(Tips & Tricks) UPSC Civil Services (Main) Exam 2015:
Guidelines For Last Leg of Preparations
Success in any competitive examination depends on thorough
preparation of the entire given syllabus. But as the examination draws to a
close, other aspects of the examination need to be taken into account as well.
The forthcoming IAS Mains examination, being held next month , will also require
a shift in focus at this stage. Ideally, by this time , the entire syllabus
should have been covered by the aspirants. But in many cases, for reasons beyond
control, this may not happen. For many students, the syllabus might seem to be
only partially covered. Be that as it may, whether the syllabus has been fully
covered or partially, it goes for both types of aspirants to look at the exam
from a different perspective at this point of time. Traditional ways of learning
will not work at this stage. One has got to do the things that needs to be done
at this last leg of preparation. There has to be a strategy to maximize ones'
performance with whatever preparations one has done so far. There are many
elements of this strategy which are summarized below:-.
1. Balancing the preparation on the entire syllabus:
The main examination consists of an optional paper, four GS papers and the essay
paper. It is extremely important to assess at this stage whether a candidate has
been able to balance the needs of the entire syllabus. A careful, self analysis
would help him arrive at a conclusion as to where he lost the balance. For
example, while covering GS papers, it is quite possible for a candidate to have
completely missed out on the internal security part of the GS paper III
syllabus. If this is so, it must be identified and rectified. No area of the
syllabus can be completely left out. But at the same time, there is no adequate
time left to cover the entire internal security chapter, so, the practical way
of doing it will be to focus on the probable questions on this topic. This has
to be done by a careful observation of the most important security challenges
our country confronts today .
2. Selective preparation: Although the entire syllabus
is important to be covered in both the GS as well as the optional paper, at this
stage, one has to be selective. There is no time left to do the entire range of
topics of a paper. Instead, one should only focus on some selected topics. These
topics should be from the dynamic areas of the syllabus. For example, if someone
is preparing for Indian Polity, then selective preparation at this stage would
mean picking up issues like: competitive and cooperative federalism in India,
role of NITI AAYOG as an instrument of cooperative federalism, the GST issue and
cooperative federalism, the consequences of the
Supreme Court judgment on NJAC etc. This will enable a candidate to get ready
with likely topics.
3. Focus on the optional paper and a few GS papers to
score maximum marks: It is impossible that a candidate will command all the
subjects of the main examination equally well. An attempt to go for this type of
command will only dilute his efforts. It is better, therefore, to have this
sound strategy to obtain maximum marks in the optional paper and some of the GS
papers. It makes good sense to concentrate on your optional paper because its
syllabus is well defined and the more you command it , more the chances to
increase your score in this. In other words, there is a certain link between the
input and output in the optional paper. This strategy does not , however mean
that one should neglect other papers. It is only about focusing on some mains
papers so that one can leverage his/her preparations in these areas
4. Special attention on the Ethics and the Essay papers:
In the main examination the two main determinants of success are going to be the
Ethics and the Essay papers. These two papers have the potential of giving you
the minimum or maximum marks. Many candidates are not able to align their
preparations to the needs of these two papers and they end up scoring very poor
marks in these papers. On the other hand, if a candidate grasps the nature of
the questions of these two papers, he is bound to get extraordinary marks. Many
of the last years' toppers were selected with high ranks because of this
strategy. They had been able to score highly in their optional papers, and the
essay and the ethics papers. So, the elements of this strategy are: (a) excel in
your optional paper, ethics and essay papers, and (b) at the same time ensure at
least an average performance in other papers. This will procure the required
marks to qualify for the interview.
5. Answer- writing practice: In the present format of
UPSC Mains examination writing answers is a big challenge. The questions are
very different now and no text book type of answers will suffice. Each question
is framed in such a manner that you will have to improvise the answer in the
exam hall itself. You can not go and write the answers according to a script.
Therefore, answer writing practice should be the priority at this
stage. A good answer is one which is close to the question, answers only what is
asked and not extraneous things which has no relevance to the question. For
example, if there is a question on describing Shivaji as a great political and
military strategist, there is no need to write about any other aspect of Shivaji
's life as it is a superfluous information. The second point to remember about
answer writing is that in the word limit of 150 words for each question, there
is no scope to describe in details any aspect of the question. A question will
have many aspects. A few lines should be written on all the aspects. Or else,
the word limit will be crossed just writing the question partly only.
6. Do not underline your answer: There is a popular
misperception among the candidates that in order to catch the attention of the
examiner , the important points in the answer should be highlighted by
underlining them. It is in fact a very risky proposition. How can a candidate
determine for the examiner as to what is more important? There is every
likelihood that the examiner will not find your underlined sentences important
and get a negative impression instead. However, one can follow a bullet form
answer where there is a scope to do that, but not always. For example , if the
question asks for your suggestions to improve governance in India, you may put
your suggestions in bullet form. But remember , no question should be answered
only in bullet form . A brief introduction is always necessary before adopting
the bullet form format.
7. Do not chase facts and figures in your answer, chase
analysis: The very purpose of the mains exam is to assess your analytical,
intellectual capabilities and not your memorization of facts and figures. So if
you do not know all the facts of an issue, its not a cause to worry. But you
should have a perception, a perspective about the issue. This is what will be
looked for in your answers.
8 .Adopt a general, commonsensical approach to answering:
Do not make your answer look like an academic answer. It should look like a non-
expert view on the issue because UPSC does not expect you to be area experts on
environment, internal security or any such thing.
9 . Time management: The biggest challenge in the main
exam is going to be how to manage time to be able to write all the questions.
The answers are all lengthy now ( 150 words each). Then, there are 20-25
questions to be written in each paper of GS. This implies that in each paper ,
one has to produce 4000 words in 3 hours time. It is a stupendous task and only
repeated practice can give you control over speed and time.
10. Get your answers evaluated by an expert: Only an
evaluation of your answers can tell you about its quality. If you have not got
them evaluated by a competent expert, you may not be writing the right answers
yet. Therefore, make it a priority to get it checked by any expert who is
appropriately able to guide you. Incorporate his suggestions in your next answer
practice. Remember, in the final analysis, the main exam is all about writing
answers. It is a 3 hour exercise which finally matters and not years of your
preparations. So in order to make these three hours high marks yielding hours,
go for answer writing practice and their evaluation.
11. How to attempt a question about which you are blank?
Many students have asked me this question. It is very natural that some of the
questions will leave you completely clueless. How you will attempt those?
Leaving them un answered is not the right thing to do. Instead, you should think
hard about the question and come to some general observations relating to the
questions. Put those observations in your answers. The only caution you should
take is that never be specific in your answer as you do not know the real facts
about the issue. For example , if a specific question has been asked on India-
Nepal relations and you are not aware of this development , then you should make
a general answer in terms of importance to resolve the issue in mutual interest,
importance India should accord to its relations with Nepal , and the need to
protect India's national interest while dealing with Nepal. It will not be a
cogent answer, still it will give you some marks.
Courtesy: S. B. SINGH, Employment news