UPSC Prelims paper is designed to test your accuracy and your eye for detail. As an aspirant, your target is not to answer all the questions but accurately answer as many questions as possible. The analysis of the last 5 years of cutoffs reveals that answering 55-60 questions correctly is sufficient to qualify, so the primary objective of any aspirant should be to reach this number while minimizing the number of incorrect answers.
Keep in mind that UPSC Prelims Paper 1 provides an ample amount of time for students to answer the questions. Accuracy, more than time management, is the skill required to crack this paper. And here is the simple 4-step process you can follow to clear Prelims 2021:
Step 1 – In the first step, go through the paper and answer all those questions whose answers you know with 100% certainty. These are the questions where you don’t even have to think twice for the correct answer. Most of these questions are direct in nature and take less than a minute to solve.
Step 2 – In this step, spot the questions which you can solve with a little bit of thought. These are often statement-based questions that you’ll have to analyze for a few extra seconds and then arrive at the solution. Keep in mind that you are absolutely sure of the answers to these questions before marking the answer. Step1 and Step 2, therefore, require you to answer questions where you don’t doubt your answers.
Before moving to step 3, count the number of questions you have attempted. Keep in mind that even with complete confidence in your answers, a few of them may be wrong. Suppose you have marked 55 answers that you are sure of, factor in at least 4-5 questions you may have gotten wrong. Move to step 3 with this calculation in mind.
Step 3 – In this step, you will need to take some time. Dig into your memory. Try elimination techniques to reduce the number of options. Then you’ll need to take an educated guess for the correct answer.
Using the first three methods, most serious aspirants can solve 75-80 questions in a period of 90 minutes. More often than not, this is sufficient for you to score above the cutoff. But, if you feel low on confidence and believe that you may still need a few more questions, then move to the next step. Don’t worry, you’ll still have around 30 minutes remaining.
Step 4 – In this step, pick the questions where you can eliminate at least 1-2 options. You will have 2 remaining options but no certainty. This is a risky step and you’ll have to make sure that you do not attempt a lot of questions in this round.
While this is the process of approaching the paper, there are a few additional elements that you’ll need to keep in mind:
- Analyse the paper on-spot – Do not go to the examination hall with a predefined cutoff in your mind. After the first round of reading, you’ll have a fair idea of how difficult or easy the paper is in relation to the last few years. Target a cut-off based on this analysis. A target of 115-120, however, is the best to achieve.
- Avoid silly mistakes – Read the questions correctly. UPSC often stumps students with tricky language. Make sure you understand the question perfectly before answering. Also, keep marking the answers in your question paper and the OMR sheet simultaneously. If you wait for the end of the exam to mark the OMR sheet, you may make mistakes due to the time rush and lose valuable marks.
- Brush up on answering techniques – There are multiple answering techniques like elimination, extremity test, etc. that can be extremely helpful. For example, if an option presents you with an extreme point of view for a topic, that option is incorrect more often than not. A quick revision of these techniques with examples can help you make better educated guesses.
- Rest – The most important thing of all is to rest before the exam. A couple of days before the exam won’t make a difference to your studies. Take this time to rest your mind and body. Relax yourself, eat well, sleep well, and go for the exam in a calm state of mind. You have done the hard work already, don’t let negative thoughts cloud your judgement now.
Remember – You can do it and you will do it, trust yourself!
All the best from our team at Civilsdaily!