IAS Target

Strategy For IAS Mains Exam


UPSC Preparation Strategy and guidelines along with tips to get best results
The UPSC CSE Prelims is the first round of the Civil Service Examination. After you've cleared the first obstacle of this prestigious exam, you'll go on to the most important stage of your preparation: UPSC Mains. Because the UPSC CSE P on various themes ahead of time to save time and avoid the last-minute jitters.
IAS Exam Strategy Make your own notes:
It is usually a good idea to take notes on related themes as you go through books and other study materials. A well-written note serves two functions.
  1. One, it takes you through the full syllabus, and
  2. Two, your notes will be extremely useful for syllabus revision.
Prepare short notes on crucial issues with pertinent information, and always rely on your notes. Examine your short notes thoroughly.

UPSC Preparation Guide

Handwriting is important in the Mains test, therefore try to practice writing as often as you can. You must practice writing responses in the limited area allowed on the answer sheet, which you will be handed during the Mains tests. This is something you should make a habit of doing from now on, and you should always stick to the word count that is given to you while writing answers.
You must ensure that your response does not exceed the word limit or spill over the box provided, otherwise you will be punished. You must be mindful of other aspects of handwriting while engaging in this activity. You want to create legible writing that can be easily read by the examiner. Similarly, you must pay close attention to spelling and grammar. You ensure that your replies are clear of such errors and that your handwriting is appealing to the examiner.

Step 1: Maintain Consistent Preparation

  • The advantage of extra time is the most significant advantage that early novices have. There is, however, an issue. When there is enough time, it is your 'consistency maintenance over this extended period' that requires greater attention, not your 'time management.'
  • As a result, all days, weeks, and months should be pre-scheduled with specific goals in mind.
  • First, the candidate must remember the entire syllabus for the three parts of the exam. The IAS syllabus is available on our website free of cost.
  • This minor but significant task will help you keep your preparation focused and relevant. For a subject-by-subject strategy, see our complete UPSC mains guide.

Step 2: Appropriate Time Allocation

  • Given the availability of time, it is critical to follow the 'mains first' strategy, which means that you should begin your UPSC preparation by developing a UPSC mains preparation strategy.
  • After prelims, a candidate has only three to four months to prepare for the mains. The requirement of answer writing and essay writing practice tightens the schedule even more.

Step 3: Select Your Optional Subject Carefully

  • The optional subject is the most important part of the main dailycourse. The optional subject should be chosen based on your level of comfort and interest in the subject.
  • This selection must not be swayed by incorrect assumptions about 'which is the most scoring optional.' It's not so much the optional subject as it is your preparation and presentation (answer writing) that determines your score.
  • However, there is a method for selecting the best UPSC Mains optional subject.

Step 4: Create an effective study plan.

  • After carefully selecting an optional subject, the candidate must begin preparation immediately.
  • Allocate the months and plan your days and weeks ahead of time to ensure that you finish the curriculum for the four General Studies papers and Optional course by November - December. Only if you organize your time meticulously will you be able to complete your Mains preparation.

Step 5: Keep abreast of current events on a daily basis to stay informed.

Following the newspaper religiously and regularly daily is a significant, if not decisive, element of the preparation. The candidate should be up to date on all major national and international events. You can subscribe to one or two periodicals and government websites such as Yojana, Kurukshetra, PIB, PRS, and so forth. Also, if you have time, you can begin your initial answer writing practice once you have completed the mains syllabus once. One thing to keep in mind is that the syllabus for the mains and prelims is not fully separate. In reality, there is a large overlap. As a result, when preparing for the UPSC mains, a considerable chunk of the Prelims is also covered. From January or February onwards, one can shift into 'prelims-focused' mode for the remainder. The golden trinity of revision, consolidation, and assessment must now become part of the planning.
With the changing trends in UPSC mains in recent years, the style and structure of questioning have also changed. Previously, in main question papers, the majority of the questions were directly from some of the reputable books, and if a candidate had a solid command over those books, his/her chances of passing that test were maximized. However, things have changed lately, and if you examine the main question papers from the last five years, you will notice a clear dominance of the current affairs section, particularly in papers 2 and 3.
To prepare for the mains, a candidate must first comprehend the nature of the questions and develop a strategy for covering relevant areas in the syllabus. All question papers have a word and time limit; consequently, time management and learning the art of answer writing, which is producing as much relevant content as possible while comprehending the demand of the question, should be emphasized.

In Answer Writing, Use Diagrams, And Flowcharts

Using flowcharts and diagrams improves the quality of an answer, allows for more explanation in less time, and is an excellent approach to summarize the information provided in an answer. Using simple mind maps, diagrams, and flow charts will give you an advantage over other candidates because your answer will appear more catchy and relaxing to the examiner. When you run out of time in the examination hall and still have a few questions to tackle, you can continue forward by writing merely a diagram or flowchart so that an examiner can see that you understood the question.

Some Frequently Asked Questions Regarding the UPSC Mains Exam:

Can a candidate take the Civil Service (Main) Examination in more than one language?
No, neither in English or any of the Eighth Schedule languages, except the Qualifying Language papers Paper-A and Paper-B, which they stated when completing their online application form for the Civil Service (Preliminary) Examination.
What are the mandatory language paper cut-off marks?
The minimal qualifying criteria in each of the two Qualifying Papers, English and Indian Languages, are specified in the Examination Rules and are currently set at 25%.

Should I format my response as a bullet point or a paragraph?

