India 6 October 2016: UPSC prelims are over and if you are among those 3% students who are going to write Civil Service Mains 2016, your mind must be bristling with countless questions pertaining to formulation of best possible strategy to crack UPSC mains examination. Having a list of do’s and don’ts is essential to bone up on the important topics and stave off dissipating your time and energy on covering unnecessary ones.
What NOT to do in the 60 days
Don’t waste time reading bulky books such as Bipin Chandra’s ‘India After Independence’ or Ram Guha’s ‘India After Gandhi’ If you have already read those.
Mugging up on Ethics book is wastage of time, so just go through last 3 years’ papers on Ethics and you will make out that it is all about common sense.
Candidates tend to botch up time browsing the internet and try to get hang of some topics without releasing even if you obtain a PhD in something, you still need to write common-sense based answers in less than 200 words and 7 minutes. It is better to bank upon your common sense than to cluttering your mind with unnecessary information.
Also it’s a commonly held belief that reading bulky reports such as Five Year Plans (for Economy) and ARC (for ethics) is essential. But the paucity of time, in truth, does not allow you to do extensive research on these topics so going through summaries if possible is more than enough.
Other grey areas where too much preparation is not necessary - Sci & Tech ( Nobody can anticipate what type of questions can come from these topics) and Art & Culture (it will anyways give you a hard time, so just skim through the basics and move on)
You should map out your studies keeping in mind that the aim is to maximize your marks in Mains exam and it is unnecessary to focus on other areas such as how many followers you have, how much you know, how many people think you will clear, how many books are there on your table etc.
Most of the aspirants tend to get stuck with GS Paper 1. Investing too much time on subjects like Art & Culture, World History and sociology is unwise as questions worth not more than 30 or 40 marks is asked from any of these areas in the entire paper. It is prudent to invest time thinking about the Return on Investment.
What you MUST do in the 60 days
UPSC CSE exam structure grants you substantial amount of control only in Mains so it’s prudent to use it to best effect, as you never know what’s going to come your way in Interview( If you qualify)
Make a list of famous quotes on a wide range of topics including Science, Education, Society, Culture etc ad memorize it well. This will help you greatly in Ethics and Essay.
In Ethics paper, you can earn more marks by citing personal examples so it is good to prepare a list of important lessons, events and moments of your life and keep them stored in your mental hard drive.
Habit of reading The Hindu daily and making crisp, short notes from editorials can do wonder for you. Write down any facts/observation that can be helpful. Remember, GS Paper 2 and 3 are mostly about current affairs, so focus accordingly.
You must have heard the old adage “Writing makes an exact man” and the habit of writing can get you windfall gains in the Civil Services Examination as well. Writing answers to the previous year question papers will boost your confidence, however you might find your own answers untenable and hideous initially but gradually your writing skills will definitely improve. Write less but do that sensibly (remember most of the answers in the exam would be 150-200 words only). You may refer to the toppers answer scripts to improvise your writing skill.
Going through the Economic Survey 2015-16 will help you get a good fix on concepts and ideas related to GDP growth rate, Rate of unemployment and basic stats from Agriculture etc. Adding such facts and figures significantly enhances your marks in GS Paper 3.