The mains exam of CSE requires a lot of hard work and perseverance from the aspirant. This stage proves to be an Achilles’ heel for many aspirants who have encountered a couple of failures.
To begin with UPSC mains exam is the second stage where students who qualify prelims are eligible to appear. It consists of 9 subjective papers where a student is required to write the answer in a given time frame and word limit. All papers constitute 1750 marks and the score obtained by the candidate is considered for the final merit list. Other two stages of the CSE exam are the preliminary and the interview stage.
Know the Mains Exam
CSE Mains exam is conducted for the students who have qualified the prelims stage. Subsequently, they have to appear for nine papers consisting of Essay, GS1, GS2, GS3, GS4, optional, and 2 language papers. Language papers are only qualifying ones while others contribute in the marks considered for merit. Every paper is conducted over a 3-hour duration containing variable number of questions. It is the most challenging stage of CSE exam and here we will discuss some UPSC Mains preparation tips
How to Approach Mains Exam
Candidates who qualify prelims are eligible to appear for the mains exam. Therefore, it can be concluded that all mains appearing aspirants have a basic and sound understanding of the subjects. Now we will look at the UPSC Mains Answer Writing tips which would help you to attempt your papers in a sound manner.
- Understand the syllabus – UPSC provides a detailed syllabus for the mains test. Firstly students should keep syllabus along with them and go through it every day. Analyze the topics given in the syllabus and start preparing according to them.
- Figure out the sources – static portion can be covered from the standard books which students use during prelims preparation. Alongside, one national newspaper shall be followed religiously on a daily basis.
- Make your own notes – try to develop the habit of making your own notes from the static syllabus and the newspaper. There should be one page notes related to every topic and not more than that. Keep them concise so that they can be revised at the last moment. This is the most important UPSC exam tips and tricks which every aspirant should follow
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- Practice answer writing regularly – candidate shall practice 1-2 questions on a daily basis till the mains exam. Simply put, you can practice 1 question for standard GS subjects and 1 for your optional subject.
- Enroll for a test series – at the beginning of preparation after the prelims, one should go for a mains test series. It will help in building a study routine and performance can be assessed by giving a test once a week.
- Be expressive – one should be expressive while writing answers and discussion with the mentor. Try to put every doubt in front of your mentor and gain insights to improve your answers
Simplify The Answer Writing Process
Sometimes, a candidate comes across discussion regarding answer writing among friends. He might get some complex ideas regarding answer writing like, following a dozen of books, a couple of newspapers and a bunch of test series. But one should always remember that biggest achievements come from the simple ideas. UPSC mains answer writing strategy should be simple and easy to follow. Complexities drive aspirants away from the real essence.
- Learn the concepts – firstly, try to learn every concept related to topics given in the syllabus. It can be covered form standard GS books.
- Link the current affairs – try to link static portion with the current events going on in the country. For example, MSP of food grains shall be linked with the issues going on like recent farmers protests and so on.
- Include recommendations – try to give a positive and futuristic solution of the problem by providing committee recommendations, international examples, or domestic innovative solutions.
- Work on presentation – try to follow the format of introduction, body, and the conclusion. The answer should follow a pattern which would be easy to understand. Make a diagrammatic presentation (map or picture) wherever necessary to give better understanding to the examiner.
- Be simple – always write answers as if you are trying to make it understand to a layman. Keep it simple and interesting without any complex vocabulary (excluding subject related terms).
- Practice regularly – try to write 2 questions daily and a test once in a week. It will help you to develop speed and fluency in answer writing.