5 bullet points for the last 15 days| UPSC Prelims

This article is worth 5 minutes of your precious time, even at this crucial stage.

Examinations in India are much beyond an exam per se. They are given a larger-than-life stature. That’s why all this anxiety, fear and paranoia associated with them. Here’s a genuine attempt, through 5 bullet points, at handling the last two weeks smartly.


Allow me to list down few commons fears that have been shared with me – entire one/two/three years(s) of preparation would be a waste if Prelims is not secured; parents would marry you off; there is no other Plan B; was it an incorrect decision to jump into UPSC preparation; you would have to wait for another long year if you fail; Please comment down your fear if I have missed them 🙂

The best part about fears is, they sound logical. And since you are ‘mature’, you have been lending credibility to your fears through some past experiences, incidents with your friends, relatives etc. I so wish you were not ‘mature’ 🙂 Coming to how to deal with this unwarranted, untimely and unfounded fear. Firstly, every aspirant, is going through the same phase. So, there is a level playing field. Secondly, have you heard TV debates in which they say that discussing too much about a particular fringe group or individual leads to mainstreaming them. That is, giving too much attention to an otherwise unimportant element leads to such unwanted elements getting undue importance.
The case with fear is similar. A small amount of fear is, in fact, good. It helps you keep focussed on your goal. It protects you from debilitating impact of OVER CONFIDENCE. However, by giving over attention to this fear factor, you are mainstreaming it. Better, engage in some non-academic activity that interests you till the cloud of fear recedes.

2.Others are better prepared:

There is a tricky aspect to this weirdly awesome exam. This is a competitive exam, however, you are not expected to compete with OTHERS. The more you do so, the more you are distancing yourself from success. Instead, compete with the earlier version of yourself – you 1.0. In other words, strive for self-improvement every single day. In this process, you are automatically acing past your competitors without even consciously knowing about it.
You are also thinking that “A little more time to prepare, and you could have done wonders”, right? Who told you that you have to DO WONDERS? You just have to clear that god damn cut off, and you do not need any extra time for that. Just SMARTLY utilise the time you have – that’s more than sufficient.

3.Feeling unstable from within:

You might be wondering why your internal hardware and software is not working the way it does when there are no exams. The answer lies in the question itself. Since, you are also one of those candidates who can comfortably clear the cut off when they attempt the same paper at home, you need to rethink your strategy. If this is true, point 2 (others are better prepared) that we discussed above is automatically a false sense of fear. You see how you have complicated things for yourself? 🙂 It is easier said than done, however, the more you are able to mentally distance yourself from EXAMINATION HALL syndrome, the better for you. They say, it is the power of imagination that distinguishes human beings from other species. You can practice leveraging this unique trait endowed by mother nature on human beings.

Eat right. Sleep tight. You have must have come across this popular adage, particularly in the context of examinations. Do not take tea/coffee after 5 p.m. – else they might delay the time you go to bed. Stop glancing at mobile, laptop or computer screens at least 90 minutes before you go to sleep. Turn off blue light in your mobiles, laptops etc. – they affect your eyes, brain, soul everything (please Google how to do it). Just because it is exam time, do not change your eating regime upside down. Yes, modify it, include more healthy alternatives that digest easily, reduce outside food. But, you need not become a monk so far as diet is concerned.

4.Unable to achieve daily targets:

You know many candidates are not able to improve their interview scores even after multiple attempts? And, the first thing they do is BLAME THE SYSTEM. It’s democracy after all, and they have THE FREEDOM. They will tell you that the system is targeting the state, language, caste, creed, race, category, gender, religion they belong to. They learnt all these words in polity, and now is the time to use them. What actually happens is,  by the time final results are declared, it is already time for the next prelims. So, they do not get quality time to reflect upon and objectively analyse their performance in interview. And, by the time next interview comes, they have a faint image of what all they said, and how they behaved in actual interview. This inadvertently leads to the same mistake being repeated over and over again.

Why I am mentioning all this for Prelims? Because WORKING ON FEEDBACKS IS IMPORTANT. Set a realistic daily target. Spend as much time with previous year questions as possible. Go through the tests you have attempted. With a calm and composed mind analyse why you have committed a particular mistake. Sit, walk, eat, drink, sleep through such analysis. Also, keep a note of your strong areas. Make note of the mistakes you commit, it will help you reduce their frequency. Try to maximise the number of subjects you revise daily. This can be done by setting an alarm for each subject. Do not follow these points blindly – devise your own strategy.


Fear has huge business potential. As exam nears, fear and anxiety piles up among aspirants, especially the beginners. To cash in on this anxiety, terabytes of notes, petabytes of videos, gigabytes of current affairs and zettabytes of toppers’ talks are released. Do not become a material collector before becoming a district collector. Read only those sources that you can revise. Be highly, highly specific in selecting your sources. I wish I could emphasise it more emphatically!

There is a fairly good chance that TODAY you are in a position to appear in Mains; i.e. you are clearing Prelims. Please do yourself a favour, do not at least reduce this probability of success in the coming 15 days.

May you succeed!

Until next time,


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