Post Mains [How to utilise time between October to December]

What should be the way forward for the students who have written Mains ? How to utilise the time between October to December. There are lot of Dos and Don’t’s available regarding post-prelims but not a single about post-mains. I request Neyawn to throw some light on it. Your tips are really show correct path. 
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Hello,

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!



Thank you Sir. Your suggestions are full of wisdom. These help us from doing things wrong and later regretting. Learning from other’s experience and avoiding doing a mistake is what ultimately transforms into a success. 

@Neyawn , I have a question : Since we have MGP(B) tests till Feb 15,16, should we be focusing on these tests during Jan/Feb instead of Prelims, or Do Prelims + These tests or Leave them altogether and give them after Prelims ? What is your take ? (Given that I couldn't clear prelims this year)

I am available here in my personal capacity and do not intend in particular to represent an organisation. 

Here is what I would do, and what I have seen good candidates do.

With a timeline, I would focus on writing as many tests as possible , writing a test every 3-5 days till January end. Would finish off GS Paper 1 and 4 and parts of GS 2, 3 exclusive to Mains, make notes.

At about Feb, latest, I would focus on the prelims. I would choose Prelims over everything else when I have to make a choice.


An ideal situation is to manage both, but if you are not able to, choose one and excel in that one, given that ideal is difficult to achieve.

Thank you for helping. Your advice & perspective is always beneficial :) @Neyawn 

Do you sometimes feel you are God, @GaneshGaitonde :P

Just asking.

Yet to watch Season 2. :P

@Neyawn What advice would you give to somebody who's failed 3 prelims in a row. Having stuck in this cycle, I feel I am so lagged behind the mains preparation that even if I clear prelims, I won't get through mains anyway. 


Edit: I think I know what I need to do. I will ask for your mains advice only after clearing prelims. 

There is something called the building blocks of Mains. These are called Notes. Make notes in own handwriting at least for 40-60% of the syllabus.


It should be done in 3-4 months and not in 3-4 years. Sit down and make them in your own or take classes. But do something. 


I met a guy just last week, and since I was meeting a lot of people who had not made notes and were just writing tests , without studying. Stereotyping, I asked him to make notes/ take classes. 


He insisted he was all prepared. I asked him a few questions which someone writing Mains should know and he knew it. I was pleasantly surprised. So you have to have some reading or at least a reading and notes making plan if you plan to write Mains.

Also in case you are flunking Prelims, latest by Feb , only focus on Prelims. And if you are in Delhi, close your eyes and join SFG.


@Neyawn Sir I wanted to ask that how to make notes and prepare for mains as I've joined a test series and not able to give the tests ,I feel that I am not prepared now.I dont know the right way ,how to prepare for the mains syllabus espeacially covering the dynamic part of the syllabus .Please guide me . I pick a topic from syllabus and feel that the content that I am preparing regarding the topic might not be relevant .How to overcome this

@aditibaghel21785 That will depend on (a) any classes you have taken so far (b) what has been your UPSC experience so far ( like written Prelims, Mains, how many times ) .

The easiest and the quickest way out is to take some classes and make notes in own handwriting. That will hold you good stead when the exam comes. In case you are reluctant or not patient enough to do that, you can take some class notes and write what you understand in your own handwriting.

That should provide you with a locus of the syllabus. Then try attempting questions.

Lastly, if you do not have the patience to do that either ( because it takes 3-4 months to do so for the Optional and 3-4 months for GS , that is when you are studying as if you are attending classes ), then you can follow the below strategy.

Follow the Test Series Schedule religiously. List out the topics that need to be prepared for that test and prepare it from any one of the sources that your test series recommends. Make notes out of it. Make sure that your notes address questions that are likely to be asked. For example, the sequence of battles in World War is not important ( as per existing trend ) , what may be important is why they occurred or how far was the policy of appeasement responsible, what were the outcomes on polity, society, etc. From that perspective.

Even if you are able to do 3-7 questions out of twenty, you may be just fine. You can also see the paper and see what topics questions have been asked from, then prepare those topics and attempt the paper - without looking at your notes ( as in when you write answers / attempt a test, dont copy paste ). Write in your own language, as per your understanding.

Feel free to create new questions to ask new doubts. I think others can also pitch in by sharing suggestions.

  


@Neyawn - Hi sir...I have given my 1st mains [in 4th attempt] this yr but not able to complete the papers, hence I feel I won't be able to clear mains. I think my prep was decent cos prep digital notes of 90% syllabus & as you said made 3-time notes of Dipin sir. After analyzing this year's mains, I felt that I have sufficient content for most of the questions.

