UPSC Prelims Strategy- Dos and Don'ts

 UPSC Prelims Strategy- Dos and Don'ts


The first move towards realising your aspirations of becoming a civil servant is the UPSC Prelims. There are two objective papers, General Studies I and General Studies II (CSAT), in the prelims exam. There are negative marks for wrong responses on both of these papers. Both papers will be presented in two segments on the same day, one in the morning and the second in the afternoon, with a break in between. This blog provides you with a list of things to remember. Stay till the end to know more about the UPSC prelims Strategy-dos and don'ts.


Frequent Revisions:

Whatever subject and topic you are studying, revise and remember so you do not lose marks in those topics. Without proper revision, you will carry more confusion into the exam hall and have a higher negative score that will undo all the excellent work you have otherwise done.

Assess Facts vs Concepts: 

Over the last few years, the UPSC prelims in core subjects have become quite conceptual. So look at the previous 4-5 year’s question papers and assess the type of questions on each subject.  Concentrate on understanding the basics. Assess all subjects. If your preparation is a mismatch to the exam pattern, you will only be wasting time.

Prepare current affairs very well : 

Many students must pick up booklets in the last few weeks, hoping to finish. The reality is that it will be an overload of information, and your memory may be unable to cope with the sudden load. So please spend a few hours every day from now on current affairs and make sure again to revise regularly. Even if you cannot finish all current affairs, do not worry. Study and change what you can. The same applies to map work - allot a small time slot daily and keep revising.

Practice a lot of Test papers:

 Pick up some test series booklets and attempt them regardless of your preparation level. This will help you assess your preparation status, your ability to finish on time, and the basic errors you commit, like improper reading of the questions or options.

Make a routine to be most active during exam hours:

 During the last weeks leading up to the exam, ensure you are studying or practising with intense concentration in the 9 am-12 pm and 2 am-5 pm slots. Your brain will get accustomed to being most active during those hours.

Check out the venue before the exam day: 

You must physically visit the forum once before the exam day so there are no surprises that day. You will also understand the best mode of transportation. Also, if you plan on going in a cab, remember there will be massive demand for cabs, so keep a buffer of 10-15 minutes.

Reach the venue on time: 

Ensure you reach the platform 45 minutes to 1 hour before the scheduled time. Last-minute rush and anxiety to get to the venue could negatively impact your concentration.




Refrain from believing that you are ill- or inadequately prepared:

Your preparation is an objective reality that cannot change on exam day. Once you decide to give the paper, do not let thoughts of your preparation enter your mind. Focus only on what you know and attempt the article intelligently.

Do not be afraid:

The paper is the same for everyone. Trust your preparation and give your best. Any anxiety before or during the exam will hurt your performance. Close your eyes, shut out everything and take deep breaths for a minute to find calmness. Even if, at first look, the paper looks tough and you feel you know nothing, do not get scared. Keep calm and go through the paper question by question, and you will find an ample number of questions that you can answer. 


Keep the momentum going into the exam: 

You need to concentrate and study as much time as possible in the days near the exam. The mental state leading up to the exam is critical.

Make sure to leave the OMR sheet filling to the end:

Students often need to pay attention to the fact that filling OMR sheet takes time and is an essential part of the prelims. If you want to avoid going to the OMR sheet after every question, make sure you fill it up after every 45-50 minutes at least. This will ensure you do not lose out on not filling out the OMR sheet and help you plan your paper better towards the end. Also, while filling out the OMR sheet, read out the number of questions in your mind; serial filling without looking at question numbers could lead to an enormous tragedy. 

Refrain from making mistakes in the attendance sheet: 

You will need to fill an attendance sheet during the exam where you also will have to fill out circles. Be very careful, and it only takes 1-2 minutes. Although the exam centres help you if you make a mistake, it will lose your time and create additional anxiety. It is common to see students making mistakes in exam sheets. So, be very careful.

Do not leave any questions before looking at the options: 

Read all questions and prospects at least once. There will always be 2-3 questions you can answer just by reading the questions and options carefully. Even with minimal information, you can eliminate 2-3 options.

Refrain from over-attempt: 

 Do not ever think you will have to attempt a predetermined number of questions. You will be able to mentally assess how difficult the paper is after having tried the paper. If the paper looks very tough and your preparation has been good, attempting around 70 questions (in paper-I) well might also be enough. So, again, there is no fixed number but feel free to try 90-100 questions just because some toppers did so.