With just two days left for UPSC Civil Services preliminary examination, lakhs of aspirants across the country must be in their last leg of their preparation. Every year, the exam is conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) to shortlist officers for Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Foreign Service (IFS) and Indian Police Service (IPS) among others. The Commission will be conducting the Civil Services Examination (Preliminary) 2018 on June 3 at various centres. The recruitment exam is conducted annually by the UPSC in three stages — preliminary, main and interview.
As last-minute revisions pace up and stress levels escalate, here are few basic yet effective tips that might help young minds become the future steel pillars of our nation.
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1) Trust your standard sources unquestionably. A thorough reading of the current editions of the NCERT textbooks is the holy grail of this exam. Especially, for subjects such as History and Geography, make sure you have revised your NCERTs well enough. You would often find questions directly picked up from the NCERTS.
2) Keep your past year papers handy while you are revising. Referring to past year papers gives you a very good idea about the type of questions asked and the areas more frequented than the rest.
3) Current affairs is not the mammoth it is often made out to be. An advisable strategy would be to summarise relevant defence acquisitions and joint exercises, space launches, bills or laws in news in a single document for easy referral. These are straight-jacketed questions and can be answered easily.
4) One should use the test series or practice questions one is referring to very wisely. A good to cover practice questions in the last week is to simply focus on the questions pertaining to current happenings. This would help you revise current affairs as well as give you a broad and diverse coverage.
5) Welfare policies are often a matter of concern for the students. Upon a cursory trend analysis, it has been observed that the schemes originating from the Ministries of Human Resources Development (Education), Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Health, Agriculture, Women and Child Development, Renewable Energy, Environment, Rural and Urban Development are asked on preference. Recently launched or changes in the flagship schemes are usually high yield ones.
6) One should use government publications with good discretion. For instance, one does not need to go through the entire budget (annual financial statement) for this stage but simply needs to identify major policies and schemes announced and study them. For instance, the National Health Protection Scheme that aims to provide secondary and tertiary health care coverage or Operation Greens which seeks to stabilize the prices of certain essential commodities of consumption. Furthermore, the aspirants must go through the boxes of the most recent edition of the Economic Survey published by the Government. While doing so, detailed statistical data in the economic survey may be safely ignored.
7) Do not walk into the paper with a specific set number of questions you need to answer under all circumstances. Please remember that negative marking can hamper your score immensely, and an educated guess is a guess after all. Exercise utmost caution while attempting questions you are not fully sure of. Look for operative words such as ‘all’, ‘only’ in the options and read the question again before marking your final answer.
8) From a logistical point of view, make sure you are familiar with your center and areas around it. You would have a sufficient break of a few hours between your papers and you must stay hydrated and well eaten. If you are staying in a ‘coaching hub’, pre-booking your cabs is a wise option given the number of students residing in those areas.
9) Please read every sentence of instruction on your admit card and keep spare copies of the same. Save a digital copy of your admit card as well, there is no other way you can check your result! Please stock up relevant stationary and supplies that you would be carrying into your exam halls. Please note that smart watches are not permitted in the exam halls so carry an analog or a digital watch so that you can keep time.
10) Take the second paper on Aptitude (CSAT) seriously. Don’t be over zealous and remember that it is a qualifying paper and you need just those many marks to be considered.
Finally, despite the lakhs of students writing this exam, a few thousand seriously prepare. Don’t let the competition get to you. Trust your instinct and your latent memory shall recall elements that you think you might not remember. At the core of it all, this is an endurance test, stay calm and conquer this stage!
The author is a teaching faculty at Vajiram and Ravi, New Delhi