I know I know, the notification is out and I am late in publishing it.. Actually I wrote the whole blog; Goddamn power trip! And the whole unsaved blog gone. Hence I’m writing it again. Let us call it an 80 days plan now.
The blog is largely aimed at my students, but nonetheless will be helpful for anyone in prioritizing prelims preparation for this CSE2014.
The purpose of this blog is not to give you any quick pill. It is to help you prioritize your preparation better and hence to improve your chances for a better score. Let us first know what we’re trying to scale.
The cut-off in 2013 was exorbitantly high. It was close to 240. And I can promise you that it is going to come down, not because the competition is less, but because UPSC would not want it to continue increasing like this. And the paper is going to be tougher. The cut off was primarily high last year because a lot of people with affinity to mathes ended up scoring very high in paper 2. And that is where UPSC will rein it. Paper 2 may not be as scoring as it has been. The mathes portion of paper 2 is going to reduce. Hence the capacity of Paper 2 alone to make you pass is going to reduce slightly. That means more focus on paper 1 is needed.
I am guessing the cutoff may be close to 220. Hence the comfortable target that you should set is about 110-120 in paper 1, and 120-140 in paper 2. Of course everyone will have his/her own customized targets and that’s fine. But the point I wish to make here is that you should try harder in Paper 1 this time.
Let us focus on the two papers one by one.
Target 120-140 in Paper 2:
As I understand the CSAT paper will be something on line with 2012 paper. The paper will have lesser on mathes portion. The following is what I am predicting:
- Reasoning and DI will be retained as in 2013, may even increase a bit.
- Core mathematical calculation based portion will come down.
- The level of Comprehension will definitely increase. There may be lengthier and slightly more difficult passages.
- English questions may not change.
- There may be more diagram based questions. These things are clubbed under Non-verbal Reasoning. Class worksheets on Pictorial Reasoning and Imaginative Reasoning should be given due weightage.
Whatever preparation you need to do for CSAT, you must finish it by mid July, as the later part of these 80 days will/should be more focused on Paper 1. Beyond mid July, what you can do is some practice of Reasoning questions from various test series available in market. And for this, I want you to have a look at the Priority Listing of CSAT Topics at Welfarist blog. And do the topics on the basis of two factors: Your own comfort with the topic and its priority in the list. If you feel just a bit worried about a topic and its high in priority, NOW is the time to practice it more and get a hold on it. If there’s a topic that you’re not so good at and it is low in the priority, it is OKAY to leave it.
You may have already timed yourself well. By that I mean you are expected to have a reasonable understanding of your own timing, as to how much time you take in what kind of question and other activities like bubble filling. If you’ve already not done it, devote first half of July (say upto 20th of July) for times Mock Tests. This is not to test your knowledge or judge your preparation (by that, I mean you to not be judgmental by the result of mock tests), but only to be aware of your sense of timing.
From the later part of the preparation, you can probably take out one day to have a look at all the work sheets and recall all the tricks/tools learnt in the classes. Do it once, say on 1st of August, and then once again say on 17th of August.
This brings us to Paper 1. Let us detail its strategy.
Target 110-120 in GS:
This is the area where you need to be relatively better this year. The focus on Current polity may be a little more. Economy as usual; Medieval history slightly more; higher weightage of Ecology and Environment; slightly more on World Geography and Not much of fact based current affairs. Science and Tech at its usual.
In general, Revision is the key to Paper 1. Whatever you study, you should be able to revise at least two three times. Else, you’re likely to have doubts during the exam related to the question, and more likely that you will end up marking it wrong. Keeping the less time available, I suggest taking note of the following syndromes:
The Material Syndrome: As the exam nears, available material in the market will increase exponentially. A lot many of your friends, most of them with no clarity on what is important will start recommending one or the other new source. Material from practically every coaching institution will be on display on XYZ Book Depot and the likes. But it is very very important that you do not get crazy in this rat race. You have to have faith in the material that you have been following. There’s neither enough time, nor is there a need to follow so much of material. You should need to consolidate what you already know; may be marginally improve from some current affair angle on that topic.
The Portion Syndrome: It is inevitable that, as the exam approaches, you will start to realize that there are some portions that you have not done. Now, here is an important piece of advice. Do not get crazy/worried about these portions. If you think that the portion is important, try finding some sleek crisp material on it and go through it a couple of times. It can be there in some Chronicle special/regular issue or in some Crack IAS notes that you can borrow from some friend of yours. And if you think, you cannot manage that material, do not lose your sleep over it. It is OKAY to leave some portion. Not to encourage this trend, but to sympathize with you, let me tell you that I managed to pass all five prelims that I have appeared in, without every studying a single bit of History.