Now, the issue is: 

1] I'm not sure whether to give another try for UPSC provided its unpredictability & confused whether to switch career by going for an MBA 
2] Even if I decide to go for UPSC, is it advisable to prepare it along with any job.

Sir, kindly help me arrive at a sane decision...Thank you. 

II don't know who you are ( and thats good, its kinda bias free ) but,  it makes no sense for you to have written your first Mains and give up on it at this point. Firs thing you should do is if you have made notes on each topic of the syllabus or not. That is the first thing to check.

Second is, that if you have done note making on each topic ( not just current issues ), then you should work on the Optional subject and probably make it strong. Also, make sure that things that decide your final selection - like Essay and GS 4 are prepared by you very well.

You are writing your first Mains and this is the point from where your journey actually starts. I am not sure what is pulling you back from investing your full energy into this? Is it fatigue, financial condition or just fear.

If it is fear then thats a good thing, because probably now you are in the race.  Get started from here. Do not back down. And if you think you have done everything that could be done, read some books that will help in UPSC.

Last but not the least, it is likely that you are having these feelings because of exam fatigue and its not a rational decision. If by any chance after the results - whatever they are - like 99% of the people - if you plan to write the exam again ( in case of all scenarios where you get anything except IAS or IFS ) - then its better to utilise this time now.

Every year I see most people start to study after results, not before. There is some change of heart. I remember one student in particular who wanted to jump to some Bangalore Job right after Mains. Thankfully he persevered. Got Rank 1 in IFoS and Rank 99 ( or so ) in Civils later.

This is all that I know.

@Neyawn — Thank u sir for your patience to read & address the query. Your suggestions are valuable & worked well for me in last 8 month.


You know me well sir [shown u my notes & many of my answer copies] but if it works better anonymously, then so be it :)


If u say so sir, I will invest one more year to UPSC but do you suggest learning a skill [have AI in digital marketing in my mind] along with the prep so that I can start something of my own if I end up on the other side.




@Neyawn  sir I appeared for my first mains this year and I'm having some trouble balancing interview call hopes/prep and improving on mains performance.

Also I joined SFG last year which was immensely useful, but I feel that it might further complicate my preparation plan if I join it this year.

Will be highly obliged if you can guide me at this crossroad. thanks

As I said with the exception of people who secure under 99 ranks, nearly everyone will write the exam again.

So strategy has to be hope for the best and prepare for the worst.

In my opinion, strengthen your GS and Optionals right now. Identify the weak areas and solve them forever. This is the time for it. The people who generally make it are the ones who are nearly planning for the next attempt.

I still remember Lakshya ( I think he got 28 rank or so this year , I am bad with numbers ) just two days before the final - he had been there throughout Mains and Interview - come and say something about planning for an exit .  Thankfully he had been studying all throughout till that time. Got IAS and UP cadre I think.


Wasting over Interview is the commonest mistake some people make. You have to be studying at this time.  The SFG can wait till Feb Batch for you. Focus on Mains content improvement right now, no matter how much you hate it. And get serious about  Prelims after Jan Feb. Take classes, make notes, read books.

In the event that you get a service, but have to appear again, it will hold you in good stead. Irrespective of your interview call or rank. These will be all wasted ( money, energy, time , effort ) if you get IAS this year. But those are problems worth having.


Thank you sir, your reply has been really insightful, it has cleared much of my confusion.thanks again

@Neyawn sir you have been insisting to make notes in own handwriting, is having digital notes a bad idea?

@ujjwal1996330 My Apologies. No, I do not think digital notes is a bad idea. However,after a long conversation with an old member kabira of forum, who had like 2000+ notes for UPSC in his evernote, I would also like to add that digital notes are best for creation, not for consumption.


By this I mean, that dont fixate on digital ways of doing things. If you ever feel that while you make great digital notes, but cant recall them, do not hesitate in taking a print out and reading and revising by using a pen.


In the end do what works for you.

@Neyawn sir you got the situation exactly right! I have great difficulty in revising from digital notes, the solution to which (after great experimentation) I found in print outs. 
Also, sir can you suggest ways of revision. I really struggle with it. After a couple of reading it becomes a big drag. To be honest, I never really had to rely on revision as much until now. I do see it as a major hurdle in my preparation.

I guess my upsc background would be helpful for you to understand my situation. I took the Coaching at vajiram and did optional from Forum IAS itself last year. Didn't focus on making crisp notes because frankly, I couldn't understand how to. After failing miserably at prelims this year I did decide to correct my mistake, completed making notes of optional and GS 4. (I also feel its not complete every time I come across content, which is making it difficult to decide what is adequate.) Recently started with GS1,2,3. But most of the time goes by in reading content and answer papers of toppers, and by the time I want to go to bed I have neither practised answer writing nor revised anything.

