Post SFG/ April Suggestions for Prelims Preparation + General Suggestions for Everyone writing Prelims

As April ( and The SFG ) comes to an end, and our mailboxes are flooded with a Prelims strategy for the last days in these uncertain times. So first things first.

This article is intended for those who are writing SFGs, but is equally applicable to candidates who have been putting similar efforts on their own.

So this article is not a strategy article per se, but an assortment of suggestions, and what suggestions you must take up , depend totally on this.

#0 An Honest Self assessment

At this point we must make an honest self assessment as to our current preparation status. Look, it is only you who exactly knows about your real preparation status.

Not your mentors, not your parents. Least of all your peers.

Our ability to succeed in Prelims 2020 at this point will depend on making an honest self assessment. Depending on our self assessment, we will be in any of the three groups.

Group 1 : Scared / Concerned for Prelims, but mostly performed well, do not have major challenges with any of the subjects and revision is ongoing. Able to score well in tests which I properly prepare, may not score so well where preparation is lacking. Doing well in Simulators, every Test is not a shocker.

Group 2 : Have concerns for Prelims, have been able to do well in some subjects, not so good in others, revision badly needed, simulator tests sometimes are a complete bouncer, cannot assure being in top 20% tile also – that will depend on type of test.

Group 3 : Everyone thinks this time my preparation is good, but i have missed most SFG tests , done well in some, done poorly in some, have never gotten in top 20%tile in Tests ( with 1-2 exceptions ) . I have no peer group , or the peer group I have – I kinda TOP it.

Group 4 : Have not been very regular with either SFG or my own Plan OR my Test Series Or Revision OR popular websites – though I have READ READ & READ every motivation article, every strategy article, every initiative launched by every website that exists, didn’t subscribe to any test series because market has it ALL – and have not done tests from market also because of laziness or lack of commitment to doing ANY ONE thing sincerely. But NOW, I am serious and will do ANYTHING to crack Prelims.

How we have to proceed, flows from rightly putting ourselves in the buckets above. Here is the plan till May 3

#1 Common Plan for May 3

Irrespective of what Group you fall in, we have to go for revision and only revision.

Revise all the SFG Papers. It is a solid question bank of almost  2500 questions that you must not miss. Apart from giving you insight into your static syllabus preparation, it will also take care of multiple aspects of current affairs. Hence your maximum focus should be on the revision of SFG paper.
Please note that unless you conquer these papers, there is no point of doing anything additional. You must have the revision such that were you to attempt these papers again, you must score at least 90% marks in them. We have to do it so well. Do this for 15 days.
Secondly, As UPSC is all about the competition, it is ideal that you should follow at least one Comprehensive Test Series. While we offer a quality ForumIAS Simulator Test Series for that purpose, we leave that choice to you. Following such Comprehensive Test Series will give you real exam like experience and will also help you in checking your preparation level relative to other competitors.
You have already done subject wise -nay, topic wise and chapter wise tests. Right now, you have to do Full Length Tests. Do not be an idiot and fall in love with more topic wise tests or subject wise tests. Now is the time to do full length tests. Even if you dont perform very well in them.
If I cant kick a football into the goalpost, the way out to try harder and practice, not to shift the goalpost closer to you and claim a victory.
Over the years, we have seen that people have high inertia and will keep doing what they have been doing.
You have done enough sectional tests – you must do full length tests now – full syllabus and solid 2 hours. Also, please watch the videos on forumias youtube channel on how to improve score.
This is what we have to do for the next 15 days / May 3

#2 The June 3 Plan May 4 Plan

May 3 is the date when UPSC will announce fresh dates for the Prelims. Now a key question arises that if date gets extended then

( First May 3 is Sunday, so expect that to be done on May 4. Now proceed reading further. )

  • Should we prepare for Mains related stuff?
  • If yes, then how many days should we give to prelims?

Before we answer this question, let us tell you that people in Group 3 and Group 4 are most likley to jump Prelims immediately and switch to Mains preparation. Why?

Annual Affair. The poorer you are at the prelims , the less effort you put at prelims, and repeat it over years. Dont do that. Prelims is a decently tough exam – even for people who crack it every year!