The India Year Book/Manorama Year Book/ Plan Document/Yojana/Kurukshetra/Budget/Economic Survey/PD Economy Syndrome: Slowly you’ll start to realize that you have not been doing these things regularly. Guys these materials are largely focused at mains preparation. Now I am not saying that doing these will not help you in Prelims, but then given the time available, you can not do much of it. And I am going tell you how you’ll manage without these. As and when the Budget comes, I suggest reading the budget summary and knowing about some of the new/prominent schemes. You can go through some of the boxes of Economic Survey when it comes. PD Economy (Pratiyogita Darpan Economy issue; this comes just before prelims) can be looked at in like three-four days max. First week of August can be the time when you look at it. Once again, this is not mandatory, as many of these things you anyway know. And that is all, that’s realistic right now.
The ill-prepared syndrome: You will see a lot of your friends buying a lot of new material and talking about some of the things that you may not have even heard of. Guys, there is NOTHING in it for you to conclude that you are ill-prepared. I can bet there is equal number of things that you know and those of your friends don’t. So this notion itself is ill-conceived. Do not worry about it at all. Just keep doing what you are doing confidently at your own steady pace.
The Newspaper Syndrome: It is a common sight to see piling newspapers and the questions – till what date should I be reading newspapers. Guy just discard all the newspaper that are already piling. Start TODAY, and prioritize the news articles. Prelims is not so much dependent on newspaper now a days. This is not to say that you miss it, but you prioritize the portions. In fact, you can do away with news papers till prelims by reading only a news-paper based magazine like Chronicle or Wizard. Please understand that this substitute may not work for mains preparation.
Let us plan the strategy according to the time available. Reverse Engineering says that you should be keeping the last week for your final revision. I can suggest the following plan:
- T-6th day: CSAT tricks/tools revision
- T-5th day: Economy revision + Ecology + some current affairs
- T-4th day: History revision + some current affairs
- T-3rd day: Geography revision + Environment + some current affairs
- T-2nd day: Polity revision + some current affairs
- T-1st day: Keep the day cool, NOTHING should be pending for this day. This day must be kept cool for light random reading. NO NEW READING for sure.
- The D Day: Stay cool and crack the exam.
This basically means that your second last (which indeed may be the first revision for many of you :P) revision must be done by 17th of August. As even a single day is extremely important during the last week. Please ensure that you do not stretch this limit of 17th of August at any cost.
Now from there, work backwards to divide the time you have for your second last revision of the whole GS paper. This part I am not going to micromanage for you. In fact, nobody can do it for you. You must do it yourself.
It is extremely important that you follow a proper schedule in the last month leading to the exam. And by that I mean, you must get up at an early hour and sleep early in night. This appears to be so trivial right now, but sometimes becomes the decisive factor that decides if you pass prelims or not. If you do not maintain a good schedule, under the anxiety it becomes difficult to sleep timely in the night before the exam and then with less sleep, your mind becomes slow and becomes detrimental for the CSAT paper. You must push yourself and adjust your body cycle accordingly so that you’re able to sleep by 10PM max every night and wake up by 5AM in morning.
Taking care of your health is an important concern. Please make sure that you take proper meals every day. Do not eat much of oily stuff and anything that is termed unhealthy. Good health is the key to a sound mind, and that alone gets you better marks in CSAT. I will specially be writing about a ONE WEEK PLAN for CSAT later, emphasizing much more on your diet during that phase.
Keep good company. Brooding over what is going to happen, what kind of paper is going to come and hence indulging in endless, baseless and pointless evening tea time discussions is to be totally avoided.
Just to wrap us, what I wish to tell you, is that you can take my word that you can crack Prelims in these 80 days. What you need is a faith in your hard work till now and the hard work that you are promising me to put in, in these 80 days. There are a very very large number of students, who definitely had the caliber and even had the requisite preparation to pass prelims, but still do not pass prelims solely because they lost hope. And that is something I want you to avoid at any cost. Have faith in yourself and take my word that if you have sat through my classes and understood everything, you have the requisite skills to pass it through this very time. Just keep up the hard work in these 80 hours. So just promise me two things today:
- That you will keep faith in you, your material and God.
- That you will do your best and not give up till the end.
And I tell you from the depth of my heart that you’re going to pass prelims! My wishes are with you.