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New SECURE – 2018
How to Use Insights Secure Initiative for more Effective Mains Preparation?
Please read this post after going through this update which we posted earlier.
Over the years, we have personally interacted with thousands of students- online and offline – regarding various aspects of their UPSC civil services exam preparation. We have come across students who haven’t written a single answer despite spending 2-3 years (full-time) preparing for this exam; There are students who have never written an essay despite spending money and time in coaching institutes; There are students who have written answers but don’t know if their answers meet exam’s standard; There are students who want to write answers but they are scared of writing bad answers, hence in the pursuit of perfection they are postponing this exercise; There are students who are extracting points from others’ answers and write them down in their notebooks – living under the illusion that they are practising well; There are students who wait for the synopsis, read it, jot down few points and feel happy that they have done writing practice; And there are students who have enrolled to test series and assume that they are doing regular writing practice.
Of course there are students who are regularly writing answers, essays and getting them evaluated. Students who belong to this category are very few. The competition is between those who practice more regularly and those who practice less regularly. If you are not practising, you are out of the race – unless you are an extraordinary polymath who can directly walk into exam centre with hall ticket and come out with an appointment letter.
Today the competition is very high. Let’s not deny this. If you want to be in top of your game, you must up your game by doing all things that are necessary to get rank.
Doing regular answer writing practice is one of the must do things that must be on top of your to-do list.
Keeping this in mind, the Secure initiative was started to provide a daily exercise where an aspirant is compelled to practice answer writing on a regular basis. Instead of passively reading newspaper and making notes(notes which most students don’t use). By following Secure initiative one can read an article with specific purpose of extracting content to form opinions and to write answers – which ultimately benefits in the long-term.
Writing answers includes thinking. Making notes doesn’t include thinking. Instead of making notes, it’s better to write answers every day.
Ultimately it is in Mains that your rank is decided. If you are into the habit of reading news and making notes, but abstaining from writing answers, you are not making any progress. You are wasting your time. Not that you shouldn’t make notes, but use those notes to write answers. Make notes only if you are going to use them. Revise your notes to use them effectively in your answers to enhance quality of content.
How to use New Secure Initiative Effectively?
When Secure questions are daily posted, usual tendency is to read questions as soon as they are posted, read related article by clicking the link, extract relevant points and type them as an answer in the comment box or write them in your notebook. (some students want to post as fast as possible as if it’s some competition)
Many students try to write answers on the same day immediately after reading articles. Is this effective?
Yes, it is effective but there is even more effective way to make use of Secure initiative by following the steps given below:
- As soon as Secure post in posted, go through all the questions. Read questions 2-3 times and understand their core demand. In case you want to write answers to only few questions, select the questions based on two criteria: First, select questions if they introduce you to completely new concept/issue; or go for questions that have high probability of appearing in Mains – 2018 (directly or indirectly)
- Don’t worry – we will mark which questions are most important for Mains-2018. You have to decide which questions are new to you.
- Next, read articles keeping in mind the question. Constantly think about what’s the central demand of the question and look for facts or concepts in the article to do justice to the question. As and when you find such information, roughly jot down them in a notebook (it’s better to keep a separate notebook for this exercise).
- In case you don’t find requisite information in the given link, do research from authentic sources (such as NCERT, Standard Texts, The Hindu, Indian Express, Ministry websites, government reports, EPW, Down to Earth, IDSA, or Current Affairs/previous Secure posts from Insights) and note down points. Don’t spend more than 20-30 minutes per question. You must be fast in extracting what’s important. Scan for only relevant and useful information.
- While scanning articles for information, give equal importance to facts and opinions. Some will have tendency to vomit facts and focus only on opinion/concepts. No fact is trivial if you learn to use it effectively in your answers.
- While jotting down points, look at question again. When you try to extract information, everything seems important. Try to avoid writing down everything. Also avoid tendency to search for related points with an intention to make notes comprehensive. Stick to demand of the question. After few days, same issue will be covered either in secure synopsis or in current affairs where you will get related content.
- If you decide to answer 4-5 questions, within 2 hours, jot down all relevant points in a separately kept notebook.
- DON’T WRITE ANSWERS YET!
- After few hours of doing this exercise, go through and revise all the questions and related points that you have noted down. Memorise them.
- Next day, without looking at any source, like in exam condition either type answers to all four answers in the comment box, or write them in your notebooks and post photos in the comment box. If you are writing in a note book, write one answer within 8-9 minutes..
- Keep Four separate notebooks for each GS paper and write answers in these notebooks. Or else, you can write in papers and file them according to syllabus. Please practice answers in plain white papers (unruled)
- Step 9 and 10 are extremely important. Instead of writing answers immediately after seeing questions, write answers after a day based on memory.
