30-day countdown: Cracking the UPSC Prelims 2017


With barely 30 days to go for the UPSC civil Service Exam Prelims, these are anxious times for UPSC Civil services aspirants. What to read, what to revise, and how to maximise your marks are probably the questions running in your minds.

He re are few tips to increase your chances of clearing the UPSC Civil Service Exam Prelims 2017.

Focus on simplify, streamline, succeed
Stick to the core topics: Do not try to overshoot and increase the topics to be covered to study. Instead, do the opposite and focus on the most important areas of the syllabus. Current Affairs (CA), Environment and Ecology, Geography, Modern History, Art and Culture, Polity and Economy are important areas.

Don’t add new sources of reference
De-clutter your preparation by revising whatever sources you have already been referring to. Read standard reference books, but don’t forget to cover the NCERT books thoroughly because they help in clearing basic concepts. Do not try to read from multiple new sources as they might lead to confusion.

Don’t skip reading newspapers
Newspaper reading should not be sacrificed at the cost of preparing static portion in any case. Newspapers give you the opportunity to reflect on the news, and provides you with the luxury of reading it in a spaced out format (rather than a condensed format). It makes it easier to internalise new information if one has seen it in different places and contexts.

How to streamline your preparation?
Stay disciplined: It is important to create a timetable and then adhere to it. Do not change it every day. Use 60% of your time to revise what you have already read. In the remaining 40%, cover the rest of the topics, one by one. Gradually, as the exam date nears, reduce this percentage so that in the last week you are not reading anything new. Be thorough in all topics.

Practice leads to consistency: This is also the time to do a lot of practice tests. Attempt as many mock tests as possible to find out your strengths and weaknesses. It is very important to analyse your practice tests to study your speed, accuracy, and question selection. Do course correction as required.

Don’t let yourself get stressed out: Since there is limited time left and a lot to read and revise, stress is inevitable. To cope with the pressure, take frequent breaks. It is okay if you don’t feel like studying for some time; take breaks to relax.

Prelims is a ‘recall and recognise’ test
The focus should be on familiarising oneself with important topics and understanding concepts and not just on remembering facts. This will help you keep up with the recent change in the exam format, where in addition to factual questions, a lot of conceptual questions are also asked.

Don’t make the mistake of taking the Paper 2 (CSAT) lightly. Even though its marks are not considered for the merit list, it is still mandatory for the candidate to score a minimum of 33% to qualify for the Prelims exam. Every year, many aspirants fail in this paper even when they have scored well above cut-off in Paper 1 (General Studies).

Moreover, UPSC has also started to ask tricky questions in the CSAT Paper, thus making it relatively difficult to score the qualifying marks. So, one should solve the previous years’ CSAT papers to get enough practice. The lack of practice can easily bog you down in the exam hall and you will commit silly mistakes, which will bring your score down.

Believe in yourself and get into the habit of scoring consistently high in your mock tests.

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