What should your strategy be for UPSC mains examination?


UPSC Civil Services Mains exam is the toughest nut to crack among all the stages of the Civil service examination. Your fate is sealed the day you finish writing mains examination. The final list of candidates selected for this exam depends on the cumulative marks obtained in the mains stage and the interview stage of the exam and every mark obtained matters.

So it is important that your strategy towards succeeding in this exam must revolve around the Mains stage of the civil service exam.


Smart Strategy Comprehensive preparation of Prelims and Mains Exam
Start your UPSC preparation of the mains with prelims. Ideally, you should start your preparation before one year. For instance, UPSC CSE prelims exam is on June 3, 2018. So, you should begin your journey in June or July 2017.

Until December, you should try to finish the foundational course and NCERT books of all the subjects.

The preparation of current affairs should go on side by side on a daily basis.

The critical point to note here is the short and efficient preparation of notes. Only notes will come to your savior at the last time.

From December to March, you should finish other compulsory books which are recommended for the static part of the exams.

For instance, let us take the subject of Indian polity. You should cover all NCERT books of polity (preferably old) from Class 6- Class 12. It may seem a lot, but they will not take much time because NCERTs have straightforward and lucid language. Class 6-8 NCERT should take 3-4 days, and for Class 9-12, it should need another 8-10 days. It will build a strong foundation of Polity for UPSC. Once, you are through the NCERTs. You should take a standard book such as Indian Polity by Laxmikant and read through it.

From March onwards, you should shift your entire focus to the prelims. It is advised that you solve a lot of mock tests.

As the saying goes “The more you sweat in training, the less you bleed in battle.” Similarly, the more mock tests you practice in an exam based environment, the better are your chances of clearing the prelims exam.

You should lay more focus on revision during last 15-20 days. Revise, revise and revise again.

It is advised that you take ample rest and keep your mind fresh 2-3 days before the exam. Avoid thinking about the exam and trust your preparation. Eat healthy food and take some sound sleep.

Smart Strategy to crack IAS Mains Exam
After the prelims exam is over, you can take 7-10 days break to refresh your mind and get back the focus and energy. But come back to the track as soon as possible, without wasting too much time, for it is the time to work even harder.

From June to September, you should maximize your writing practice as you already have sufficient knowledge base and you just need to master your answer writing and presentation skills. It will enhance your confidence and give you an edge over many candidates who still keep on studying and procrastinating the answer writing. Try to take at least one test every weekend. Review of test paper is equally important. Identify your weak areas and strengthen them. You should take at least one full-length test of each paper.
From September onwards, revise all the subjects and topics two times before the Mains exam this will help you to write better answers in Mains exam.

Make your timetable in such a way, that you can finish everything one week before the exam. Do not do anything related to the exam in the last week. Just keep your mind fresh and have a nice sleep. Stay tension free and be confident. You will perform well in the exam.

Anish Passi, (IIM, Ahmedabad)
Director, Neostencil, an Ed-Tech startup



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