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UPSC Prelims Strategy – 10 Days Before Exam

UPSC Prelims Strategy
UPSC Prelims Strategy

Introduction

The most important stage of your IAS journey i.e. UPSC Prelims is just 10 days away. And it is crucial to know important things to do & to avoid in at this stage. Having a clear UPSC Prelims strategy helps a lot.

Tips for the Last 2 Weeks

1. Revise the Entire Syllabus

Focus on revising the key topics and concepts from each subject in the syllabus. Prioritise areas that you find challenging or tend to forget. If that area in particular is not so important from a PYQ perspective, you may choose to skip it altogether. 

2. Have a Look at  Previous Year Questions

Solve previous year question papers to get a better understanding of the exam pattern, question types, and time management. It will also help you identify your weak areas and work on them. 

3. Take A Mock Test

Attempt 2-3 mock tests to simulate the actual exam environment and finalise your strategy. At this stage, the marks scored in these mock tests are not so important. (more on mock tests, in FAQ section)

4. Time Management

Practice time management during your revision and mock tests. This is particularly important for the CSAT paper. 

5. Read Questions Carefully

It is so painful to see that many students lose 5-10 marks just because they were not cautious enough to read the questions carefully during the exam. This could cost you an entire year of your life. 

Sometimes, the questions may have negative or double negatives, sometimes they will mention some things just for additional information and the question will be on something else etc. A careful reading will help you avoid silly mistakes and choose the correct answer.

6. Guess Strategically

If you are unsure about an answer, use intelligent guessing. Eliminate options that are clearly incorrect and make an educated guess among the remaining options. Avoid blind guessing.

There is one more tip regarding guessing. If you’ve read any of the subject/topic in a lot of detail, and there is a statement that appears very strange to you, most likely it will be incorrect. For example, you’ve a background in the banking sector and there is a question from the topic of ‘RBI and banking’,  asking whether a given fact is true or false. If you haven’t heard of it, most likely it will be false. So, go with the gut feeling. 

7. Take Care of Your Health

Ensure you get enough sleep and eat nutritious food. This is the summer season, so avoid oily and junk food and drink enough water. Avoid excessive stress or late-night studying before the exam. Believe me, a healthy mind and body will actually contribute to 2-3 questions in the exam.

8. Avoid New Topics

Refrain from studying new or unfamiliar topics during these days. Instead, consolidate your existing knowledge and strengthen your command over the subjects you have already covered. The paper is already set at this stage, so you don’t have to worry about any current happenings right now.

9. Read Instructions Carefully

Familiarise yourself with the exam-day instructions and guidelines mentioned in the UPSC notification. Understand the marking scheme, negative marking, and other general instructions. 

You can have a look at General Studies Paper I & General Studies Paper II 2022 by UPSC. Go through the first page (instructions in Hindi) or last page (for instructions in English language).

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Should I skip this attempt?

Unless you’ve started your preparation in 2023, are still feeling unsure and are planning to devote more time in the coming year, you should not skip this attempt.

There is a popular saying in Hindi which says – ये जो गुजर रहा, वो वक्त नहीं, जिंदगी है | (What is passing is not time, it is life). So unless you’ve a strong reason, you should not skip the attempt. 

2. I’m still getting less marks in mock tests

It is an irony that although institutions are charging so much for their test series, they’re still not up-to the mark. The mock papers of these institutions vary a lot from the UPSC Prelims paper. 

UPSC makes questions difficult by going into the nitty-gritties of the topic, or exploring an unexplored dimension, or making connections in various topics that we don’t usually think of. On the other hand, the simple way for these institutions to make questions difficult is just by going ‘out of syllabus’.

So, if you’re still getting less marks in mock tests but many of the questions in these tests are not in line with the UPSC Prelims PYQs, you’ve got nothing to worry about. And if you’re still feeling unsure, just have a look at Prelims PYQs and see if they can be answered on the basis of your existing knowledge.

Some Other Pro Tips

It is recommended by many toppers not to solve many mock tests 2 weeks before the exam. While you may solve 2-3 mock tests this week, you should solve maximum 1 next week. There is no specific number of mock tests one should be solving before an exam. If you’re still behind your target regarding no. of mock tests you had planned, don’t worry about it. 

The time and energy saved in solving mocks should be utilised in revision of the entire syllabus. In these last 10 days, do at least 2 revisions of the entire syllabus. (1st revision in 7 days and 2nd revision in 3 days). 

Give importance to static subjects in these revisions with priority to Economy, Environment & Polity. Around 50% of the questions are from these 3 topics alone (reference – subject-wise analysis of UPSC Prelims).

A lot can be achieved by having a good mindset during exam hours. Remain fresh, shun yourselves from negative things and negative people. A calm mind will help you avoid silly mistakes and save 2-3 questions. You’ve already read a lot during the preparation. And if you just make meaningful connections, it will actually help in 2-3 more questions. This could be game changing. Thousands of students miss their chance just because of 2-3 questions and you don’t want to be one of them. 

Passing the UPSC exam will turn your life upside down (for good). Do not take it lightly. Best Wishes 👍 for your preparation. 

Please let us know if you have any more doubts at this stage. I would be glad to answer them. 


If you are interested in UPSC Prelims PYQs, please take a look at our recently published book. The PYQ classification is best in the market and will add a lot of value to your preparation. 

UPSC Prelims PYQ Book (2024 Edition)

  • Last 29 year questions (1995-2023)
  • All answers according to UPSC Official Answer Key
  • Subject-wise distribution of questions
  • Topic-wise classification of each subject PYQs
  • Graphs and tables to illustrate subject and topic-wise weightage
  • More than 3200 questions across all subjects
  • At a price that is affordable for all
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Saraswati

Thank you sir 🙏🏻

Admin

Best wishes Saraswati for upcoming exam.