IAS (UPSC CSE) 1 Month Preparation Strategy for Prelims 2021

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Mar 23, 2021

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The IAS (UPSC CSE) exam is one of the most difficult exams conducted in the country for recruiting eligible candidates for the top ranks of administrative service in the Government of India. It will be conducted on June 27, 2021 this year. While the syllabus is huge, with proper time management and strategy, it will not be difficult to cover the major important parts within a month before the exam.  

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Here are a few tips which will help you make the most of the last one month before the exam and be confident with your preparation:

  • Constant revision

This is not the time to start completely fresh topics but the time to brush up on the subjects you have already covered. Keep revising your notes on every topic so that you do not forget vital information. Moreover, questions in IAS prelims are not always direct, so your preparation should be accordingly done. For every topic, make micro notes which cover all the important facts and theories about it along with events that are interconnected, to crack the questions better. It is important to have your conception of the topic clear.

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  • Previous year question papers

Practice the previous year's questions papers of IAS repeatedly as often the same questions are repeated or at least questions with the same pattern. The standards of the questions have remained constant over the years and hence when you practice the previous year's papers, you will get a better idea about the actual exam. Solving the same paper repeatedly also helps to increase your accuracy and recognize common questions during the exam. The best approach will be practicing at least the previous 5 years' question papers if not more.

  • Mock tests

The IAS prelims is a long-drawn affair. There are two papers of two hours each with two hours break in between. This means you spent the whole day at the exam venue which can be exhausting. Following this same pattern to practice mock tests will also help you to somewhat get used to the process. Often exhaustion and impatience lead to making mistakes in the paper but when you get used to the exam pattern, this can be avoided as you are already well-prepared for a 6-hour long process.

Furthermore, make sure you evaluate your performance in the mock test papers thoroughly to get an idea about where you stand in terms of preparation. Recognize the pattern of mistakes, if any to rectify as far as possible before the exam.

  • Official UPSC Answer key

There are different theories and concepts related to different topics and often the reference books and the UPSC official answer key does not match, even though neither of them is wrong. Hence, it is best to consult the answer key of previous year questions to get a thorough idea about the answers UPSC IAS accepts as correct for specific questions. Hence, making mistakes simply out of confusion can be avoided. Moreover, the official answer key for the exam has insights into why the other three options are wrong. This explanation will further help in clarifying your concept so that the mistakes can be thoroughly avoided.

  • Managing negative marking

There is negative marking in UPSC IAS and hence candidates have to tread carefully and confidently while answering the paper. Make it a habit to skip questions you cannot remember or do not know at all instantly, instead of doing guesswork. Many candidates incur high negative marks solely because they are unable to skip such questions hoping they will get it correct and attempting more questions means getting more marks. However, it is better to confidently attempt enough questions that will help you secure more than the maximum possible cut-off marks and leave out the rest if you are not sure about them. Intelligent guessing based on logic and calculation can be attempted but try to restrict such practices to minimize losing marks from negative marking.

  • Practice eliminating options

A great trick to finding the right answer is by eliminating the prospective wrong answers and bring down the number of options. This is possible when your conception of the topic is clear. Out of the four options, there will always be at least two which are completely irrelevant. Your skill should be honed in recognizing these irrelevant options and then logically determining which will be the right option based on calculated guesswork. But definitely, do not attempt wild guessing.

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To succeed in the IAS prelims also study the exam pattern and the cut-off trends from previous years so that you can have an estimate of the cut-off this year. This way, you will know how many marks to be attempted safely and can avoid resorting to guesswork just to increase the number of questions you can attempt.

Revision and practice is the key to strategizing last moment preparation for the IAS 2021 prelims. So, best of luck for the upcoming exam!

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*The article might have information for the previous academic years, please refer the official website of the exam.