Scenario #1

If dates get extended by say 15-20 days, barring Group 1, all other Groups 2,3 and 4 must only and still focus on Prelims. That is because your preparation is still not robust and you are in this zone

The minute you lose focus and are not cautious you are gone!

People in Group 1, can devote some days – like 10-12, to their Mains preparation, but not other groups.

( As a Mentor, we can tell you that most people in Group 1 think they are in Group 2 and lower. Most people  in Group 3,4 think that they are in Group 1 or sometimes in Group 2. Group 2 guys are the best, usually 🙂 Which is why, you make the decision to identify which group you are in, based on your marks in Simulators, not on your emotions. )

Scenario #2

If dates get extended by 1 month or more, for any reason, this is what we have to do. Let us call the number of days it is extended by as “X”

Group 1 Use exactly the number of extended days to prepare for Mains. Do not reduce the Prelims time. Remember the joke we had on Day 1 in SFG – if ever Prelims gets extended, the competition gets tougher because now more people complete the syllabus ?
Group 2 Use about 60-70% of the extended days to do Mains Centric Studies / Test Series. Between 20-30% of the extension has to be given to Prelims.
Group 3 You have just been rescued. You must not study for Mains immediately, though you are most likely to pick up optional and get started. You have just been given sanjeevani booti.

Dont wake up and again get hit by Indrajeet and fall again. Stay calm, and study for Prelims till your prelims preparation is robust. You must use at least 30-60% of X days to do extra prelims preparation.

Remember, if you dont do it now, you have no excuse.

Group 4 You have been given a breather too.

Make sure you do nothing stupid and kill Prelims first. The issue with being in Group 4 is that no one in Group 4 thinks they are in Group 4.  Your belonging to a group depends on how much you are getting in tests and not how you are feeling.

Knowledge and hard work generally have a humbling effect. Interview kids whom we are in touch with , will say Sir we are in Group 4 what should we do. Kids who don’t study for Prelims , ( because they love Mains so much ) often say, we are in Group 2, what we should do.

Not discouraging you, but this is your moment of glory. Moment of redemption. “IIT ka Paap” Dhone Ka time. “College mein Timepass ka paap” dhone ka time. Life me kuchh karne ka time. Those who don’t believe in you – unse badla lene ka time.

Don’t squander it.

Get crazy for Prelims, and do whatever it takes and get set go for Prelims and Prelims only, until you are in the game. Period.

A good sign if you have taken a membership of Group 4 is that you have friends, who have not cleared prelims telling you that focus on Mains, because even if you have cleared Prelims, it is useless because you are not prepared for Mains. If you have too many such friends, you have taken a lifetime subscription of this group.

Take this rule as a Talisman – if you have choice between flunking Prelims vs flunking Mains, it is better to flunk Mains. If you still don’t get it, ask your parents. Its a simple question, anyone can figure out.

#3 How ForumIAS can help you

Depending on official announcement till May 3, we shall be commencing with our revised Mains Marathon in the first week of May. Of the Prelims Sprint. We shall come up with a Prelims revision plan and a Mains revision Plan.

Right now, we sincerely request that you must focus on Prelims. The word focus here is important.

We are lucky to be trusted by the most meaningful community of students who year on year have studied and given us results. We send more than half the students to officers training Academies every year ( not the coaching, the real ones in Mussoorie, Hyderabad, Nagpur etc ) , and we can tell you that we have seen two things with respect to people who do well

  • One, is that they are focussed on one thing at at time. You cant focus on Prelims AND Mains AND OPTIONAL and CURRENT Affairs. Doing too many things is equal to doing nothing well.
  • Two, do less things, but do them well. Dont be greedy. Dont solve 5 Coachings Test Series.  You must do less, and do better.

If your preparation has not been adequate, it is high time, that you focus on one thing and do it well. Do prelims well first. If you are bored go through the Prelims Marathon and 10 PM quiz.

The Forum already has a Simulator Test Series running. It is recommended that you solve at least 8 full length papers and previous years papers in and out.

Solve the same paper again and again, such that you at some point taste the feeling of how it feels to get 140-150-180 marks in a paper. If you know your SFGs well, your Simulators well and Previous Years Papers well, there is no force that can stop you from securing a seat for Mains 2020.

We rest our case.

ForumIAS.

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