The UPSC has postponed this year’s Prelims exam to October 10th 2021, on account of the Covid-19 pandemic. The new date is about five months from now, and aspirants are now facing confusion on how to utilize this time effectively. I will explain how you should use this time depending on whether you are a complete beginner or an experienced aspirant.
Category 1- Beginner
If your CSE journey is relatively new, it is better to use this extended time to make sure that you ace prelims. Prelims exam is becoming increasingly tough to crack with its level of uncertainty each year. This uncertainty stems from topics that UPSC chooses and the level of understanding it requires. Hence, it is better to focus more on clearing Prelims this year if you are a complete beginner.
- a) Beginner who is yet to finish the syllabus
The lockdown and the Covid-19 pandemic has been negatively influencing the studies of aspirants. The chances are that you are someone who was not able to study these days properly. The postponement of the Prelims exam is an opportunity for you to crack the Prelims this time. But, it would be extremely risky if you include Mains preparation now. It would be wise to focus only on Prelims to increase your chance of clearing it to the maximum. Finish the NCERTs and then proceed to standard texts. After you have gone through the basics, test yourself where you stand. Click here to take our NCERT based tests to realize your current level. Post this, make sure that you revise enough times, strengthen your strong areas, and give enough time to understand the basics of your weak areas. Couple this with a UPSC standard test series, Previous Years’ question papers, and get insights about your strengths and weaknesses from the tests you take. Continue with regular reading of current affairs material and standard texts and try to build your score to 110+ in your mocks.
- b) Beginner but finished the syllabus
If you have been preparing relatively well over these months and have been getting excellent marks in your mock tests, then you can allot some time for your Mains. The ideal marks you should get in your mock tests (provided they are of UPSC standard) should be greater than 110. Hence, if you are getting more than 110 marks consistently, you may allot 80% of your time for Prelims and the balance for Mains. This can be continued for the next 2 to 2.5 months, and the time prearranged for Mains has to be reduced post that. By the time it reaches “Prelims – 60 days”,, i.e. the moment you have just 60 days to Prelims, give your complete attention to the Prelims exam. During your preparation, take a UPSC standard test series, NCERT test series, Previous Years’ question papers and get insights about your strengths and weaknesses from the tests you take. While preparing for Prelims, make sure you have given enough revisions for current affairs and standard texts.
Category 2- Experienced Aspirant
If you are someone who is experienced/ has already cracked Prelims before, then you can allot more time for your Mains, along with your Prelims. Continue your answer writing practice/optional preparation and assign up to 30 to 40% of your time for mains. It is wise to allocate 60 to 70% time for Prelims as the Prelims exam has the highest levels of elimination, coupled with increased difficulty over the years. Hence, as an experienced player, for Prelims, not only should you focus on your strong areas but also fill the gaps in your weak areas. Maintain the momentum and continue with current affairs, revisions and test series (mocks and Previous Years’). Reduce the time allocated for Mains after three months and devote the entire time for Prelims once the calendar shows 60 days to Prelims. As an experienced aspirant, you must be thorough with the basics. Hence, regular revisions are required, along with mock tests.
Be it any category you fall in right now, please remember that your commitment is what makes all the difference in the end. If you utilize the coming months effectively, there is no doubt that you will clear the Prelims this time- my best wishes!