This is probably my last blog on the ways to do the things. From now on, more syllabus, rare gyan!
#1. Keep the syllabus of all 3 GS papers side by side and connect the topics.
Once the groups of connected topics are ready, apportion the time available with you according to the number of topics in the group. I have desisted from stating that time should be apportioned as per the importance of the topics because there is no “unimportant” or “less important” topic in syllabus now. The tag has been obliterated with the kind of questions UPSC has been asking.
#2. Give specific dates to the groups by which you intend to finish them off.
It will actually give you an idea of the time you have at hand because if you take too many days you shall reach near November-December and there shall not be days left for revision and polishing. This “10 days for this topic” approach would better be supplanted with “By 10th of this month”.
#3. Prepare time table not just for the months as above but for every day.
Try to stick to it to the maximum extent possible but above 80 strike rate is commendable. Anything below it needs serious introspection.
#4. Make notes on daily basis or by next day at the maximum. If you think you can procrastinate it to the weekend then it shall never happen.
By weekend we will have seven copies of The Hindu and note-making from them shall appear a gigantic task. One month down the line, there shall be thirty copies covered in dust. Break this “I will do this tomorrow” jinx. Tomorrow never comes, more so when you have a formidable opponent like UPSC. And not to mention, a day lost by you is a day gained by your competitors and there are lakhs of them out there!
#5. Don’t try to study every subject together.
History on Mondays, Polity on Tuesday, Economics on Wednesday and so no approach shall not pay rich dividends. At the max pick up two subjects at a time, finish them off and then pick up others.
#6. Maintain safe distance from candidates with negative attitudes…
…or who try to show off the books they have covered. If they do, randomly select a page and throw a question at them. More often than not the reply shall be “bas yahi reh gaya tha baki book to ho gayi.”
#7. Choose one or two standard books you wish to use for covering a topic.
Make notes. And supplement it with related news from the papers. Trying to cover a topic from ten different books shall not add anything to your preparation.
#8. Read-Revise-Write. Enough on it already.
No writing practice, no use of revision. No revision, no use of reading. So either R-R-W or don’t do it.
#9. Don’t even think about being able to write the best answer to every question in the paper.
“Best answer” in UPSC is a myth. We just have to be careful about what the question is asking and use the information we hold in the best manner possible. This “Best manner” is the “Best answer”. At the end of the day, you have to just secure about 50-52 percent marks to be the topper!
#10. Every year the exam shall get tougher. Yes that is the harsh reality!
As the examiners exhaust the questions, they start delving deeper into the topics, current issues keep on getting more complex, new topics keep getting added in the syllabus and then there is this sword of may-be-revised pattern/syllabus hanging over our heads. Bottom-line is finish it off as soon as possible. There should not be any let-up from your side. No excuses, as simple as that. If you have given your best shot, the best shall follow. The cardinal rule of karma – You reap what you sow.
#11. Don’t get burdened with criticism even it is excruciatingly painful and unexpected.
It hurts the most when it comes from close quarters but then that is how it is. Take it in your stride to come back with a vengeance. Success wins uncountable friends and failure leaves you with very few. Stay with these very few.
#12. Exercise, eat well and keep yourself healthy.
Stress during this examination can be unbearable at times. These are the times when your mental strength and your emotional intelligence holds you firm. Don’t lock yourself in a room. Go out, meet friends. Get refreshed. Make this preparation a part of these years of your life. Don’t make it your life.