I am Bharat Mittal, a resident of New Delhi. I was born in Punjab. I did my graduation in civil engineering from IIT Delhi. This was my third attempt in CSE and I have secured 256th rank. In my first attempt, I couldn’t clear MAINS and in second, I went upto interview stage. This time I got very good marks in MAINS (894). So, I am at a better position to guide potential candidates on how to get better marks in MAINS examination. I fully realised during my third attempt that only optional, essay and ethics will create a major difference in marks and will sail me through MAINS exam. So, I channelised my energy on these three.
My strategy this time: (excluding optional subject)
1) Focus more on Ethics and Essay:
Mostly marks difference between students in Essay and ethics combined is more than GS 1, 2 and 3 combined. So, ethics and essay are more important. Moreover, output/input ratio is very high in these two. So, spend as much time possible in these two to master them. I joined separate test series exclusively for ethics apart from MGP+ test series.
2) Write tests under supervision of expert:
MGP+ helped me a lot in this regard. I used to go to my mentor after every test, get the feedback and then implement the recommendations given in next test. It helped me immensely in improving my answer quality in MAINS. Even the small recommendations like giving space after one part of answer, double underlining important points etc helped me in improving the presentation of my answers. Finally, give importance to writing full tests of 3 hours instead of writing 3-4 answers at one stretch.
3) Make notes:
This time, I made handwritten short notes of various topics that can be revised before the final exams. It is upto individual students to make notes or not but I found them very important and helpful in revising the topics in very short time.
4) Answer writing:
This is the most important part in examination. There is no point of reading and revising different topics unless we can reproduce them in a beautiful manner in the final exam.
Some tips to Improve Answer Writing:
a) Attempt all 20 questions: It is very important to increase the speed of writing to attempt all 20 questions. Just write something even in questions which you don’t know at all.
b) Write introduction and conclusion
c) Side heading: Use side headings to improve the legibility of your points.
d) Diagrams and flow charts: Try to make diagrams, flow charts, pie charts etc. It gives the impression that you have good command over the topic.
e) Data and examples: Use data, examples and case studies to prove your point.
f) Government schemes: Use them effectively in answers even if not asked specifically in questions.
g) Conclude positively. Give your own views prior to conclusion analysis
h) Take care of the key words like critically examine, describe, elucidate, analyse etc in the questions and answer accordingly
I) Try to write both sides (pros and cons) in most of the answers
These are the most important points that worked for me. I would also like to say that every candidate is different and has strengths and weaknesses of their own. So, prepare a strategy according to your own potential and don’t blindly follow any successful candidate (including me)! I know toppers who don’t write introduction, conclusion in their answers. I know toppers who write in paragraphs instead of points. I know toppers who make diagrams almost in every answer and there are many toppers who didn’t draw a single diagram in answers and still get very good marks in MAINS. So, do experiments in test series and prepare your own strategy which works for you the best.
I thank Forumias and the Mentors who guided me and helped me in improving my answer writing skills.
All the very best !
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