Ten days before the Prelims is usually the time when your mind is rather restless and clouded in self-doubt. Even though you must have prepared thoroughly for the exam, covering all the sources, Some of you are worried that you haven’t yet finished a particular topic, some others are stressed whether they will make the final cut for Mains. Remember that it’s okay to be a little nervous at this point and that it happens to everyone. I was no different, too.
From my experience, I have distilled a few suggestions to help you perform well in the exam.
- In these final days, if you start reading entirely new material which you haven’t read before, you’ll only stress yourself out. Just refer to whatever you had already read. Revision is the absolute key. How effectively you perform in the actual exam depends on the quality of revision you do in these 10 days.
- Stay calm. While revising, do not get bogged down in one subject. Your target should be to revise all the topics methodically before the final day.
- Questions are going to be balanced and will be asked from across the syllabus. So if you are poor in one topic, that’s alright. You can offset it through performing well in your stronger areas. For example, if you are worried about Indian Art and Culture, do not freak out. You might lose out on some questions, but you will still have many others to solve.
- Just the day before the exam, ensure that you get 7-8 hours of quality sleep. A good night’s rest will rejuvenate your senses and ensures that your brain is alert and memory is on point.
- Many aspirants (especially engineering grads) tend to be careless about CSAT Paper 2. I’ve seen people who solve only 60 questions and think that’s enough to qualify them. Some are even more impulsive— they leave the hall 30 minutes before time. Don’t be that reckless brat. Your qualification for Mains will be based on your marks, not your audacity. Remember that just because the paper is qualifying, UPSC is not going to hand it you on a platter. This is why they have been constantly pushing up the difficulty level over the past few years. So solve CSAT with all the seriousness and intensity of Paper-1.
- While solving the paper, in the first iteration, go through all 100 questions sequentially and do three things: mark those answers you are confident about, round those questions that you are unsure or vaguely aware of (for guesswork later), and cross those questions which you have absolutely no idea about. In the second iteration, you come back again and try to answer those questions you are vaguely aware of through educated guesswork or elimination method.
- Don’t get mired in one question and waste your time. If you are unable to recall, make a side mark on the question paper and move on. Once you come back after solving remaining questions, chances are you’ll recollect.
- If we assume a moderately difficult paper, then you will confidently know answers to around 50-60 questions. But you must aim to attempt around 85-90 questions. That’s why educated guesswork is necessary and important.
- As you enter the exam hall, it doesn’t matter what books you may have read, or how many times you may have revised. What matters are those 100 questions. Put your emotions aside and solve those 100 questions with a laser like focus. Erase your fears, doubts and insecurities and stay positive and confident.
- Always believe and keep telling yourself that you have worked hard and prepared well so far and that you’ll do well. On the final day, summon your best self and you will absolutely ace the test.
PS: Check out my articleS on GS Mains Preparation