In the beginning you may not be able to recollect all the points. But if you persist, you will be able to recall most points and write quality answers.
This exercise helps in actual exam where you need to recall so much in 3 hours (you need to write nearly 4000 words in 3 hours).
If you are writing answers immediately based on short-term memory, you will forget most of these points after few days. If you don’t remember what you read and write, it’s of no use.
What about questions that you don’t answer?
Read them from Synopsis – either on weekly basis or on monthly basis.(weekly basis is better)
Remember that Secure synopsis is NOT MODEL ANSWERS. We are providing you relevant content for each question posted by us in synopsis post. Only for content you should rely on synopsis (whether Secure, Static Test or Mains test series). For model answers, from tomorrow you will get guidelines below each question. based on directions given below each question, model your answers.
It’s easy to look at synopsis and feel happy that there are answers which you can memorise and reproduce in exam. If everyone does this, you will not show originality in your answers. Evaluators can easily notice this. Therefore, do your own work first and then compare content of your answer with that of synopsis.
How many questions you should answer every day?
It depends on level of your preparation. If you are worried about prelims, write 1-2 answers daily (go for questions which can help you revise prelims topics – such as static topics).
If you are aiming to score high in Mains and not worried about Mains, write at least 4-5 answers daily. Choose questions that are important for you (questions that cover issues you have missed; questions that add extra dimension to an issue which you have already covered etc)
Don’t judge or compare any question in Secure. Each question will be relatively important to many of you based on your level of preparation. A question that is irrelevant to you might be relevant for a person preparing for interview or a person who is fresher. We try our best to be relevant and try to cover all issues and topics that we think are important for this exam (all three stages).
In the end, all questions will be important as they in some way cover all aspects of Mains, especially GS Papers-1, 2 and 3.
After writing down answers based on memory, COMPULSORILY review your own answers (we will release guidelines for reviewing your own answers in two days). This self review is very important. It helps you assess your weaknesses and strengths.
In comment box, we will only review those answers that have self review. After posting your answer, post your self review. In return, we will post our review. Do post answers in comment box. Review your own and also others’ answers.
We will review five answers for each question every day. We will also give marks on a scale of ten.
We will review answers after 24 hours of posting questions. Our review coupled with your self-review, will definitely help in improving quality of your answers.
(we will come up with a post on Guide to Better Answers soon)
Have the edge:
Our offline students who used to answer secure questions based on memory (mostly in weekly Secure tests) used to have an edge over others. Consistent practice in this regard will help improve speed as well as quality. In case you were not doing what’s presented in this post, this is the revelation we promised.
As we have seen its effectiveness, we are recommending this. For you to see its effectiveness, you must consistently practice this. If you are inconsistent, you won’t see benefits.
Those who have followed Secure earlier have got excellent marks in Mains GS papers as well as in Essay paper. We hope you also taste its benefits.
Every week, allot a day for revision of all the notes you jot down and answers you write. If you don’t revise regularly, even if you are answering based on memory, you will not remember efficiently. May be every Sunday can be devoted to revise entire week’s work.
Few Words about Secure itself:
In Secure initiative questions are framed on articles that are in many ways important to this exam preparation. Though Secure in Mains-oriented initiative, now and then we have asked questions that are more useful for either interview or prelims. Through Secure initiative, we have tried to let you know what’s important and what’s not. We have kept in mind that this initiative is followed by both freshers and veterans – hence, we have asked questions that are very basic and also questions that are advanced.
We never try to beat UPSC. Secure initiative is an exercise in learning. Therefore questions are intended to help you cover as many important topics as possible from exam point of view. We try to match UPSC in our test papers.
Here in Secure, it’s about what new issues and topics you can learn every day, not how many questions you are going to see get repeated in actual Mains (In that case, you can stop reading everything, get synopsis two months before exam and memorise everything. Right?)
New Secure will make your Mains GS preparation comprehensive as we are going to cover all the topics – static and current. We will be consistent. We expect the same from you.
List of topics:
We will give you two lists: List of topics that will be covered before Prelims-2018 and another list of topics that we will cover after Prelims – 2018.
First list will have all static topics that will have relevance for both prelims and Mains.
Second list will be exclusive to mains.
Note that these topics are static, but can be linked with current affairs part. We will sometimes ask purely static questions or sometimes link them with current affairs.
Tonight we will provide list of first set of topics. After few days, Mains related topics list will be posted.
List will be provided by 11 pm tonight.
Wish you all the best. Hope to see your energy in comment box through your answers. Thank you for your support and cooperation.