9 Tips to Help you Clear your Preliminary Exam (UPSC)


The Union Public Service Commission or UPSC is the main recruiting agency in India. It conducts competitive exams for the recruitment of civil servants and other posts across central and state government organizations. The Preliminary Examination is a screening test that must be cleared before appearing for the mains examination, which is conducted in three stages (paper 1, paper 2, and paper 3). This post provides 9 tips to help you clear your preliminary exam first attempt!

Cover the whole syllabus in detail

Make a study schedule and stick to it. Be aware of the time you have at your disposal for preparation so that all subjects are covered in an equal manner  - make sure not just some but every subject is worked upon wisely, including those which may be appearing infrequently or seldom on Preliminary Examination days such as Hindi, Geography, History

Consider the exam pattern and work on your strengths

identify where you are strong to start with. You will not have time in order for a detailed revision of all subjects so pick up those topics which come easily or naturally as these can be done before exams while getting help from seniors/experienced friends who may be able to help you with subjects in which they are strong

Use your time wisely

make sure that there is enough for revision and practice. Cutting down on the number of hours can be disastrous as it could lead to some important topics not being covered fully or at all, thereby affecting performance adversely right before exams; but spending more than required can be a waste for you.

Pace yourself

don’t crash and burn by overloading on work; this will lead to early fatigue which can impact your performance in the exam hall later, while at best it would just help improve mental endurance leading up towards exams with no significant improvement before that point of time as well so it’s not worth the risk.

Practice, practice, and more

to improve performance while reducing the time required for revision you must have a sound strategy in place which would be practicing as much without overdoing it too; but how? Practice with timed tests such that they are similar or at least close enough when compared against what will come during the exam.

Practice with mock papers

always have a few handy to not only help you assess how much of your preparation is left but also for practicing and pinpointing areas where improvement needs attention; it would be wise on the part if these ‘mock’ question paper are similar or at least close enough when compared against what will come during the exam.

Every day

you may spend a few hours in preparation on Sundays to revise and practice but not more than that; if it means spending one hour every other week, then do just  that as well since this would be much better when compared against an average of two three days per month which is what most of us are comfortable with.

Know the pattern – do not waste your time in trying to ‘figure out what can come on this or that day, instead go over a few previous question papers and try understanding how questions have been framed  - which topics were included for each paper? What is their weightage when compared against other topics?

Do not panic

just ask yourself what can be the possible way to tackle a question or concept that you do know about and then work on it.  This is exactly how most of us go over things in our head, right from our school days; so instead of turning into some mythical creature because this has been mentioned as an untested concept, go ahead and try to understand the topic.

Consider this

you are not just preparing for your exams but also building a foundation that will stay with  you through life in one way or another, so if something is mentioned as ‘untried’ then it may be worth taking some time out of our exam preparation schedule to explore it.

It is a good idea to understand the basics of all subjects and this would be an excellent way  to prepare for your exam as well; in fact, you can even include some interesting topics that are not studied but just ‘known’. This will help broaden our horizons which may lead us on paths we never imagined before.

For example, ‘History of Indian Cinema’ is not studied in our school curriculum but it would be a great idea to explore this topic during the time we have off from exam preparation.  This may lead us on paths where other unknown aspects can also come into play which will make for an excellent documentary or thesis paper later; alternatively, it may just be a topic of discussion with other people who have studied this subject in college and we might not even know.

This is also true for subjects like Geography, Chemistry, or Biology: some topics are so vast that they can’t fit into the limited curriculum time allotted to them but you will surely come across questions related to them as you go through the paper.

Therefore, an understanding of these subjects will provide us with a greater degree to which we can answer such questions and even pave way for other knowledge that could come in handy during this preparation time off from UPSC Prelims.”  We must not forget about our physical health either: any stress accumulated during the day needs to be exhausted by a good night’s sleep.

“A little bit of rest and relaxation will do wonders for your mind, body as well.”  In this process folks also need not forget that they are in control: it is their own preparation time that should reflect on what kind of questions come up during UPSC Prelims.

“Our strengths and weaknesses should also be taken into account.”  Keeping these aspects in mind can help us prepare effectively for the UPSC Preliminary Exam, with a better chance of success as well! :-D)

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