I hope you all are doing well. You all must be pumped up with excitement and might also have a bit of anxiety. In just a few weeks, you will have the opportunity to be one step closer to achieving your dream. I am writing in brief about my journey of UPSC until Prelims 2018. I have tried to add most of the basics as well as some specifics which helped get a good score in Prelims in the first attempt itself. Hope it helps. 🙂
(I will be coming up with my MAINS and INTERVIEW Strategy later)
My score in 2018: (GS: 128.66, CSAT: 165)
Let us start with a little introduction.
Start of this preparation needs two things to act as a solid foundation – an overarching plan and a booklist/source list.
Overarching Plan: It is primarily designed on one’s own strengths and weaknesses and the time at hand. The key here is to understand oneself. For example, I was not so good at memorizing, therefore I knew I would need many revisions from different perspectives. I had started my preparation in June 2017, so I planned to finish my first reading of Optional as well as General Studies standard books by December 2017. Thereafter, a revision along with the consolidation of coaching notes by February-March 2018. I had planned to start dedicated Mock-Prelims from March 2018 till one week before the final exam.
Source List: After discussion with many seniors and going through many topper talks the crux that I understood was: Limit your sources which cover most of the syllabus and revise as much as possible.
- Geography: NCERT (XI, XII) + Vajiram Class Notes + pmfias.com and Mrunal videos to fill gaps
- Modern History: NCERT (Bipan Chandra) +Vajiram Class Notes + Vajiram Yellow Book+ Spectrum Tables
- Ancient & Medieval History + Art & Culture: TN XI NCERT + Fine Arts XI NCERT + Vajiram Class Notes + GkToday selective notes for culture + ExamRobot for previous exam questions
- Polity: Laxmikanth + Vajiram Class Notes +Constitution Book
- Economy: Vajiram Class Notes + Mrunal Videos + Macro-economics NCERT + Budget and Economic Survey
- Environment: Shankar IAS Notes + Vajiram Class Notes
- Science and Technology: Vajiram Class Notes and Analysis of Previous Year Question Papers (PYQP) – Last 5 years
- Newspaper: The Hindu, Summary by InsightonIndia next day
- Magazine as Textbooks: Vision IAS monthly compilation, IAS Parliament for Schemes, Indices & International Organisations
- Others (to fill gaps): Shankar IAS (Science & Technology), 4-5 month revision booklet by Vajiram and Ravi, Random surfing of the web curiously (Wikipedia, StudyIQ, RSTV) in leisure time.
A tick would mean an easy question – this I will mark right away after taking a pause to see whether there was a trap by the examiner forcing me towards a silly mistake
A circle would mean a moderate to a difficult question – this I will mark in the second round or third round after eliminating one or two options.
A cross would mean a very difficult question – this I would not attempt.
Be a little curious while doing revisions (not much that it leads to wastage of time) For Example: In one of the questions, BHIM App was asked. Everybody knew that BHIM App has been launched by the government but only those who would have used it was able to mark it correctly in the last prelims.
Do not take CSAT lightly (even if you are an engineer/science student). Practice 2-3 last year papers in the time limit to be sure about crossing the cutoff.
Be ready with the checklist for the last day before Prelims – admit card, black ballpoint pen, snickers, lunch, etc. If possible, visit the centre beforehand to break out of anxiety on the D-Day morning.
Have a good night sleep before the final day
Focused preparation that we have done matters but what also matters is the experiences you have had till date. While attempting any particular question, keep an open mind to form linkages and eliminate options. For Example – Last year a question regarding the religion of Sthanakwasi sect was asked. One of my friends remembered Jain Sthanak from the centre of the market in his city and marked it correctly. The bottom line is – any experience of your life till date can come in handy to eliminate an option or mark an answer correctly. So, keep an open mind while attempting each and every question during those 4 hours.
And DO NOT calculate your marks in the break from some random key on the D-day. Complete CSAT and then you can go for matching with any key. I personally waited for reliable keys like Vajiram, Vision, and Shankar.
Finally, Some parting words for now:
Anxiety before the exam is normal. Each and every aspirant, irrespective of attempts, would face it. If you aren’t anxious, maybe you aren’t serious about the attempt. A small amount of anxiety is healthy. Don’t get demotivated by it. All we have to aim for is giving our best on the final day. A beautiful children’s poem by Barbara Vance puts it as:
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