In my opinion the time of Oct - December is most crucial given that after January, everyone will nearly study for Prelims till June and between June - September people study for Mains.
So far, I have only people who are ( usually ) bureaucrat kids or have an elder sibling in services study during this time. Also only people with good guidance or good peer group study diligently at this time - given that this is the only time you get to make improvements.
How you should plan it will totally depend on where you stand in the preparation stage.
#1 Those who know they will get an Interview call
I have already met a few people getting 130-140 in Interview more than once. So those of you for whom the Interview is the missing link in the preparation - get started with the Interview Preparation. I mean if you have appeared for interview 2 times - you will usually get a call the third time too.
Interview Prep has to begin with three things
- First, writing down your Interview Transcript of last year. Most people who score less in Interview are so traumatised by it that they do not write down their interview transcript. The first step to identifying where you went wrong is looking at what you actually did or said in the interview.
- Second, read the damn newspaper - daily. When people get interview call, they are completely out of touch with current affairs. If you are fed of Hindu, read the Time of India. But Read something - not for building opinions, but for knowing what is happening. Since interview is half about confidence, not reading the newspaper does ruin your interview day for lack of confidence.
- Start a Evernote / Physical notebook and write down questions from your DAF on it. Ask your friends, family and other people to supply you questions. make a questions database. And prepare the questions well. Last year I remember at this stage, two kids - Ankita , who later secured Rank 14 or so had a register full of questions . When the interview came close, we were discussing the best answer for "Why Civil Services". There was another doctor kid, who began with a . very poor preparation, but changed course ( radically and marvellously, and honestly, I have seen very few people turn around their fates that way! ) - and ended up with 201 score in her first Interview and a Rank 81. I will ask her to pitch in with some tips too!
Unless your write down things, you wont improve. So get a interview notebook and get started.
#2 Those of you who have known lacuna in Mains / have appeared for first Mains
You guys are the most in need of the right advice. This is because, if this is your first Mains, you do not even have a fair assessment of how you did.
First, of course you should get started with reading the newspaper so that at the end of 3 months you are not ignorant of the world that has passed by. October - December quarter is the time when world leaders will have most meetings - so that they do not miss their deadline of having one meeting a year. This will generate lot of IR news. ( Just like June - September you have lot of Polity news because of Monsoon Session of Parliament ). So follow that.
You need to be a decade old to realise that, and I am now a decade old ( but not out of touch - I did write the whole Mains Paper myself to keep in touch. Will shortly share my notes as well. )
Secondly, identify where you are weak at and start working on those weak areas. That has to be done. Whether it was Kabira ( who got a Rank 2 in IFoS and Rank 10 in Civils ) or Deepanshu Khurana, who secured Indian Foreign Service , were working their hardest during these months. I remember because I was around when they were around.
Third, take some classes somewhere. Nothing beats that, because you get discipline, a vibrant peer group and develop a schedule. Otherwise you are going to just sleep away these months. If you have the self discipline, you can make do without classes too , but if it doesn't work, don't ruin three months.
Get started with an academic schedule.
And those of you having fitness issues, must use this time to to reclaim your health. If outdoor exercise is not an option in Delhi due to poor AQI, try something indoor. The Mains tales a toll on us - and there could be no better time than this to reclaim it.
#3 Those who have not cleared Prelims and planning for CSE 2020
Get your act together and finish at least Optional Paper 1, GS Paper 1 and Paper 4 before December. After December the sole focus should be on Prelims and Prelims alone. Then GS Mains. The the Optionals. The people who don't clear Prelims 4 times in a row always study Optional . Till February. Annually. You could do a survey around yourself if you are one of those people.
If you gave not cleared Prelims - the best you can do is finish Mains Tests by December - at least 50% of it. And from Jan focus on Prelims & parts of Mains Test Papers that have common syllabus with Prelims.
Lastly, just because you cannot do something 100% does not mean you should not do 70% or 50%. Let not your aim for perfection make you miss regular improvements.
A lot of people don't write tests because no way they can finish all the tests. And just because they cant finish 100%, they wont attempt 70%. Thats a poor choice. It is good to be ambitious, but better to be realistic.
Take up things that you deem right, make good use of time and don't sleep till December comes.
Feel free to ask questions and initiate a good debate!