syllabus and Revision

This is not just meant in the sense that you should have covered all the topics mentioned but also the fact that each of them should be revised in the ensuing month . Be it the hand written short notes you have made , or the underlined portions in the standard textbooks no is the time to revise these portions .

UPSC has the uncanny way of at times testing detailed knowledge on certain topics ( for instance 22 members of PAC question in Prelims 2013 or the largest committee question in 2014 ) for which glancing through these specific details now is of paramount importance .

Hence prepare a timeline today , where you plan the next 1 month well in advance so that each of the topics is covered ! Do not make pre conceived notions that culture and environment would again have a repeat like last year or that history questions would be a cakewalk , rather try your best to prepare all topics to the best of your ability for you never know which spell UPSC shall cast this year ! No doubt you should be aware of the focus of UPSC on certain topics but do not be blinded to others or be stereotyped to think in a particular way . For instance many believed UPSC will no longer ask factual questions and look at the bloodbath in 2014 ! Hence try and follow the Golden mean !

  1. Current affairs

Hopefully you would have prepared self notes ( online/offline ) during the past few months . Wonderful initiatives by insightsonindia , mrunal can also be used to supplement your note-making . Revise these and look out for specific details like “mera khaata bhagya vidhaata “ slogan for PM Jan Dhan Yojana etc.

In case you have nothing prepared( I sincerely hope none of you are in this position !

) , first of all ask for notes of peers many of whom have a wonderful collection and in my experience are mostly helping . IF you find no such person then I would suggest that you may use visionIAS current affairs notes for each month (not the compiled versions of others ) as a stop gap arrangement if you are really desperate to prepare current affairs and place a high premium on it .

Do not panic and fall for the flood of “ compiled current affairs material in one magazine “in the market right now by various publications claiming to have concise details of all current affairs . Besides being a wastage of time , they do not provide the necessary details required for most of the questions .

Personally if I did not have notes prepared, I would much rather concentrate on revision of other subjects instead of last ditch attempt . Well obviously it may so happen that the Prelims 2014 is flooded with current affairs as UPSC is unpredictable but then you need to avoid a situation where to cover current affairs insufficiently at the 11th hour you lose out on conventional questions due to lack of revision !

  1. Questions Practice

You need not necessarily have joined a costly test series to gain access to the papers. You can get a paper for 10-20 rupees of any coaching institute .

Besides gaining new knowledge from the model answers to these questions, they can also help you prepare to escape the honey traps of UPSC .

For instance words like “ can “ , “ only “ change the entire tone of the question and you need to be especially wary of these .

  1. Discussions

I was lucky to have 3 such friends( Rohan , Shivanshu and Vaibhav ) whom I used to question on the topics I had studied recently . See all of us study mostly from the same sources but at times one may read a magazine more , practice a test series question paper which other may not have or maybe highlighted a specific detail in newspaper,book which others may have missed !( I had missed the information on World Economic Outlook being published by IMF which came up with one of the discussions with Vaibhav ! )

These are the times many would feel nervous , others may day dream but in both cases you end up wasting time alone . Rather make a daily time table where you have a doubt clearing , discussion session with one or two friends of yours . Besides brushing up my knowledge it also led to mutual barter of information .

But keep them short and ensure they do not end up as time wasting mechanism where you discuss other things unrelated to UPSC . This is the time where 12-14 hours of your day ought to be dedicated for the exam . The more you sweat in practice , the less you bleed in war !!

  1. Strategy for Qatl ki Subah ( 23 August 2015 , courtesy Mrunal 😀 )

Many people are asking what will be the cutoff ! Some people are predicting 120+ already even before the paper has been attempted .

As per me no doubt the competition is tougher , and cutoff may/may not increase but that should not be playing on your mind right now . A paper like last year will have lower cutoff than say paper of Prelims 2013 .

However do not make notions like you have to attempt 90+ questions to succeed in these prelims ! A -0.67 can be the difference between success and failure, hence form your own strategy as to how to attempt the paper instead of following others strategy or going for blind guess in hope of hitting the bulls eyes 1 out of 3 times to avoid negatives. What if you don’t hit 1/3 and end up losing 2 marks you had earned through hard work ?

Lay more focus on accuracy rather than number of attempts. I typically begin with questions I am 100% sure , mark them in the question paper and re read them for a second time before bubbling .( typically 50-55 In Prelims 2014)

Then comes the second wave of attack where I go for questions I am 60-90% sure and try and look for option elimination , keywords etc to mark the answer. (5-10 in Last PRELIMS )

And finally the third round of answer marking where I typically go for 2-3 typical so called “ intelligent guess “ ( intuition/bluff ) where I am about 50% sure and take the name of almighty and mark it up !

Be very very careful in marking of bubbles !In the exam hall do not think about cut-off , or what others would have marked , how many they would have attempted. As my roommate (Shivanshu) often used to tell me that toughness of a paper depends totally on your preparation. The question of “ Satyameva Jayate “ being from Mundaka Upanishad was known to me as Rohan ( another room mate ) had told me during one of our discussions .

So do not judge how others would have done, Believe in yourself and your hard-work of the past months, try and maximize your performance , be alert and efficient ( sleep well on 22nd ) and give it your best shot. 🙂

All the Best !

P.S. :

My GS 1 scores : 90 (2013 ) , 104(2014)

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