Last 40 Days : Assessing your Performance in Simulator Tests/ Any Other Test Series

This article is written with the purpose of providing some feedback to Candidates writing the FourmIAS Simulator Tests, but aptly apply to Candidates appearing for any other test series too.

Dear Friends,

We are done with four Simulator Tests so far. We have been going through the performance of each one you after every test, and here are some of the things we want to tell you.

First,  You will need to study everything. By that we mean the static of Polity-History-Geography-Environment-Economy-S&T as well as Current Affairs.

A lot of you are being troubled by the fact that Papers are not having a 20-20-20 distribution from various sections , and is thus not balanced . About 60-80% of the online discussion on the Post Prelims Paper happens on ForumIAS every year, since 2012, when we started , and every year the response after the exam is on these lines

Statement 1: “This time the Prelims Paper was a complete surprise. No coaching can set such a paper”

Statement 2: “The Paper was direct and easy. Cut off will go at least 120+”

We would like to first debunk the truth behind Statement 2 . One, it is often made by people who did not write the Prelims for some reason ( and can solve 20 questions at the first glance , and think that the paper is easy – without realizing that ANYONE can solve 20 questions in UPSC Prelims – it is not even where the competition lies . Also they are online even during the test period, so they were not in the exam hall.)

Coming to the first statement, please do not be surprised by the Paper. The Paper simply repeats itself after every few years.

You may always feel that the paper is a surprise simply because Coaching Test Series Papers are often balanced – having equal weightage of all subjects – so that you get an average score.

However, in the actual UPSC examination, well deserving candidates are sometimes stumped because they were not ready for a paper that would have undue wightage to certain segments they were not good at.

For example, the 2009 paper was like 40% current Affairs, while 2010 paper had no current affairs questions. Subsequently, the weightage of Polity went down year after year, and the the weight-age of environment increased. If we see the past few years, say for Prelims 2017, we saw questions asked from not just  the immediate year, but also from issues that were in news for Pre 2016 as well.

Also, out of the blue, there were more than 18 question from Polity in 2017, which is like a lifetime highest of the decade.

One key fact to keep in mind is that you cannot , under any circumstance, leave any question which is simple, to the point , and from the book.

For example, in the last simulator Test 4, we spoke to a lot of candidates who did not perform as we had expected ( or were not consistent) A common answer was – this time there were only 6 questions from Polity.

Now here is the thing. One, you may have a paper where you may have only 2 or 4, or 6 questions from Polity . Or even Current Affairs. But that is no excuse to NOT DO even those correctly.

We were surprised to see that even those 6 questions – and all of them were easy – right from DPSP Question to Definition of State -were simple, and could be solved with even Preliminary reading. In fact, some of the concepts had already been asked before in the exam.

Once in a while, you will have a paper where you will have too many questions from CA or Polity, History or Culture. You have to perform irrespective of the weight-age of different sections. You cant expect the Commission to design paper according to your strong areas or a fair distribution of subjects.

You have to perform in your strong areas. Lets say Economy is your strong area and there are only 4 questions in it – you have to get all of them right. Major Sections –  from which, when less questions are asked – often have them easy.

On a final note, we are left with 30-40 days for the Prelims. Again, here is something you need to know

  • First, You have to study your hardest in these days. You will never have to study so hard for Mains or the Interview. The Prelims requires a lot of hard work – at least once and this is the time to do it. Even if you have not done much before earlier.
  • Second,  in case any of you are thinking of quitting and writing the CSP in 2019, 2020, or 2030, we can tell you that it will all again boil down to the last 30-45 days. So any of you , who are losing confidence, remember that your disappointments are too pre-mature. You are losing heart even before trying. You will have to develop the ability to study under duress. The pressure is only going to increase, and you will have to learn to live with it and study.
  • Third, we see this annually when some candidates have been doing well since Jan-Feb-March, and we expect them to do well, if they keep doing what they have been doing. Then , all of a sudden, something goes wrong, and they either get demotivated, or lose track, or get distracted, and they disappear – stop writing Tests. And then they meet us again next year for Prelims. Please remember that the Prelims does require the hard work you are doing. It is not and has not been easy for anyone – we should know – because in our simulator tests – more than half the candidates are the ones who have cleared Prelims before – and we do get emails from people who are Probationers and still worried about Prelims. So do not disappear now. Preserve instead.

On a closing note, whether you can do , or cannot do , is what you think. But the best and the only way to find out if 39-40 days are enough to clear prelims  – is by studying your best.

With vital inputs from neyawn

Wishing you Success,




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