— By Shekhar Dutt
UPSC CSE 2019: The preliminary test for the Civil Services exam (CSE) conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) is now less than 24 hours away. All these months and weeks, you all have been following a lot of must-dos to crack the exam. But right before the exam, there are a few don’ts that can help boost your score enough to see you through the first hurdle.
No expectations: To begin with, do not go into the exam hall with preconceived notions. It is alright to be nervous but do not enter the exam hall expecting a certain kind of question paper. Have no expectations of the type of question paper that you will see. Whether it will be an easy one like 2016 or a crazily arbitrary like 2018. A lot of students go to the hall with notions of attempting a set number of questions, but the beauty of the exam lies in being flexible.
Do not start straight away: Do not start attempting the exam right after getting the question paper. Assess the paper’s difficulty level first by going through the question paper. Here your experience of solving mock tests will come in handy. Based on your experience of solving mock tests, you have some broader idea about your accuracy levels and your depth of coverage. That helps you decide what could be the appropriate number of questions that you should solve in order to be relatively better than the rest. Remember it is a relative exam, you need not be perfect, just need to be better than a few others.
Do not forget RIB: Another important thing is not to forget to take the RB with you. RIB refers to the roll number, identity card and ball-point pen. Given the strictness amidst the growing number of cheating cases, the security staff do not let an aspirant carry anything else in the exam hall except the RIB. Not even watch or water bottle. There would be a wall-clocks, and on regular time intervals, a bell would ring to keep the examinees updated. Candidates will also get ample water supply during the exam.
Have a plan to keep your mobile somewhere (if you are carrying one), because the mobile-depositing-queue might be long and is unnecessary fatigue before the exam. Also, the candidates are not allowed to take their belongings out in the break between the exams.
Do not rush: Another important, often repeated advice is not to rush through the question paper. One can easily attempt the paper in two hours. Rushing through the paper makes one miss the traps such as “which of the following is/are incorrect” or words like ‘only’ which can change the meaning of the question and hence its outcome. Thus, do not rush. Saving 10 seconds to speed read can cause you a loss of 2.66 marks.
Also, do not lose hope if your first exam (GS) has not gone well or according to your expectations. You should appear for the second paper – the CSAT – with as much spirit and alertness. Last year, one of my students after appearing for the first paper did not feel like going back but she not only cleared the exam but also got 398 rank. Thus, let the relativity of the exam take its own course.
Do not worry about prelims score: Do not worry about the prelims scores. It does not matter even if you top the prelims. These marks are not added to the final score. For prelims have a mindset of cruise missiles, that is, ‘fire and forget’. Move on from prelims as soon as possible. Forums and discussion boards are full of people discussing how did it go. Sure, do spend a couple of days analysing the exam, if you wish to, but move on from it. It would not add much to your life. If the exam went well, start preparing for the UPSC CSE Mains as soon as possible. In case it did not, you should still be preparing for mains too because if you have your attempts left and you wish to make good use of them, you ought to get a rank and mains alone is the biggest decider of a rank.
Thus, do not fret or celebrate prelims beyond a couple of days. Move on. Prepare for the coming days. Prepare for mains. By the time you must have finished reading this, prelims is closer to you by another few minutes. Face the trial with grit.
A lot of times we encounter very tough questions in a row. And often, in the beginning. Do not let it test your composure. Always remember that if something is tough for you, it is most likely tough for most of the other candidates as well. Relatively you are not losing much.
— The author co-founder, Sleepy Classes – a free online UPSC coaching platform.
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