Onwards and Upwards – Mantra for Mains

Mains is rightly called so given that it is this stage of the civil services examination that determines your very selection.

This stage is also a test for you as a person. It requires patience to sit through three hours at a stretch for five odd days back to back. It requires stamina to pull through rigorous writing.

It also puts to test your presence of mind, after all you need to substantiate your opinions with facts. Common sense too is required to see through the obvious. And most importantly it is a test of your confidence. If you think you can’t, you never will.

As you brace yourself for this leg of the exam, below are some words (of wisdom, perhaps) that might prove handy:

  • Attempt all questions. Yes. All. Even if you don’t know anything about that question, write general information. It will at least fetch you 1/2 or 1 mark. This quantum is sufficient to make an IFS an IAS ?
  • Underline in every answer. Enhances readability.
  • In GS I, facts are must. Modern History, Art and Culture can be written in points. Social issues should carry examples from current affairs.
  • In GS II, polity is usually straight forward, don’t be intimated by the length of questions. Write factual points, substantiate with an opinion. All content from Laxmikanth.
  • In GS III, quote reports. For Agriculture it can be NSSO, for environment it can be IPCC, for statistical facts mention census or survey of registrar. Etc
  • For essay, start with an emphatic quote. Learn some ten odd quotations on women, development, science and tech, innovation, India.


The compulsory language Paper that need 25% marks to sail through should not be taken casually either. Remember that if you do not sail past the threshold here, your other copies will not even be checked. No matter how great your answers might be there! And nearly 100 examinees who have qualified Prelims are disappointed in this paper.

And finally remember it’s not a test of your knowledge but your mental strength. Please realise that no one knows everything but the point is applying your knowledge appropriately.

The game is not over till the last ball. And don’t think that you don’t know. Write whatever you know (of course not completely tangential to what is asked).

Keep in mind your competitors, you are no inferior. Have faith in yourself. You have studied hard enough to be at this stage of the exam and you will only go further from here.

Build stamina and write till the last. Your efforts will be aptly rewarded.

Good luck. May the force be with you.

We are thankful to Ms Ila Tripathi (Rank 51, UPSC 2016) for her guest post on CD. For more such posts, do visit her blog @ https://iasjourneyandbeyond.net

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