• IASbaba
  • August 4, 2016
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Prelims 2016




May the coming Sunday mark the beginning of your victory march! May it also be the first page of your success story. But for that to happen, you need to manage all the anticipation and anxiety of this phase. You can’t overcome the butterflies in your belly but surely can learn to manipulate your mind in thinking that- ALL ISS WELL!!

More than anything, the paper on Sunday will be a battle of nerves. Your knowledge, your memory and your strengths are closely intertwined with your nerves. You perform well when you are free of fears and anxieties. You can’t expect your memory to support you when your mind is overwhelmed by the occasion, in this case CSP. You can’t rely upon your memory if your nerves are sending negative vibes to your mind. You can’t bank upon your strengths if they are weakened by the fear of failure.

Believe us friends; you have done all that you could have done in your capacity. There is nothing much to be done now. The only thing that you need to ensure right now is to calm your nerves before the D-day.

Like we said last year , two things you need to carry , First the attitude and second the strategy and tact for the exam especially in the last 3 days.

First and foremost deconstruct in your mind all bollywood /kollywood /sandalwood/ tollywood image that one would have built about IAS. We are saying this because this anticipation is wrong. To look at like I will gain everything in life only if I clear this exam or equally I will lose everything in life is a fundamental flaw. People who get into service with such attitude will suffer the harsh realities in service and will be left with disillusionment.

There are many IAS officers who are doing wonderful. Many of them are suffering to an extent that they are questioning why did they ever join IAS?

There was a son of IAS officer of A P cadre. This officer was the prime force behind the PDS system as we know today. Honest and Genuine to the core, his only wish was that his son to carry on to serve the society like he had done. But unfortunately (or fortunately) his son could not even clear the prelims – 3 times. Saddened he left for USA to pursue his MS and later MBA. And today he is the CEO of Microsoft .The man who redefined the brand of Indian managers in the west.


So the point is – Your destiny, God willing is tied to IAS. Otherwise you might have a greater destiny than that. Its your karma and we or any coaching institutes, your friends or family, UPSC or even IAS is no one to define it. Not even can become Satya Nadella true. But there can and is a beautiful life outside. Take our words. At this stage you will be too myopic to see the same.

Take this attitude to the exam.


We want you people to feel bigger and better than the exam. The moment you do this, you will be able to separate rationality from emotions and give your best shot.

Remember your health, your mental peace, and your relationships with family and friends are the most important things. Rest all- money, power, influence, beauty and others in due course of time you will realise are all trivial.

Anticipating the anxiety of aspirants and also having received many requests to suggest a strategy to tackle the last three days and also the prelims exam, we had posted a detailed write up last year. Since only the time has changed whereas the context remains the same, we are posting it again for your benefit:

Day- 1: 5th August


If you are very confident and scored very well in mocks/test series, don’t stop on the momentum you have built. Try to redo all the important questions which you had mentally marked over the last one year.

If you are on the borderline (neither too comfortable nor averse – let say luck would decide that extra 5-15% ) then we suggest that you build the confidence. Solve easy to medium level questions. Analyse what is that you are missing – that 10% extra – are you attempting too much? Or not taking enough risks in certain questions?

If you have not prepared well and only decided to write this exam to get a feel for what is like, then go ahead but be clear as to what to expect.


Set your biological clock to that of the exam timings.


You might be creative best at 2-4 at night but what is the use of it if your efficiency is 10% lower in daytime and because of that you missed out!


One practical way of doing it is (Only and only for those who are finding it impossible to set their biological clock): Take half a Valium at 7 pm today (half means half only of 5 mg – and no more). You will feel drowsy at around 10-11pm. Sleep and wake up at 6-7 in the morning.

You will feel compelled to sleep in the afternoon. Avoid it any cost. Otherwise this would backfire.


Day 2:  6th August


The power of positivity is perhaps the greatest gift one can possess. Avoid mixing with people who are jealous of you or your abilities. There will be people who will try to bring you down by posing questions that you can’t answer. It might affect your morale. Stay away with such people. No one is a superman; no one needs to be a superman for this exam.

However, don’t go behind evangelists also. Remember its your anxiety that these coaching classes/mentors exploit to build a pseudo-following.

Finally it’s YOU and only YOU who can help yourself.

Be in the company of your dear ones; people who bring out the best out of you,  cherish, nurture and celebrate you. Be with friends who can say “Yes we can do it”. Be a part of such team.


Avoid too much caffeine or any other stimulants.


It would be a good idea to visit the centre of exam the day before. You will get an idea of the time required so that you can plan the travel for Sunday. Book a taxi, well in advance. Plan to arrive at the exam centre early.

If you are planning to take someone along, take a person who is not related to this exam. In that way you can be normal. Many times discussions over small trivial issues on the day of exam can mar the whole process.


D – Day (7th  August, 2016)


By now, you should have programmed yourself with the attitude we want you to.

Now there are 2 tactics here to be followed based on one’s belief and unique characteristics. We would advise that since you know what works or doesn’t work for you, make the choice yourself.



Get the blessing of the elders at home. Remember whether God is there or not is debatable but the blessings of parents do give you a positive energy. Remember,  they are the first two people who would want you to be successful at any cost.

Wear comfortable clothes – cotton for the heat. Simple T – shirt, pants or equivalent will do.

We understand that looking nice matters a lot to few people. But then don’t spoil someone else‘s exam (purely for humor:))

Don’t forget to take a black ball pen to the examination hall.



Apart from doing all the above, some people feel that they need those 30 minutes before the exam to warm up.

Keep ready a sample paper on GS and CSAT. Going before the exam solve a few which you have already solved. Get the positive feeling. Sanath Jayasauraiya used to hammer few cricket balls moments before coming on to the pitch to hammer the real bowlers.

