On 4 October 2020, tens of thousands of aspirants will appear for the Civil Service Examination (CSE), which is conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC).
This close to the exam, aspirants spend their time buried in their notes brushing up on concepts that might be tested during the examination. The Better India spoke to Jitin Yadav, currently posted as Sub-Divisional Magistrate of Mathabhanga, Coochbehar in West Bengal, who shares some insights about how aspirants can best utilise these last few days.
1. Do Not Take Up Any New Topic
Most officers we have spoken to over the last few months reiterate the importance of sticking to notes and material aspirants are familiar with. Jitin says, “This is not the time to try and learn anything new. It should be a time when you consolidate whatever you have studied thus far and focus only on revising only those topics.”
2. Do Not Attempt Mock Papers Before The Exam
Do not spend the last few days before the examination solving mock papers, says Jitin. According to Jitin, “Attempting mock papers might be detrimental to your morale, so I would not recommend doing it. Not being able to do well in the mocks can actually demotivate aspirants.” Speaking from his own experience, Jitin says that he did not work on any mock paper fifteen days before the examination.
Evaluate the risk-reward involved in everything that you do for the CSE 2020 examination. Explaining this, Jitin says, “ In the history paper let’s assume fifteen questions are asked; most of which are from modern history and ancient and medieval will hardly have two or three questions. In such a scenario, I would skip the ancient and medieval for the prelims and focus on the modern history bit since my reward would be higher there.”
3. Go Through Everything Studied So Far
“My strategy for the last fifteen days before the examination was to ensure that everything I had studied up until then came before me atleast once. There is a probability that something that you studied early on during your preparation takes time to come back to you, and therefore doing this is important,” says Jitin.
Use this time to solve, as many MCQ’s as possible, since that will also help jog your memory. “Most importantly, trust yourself. It is people like you and me who clear these examinations,” he says.
4. Do Not Give Up Now
Jitin mentions that the last week before the examination can be rather stressful, and aspirants tend to give up during this period. He says, “It is a lot to do with one’s mental framework as well, and giving up hope during the last leg of this phase is very likely. Do tell yourself that every other aspirant is on the same page as you, so push along.”
It is also a time when aspirants are emotionally vulnerable and tend to let their feeling fluctuate a lot. “Do keep in mind that the examination is not demanding 200 out of 200 from you, it only seeks to have aspirants get 50 to 60 per cent of the answers right,” says Jitin.
5. Focus Only On Self
“Eliminate comparisons of any kind, remember that you are your own competition in this examination,” says Jitin. While one aspirant might spend almost fifteen hours on preparation, another aspirant might only need to spend five hours to cover the same amount of content. So pace yourself and do as much as you can.
“Play to your strengths, nothing will change drastically in the last few days, so maintain composure and view the examination with those lenses,” says Jitin.
6. Should Your Routine Undergo Change Before The Exam?
Jitin mentions that while he preferred being nocturnal and studying at night, fifteen days before the examination, he consciously changed his routine to accommodate the exam schedule. “I could not have managed if I continued studying at night, so I started waking up at 6 a.m. and slogging through the day. I would also ensure that by 10 p.m. I hit the bed and got a good night’s rest.”
It is important not just to take care of your physical well-being but also focus on the emotional well-being before the examination. “Do whatever you feel will be best suited for your own temperament,” advises Jitin.
7. When Can I Stop Reading The Newspaper?
“I would safely stop reading the newspaper about fifteen days before the examination,” says Jitin. While there is a slight probability that a question is asked from something that happened in the last fifteen days, the time an aspirant would spend reading the newspaper is not worth the marks that it could fetch you. So Jitin says he would rather use that time to revise other important topics.
“Use the same risk-reward methodology for this as well,” says Jitin.
For more such tips and strategies adopted by IAS officers, click here.
(Edited by Vinayak Hegde)