How to crack IAS preliminary exam suggest by Tina dabi 

Tina Dabi

⏳Want to crack this year’s Prelims? Read on, it answers all your questions about UPSC Prelims Exam in just 30 questions!

60 Days Strategy for Prelims Test

Q1. For a beginner who is just starting preparation with seriousness…can it be done in 60 days? Eg: people who leave their jobs to appear…

A.1. Yes, it can be done, though it is challenging. A lot of study hours per day will have to be invested. If a beginner has 60 days, 10 hours per day need to be given to study and revise.

Q.2. What strategy should be adopted?

A.2. Making a point to point timetable and ensuring that every topic is done at least once and revised at least once.

Q.3. Regarding syllabus coverage (prioritise?)?

A.3. Prioritise current affairs, environment &a ecology, art &a culture, Polity and Economics

Q.4. Which areas to focus….main thrust areas?

A.4. In all subjects, focus on what is happening currently. For eg, if President’s Rule was imposed somewhere, in the subject of Polity you need to focus on anything and everything related to that.

Q.5. What would you have done? (say 15 days for Polity, 15 for History…..)

A.5. Some subjects take more time than others and it differs from person to person. For instance, if I was a History student, I would take less time doing history but more time doing science and technology. However, set a deadline. For instance in one month, I ll cover 2 to 3 subjects.

Q.6. Current affairs vs. Traditional? Or a Hybrid Approach with backward linkages?

A.6 Both need to be done, but more emphasis on current affairs.

Q.7. Booklist:

➢ Subject-wise

Polity- Laxmikant’s Polity

History- Old Class 12 NCERTS (Bipin Chandra)

Geography- Class 10, 11th and 12th New NCERTs

Science and Technology- Current Affairs Supplement

Art & Culture- Fine Arts NCERT of class 11th and 12th

Environment & Ecology- Current Affairs Supplement and Shankar’s Environment

Economics- Current Affairs Supplement, Budget, Economic Survey, and any book dealing with Basic Concepts of MacroEconomics such as Monetary Policy, Fiscal Policy etc.

Q.8. For short-cut or smart time usage…

A.8. After studying each topic, look at the questions which came in previous years question papers. This gives you practice and an idea about what questions can be expected.

Q.9. Sole focus on PT or continue with mains answer writing practice?

A.9. With just 60 days in hand, concentrate only on PT.

Q.10. PT requires extensive preparation, Mains requires intensive preparation…..


A.10. This was the case earlier where you could compartmentalize PT and Mains. According to the current pattern, PT and Mains are holistically linked. The same topics are tested. The difference between the two is that in PT you are required to identify the correct facts from the incorrect, while in Mains you are required to elaborate, describe and comment on the issues.

Q.11. Mock tests vs. Previous year UPSC question papers

A.11. Both need to be done. Previous year papers will give an idea about the type of questions, level of difficulty etc. While, the mock tests will give you focus areas and those questions which are expected this year.

Q.12. Role of online forums for revision (Eg: Byju’s videos)

A.12. I did not use any such online material, so I cannot comment on their utility.

Q.13. How to tackle areas in which you are not comfortable? Eg: arts student in Sc&Tech and Gen. Sc.

➢ Stick to NCERT or refer to specialised books?

A.13. Stick to the basic books and current happenings. It is sufficient. Mostly, according to current trends, questions are usually on recent developments in every discipline, be it science & technology or economics.

Q.14. In a day, study the same subject/topic or mix and match?

➢ Advice

A.14. Study the same subject. It is imperative. Otherwise crucial links between topics of the same subject are broken. For instance, if studying Polity, one should study PM, President, Parliament in the same day to understand crucial connections among the three topics in the subject of Polity.

➢ Personal experience

I used to the same thing. Give 2-3 days to one subject, before switching to another subject.

Q.15. Range for Current Affairs?

➢ From after previous PT or after Mains?

A.15. Current Affairs on past one year is asked. So for PT 2017, you need to focus from May 2016 to June 2017, with the maximum focus from January 2017 to June 2017.

Q.16. How much time should one give to reading newspapers?

A.16. It ranges from 1 to 2 hours, depending on reading speeds and how much was reported that particular day.

Q.17. Notes making technique….especially for a beginner.

➢ Tend to copy almost entire book the first time.

