Strategies to Adopt During the Examination
Clearing the Civil Services Preliminary Examination is not only about mugging up a lot of information; rather, it tests your patience, perseverance and optimism in the exam hall against all odds. The ability to stay cool under lot of pressure is a trait required of a civil servant and UPSC looks for this trait in the candidates through the prelims examination. A common pattern is also observed that once an aspirant clears prelims, s/he most probably goes on to repeat the feat each and every year. So how do these students clear the prelims examination despite such immense pressure? Are there strategies adopting which a new UPSC aspirant can achieve this feat? Let's find out...
1. Time Management: The most important aspect (and we cannot emphasize on this point enough) is the management of time in the exam hall.
- Your mind should race against time to find some common link between the stated statements in the question and the knowledge you possess from the basic reference books. In this context, practicing as many questions as possible helps a lot.
2. Elimination Technique: If you find any statement from among the options as redundant or false, you can directly eliminate that option from your answer and this increases the probability of you marking a correct answer.
- In a scenario where the candidate is able to eliminate two options, the question should definitely be attempted. In such a case we would suggest you mark any one of the remaining answer as the probability of you marking the correct answer is almost 50%.
3. Extreme Statements: Another strategy commonly applied by students is to find extreme statements in the options.
- For example, "Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana failed to address the financial needs of rural India". Here the statement directly contradicts the salient feature of Jan Dhan Yojana which is financial inclusion. Hence the statement is false and can be marked wrong.
- This also implies that there is a possibility of you finding the right answer even though you may not know anything about the question through elimination of extreme statements.
- Therefore, the advice would be to not skip a question just based on a quick reading, but following it up by reading the options. This strategy is bound to fetch you some extra marks in prelims.
4. Note the Question Terminologies: Also while reading the question paper, cautiously note the question terminologieslike 'Not', 'Incorrect', 'Only' etc.
- For example, in a question which states "Which of the above statements are incorrect?', many candidates have been found to mark the correct statement as they fail to notice the question terminology. These blunders need to be avoided to ensure success in prelims.
5. Exam Hall Ego: Another common mistake candidates make during exam hall is wastage of time while facing a question based solely on their ego.
- Let's say Student A has dedicated hours of his time in reading polity but is not able to solve a basic question of Polity in Prelims. This not only reduces the confidence in aspirant A but also builds in guilt.
- Based solely on his ego, he wastes his precious time trying to solve the polity question, only to realize later that he could have fetched marks in other unattempted questions. This clarity of thought is normally found lacking in new aspirants and needs to be kept in mind.
- The objective of the candidate in prelims is not to top the examination but to clear the exam. This means you should fetch marks, no matter from which subject.
6. Marking of OMR Sheets in the Last Minute: Another mistake commonly observed is the marking of OMR sheets in the last few minutes by students.
- After the prelims examination, lot of students could be heard complaining that their invigilator did not provide them with enough time to mark their OMR sheet. This logic is both irrational and foolish and should to be avoided.
7. CSAT Paper: While solving the qualifying paper of prelims, i.e., the CSAT paper, students should focus on their strengths.
- It has been observed that many students are afraid of aptitude and reasoning in the CSAT paper. Revising some basic concepts of Class 10 would be a great help in scoring decent marks in aptitude section.
- The students can also rely on passages and comprehensions to ensure they sail through the minimum cut off. Solving few CSAT papers would go a long way in building up that confidence.
8. Strategise, Prepare, Revise and Practise: During the preparation phase of prelims, it all comes down to limiting the sources of reference books, revising the selected books religiously and preparing one's own notes for each subject.
- These notes will help in quick revision and come in handy even during the mains preparation.
- The last three months before UPSC prelims is of utmost importance and needs a detailed strategy which should be based on solving the previous ten year UPSC prelims question papers and understanding the trend of the exam. This should help you in devising a specific strategy, according to your needs focussing specifically on your weak areas.
- Once a study plan is fixed, sticking to the time table at all costs should reflect the strength of your resolve and be a testament of your will.
- No prelims preparation is complete without solving multiple choice question papers of different reputable coaching institutes. These tests help in self assessment and build up clarity and confidence on the subject among the aspirants over time.
- During preparation, students need to keep in mind that there is no dearth of books or study material in the market. Chasing a particular book or study material during the last stages of prelims is a mistake in itself. The students need to understand the paucity of time and should stay away from such books and coaching institutes that claim guaranteed success in UPSC prelims in the last minute.
- Finally, there can be no substitute to faith and confidence in oneself during the preparation phase. The mantra- "Self-trust is the first step towards success" rings true in this regard.