@Marine_iguana(Anonymous), UPSC Prelim Strategy - KKUPSC - IAS IPS Preparation

@Marine_iguana(Anonymous), UPSC Prelim Strategy

Note: This article has been written by one of the admin of our Telegram Channel, who has cleared prelims twice.

Hello everyone! 

I have been contacted by many members in the past 15 days or so for helping them in chalking out a strategy for CSE preliminary 2019. To address these issues and benefit the group at large, I am writing this piece. Also, it is very difficult to address everyone's doubt personally. I hope the piece benefits all. After reading this, I believe most of your doubts will shed off. If any remains, I will answer your questions as early as it will be possible for me to do so.

A word of caution :

I am no expert so don't take my words as revelations. But, I  can assure you that it will work for most of you guys as it worked for me provided you followed it religiously and honestly. I have cleared CSE preliminary before, twice actually in 2016 and 2017

I am writing this piece for people who are 

  • Either in their first attempt and have gone through syllabus once, or first attempt but haven't gone through syllabus even once, 
  • Or people who have given one attempt but failed. 
Rest who have earlier cleared preliminary test should do whatever they have been doing. However, if the last category of people can find something useful they should use it. 

I will start with a question. What do you think are the traits that will help you clear the preliminary 2019 on 2nd of June and separate you as the exclusive group of people who will write CSE mains from September 20? 

Most of you say hard work first, maybe aptitude skills as second, knowledge as thirds and so on. 

But according to me, factors that affect success rate in accordance with their strength are :

1. A plan 
2. Tests 
3. Revisions
4. Hard + smart work 
5. A calm and composed personality.

1. Plan - includes a schedule, what to study and from where.   

Everyone needs a plan especially when the syllabus of the paper is of such magnitude. One needs to break down the seemingly insurmountable syllabus in chunks of easily doable ones and then conquer them one by one. Before making a plan be sure you have measured your abilities correctly. I mean if you think you can finish Indian physical geography of 11th class in say 10 hours make it 12 in your plan. Further, I will advise to have buffer days in long-term plans so as to accommodate problems that arise externally.( You got sick). Those who plan for what if the plan failed to execute their plans more efficiently.

Today 150 days are left. Out of them leave 45 days for revisions. 90 days for completion of syllabus. And the rest 15 as buffer days if anything goes wrong. Further, divide the 90 days into small sets say of 5 days each. Small sets are beneficial as they are easily achievable and keeps one going. Now in 18 sets of 5 days each arrange your syllabus. Now when you make plans for each subset make boxes in front of them and check those boxes when you finish the task one by one in each subset. I am sharing a pic of how they look. Don't consider me silly to suggest this. Do this yourself and you will realize each check on the box gives a sense of achievement and keeps you going. 
UPSC Prelims Strategy

Now --what to read and from where. A basic book list that I have followed is:

2016 Prelims

Polity : all ncerts 6-12 + Laxmikant. 

Economics: 11th eco development + 12th macro + Ramesh Singh. 

History: it's my optional but Ncerts 11-12 will suffice+ modern spectrum.
Geo: Ncerts 6-12 + g c Leong.

Art & culture: spectrum( I did, one can go for Nitin Singhania.)

Env: Shankar

Science & tech : 6-10 ncerts.

India year book.

Current affairs.: Daily newspaper reading + visions magazines.

Miscellaneous: ias4sure gov schemes, institutions, env booklet, reports. 

I revised them at least twice.  Did around 60 tests. (Revised them.)

2017 Prelims

Add eco survey, Majid Hussain Indian Geo. , PT 365, 

Minus ncerts.

This time did only 10-12 tests.

A word of advice::: some people prefer self-study, some like coachings. I prefer self-study. I have never watched any video course such as Mrunals economy. So I will suggest to those people who like to watch videos, go watch videos. I know people who prepared whole eco and Geo from mrunals videos and performed very highly. It's should be your choice, choose whatever feels comfortable to you. But do keep in my mind that choose video courses that have credibility. I know only mrunals. So please don't ask me for other video courses that are credible. Do some Google search you will know.  (Follow our website, we will post all important articles, materials with you.)