A.17. Learning the Art of Notemaking is difficult. The trick is that in the first going through an article/chapter, underline the important things. Then, do a second reading, but ONLY the underlined lines now. After reading those lines, then on paper, write whatever you could remember in your mind. The few 10-20 lines you finally write down will be the most important stuff of the article and since you will write it without seeing the article/chapter, it will be brief.

Q.18. How much time and focus on CSAT?

➢ How to cover

➢ Sources

A.18. CSAT is now qualifying so not much time is needed to be invested. 5 to 7 hours per week is sufficient. Every candidate needs to make his/her own scoring strategy. For example,if one is good in maths, work on your strengths to score the maximum and meet the qualifying mark. If you are good in English, focus on that.

Working on weak areas is needed but only to an extent. More energy should be put on honing our strengths.

As far as source is considered, refer to any CSAT book available in the market, one which has sufficient practice questions.

In CSAT, its all about practice.

Q.19. Memory Techniques

➢ Dates in history (important historical dates, chronological order of dynasties)

➢ Acronyms

➢ Formulae in CSAT

A.19. For all the above, I used to write them down and stick it on a board/wall of my study room.

Mindmaps are useful for quick revisions.

Q.20. Strategy for revision/consolidation

➢ Suggest

A.20. Whatever is studied over one week, should be revised by Sunday. Otherwise, our memory fails us and we forget.

Q.21. Till how late should we study new topics which are important but not yet covered by us?

A.21. Till one week before exam.

Q.22. Role of Coaching Institutes

A.22. Coaching institutes help. Just as having a teacher helps a student in school. However, that is not the only way. Most selected candidates do self study and are equally successful. Evaluate your own needs and conveniences while deciding whether to join a coaching or not.

Q.23. Personal experience about course correction…..Eg: one keeps on studying art and culture or history endlessly without any value-addition

A.23. Study everything within a deadline and according to your own timetable/schedule. If one does that sincerely, course correction will not be needed.

Q.24. OMR filling strategy

➢ Simultaneously

➢ All in one go at the end

➢ After every few set of questions

A.24. For questions, one is 100% sure, you can mark it there and then. For the rest, take your time and it is upto you when you want to mark them.

Q.25. How many questions to attempt? (considering ever-increasing cut-off marks)

➢ Focus on accuracy or more no. of questions?

➢ Strategy for 50-50 questions

➢ Questions in which you are down to 2 options

➢ Questions about which you have a gut-feeling but no reasonable explanation

A.25. As per current trends, 60 to 65 questions being marked is considered to be a safe zone. However, nothing is guaranteed as the PT is unpredictable.

Do questions that you are sure about or have a reasonable explanation about why it may be the correct answer.

Q.26. How to avoid silly mistakes?

➢ Not missing the ‘not incorrect’ in the stem of the question

➢ Elimination of options….close reading of options

A.26. Getting marks cut due to silly mistakes is the most painful thing. Therefore, reading the question twice and underlining key words in the question is a safety valve.

These two tips will help you not make silly errors.

Q.27. What to do in the last week before exam?

A.27. On each day revise one subject using your own handmade brief notes along with current affairs. Also revise all the expected questions asked in mock tests.

Q.28. What to do on last day before PT?

➢ To relax, not panic and stay focussed

A.28. On the last day before PT make sure you get 8 hours of sleep. It is time to relax and trust yourself. Talk to your parents, but not friends who are also giving the exam. It just creates unneccessary group panic.

Q.29. Anything you would have done differently in hindsight?

➢ Scope for improvement

A.29. I wish I had focused more on current affairs.

Q.30. How to stay motivated?

➢ If you miss studies on a day….feeling of piling up of things to study, pressure.

➢ Exhaustion

➢ De-motivation (prolonged cycle)

A.30. It will happen that you will feel demotivated every now and then. Please understand that this is natural and quite normal to feel anxious from time to time. Whenever you feel so, take out half a day and do what you like. It can be watching a movie or talking to friends. Always remember that your happiness is the most important thing in life.

If you miss a day of study, let it go. Go ahead with original timetable. And at the end of finishing the original schedule and before making a new one, take a day or two out to complete the leftover.

Be strong, stay positive.

You can do it.

Tina Dabi-IAS TOPPER 2016


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