Now 5 minutes before, think about all the beautiful moments in life and be happy about yourself.


Paper arrives:


Psychological game


Most of you would have preconceived notions because of enormous discussions and manipulations based on various read/shared experiences. Leave all that since every individual is unique, be yourself!

You would have thought to attempt 90 questions or 100 for that sake. But in reality, it doesn’t appear like that. Every year, cutoff will be different and it depends on the level of paper and level of competition. Below are the general rules that will work for most of you. We are not counting on exceptions (say you know 100 out of 100 questions, so go for it!) 😛

Never feel bad if you don’t know certain questions. Just because someone has belittled you for not attempting 90 + questions, do not let your ego play the role. Be smart and let intelligence play its part.


Round 1: Go through the whole paper quickly in 10 minutes. Why?

  • By this you will know the level of question paper, difficult, moderate or easy.
  • Don’t think, it will impact you negatively. Anyway, you will have to encounter them in few minutes.
  • This exercise will make you more confident since you will see many familiar key words and concepts at a glance.

Most people, if they don’t answer the first 5 questions, feel so de-motivated that they start doubting their conviction over other answers too.

The purpose of the above exercise is to see some familiar words. You will realise that you will be straight-away knowing few questions. This will do a good lot to your confidence.

Round 2: Answer ONLY those which you are 100% confident. There will be 40-45 such questions despite very difficult paper (if your preparation is decent).

Mark them directly on the OMR sheet. Don’t waste time marking on your sheet and then transferring them on the OMR. (One of the very reasons for failure in Prelims is marking late in OMR and committing mistake)

And if the paper is easy for you

You will definitely mark 50-55 questions with confidence in Round 2 🙂

Round 3: You are left with 90 minutes and around 50 questions. Take 50 minutes for this round. (1 minute per question)

Go one by one for these questions. Assess your feeling of risk perception for each question.

Mark 30-40 if the paper is easy

Other-wise mark 20-30 in this round.


There will be questions where your actual intelligence/smartness will come into play. Intelligent guess/process of elimination/contradicting options etc will help you here.


So, How to go about it?


Suppose there is a question regarding some kind of Electronic Waste. AND you have the following options in the question

  1. XYZ
  2. ABC
  3. PQR
  4. Uranium

And you have to choose from the following options:

  1. 1 and 4
  2. 2, 3 and 4
  3. 1, 3 and 4
  4. 1, 2 and 3

Since Uranium is a Radioactive element and hence least used in e-tech due to health concern, it can’t be the right option. As you see, all the options except 4 can’t be right. Hence, 4 is the answer.

It appears so simple at this stage but in the examination hall, candidates skip such questions due to stress or non application of mind! Avoid such mistakes and give your 100% to all the questions.


Round 4: You are left with 25-35 questions and 40 minutes (Worst case)

There will always be 10-15 questions, which most can’t answer. Don’t spend time on them. Simply leave them. Target the remaining 20-25 in 30 min

Try to get a hit ratio of greater than 50% in the remaining ones.


Avoid mulling over questions like (No idea about or very confusing ones)


Which among the below lay down the foundation stone of social equality and social justice?

  1. Preamble
  2. Fundamental Rights
  3. Directive Principles
  4. Fundamental Duties

Who is the custodian of Indian Constitution?

  1. Supreme Court
  2. President of India
  3. Vice- President
  4. Speaker of Lok Sabha



  • Such questions are based on various interpretations. Last year many advocated President as got confused with Custodian/Guardian but UPSC answer key gave , SC as the answer.
  • In foundation stone question- Lakshmikant explicitly says, Fundamental Rights lay down the foundation stone of social equality and social justice but one may also take Preamble and DPSP as appropriate choices (confusion with the word social justice)
  • Unless you are very confident of your choice, never get trapped here.


Questions that have intrinsic details or facts!


There are certain questions which are very factual. You cannot do much about it if have no idea or clarity on those facts. Just leave them. They won’t be constituting more than 2 or 3.


Round 5: Left with 10 minutes. Revise and recheck. Take no risks based on your gut feeling.

Note: Do not re-read the left out ones and become greedy in the hope to score more. Be careful while you re-read, it’s a double edged sword. (Recall your previous attempts and think what you did in last few minutes and how it has pushed you to write this exam again)

Based on your preparation level, you can weigh the toughness of the paper in between. Act smartly and don’t try to stretch your limits in anticipation. This may backfire. Taking risk is wise but when it is just to silent your huge expectation, it is mere foolishness. One incorrect bubble in the OMR sheet can destroy your chances.

AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, don’t fret over a question too much. If you don’t know, don’t take it to your heart. You’ve to only qualify Prelims, not top. MARKS WON’T COUNT, if you are able to even just clear the Prelims. In 20L4, Topper Ira Singhal scored 206 (The cut-off for GM was 205)  So, just chill 


At the end of the day, if we have helped you answer even one question extra or if we have contributed in any way to make your preparation better then we feel our lives are worth it.

Finish your exams and you will find us waiting for you on the other side. MAINS journey will be even more exciting. This year TLP 2016 will be much much better 🙂 


And finally as Jack ma, founder of Alibaba built the most successful enabler for MSME in china on the philosophy:

“Today might be harsh, tomorrow harsher, but day after tomorrow is beautiful”

Go there and celebrate yourself!

All the very best



P.S (Switch off your social networking hooks: whatsapp, facebook and all other distractions (including IASBaba) till the D- Day)

As Rahul Dravid would call it ,” Getting into the zone “!

Commit and Promise us in the comment below! 🙂 


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