Now, those who have earlier attempted the prelims paper and have gone through syllabus once, I will suggest going through all the books mentioned. Secondly for current affairs, if you make notes out of newspaper, it's great just do any compilation of current affairs for prelims, be it ForumIAS, PT365, Vajiram etc to complement those notes. Those who follow current affairs magazine of let's say vision complement it with ForumIAS compilation for pre and vice versa. Finish syllabus by March and revise as many times as you can.

For those who have not done anything till now except some random readings. Don't get horrified. I know people who have done so. But you guys need to do things. One, study hard. Second, prioritize. For eg do polity, eco, geo, env rigorously. Give most of your time to them and current affairs. you can skip India yearbook, eco survey, and maybe give less time to history and culture as they are vast and cost to return ratio is also Less.  But don't do everything and not revise. I will tell later why revision and tests are the must. 

A personal example for who have lost faith::

 I missed economic survey and PT365 in 2016. There were around 35-40 questions from PT365 but still, I cleared as I had done multiple Revisions of current from Vision monthly magazine. Eco survey would have taken 10 days, while I chose to revise polity and economy twice in those days. And believe me, it paid dividends as there were only one or two qs from economic survey. But a good number from eco and polity. 

2. Tests  

Tests are the game changers. The single most thing that came. Work wonders in one preparation are mock tests. There are various studies that prove that one's success in a competitive exam is directly proportionate to the number of mocks one attempted. One research done for 12 years in different countries even say it is the first factor in deciding outcome::: much above hard work

How to use tests and how they are helpful? 

First, don't be the guy who says, first I will complete syllabus and then give mocks. He will not evolve as one who started giving mocks from an initial stage. You must have seen guys, preparing day & night and still failing. One single reason is not attempting mocks. Use this method and it will certainly help you a lot. Do one reading of any book. Don't underline or make notes. Solve all previous year questions + two mocks on that subject. Now do a reading of the book again. Now you will know what is to be studied and what not. Mocks now make you able to see questions that can be framed from that topic. This time you will underline better and your notes will be of far superior quality rather just a copy paste of the book itself. 

Second,  mocks help you develop the art of attempting multiple choice qs. And yes it is required when competition is cut throat. 

Third, it gives you a track of your development and provides you with the necessary confidence before the actual exam.

Fourth, it gives additional info apart from books.

Fifth, it helps you know how to optimize attempts as per the level of paper. 2016 pre was very easy and 2017 was difficult. Many aspirants went for higher attempts in 2017 out of the fear of 2016 cutoff.

Now, do I need to join a test series? Yes, it's better if you do. But if you can't due to any reason, give mocks honestly at home. See the solutions. Learn from your mistakes. Also
See how much of your intuitive guesses are right. How many of 50-50 attempts were right. And strategize accordingly.

3. Revisions 

People say everything under the sun is in UPSC CSE syllabus. It's actually not that bad an analogy. Such a vast syllabus is very hard to retain until unless you at least 2 revisions. I can personally assure you that if you don't revise twice at least you will mark wrong answers. It's better to do 80% syllabus and revise it twice then doing 100% syllabus with no revision or once. 

4. Hard and smart work. 
UPSC CSE syllabus is so huge that one can't clear preliminary without hard work. You have to read many books, magazines and retain them. Hard work is a must. But smart work is also required. How can you develop an edge? How could you differentiate yourself from others when everybody is reading the same book? Answer is simple

First,  you read a bit more. How to use Google to know more. (I am attaching a pic to make it clear. ) 

UPSC Prelims Strategy
Second, develop clarity on every topic. You should be able to explain it in one go. 

5. A calm and composed personality. 

People describe UPSC CSE as "mother of all exams. " A battle of perseverance. A marathon. And they are right the whole preparation and exam cycle takes around two complete years. One needs to be calm and composed. Self-doubt is normal in such a process. Emotionally high days and low ones are normal. One who sees the pole star clearly and holds his mast upright will reach north, no matter how hard the storms are. Have faith in your abilities. Strengthen them. Work on your weak points. Turn them into your strongholds.

Lastly, give the exam with a confident and calm mind. I hope you will clear. 

Good luck.

P.S: sorry for the typos if any.
@Marine_iguana(Anonymous), UPSC Prelim Strategy @Marine_iguana(Anonymous), UPSC Prelim Strategy Reviewed by KKUPSC on Friday, January 04, 2019 Rating: 5
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