  • You can also write in a paragraph, however, a bullet point is more suited as: Bullet points disclose the job to the examiner in a more natural way, and he may not have to search for the eye-catching terms in your material.
  • In comparison to the paragraph style of drafting the answer, the bullet point is more to the point.
  • Bullet points are simple to cover, and you may complete the entire work in the allotted time.

Should I tackle all 20 questions or limit myself to 17 to 18 good responses?

  • Remember that the number of questions you attempt in the main examination determines your chances of success. As a result, your first aim should be to attempt all questions, even if you know nothing about them.
  • "It is better to have something than nothing", as the proverb goes. So, keep to this motto and write down all of the answers; you'll get something for each one. However, keep in mind that the quality of the answer should not be compromised to complete all answers.

Should I use quotations in my responses?

  • Quotes provide your answer with a dynamic perspective; catchy phrases are always a smart bet for achieving good marks in the mains exam.
  • Using too many superfluous quotes can sometimes backfire, so use quotes wisely.

Can I pass the UPSC mains in two months?

Ans. It is critical to begin preparing for the UPSC Mains exam as soon as you decide to sit the UPSC Civil Service Examination. Due to the extensive syllabus, 2 months of study for UPSC Mains may be insufficient. Due to the high level of competition, it is advised to devote more time to mains preparation.

How can I improve my response in the UPSC mains?

Ans. Understand the question and try to structure your response. The answer must be clear and to the point; vital points must not be overlooked, and the appropriate keywords must be used while crafting the answer. Make positive that there arenít any spelling or grammatical errors.

Is the UPSC interview difficult?

Ans. The interview will be difficult because the competition is fierce, and UPSC will aim to filter out the best candidates. Knowledge of a subject is not the only criterion used in the selection process. There will undoubtedly be difficult questions because the panelists will have many years of expertise, so it is impossible to know everything; thus, maintain a calm demeanor even when you are unable to answer questions and do not become overly pleased if you know the answers to the questions.

Things to avoid when writing responses

  • Reflecting a skewed response for the party:
    One of the most crucial things to avoid is excessive criticism of government policies, as well as criticism of the person and his or her work.
  • You should also avoid drafting the answer in a biased manner, as you are preparing for an administrative position that requires you to work behind the scenes. As a result, your vested interest should not obstruct the work of others by causing havoc in administrative operations.
  • Changing the quotations:
    When quoting in mains answer writing, do not alter the quote. It indicates that if you know the exact quotation, you should only use it; otherwise, incorrect quotes reflect poorly on a candidate.
    "The Earth has enough for everyone's needs, but not enough for everyone's greed," for example. So, if you change this quotation to say that the Earth can meet everyone's needs but not everyone's greed. These minor errors have a significant impact on the marking systems of items.

Management Strategy For The IAS-UPSC Mains Exam

You will be studying History, Geography, Public Administration, Political Science, Sociology, and other subjects in addition to GS Mains. It will assist you in appropriately determining your interest in a specific optional subject.
It is best to postpone this decision rather than selecting an optional one without knowing other subjects or without knowing your writing and presenting skills and thinking processes. After that, you'll be able to make a better educated and sensible decision. Preparation for the Civil Services Mains Exam should begin concurrently with the Preliminary Exam. This is because there is a lot of common ground to study, and there isn't much time for the main exam if one waits for the Preliminaries results.

Practice Answer Writing

  • You should be aware that the UPSC Mains test is of the descriptive variety. Each question requires you to submit an answer of 150-300 words. As a result, answer writing experience is essential for Mains, which may be obtained by: taking regular examinations as well as preparing adequate notes.
  • Mind Maps ó As this will assist applicants in linking sub-topics within a theme and recalling and remembering information more easily.
It is also suggested that when taking notes on current events, one should strive to write roughly 150-300 words for each topic so that writing answers in the exam becomes easier. Candidates can visit the UPSC Mains Answer Writing Practise website to check their grasp of how to write answers in the mains examination and acquire sample questions as well as answers written by other IAS aspirants. This will provide you with an idea of the quality of responses expected on the final test.

Essay Writing

The Essay Paper in the IAS Mains Exam consists of two sections A and B, each with four themes of 125 marks and a total of 250 marks. Typically, one portion contains topics based on 'general quotations,' while the other section has topics based on 'administration related.' Candidates must select a topic from each area and write about it in 1,000 to 1200 words in the allotted three hours.
  • Some Essay Writing Tips:
  • Choose your topic carefully.
  • Consider the issue for 30 minutes.
  • After a sheet, write down all of the points.
  • Outline your essay.
  • Don't be overly provocative.
  • Make reform recommendations.
  • Conclude
The essay paper plays a significant influence in the ultimate selection and ranking of the candidate. This paper is all about understanding and assessing a candidate's personality by analyzing his/her opinions, ideas, suggestions, values, attitude, aptitude, coordination and communication (writing) ability, and other traits that the UPSC specifically looks for in an aspirant.

Preparation for Current Affairs

When it comes to current affairs, most questions are asked about current events during the months of June-July-August, but most candidates cease reading the newspaper during this time, which is critical from the standpoint of the Mains.
Current affairs questions are generally associated with history, geography, and international relations, which every candidate who is familiar with the question pattern is aware of. The Israel-Palestine conflict was critical in June of 2014. Many predicted UPSC questions on this problem in International Relations were posed, but the unpredictable UPSC asked the question in a novel and surprising way, tying it to World History.