The 60-day period before the prelims is a nerve-wracking time for every aspirant. Whether one is appearing for one’s first prelims or one’s last; everyone is going through some kind of dilemma or struggling with nightmares like these:
- Is my preparation up to the mark?
- Have I completed all the important portions of the syllabus?
- What if the question paper is vague?
- Competition is so tough and the success ratio is so minuscule! Will I be able to make it?
- How to overcome the silly mistakes I keep repeating?
If these thoughts are crossing your mind every now and then, don’t worry; you are not the only one. Almost everyone is in the same boat. The only thing you need to remember that ‘the last mile’ is always the toughest one. So keep calm, take a deep breath; and try to follow these 5 must-do things to make the most of this last window of preparation.
- Have a well planned Time-Table
Failing to plan is planning to fail. Keeping this in mind, ensure that you have planned your 60 Days in detail. Some inputs regarding this planning are:
1. Plan backward- Start planning from last week of May and plan backward. Eg; Revision of Test papers, maps, national Parks, your short notes in last week and so on.
Planning backwards help you in:
- Prioritising syllabus according to the availability of time and urgency.
- Ensuring that you do not study as per your whims and follow what is required.
- Avoiding the frustration and panic associated with haphazard prep.
B. First plan your weeks, then break them into days. Finally, break your days into hours. You should behaving targets for each and every hour! Fix precise targets like ‘finish 40 pages of laxmikanth by 4.40 pm’ rather than vague objectives like ‘do 2 chapters of laxmikanth and 2 chapters of geography today’. Even if you set broad objectives for the day, you must set hourly-targets.
C. Follow the Pomodoro technique to utilise your time in a better manner. (Google Pomodoro.)
2. Solve and Revise UPSC Previous Years Papers and Test Series
A. It doesn’t matter how sharp your axe is if you don’t know how to use it. Solving previous year papers will help you in knowing:
- Areas that need attention.
- Your strengths and weaknesses.
- Questions can and do get repeated.
- ‘Revision’ cannot be substituted by any number of ‘Sources’. So instead of solving 100 test
papers, revise 3-4 times the ones you have already done. Accuracy comes from revision. Try to gradually increase the share of revision in your time table towards the end of your 60-day window. Keep last week solely for revision and avoid any new “yellow books” or any “indispensable free PDF”.
3. Do not ignore the Conventional Static Portion
Some difficult and obscure questions prompt students to focus on obscure architecture, minute details of technical inventions and so on. The input to output ratio is low in these areas. This also leads to a lack of revision in conventional and static parts such as geography, polity, history. Make sure that you don’t falter in questions like Fundamental duties, the age of contesting panchayat elections, cabinet mission etc. Everyone else will be getting these right. Your aim is to clear the cut off and not to get the highest marks in prelims. The conventional static part is of utmost importance. Do not ignore it for more difficult sections where after consuming loads of information you might only get one question correct.
4. Sleep, Exercise, Meditate, Healthy Diet, Study and repeat
Clocking many hours of studying at the cost of your sleep and other healthy activities won’t be much beneficial. A foggy mind is not productive. Hence have minimum 7-8 hours of sleep. If not much, allocate 15 minutes to exercise and 10 minutes to meditation in your schedule. Results will be exponentially better due to increased alertness of your mind. Also, the ‘night owls’ should try to correct their schedule so that they are at their peak on the D-day.
Last but not the least, prelims is a game of confidence. Wear your confidence like armour in this battle and you will emerge victorious. Very few people will know the correct answers to more than 50 questions. People who clear prelims repeatedly are no wizards. They just believe in their ability to take calculated risks, have faith on what they have studied. They don’t doubt their preparation at the drop of a hat.
When you have confidence you know that even after not knowing a single thing about a question; options, structuring of the question, and a little analysis might give you the right answer. This confidence comes from hard work and intense practice only. If you have revised static and current affairs religiously, solved 50 test papers, revised them 3-4 times, be confident that you will succeed. It doesn’t matter how tough and vague the paper is, you will succeed. So whenever you get anxious and your heart beats out of control, believe that “ All is well’. You are already doing everything that can possibly be done. Eventually, it will turn out good for you.
In the end ” Jao aur Jee bhar ke ye 60 din padh lo kyuki koi tumse ye 60 din nahi cheen Sakta.” (Study wholeheartedly for these 60 days; for no can snatch these from you). With all due credits to Coach Khan from Chak De India.
All the best,
Abhilash Baranwal, AIR 44 (CSE 2017)
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