Right in the middle of the Diwali festivities, the candidates who cleared Prelims are neck deep into the finishing touches for Mains 2015. The last month is very crucial. A lot of anxiety, trepidation and many questions regarding what and how.
Let's analyse it pointwise:
1. What should have been done by now
- By now you should have had gone through the entire Mains syllabus at least twice - for GS as well as the Optional subject.
- Your hand-written notes - what we call POWER NOTES - should be totally ready for final revision
- You should have had a decent exposure to writing answers and should already have appeared for some mock tests for Mains.
- The habit of reading newspapers and magazines has already become second nature to you, and you should now be revising current affairs with full confidence.
- The last month is the make or break month for aspirants. If these days are not utilized properly all efforts put earlier can end up un-optimised.
- This period is obviously not the time to do anything new. There is no point in opening a new topic entirely. It will be futile.
- You might be able to fine-tune a few weak areas but that’s about it.
- Revision has to be done using flow charts and diagrams only.
- When you revise, pick up at least two test areas simultaneously (eg. History with Geography; Polity with Economy and so on). This will help you immensely and help you with the final touches to Connecting the Dots approach.
- You will now truly realise the importance of the 360 degree approach which is a necessity for getting good marks per question.
- Write one essay every two days. Give yourself 4 topics and choose one out of them. This would partly simulate the exam conditions. This kind of simulated decision-making also takes time.
- Have a fixed plan regarding what you need to do in terms of tasks, not how much you need to study in terms of hours. Write down the plan for best execution.
- The most important thing is to hone your writing skills so that whatever knowledge is acquired can be presented in the most beautiful and optimal manner to fetch the maximum possible marks can be obtained.
3. Mock Tests
- A student at this stage should appear for at least one full length test of 3 hours every day. Once a week he should mimic an exact day at the UPSC mains examination i.e. take two full length tests with a gap of two hours in between at the same times as the actual examination.
- Avoid practising answer writing in isolation. Remember you have to solve more than 15 questions at least in 180 minutes. You may have to select which ones to solve and which ones to leave. You may have to prioritize. It needs practice. Therefore, taking full length tests regularly is mandatory. There is no escape from this.
- When you study ensure that there are no distractions. Switch off your mobiles for the time for which you are studying. Avoid social media. It can be a big distraction at this point of time. (don't avoid Quora and answers like these ;) )
4. Keeping the spirits high
|Martin Luther King Jr.|
- There would be some moments when you will feel like giving it up. Allow those moments to arrive, and pass peacefully. Keep fighting. Dig deep and find the strength within you. Remind yourself of all the days you have put in so far.
- Be aggressive in your preparation plan. Don’t set conservative targets.
- At this point, you should be studying for at least 15 hours a day. Ignore all extra-curricular activities so that you get 6 hours of sleep at least.
- Adjust your body clock according to the exam timings. For one month keep sleeping and waking up at the same times as you would on the day of the exam.
- Keep revising…keep writing.
Wish you great luck!