The UPSC Prelims includes two objective type question papers of two hundred marks and two hours time duration for each paper. One is on General Studies and the other is CSAT (which has now replaced the optional subject that was there earlier). With the Civil Service exam having limited seats and a vast syllabus, it becomes a difficult exam to crack. Well formulated strategy along with optimum time management is the only way to climb the ladders of your dream to get selected in the exam. So it’s very important to formulate your own strategy as it pays to be yourself. However, for the general guidance to tackle UPSC Prelims exams, AfterGraduation have listed down some tips which may be help to the aspirant to achieve success.
1. Clarity of Goal
You might not be sure of your goal. You might have a plan B which brings sort of non-serious attitude in you. First be clear why do you want to be a civil servant, clear motive is very important if you want to succeed. The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential, these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence. And this will happen when you know what you want and why.
2. Understand Concept of UPSC Prelims Exam
Changes in the question paper format tend to create anxiety. It leads to many misconceptions of what skillsets are required. Many students fear subjects like mathematics, whereas the fear may be baseless considering emphasis is on aptitude which mainly involves reasoning skills and not just mathematics. Another misconception about the prelims is it tests only facts and figures. It is not so, since the student will be tested for some essential skills like retention power, clarity of concepts, ability to identify the correct alternatives with efficiency and accuracy, and ability to make quick decisions. By understanding the concept, facts and figures do not need to be crammed. These qualities require consistent work with preparation.
3. Use Techniques to Retain Information
UPSC Prelims is a multiple choice question test, this would mean a lot of information to study and remember. To enhance sharp memory and retention power qualities, memory techniques should be used. Memory can be improved by using visual aids such as charts, graphs or tables, to avoid confusion when faced with large amounts of facts and figures.
To understand difficult concepts, diagrams can be used and different words can be linked to make it easier to understand and remember the concepts. The use of abbreviations can help you relate different names and aspects of the concept. To remember dates and facts, the use of pictures can be made, along with breaking up complex names and places into smaller and simpler words. These can later be used to revise before the examination.
4. Don’t Overload
Picking up recommended books and right study material is of utmost importance. Many candidates overload themselves with lots of information and ultimately end up remembering very little. Your friend will tell you to refer Book A, another friend will suggest you to refer Book B, and someone else to use Book C, because that’s the best one around. And you refer one book after the other hoping to cover every source that’s considered important for that subject. This will only lead to an information overload and you will run out of time to cover the syllabus. Standard books should be referred for detailed explanation, while addressing other books for information missing in the book. This should be paired up with mock tests to identify what more has to be studied under that topic. A lot more can be extracted by re-reading the few books you have, than running after the next book mentioned by someone.
5. Prepare Easy Notes
In spite of studying the whole year, revision in the last two weeks is crucial to pay off the hard work done. With the extensive syllabus and topics to be covered, notes help us to revise everything before the prelims. You must prepare short notes so that you can revise the entire study material as the UPSC prelims exams approach. Important questions can be marked and accumulated in one place, for later reference.
6. Balance Your Speed and Accuracy
Speed and accuracy are equally important as getting the correct answer. A good approach to problem solving should be adopted to help achieve a high speed, such as eliminating the least appropriate answer. In some questions, eliminating the options which look least likely and approaching the correct option, will enhance the speed as well accuracy.
7. Take Mock Test Regularly
Mock tests should be taken right after completing a particular section in a topic to evaluate yourself better. Not only will this help in constant evaluation, it will also ensure the topics studied have been exhausted and well covered. This will boost your confidence and remove anxiety. Best approach would be to refer to the previous year’s question papers before starting a topic. This will give an idea of what to study out of the extensive syllabus. Along with previous year’s question papers, enroll for a good test series to keep up to date with the latest question trends.
Mock tests are integral part of regular preparations of successful candidates. By revising the attempted tests you get a chance to identify your mistakes. Writing mock tests arm you with confidence which is the key to success in any examination.
Desire is the key to motivation, but it’s determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal – a commitment to excellence – that will enable you to attain the success you seek. Keeping that in mind remember each day is new , you need to have goals and targets for each day. Its important to wake up with a clear purpose and sleep with a dream that aspires towards goal attainment. By due planning, utilizing resources wisely, and constant practice, one may crack the UPSC prelims in the first go. You need to keep evaluating yourself from time to time. And follow gurumantra “Process of self correction”.
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