100 days strategy to crack UPSC Mains
What should be the 100 days strategy to crack UPSC Mains?
What NOT to do in the 100 days –
- Don’t get stuck with GS Paper 1. If you try to complete subjects such as World History, Sociology and Art & Culture in detail, you are likely to suffer in the long run. There would not be questions worth more than 30 or 40 marks from any of these areas in the entire paper. Most aspirants make the mistake of devoting too much time to World History or Art and Culture and pay the price. Think about the Return on Investment!
- Don’t try to read the bulky reports such as ARC (for ethics) or Five Year Plans (for Economy) simply because toppers have read them. You don’t have the time to read them – believe it, and move on.
- Don’t waste too much time browsing the internet, trying to specialize in some topics. Even if you get a PhD in something, you will still need to write common-sense based answers in less than 200 words and 7 minutes. In a way, the less you burden your head with information, the better for you in Mains.
- Don’t try to read bulky books such as Ram Guha’s ‘India After Gandhi’ or Bipin Chandra’s ‘India After Independence’ if you have not already read those. You will practically be wasting your time, from the point of view of Mains.
- Don’t waste time reading books on Ethics. Check the last 3 years’ papers on Ethics and you shall find that it is all about common sense.
- Other grey areas where too much prep is unnecessary – Art & Culture and Sci & Tech.
The aim is to maximize your marks in the Mains exam. Everything else is irrelevant – how much you know, how many books are there on your table, how many people think you will clear, none of it matters.
What you MUST do in the 100 days to crack UPSC Mains
- Write. Write. Write. The more you write, the better your chances. Write less (remember most of answers in the exam would be 150–200 words only) but do that sensibly. Pick up a pen and start writing answers from previous years papers. Initially, you might feel your own answers are so hideous and untenable. See the toppers answer scripts from website, learn from the way they write and then improvise. Do it daily, 2 to 3 hours, for 2 weeks flat. See the change.
- Make the best out of Economic Survey 2015–16. Especially Part 1, which deals with concepts and ideas. Also, take out important facts and note them down. Rate of unemployment, GDP growth rate, basic stats from Agriculture, etc. Adding such facts and figures boosts your GS Paper 3 marks significantly.
- Make a list of famous quotes on diverse topics – Education, Society, Science, Culture, etc and memorize it well. This will help you a lot in Essay and Ethics.
- Make a list of important events, lessons and moments of your life and keep them stored in your mental hard drive. In Ethics paper, personal examples shall earn you more marks than bookish stuff.
- Read The Hindu daily and make short, crisp notes from editorials. Note down any important fact/observation that can be helpful. Pretty much enough to take you past Mains. Remember, GS Paper 2 and 3 are mostly about current affairs, so focus accordingly.
- GS Preparation is mostly enough to give you all the fodder you need for the Essay Paper. Additionally, try and keep the List of Quotes and List of Facts ready at your disposal. Facts, examples and quotes can lend a killer look to your Essay.
- Practice a couple of Essays in your regional language for the qualifying paper, two weeks before the exam. You would not want to score high in GS and Optional and then get disqualified because of regional language paper. Remember, many people suffer such fate.
- About 2 to 3 weeks before the Exam, make a list of important topics from current affairs in the last one year which have been sufficiently highlighted.
Remember, Mains is the only part of the entire UPSC CSE exam structure on which you have substantial amount of control. Use it to best effect, for you never know what’s going to come your way in Interview (if you qualify).
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