Sharing what I did last year for UPSC preliminary exam in the final month with you all. Hope it helps .
The plan for first 20 days was to broadly run through all subjects once and take one test each day (alternating between UPSC PYQ and Vision/insights full length tests). Last 10 days I had kept only for revising my diary of errors (will explain later how it helped) as well as going through trivial data + map study etc as a (slightly) relaxed mind was way too important to perform well on D-Day.
The first thing that I did was to make a rough timetable of how many days to devote to each subject. It was basis my own evaluation of strong and weak areas (Polity was an issue for me). This is how it was structured:
Post that I wrote down a laundry list of things (which were more fact-based ) which had planned to look up and kept doing them side-by-side. These included :
- International groupings with focus on Asia-Pacific ones
- Important reports by IMF/WB/WEF/UN/OECD/WIPO
- Amendments and imp. articles from Lakshmikanth
- Rivers and tributaries (provided ), mountain ranges and soil/forest types of India
- Monsoon,El Nino/La Nina phenomena
- Important national parks, WLS (in news), biosphere reserves
- Environmental organizations (had a Wikipedia tab open always)
- CCRT Website + 11th Fine Arts
- Government schemes Ministry wise from GKToday compilation
- Maps – With focus on Asia and Africa as they are the most confusing
- Budget highlights and Eco Survey summary
- Major tribes region-wise from MoTA site
- Vision monthly magazines’ selected portions
While taking tests, I would do an evaluation right then and jot down the wrong answers/left answers and guesswork ones in the diary. It helped in two ways – one while writing, things stuck to my head as I could concise the text in my own words . Two, revision effort later reduced from a bulky 20 pages to only 2–3 pages for each mock test !
For example, this is how my summary of Vision’s last test looked like:
I also worked on a major blunder I would commit often – of not reading the question properly : whether there is a ‘not’ inserted in between ! Paying attention to detail was a major take-away in the final month with rigorous practice and revision.
Mental peace ‘strategy’: As days progressed, tension levels were bound to increase so I ensured doing 15 minutes meditation + reading 1 chapter of Bhagwad Gita daily and a short evening stroll in the nearby park. Some chatting up with close family and friends was also of great help, as social media accounts were de-activated during that time 🙂 . Rarely compromised on the 7–8 hours of sleep (of course some days sleep is hard to get ) .
In all, things worked out pretty well on 7th August last year. In first go I could do 48 questions in 50 minutes and kept circling the ones for later where I had the slightest of doubt. In second go, attempted 38 where I had some idea and was down to last two options. Finally , last round was a leap of faith with 8 questions which one built intuitively after practice. Expecting around 150 finally.
PS: Please do not have any preconceived notions about the toughness of paper or the number of questions you have to attempt. If paper is difficult, that holds true for all and you don’t want to attempt hastily all questions. Be wise.
Keep up the momentum with sincerity for now but don’t be too harsh on yourself. It will all work out well in the end ! Good luck.
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