The Post UPSC May 4 Notification strategy for Civil Services Prelims 2020

On May 4, the UPSC officially declared that the exams as scheduled on May 3 stand postponed. It said two other things

One, that fresh up’dates’ will be announced on May 20th.

Two, exam dates, when notified would ensure that at least 30 days time is given to students to prepare.

Most people would argue that our Strategy has to be guided by one single data point – when UPSC declares the date for Prelims.

However, I would like to make a point that the above decision is not pivoted around a single fact, but there are other factors which must be kept in mind to devise a strategy.

Let me begin, by asking you three questions?

#1 What should be the strategy of people, who are fairly comfortable with Prelims, right now?

#2 What should be the strategy of people, who are NOT comfortable with Prelims, and are aware of gaping holes in Prelims preparation.

#3 What should be the strategy of people, who are neither so much prepared for Prelims, nor so much for Mains either?

#4 Should the strategy of all the three people be the same?

The answer to what your strategy should be right now, depends on your answer to Question #4.

There is no ONE strategy

Let me argue that, there cannot be one single strategy for everyone, as not everyone is at the same preparation stage.

This brings us to the grand conclusion that then our strategy should depend on who we really are – in terms of our preparation.

I will strongly argue that only we truly know our position. Your Test Series marks are a good indicator, but deep inside you know where you stand.

That’s the antar-atma ki awaj, and you gotta listen to it. And this voice, is not the voices in your head – which is the noise created by anxiety, panic, and sometimes an element of self-doubt.

( Self Doubt is not unique to your preparation status. It is a function of being in your twenties. Its something that you uniquely have now, and you will not have all the answers right now. And just about half a decade from now, you will know all the correct answers. Of course, by that time, you won’t have the problems you are having now. More on that later. )

Here is my take on it, and you can take a cue out of it.

#1 I am-a-little-comfortble-with-prelims-and-am-doing well -in-test series

( But I still need revision though )

If you are doing  average or above in your Prelims Test Series, and you more or less feel the need for revision, but have done 3-4-5 revisions, you can think of preparing a bit for the Mains.

A bit of Optional+ GS Paper IV would not hurt right now. If you have not done enough Answer Writing Practice, it is a good idea to take up a Mains Test Series and get started selectively for a few papers. Even if you are able to finish off 1-2 papers in the next month, you will be in good shoes.

The call has to be finally yours.

#2 I am not doing well in prelims Test Series / prelims preparation

If you are in this category, I would urge beg you to stick to prelims preparation.

I can tell you that there is no bigger regret in life than having missed a golden opportunity, trust me.

You don’t want to be the guy who would recall years from now that in 2020 – the magical leap year humanity will remember forever- the prelims was delayed by a few months – and I was still not able to benefit from God’s plan for me.

At this point, you should take a deep breath, and quietly, cleverly focus on prelims – doing just two things till the next.

  • Reading Basic Books, again and again, like a maniac
  • Solving Test Papers & PY Papers, like a maniac

I have devoted a significant part of my life with people who have worked their arses off and gotten what they wanted –  their name on the holy PDF – and I am not even talking about the Academy Students – I am talking about folks on the forum before the academy existed.

And I can tell you that there is nothing like normal. Normal is just another name for not mediocrity. And by mediocrity, I do not mean mediocre people – because there are no mediocre people.

And if you plan to take only one lesson from today’s post – it is this.

There are no mediocre people, there are only mediocre efforts.

So do not let anyone tell you to be normal. Be a little maniacal and ace the Prelims. This is a God sent opportunity for you. Thrive on it.

Do not complain of the noise when opportunity knocks at your door.

# I am neither prepared for Prelims, nor Optional, nor GS Mains. And I can’t Study.

Look, these COVID-19 times, have given us at least one thing.

And that is solitary time with ourselves ( unless you are a healthcare professional and one of the Corona Warriors ) .

A time to reflect. To know ourselves better.

If you are nowhere in competition, and whether you have been writing this exam for 4 times or you have never prepared for this exam, there is one piece of life changing advice I shall give you.

If deep inside you think you need a year to prepare, just drop the year.

Don’t blame me for this. I could offer you inspiration porn, by saying that yes you can do it – and give you a false sense of motivation.

But I would rather be hated for saying the truth than be loved for tellies lies.

Look, the easiest thing for an IAS aspirant is to write the exam.

Its easy. About 4 lakh people will do so.

And its not the same as “clear the exam”.

The more difficult thing, however,  is to be honest to  oneself, and NOT write the exam. If you have not been able to give the exam about a year or so of serious preparation – because of whatever reason, and you think your preparation is less than 50% of what you wanted to do, this is a fairly good option.

I can assure you that writing prelims adds little your experience unless you write the Mains. And if you have not been able to devote about 8-10 months  of serious preparation time to this exam – you either start with 10 hours a day or give yourself a year.

( However, if you think you can clear Prelims, and mains may be hurdle, by all means write the exam and clear Prelims. We’ll invent a way to clear Mains with little preparation )

And speak to your parents. You will be surprised by how much they already know about you.

The Final Decision

The final decision with respect to what your strategy has to be has to be decided by one person.

And that one person is you.

Here are a few things I will tell you that, while I complete this Sunday Post for you.

#1 Where we end up in life depends more on what we choose to do, and less on what we are capable of doing. Make good decisions.

#2 Making a choice is not as much a challenge, as sticking to our choices and accepting our choices, is. That’s the harder part.

#3 Decisions are good or bad only in hindsight. Every decision has its pros and cons. The goal should be to have maximum pros and minimum cons.

#4 There are no mediocre people, only mediocre efforts.

#5 Whatever has happened once, may not happen again. But whatever has happened twice, is likely to happen a third time, unless you do something about it.

#6 Treat yourself as if you were your younger sibling. Give yourself some slack. And don’t be a bad sibling.

#7 Remember that whatever you decide to do – that is always the best decision.

#8 You will always over estimate what you can do in a day. And underestimate what you have can do in a few months or a year. Give yourself time. And some fresh air.

#9 Outside of love, faith is the most powerful thing. Have faith in yourself.

#10 Focus on progress, not on perfection. The world is not perfect. And we are still surviving.

#11 If something is important enough for you, you will do it even if you don’t like doing it.

#12 To do what you want to do later in life, you must do what you should do, now.

#13 You don’t get to chose if you will fail at something in this world. But we do have some say in what we fail at. You must like your choices.

#14 Greater the obstacle, greater is the glory in achieving it.

#15 Talent, like beauty is an unmerited gift given to people randomly, often stupidly. Luck however, is evenly distributed over a period of time. And it comes to those who don’t bank on it.

Until next time,


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By Neyawn

Neyawn is an anonymous member the founder of ForumIAS. He is a coder Mentor & Teacher by profession, and often writes for ForumIAS. You can buy him coffee , if you really really like his work. He has built ForumIAS - the community - twice. You can say Hi to him or ask him a question on ForumIAS, or follow him on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn . You can also write to him at RxAxVxI@FOxRUMxIAS.COM ( remove the small "x" from the email ).