It is the true story of two candidates appearing in Mains 2016. Candidate A could not attempt around 30 marks of questions in Paper 1 of Sociology. He had a serious fight in the family the day before the exam.
Candidate B told him not to let that feeling affect his performance in Paper 2. Candidate B could attempt all questions, however, he had some goof up while selecting questions to be attempted. Results were declared. Candidate A (who could not attempt around 30 marks of questions in Paper 1) scored 300+ in Sociology. Candidate B scored in the 270s.
The point is, UPSC Mains is a subjective exam. Your analysis of whether your paper was good or not is also subjective. Many candidates erroneously treat their analysis objectively. It is advisable to maintain optimum confidence level – neither too high, nor too low – irrespective of your ‘subjective analysis’ of the papers!
Some of you may be feeling anxious and apprehensive about that test you could not attempt, or those days you could not utilise efficiently, or that nagging feeling about some topics being untouched etc. More important, that ‘feeling’ (subjective again) of other candidates completing their syllabus, having better notes and what not! This is a universal IDEAL TYPICAL feeling of every sincere aspirant and is perfectly normal. Do not let these fleeting feelings consume your peace of mind – please continue with your karma (revision of notes, test papers, ensuring overall health – physical, mental and psychological) – because only your karma is in your hands, not the outcome of it. The diagram given below shows scientifically that some amount of tension and anxiety is actually good.
Irrespective of the time you’ve taken to prepare for this exam, all it matters is your positive, never-say-die ATTITUDE and quality of answers written in those odd 9*3= 27 hours of Mains. Focus on what you have done so far, rather than what could not be done. Trust me, if you smartly incorporate whatever you know already, you can outperform your own expectations!
A few humble inputs you can consider (don’t follow them blindly):
- Don’t ruin your paper just because some ABC person did not wish you or did not call you before the exam.
- Do not forget to revise your strengths and weaknesses from the evaluated test papers.
- Spending too much time on writing perfect answers for a few questions at the expense of others is NOT a good idea.
- Read each question carefully, interpret the actual demand correctly in your ‘thinking’ language (it could be your mother tongue) and then answer the same. This is applicable for Essay paper and Ethics case studies also.
- If you face paucity of time towards the end, write a single line intro, and quickly represent the answer body via hub-spoke diagrams and flowcharts. Say, if the theme of the question is to examine the impact of communalism on society, write communalism, draw a circle around it, draw arrows to show its manifestations — mob-lynching, communal vote banks, hate speech via media etc. You can quickly address the demand of questions through similar diagrams.
- Get inside your allotted hall well in time, and make yourself comfortable. Avoid entering into enthusiastic conversations with fellow aspirants that might drain your precious energy. Do what it takes to keep your body and mind calm. You may take a few deep breaths, silently chant your favourite prayer or think about the positives in your life.
- Develop a few robotic traits! As a human being you would feel like worrying about your optional papers even while your GS papers are going on. Try to control that anxiety and focus on ONE PAPER AT A TIME, like a programmed robot would do.
Remember! You’ve earned the right to write Mains through your sweat and blood. You’ve scaled one-third of the journey. Keep up the warrior spirit and ace the second and the most important lap in style. YOU have all it takes to clear the exam! There are lakhs of other people whose circumstances do not permit them to even jump into this preparation – writing Mains is a distant dream for them. Do not worry about the past failures or the future apprehensions. Put your best efforts in the present, one paper, one question and one answer at a time!
You must NOT follow any of the above points blindly.
You may use them to modify your own strategy.
You have way more potential than you think you have! Leverage your latent talent!
Feel free to drop an email at firstname.lastname@example.org in case of any query whatsoever – you are not alone!
All the very best!