Having secured an All India Rank of eight in the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) 2019 examination, Abhishek Saraf, a resident of Bhopal and alumnus of IIT Kanpur, shares important tips and strategies to help other aspirants utilise these last few days before the preliminary examination of Civil Service Examination.
1. Time to fall back on notes
Refrain from picking up any new material at this point. If you have made notes, then now would be the ideal time to spend on going through them in detail. Focus only on revising all the concepts that you have already studied up until this moment.
Abhishek says, “The cost-benefit of picking up any new material at this stage will not be favourable at all.”
2. Focus on sharpening short-term memory
Use the last month to revise a vast number of topics, rather than focus all your time and energy on one or a few niche topics. As a word of caution, Abhishek adds here that while the topics for the prelims and the mains examination seem similar, the approach is different. He says, “The same content will have to be studied differently by aspirants appearing for the prelims and the mains. While mains is more analytical prelims is highly factual.”
Sharing tips to help students retain maximum facts before attempting the examination, he says:
- Do not overburden your memory.
- Print and paste notes to the wall; keep reading them to retain the same.
- Learn small capsules of diversified content and not large amounts of a single topic.
- Spend one or one-and-a-half hours per day on revising details from the atlas and maps for atleast one month before prelims.
3. Analyse past year UPSC CSE question papers
One suggestion Abhishek makes is to analyse the UPSC CSE previous year’s question papers to see what kind of questions are asked in the prelims that are not covered in mains. Things like the atlas, reports, space missions, weapons, defence exercises, themes of conferences etc. must be topics that aspirants are well-versed with for the prelims.
Abhishek also suggests that during their year-long preparation, aspirants should cover atleast 6000 Multiple Choice Questions (MCQ) and make one-liner notes out of each MCQ they got wrong. Two months before the exam they could print those notes and go over atleast 60 to 100 points during each day. These could be done in 4-5 short intervals distributed across the day.
4. Diversify the topics you revise
It is advisable to pick up multiple topics during the time aspirants spend on revision. “Sticking to only one topic could lead to an overdose of that. While I was revising I diversified the topics I picked for revision and felt that retaining the information was easier,” Abhishek says.
Giving an example, Abhishek says, “If an aspirant has decided to study 40 pages of a particular topic, I will break that down into 10 pages each of 4 different topics. Following this method also helps in recollection at a later stage, because due to the change of topic the brain gets a break and does not really get overwhelmed with information.”
5. Things to remember a day before the UPSC CSE examination
Just as much as UPSC CSE aspirants must focus on proper revision, one must also be mindful of everything that needs to be done a day before the examination. Abhishek says, “Aspirants must not revise beyond 8.00 p.m. on the eve of the examination. A good night’s rest is extremely important to be able to focus on and answer the questions well.”
He also advises aspirants to carry some sugar inside the exam hall and consume it just before the start of the paper. “It will give you instant energy, and you most certainly will need it,” he says. He also warns aspirants to not wear any digital watch given that the invigilators usually ask aspirants to remove them and leave them outside the examination hall.
Abhishek has also been generous in allowing aspirants to go through some of his notes for the prelims. Click here to access the drive. The documents in this drive will give you access to names of Prime Ministers, pointers for the polity, tiger reserves, biosphere reserve, Ancient Indian History and Summary of Part-B of GC Leong.
You can also stay connected and follow Abhishek for other such tips via his Facebook page.
(Edited by Vinayak Hegde)