Civil Services Main Examination is just two months away. You have studied a lot for it and now is the time to hone your skills further in answer writing. Strategy matters. That is, focus on aspects that give you clinching returns. Here is what you have to do to score high
Table of Contents
Understand the Syllabus and Exam Pattern
Before diving into the preparation process, it is crucial to understand the UPSC Mains syllabus and exam pattern thoroughly. Given that the test is primarily traditional, concentrate on topics where questions are more likely to be asked. For example, earlier Indian Polity questions used to be conventional but not anymore. For the last 5-7 years, the developing parts of Indian Polity are being joined to the traditional content. Given the fact of the nature of questions changing, focus on current developments well. For example defamation, Art.371 and tribal autonomy, challenges for the 16th Finance Commission that will be set up soon, etc.
Create a Realistic Study Plan
Developing a realistic study plan is essential to ensure systematic coverage of the entire syllabus. Divide your study hours based on the subjects and allocate more time to areas that require extra attention. A meticulously crafted study plan will help you stay organised, focused, and motivated throughout the preparation. For example, some aspirants cover a bit of each topic daily. Some cover a single topic for a few days and finish it. Some couple GS with Optional every day. Suit your temperament.
Emphasise on Current Affairs
The UPSC Mains examination heavily relies on current affairs, with approximately 60-70% of the General Studies questions directly derived from this domain. So, candidates must stay updated with national and international news by reading newspapers, magazines, and reliable online sources. Additionally, refer to the previous year’s question papers to understand the type of questions asked and focus on relevant topics. For example, G20 is a must-ask. Educated youth unemployment; the fourth version of PMKVY; malaria vaccine; geopolitics of lithium; bad bank and similar questions fit with the UPSC pattern. There are tens of others like them. The essential mantra: basic conceptual clarity in a constructive perspective.
Master Answer Writing Skills
The UPSC Mains examination requires candidates to have good answer-writing skills. Enhance your writing abilities by practising answer writing regularly. Pay attention to structuring your solutions, presenting arguments logically, and using relevant examples. Time yourself while writing answers to improve speed and efficiency during the exam. Show your answers to your fellow-aspirants appealing for the exam along with you. Test series are fine but nine better than your friend or neighbor and vice versa.
Study Optional Subjects Strategically
Divide your time wisely between general studies and optional subjects. Devote sufficient time to understand the concepts and theories of your chosen optional subject—practice solving previous years’ question papers to gain familiarity with the exam pattern. In subjects like sociology, anthropology, political science etc, give good examples from the current developments and government policy. For example, ₹15,000 crore plan: Pradhan Mantri PVTG Development Mission for anthropology; marriage, family, gender related structural issues in current Indian society.
Revise and Practise Consistently
Revision is the key to retaining information and reinforcing your understanding of different topics. Regularly revise the subjects you have covered to ensure you retain the knowledge. Make concise notes, mind maps, or flashcards to aid in revision. Additionally, solve mock tests and practise previous years’ question papers to enhance your time management skills and identify weak areas. Regular practice will boost your confidence and help you perform better in the exam.
Ensure Your Well-being
Preparing for the UPSC Mains is mentally and physically demanding. In order to enhance your productivity, make your health a priority. Take short breaks during study sessions to relax and rejuvenate your mind. Stay positive, manage stress effectively, and engage in activities that bring you joy and relaxation.
Cracking the UPSC Mains examination requires a combination of hard work, smart strategies, and self-discipline. By following these seven essential mantras, you can enhance your chances of success.
(Author Sriram Srirangam is Director & Founder – Sriram’s IAS. Views expressed here are personal.)