As we near the Prelims examination, and we are left with 13 weeks for Prelims, here are some pointers for those of you preparing for Prelims 2023.
- If you have written, but not cleared Prelims before, and you suddenly meet people who tell you – Even if you clear Prelims there is no point as you will not be able to clear Mains – congratulations, you are not meeting the wrong people. You are meeting people who tell you what you want to hear. And you probably have been chasing such people.
- This is the time where the preparation time available for Mains is over. If you have not cleared Prelims before, and if you stretch your Mains preparation – in any major form, you are likely to be not writing the Mains exam. Hard truth. Do not say you were not told this before. So shut up and focus on your prelims exam.
- If you feel your preparation for Mains is majorly lacking, you have two choice – either take a drop and prepare full throttle for it – and take responsibility for taking such a drop and time – or focus on clearing the Prelims with a margin such that you are able to immediately start preparation for the Mains after the prelims. People have – in the past – and in the future, will clear Mains only by studying for 3 months or so – by committing themselves 100% for it.
- A planned drop / break from exam is much better than an unplanned break – that is – ending up with a break, because of a lack of choice. There is a difference.
- We suffer more in imagination that in reality. Do not worry about situations that will not probably occur – such as you clearing the prelims and the Mains, but you being rejected in Interview because you have less marks in 10th / 12th or have a college back, or you are not from a good college. Those things don’t matter and wont happen to you.
- Learn how to maintain single minded focus on the one single thing you want in the next 3 months. Enumerate the steps that are needed to achieve that goal, and stick those steps on your wall. Then, commit to finish that steps.
- Aditya, my CGP Student, got Rank 94 this year. ( He did get Allied Services and State PCS SDM in previous attempt, but under 100 was something we had been waiting for ). I got a message – “Next time I will make your proud” message every year, except this year. He gifted me a book – Atomic Habits. The book says – even in the absence of a clear goal, pursuit of the activities that lead to a goal will lead to achievement of the goal. So stop day dreaming, and focus on what needs to be done. Not to become IAS, not to make Mom-Dad proud. But to score 110+ in GS Paper and Prelims.
- I was dropping off some people from the Community meet. Some of them were sheer brilliance. I acted as if I wasn’t impressed, but I did ask this question to come really studious toppers ( I am in super duper awe of people who work hard and study hard – and not so much in awe of super smart people – because my observation is that the smartest people, do not often make the smartest move, and in the end the people who succeed – this exam – or in life, are the ones who simply work hard – without day dreaming about the goal ) . I asked one candidate in particular if he/she expected such a Top rank like within 20s this year. She said – I dint think this much. I was busy studying. In fact I like studying. When she said this, her eyes shone with the academic brilliance that comes with the hard work that you put in for the cause. You can watch some such students speak here.
- There is no alternative to revision. For Prelims, remember that if you do not read the same thing 5-10 times, you will not get the question right from there. You get better with each revision, and revision time reduces with each next revision.
- I meet so many people who tell me lies. Lies that they can work very hard, but have not revised the basic books. Revision is hard work, and hard work is revision. Remember that. These two weeks, I managed to finish two books – just for the sake of alternate perspective on issues – one was this and the other this. I can tell that reading them was breeze and fun – I could read them while having tea, lunch, breakfast and even when I was walking – no kidding, but boy- revising the books is always a challenge. Learn to develop the habit of revising what you have read. Of you want to crack a competitive examination.
- The three months ahead of us are crucial to clearing the Prelims. Be organised, planned, and don’t fool yourself. Of all people, do not lie to yourself, and don’t tell yourself things. You are as good as your Test Series score, and not as good as you feel. Your test series score is a number. It can be improved, with effort. Your mood swings / depression? – I cannot say for sure. Work on improving your test scores.
- Do nothing in the next 3 months that do not bring you closer to your objective of clearing prelims with at least +10 marks above the cut off. get your priorities right. You become better at what you focus on.
- Remember, you do not need to be perfect to clear the exam. More often that not, people clear the exam – not despite – but because of their imperfections.
Until next time,