With around a month left for the exam, one must be dealing with an unknown unease in their heart and mind alike. The journey of the last one year or so has been very toiling. Yet, one thing soothing is that the moment each one of you has waited is almost here.
We have reached the point in the preparation which we call the “last leg.” What matters now is sustaining the hard work. Now is the time when a lot of people feel like giving up. There is a need to set the focus right.
USEFUL INSIGHTS GAINED FROM YEARS OF EXPERIENCE:
- Mains exam is in specific like a marathon.
- Follow a balanced approach in all the papers alike.
- Answers must be selectively and effectively dealt, through better presentation.
- Time management, will remain the most important aspect and yet a challenge in the Mains exam.
- Handle the questions in a brief, concise yet analyzed manner.
- Be effective, quick, rational, and pragmatic in handling each paper.
- In the case of 10 markers, one must be careful to balance the answers, word limit, and to the point crisp answers.
- In 15 markers, one needs to elaborate, reason, substantiate, elucidate and analyze in a detailed manner.
- One needs to begin the paper with the best presentation. For example: chart a map, make subheadings, etc.
- The answer has to be written with basic, standard knowledge, information, coverage.
- Mains exam requires selective (specific to the demand of the question), organized application (align with the question and multiple sub-set of questions), effective presentation (use of underlining of keywords, diagrams, flowchart, quotes, facts, all possible multiple dimensions) in a structured manner.
- In GS-1, paper completion, objectivity, word limit will matter. In GS-2, analysis, on-spot presentation, as per sub-sections, with extensive coverage of current affairs in the presentation will be focus. GS-3 demands scientific, conceptually accurate, and systematic pointwise writing. GS-4 would require handling case-studies questions effectively and examples from Public Service, appropriately.
- The essay requires language competency, articulation, effective communication of ideas, objectives, issues, and detailed analysis of complex problem-solving dimensions. Make a list of random points on rough page, arrange an order with thematic headings in a broad manner. Ensure to end with an equally impactful end, with the nuanced suggestion, positive- constructive endnote.
HERE ARE SOME SUGGESTIONS:
- Sustain your effort – one just one more month: Every year, we see how successfully – not the brightest – not the smartest – but the one who is able to continue his struggle for a longer period of time ends up winning the game.
- Remain focused and maintain a positive attitude while studying.
- Plan everything- time is money: Make a checklist. Then, stick to your To-Do List. Extract accountability from self. Remember if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Proper planning is most important for the timely preparation and dealing with the study pressure.
- Prioritize papers:
- focus on ethics but because here dividends are always rich.
- Focus on Agriculture and Security in GS III as it is scoring.
- IR and Polity in GS II is scoring
- Geography in GS I in scoring.
- Follow the 4 step mantra:
- Sleep well: 6-8 hours a day.
- Start short sessions of meditation and a brisk walk in the morning.
- Eat healthy food such that you do not sleep too much. Avoid junk.
- Study for the rest of the time.
The truth is, in these last days, the only thing you need to do is – study. How many hours? As many as you can. Divide your time in packets of 3 hours and try to achieve 100% efficiency, less than that won’t work in these 30 days. Remember it is the quality of time spent and not the quantity alone. Hence, take short breaks of 15 minutes after every three hours of serious study. Relax completely when you take a break.
- Prepare short crisp content on 7-8 essay themes like Health, education, women, democracy, opportunity in crisis, globalization, Indo-pacific, agriculture, climate change impact on India etc. Create short notes and list all IMPORTANT points (facts, data) to remember. This will help in quick revision before the examination.
- Optional is king: allot at least 40% time to it.
- Don’t Be Complacent. Don’t jinx your preparation. Stay low-key. Don’t think of becoming an IAS. Think of Mains and write good answers. Then giving a good interview.
- Revision is hard work and hard work is revision: Battles are won by courage. But competitive exams are cracked by revision. Only revision. And problem-solving.
- Write in exam-like conditions at least 4 FULL-LENGTH papers before actual mains + you can also write past year papers.
- Don’t quit near the finish line. Most people do: many are not able to sustain the perseverance, the pressure, or the emotional resilience needed to crack this examination.
- In the last two weeks, it is only brushed up through notes & flagged important problems with twists.
- One must not start any new books at this stage. However, one can still refer to standard books for concept clearing. This stage should be utilized more for revision, practicing, understanding one’s strengths & weaknesses. Aspirants must take up Mock Tests in exam mode to develop ones’ self-confidence & exam temperament. Time Management is crucial.
The last 1 month should generally be utilized to consolidate one’s preparation by focusing on revision at a glance, problem-solving, and overcoming the weaker areas in preparation. Please maintain social distancing as corona at this point in time will eat lots of time and effort. So, stay healthy and fit. Lastly, it is very important to keep the spirit high.
You have everything that one needs to crack this exam. Try completing the papers in exam hall. Rest will follow.
Remember, it is the relative performance that will matter on the exam day. This is a race, not a morning walk. So put in your best performance, run the fastest you can, and you shall have what you want.
BEST OF LUCK!!