April 9th, 2020       Civil Services Preparation, UPSC

Calming your mind

In these uncertain times, it’s hard to focus on the preparation and keep preparation on track. However, I would request all the first timers who are going to give the CSE Prelims on 31st May, to ignore any rumors of exam being postponed. Keep in mind that we have to prepare with clarity that exam will be held on 31st May, and if there is any postponement, that will give us extra time to prepare or revise further. But 31st May is the target date as of today.

These are precious hours before the prelims and one should relax and focus on preparation and revision rather than reading theories and tentative dates etc. as your competitors are getting ahead of you in this crucial phase. Always remember every aspirant who has prepared seriously has studied almost identical sources. However the difference lies in the way one does revision and approaches the exam date. One should always prepare in such a way that you peak just before the exam and carry the momentum with yourself.

What to study and what not

Cut-off for prelims examination is usually on the higher side is 110 approx. Ideally, a score of 115 should give you a sure shot chance of writing mains examination in any year including those where cut-off goes unusually high. Prelims has 100 questions out of which 45-50 are covered by Polity, Geography and History (Ancient + Medieval + Modern and Art n Culture). Rest of the 50 questions are covered by economy, environment, current affairs etc. Due to the very nature of subjects, first 45-50 questions are more or less static and they are question for which one can definitely prepare and normally score well in those. The target should be to get as many question correct as possible from the static portion. Therefore students should revise polity history and geography to ensure that static portions are definitely correct to ensure 80-90 marks. In order to check the progress, keep giving test of any of the premier civil services institutes.

Analyzing the preparation

After giving two-three tests, do one analysis of the paper. Segregate the areas where you score and also highlight your weak areas. Out of the weak areas see what all can be covered and what is difficult to correct. E.g. if you are scoring less in economy and environment, revise them and score can be improved. Whereas if current affair portion is weak area, revise it but do not expect high returns because current affairs is very wide and depends on whether you have read the topic from where question is asked together with the retention capacity. Whereas economy and environment are relatively static and fixed which can be learned and understood with practice and will help in improving score.

How to approach the revision

While revising, one has to keep in mind that students need not read every source exhaustively. Only topics which are underlined or highlighted during first round of reading should be focused on. Out of the highlighted topics also one should only focus on those topics which one instinctively feels he/she is unsure of. If you are confident about any topic simply skip it as you have many bases to cover in revision. Again there are certain topics which one is uncomfortable with and no amount of time or revision makes those topics easy for particular students. So, don’t make it a prestige issue to dedicate your precious time to try and understand such topics in revision. Simply skip those for better utilization of your time. Always remember the only purpose of prelims is to score above the cut-off and give you a head start for mains preparation.

Finally the ideal revision cycle should cover these subjects based on their importance for Prelims:

  1. Polity
  2. Modern History
  3. Ancient History
  4. Art and Culture
  5. Medieval History
  6. Geography
  7. Economy
  8. Environment
  9. Current Affair

Skip subjects which you have covered recently. Also keep in mind it is very important to keep practicing a lot of full syllabus tests to give you confidence. While giving tests keep in mind, don’t get disheartened if you score less marks. Always take the positives from it i.e. if you score more boost your energy levels and revise and if you score less then go through the explanation of the test and consider that you learned those many new things in the shortest possible time. Many times such questions in some way or the other come in the prelims and you can score those crucial extra marks to take you across the cut-off.

Prelims Xpress run by Aptiplus Academy is a good choice for quick revision ensuring you focus on the right things before the exam without getting lost in maze of content and courses out there. The dedicated team of teachers at Aptiplus can be very helpful in every step of the preparation. Contact the institute for further details and all the best for preparation!


  • Focus on what you think is your weak area. Sometimes just glancing through something you have read before refreshes the memory and can be very useful in the prelims.
  • Be confident that you know and you will remember what you have studied.
  • In exam nobody is absolutely certain and remember everything they have studied, so you will be equally well placed to clear the exam.
  • Guesses which you take during revision test should be taken on a calculated basis. Avoid wild guesses and at the same time have the confidence of taking guesses in questions where you strongly feel is correct.


  • Avoid reading any new source which you have not read at least once already.
  • Don’t try to cover everything and revise everything, instead prioritize.
  • Don’t get worked up and think the time for preparation is gone and this attempt is going to be wasted.
  • Don’t worry about what will happen if you don’t clear the prelims stage.
  • Don’t waste your time in thinking about what to do in next year of preparation.

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