Request you to guide me thank you.

@ujjwal1996330  I am glad you found this useful. So I migrated to digital note making myself ( It keeps me sane ) , and had huge problems with revision aspects. It was Abhishek Surana who had cajoled me into using Evernote, and when I had this trouble I called him, like an SOS call.

I had seen people making brilliant Evernotes and failing to capitalise on it. I dint want to be that guy. Surana was travelling in a bus, some Bharat Darshan going on. Lot of background noise. While at first he said he has a table for quick revision, but deepo inside I know revsiion is not easy in tablets. I mean hardcore revision. 

Simply because in digital mode, since we consume so many things, our mind somehow does not register the importance of the text being read.

Optional notes and GS 4 notes will hold you in good stead, trust me. Try doing the same for World, Post Independence, Society, Geography ( If you can, its not easy ). Give it some time. It will take you 2-3 months, and get it done. 


I quote Surana so much because he was one of the few people who had preparation in control. As in I was expecting him to get Rank 1. And for Anudeep I was expecting a under 100. Suaran got 10, Anudeep got 1st rank that year. And they were old forum members since we started forum.

@Neyawn I am sorry I did not understand what you mean by tables for revision.

Also, should one cover post-independence and world history after prelims or before it?

@ujjwal1996330 Before Prelims. After Prelims, you have way better things to do. I meant a tablet.

@Neyawn Cqn you please elaborate what do you mean by 'Preparation in control' ? What are its elements ?

I didn't even start GS 4 ,should i write tests parallel with reading?

It is a good idea to make some notes on the ethics paper. While creative writing is rewarded in UPSC, it should be resorted to when you don’t know the answer or when an answer does not exist.


At least take the words of the syllabus and make notes from different t sources like class notes of toppers etc in your own handwriting.

@neyawn sir...

This is my first comment on forum .,..

Preparing from 2016, best attempt 2016 didn't clear PT...two more attempt half heartedly didn't clear PT....occupied by Jharkhand and Bihar pcs....in these two yrs written mains ...result awaited.....jpsc result may be positive...


Mine priority was and is upsc but always get occupied by state pcs like bih,up, Jharkhand...never given hard felt mehnat in upsc....have financial constraints....plz suggest what to do now....and again in Dec uppcs is coming....highly confused ,demotivated, plz guide me......

Thanks 

@75033k81341257 


I may not be able to give you a pin pointed reply, given that each person's preparation status is unique, and each person has different objectives.  

But as a general rule of thumb I will tell you to prepare well for UPSC once, take coaching or no coaching, make notes on subjects, learn the basic of answer writing , do some test series and get done with the basic preparation.


Financial constraints are nearly with everyone during student life as everyone - all the siblings have to study at the same time, and it drains the family resources. I remember, we were four siblings, and had a difficult time during the education phase as everyone stayed away from home. Once the education phase was over, and all of us got employed, we were much better off, and those constraint days merely end up becoming days of challenges, which somehow we managed to cross.

As of now, if you have done State PCS prep, close it, and give one full year preparation to UPSC. Take a look at Shreyansh Tiwari's story - I have mentioned it below

http://beta.forumias.com/post/detail/Gifts-Books-for-those-who-replied-to-my-last-blog-post-1571062667


I mean I remember his constraints, not having a father, then uncle supporting the family, then someone earning gets a terminal disease - I mean it cant get more challeging that that and the guy got Rank 1 in BPSC.


About 17 or so people who have gotten SDM in BPSC, who have reached out to me, each of them are good enough for UPSC. So note that their isnt much difference except resources, and timely action.

 Also @75033k81341257  Why dont you change your username?

Thanks sir,

I will work on this....and plz provide 2020 prelims write up for those who didn't cleared prelims even once...like me....it would be blessing for us.

Thanks.

I will change the username...

Dear Neyawn,

Heartfelt thank you for your insightful posts at every stage of this exam, much like the reality-bytes we miss to notice during preparation.


I read your article post-prelims highlighting the pitfalls and identifying inefficiencies in one's preparation.

Found it really relevant for someone like me, I have attempted this exam for the 4th time this year, starting from 2016 as a tester attempt to flunking at every prelims (be it paper1 -2( yes I missed paper 2 by a whisker as well, once)), so now this "khauff" of prelims has crept in.  I am a fairly average guy who is decently read and has basic knowledge on almost all portions of CSE Syllabus. Yet those multiple failures haunt me somewhere and often most of the times now , hampering my preparation for next year. 

I feel i have reached a stage where I am very far from where I started and even further from the destination, this lack of confidence (mind you, it wasn't there before but for these successive failures and the emanating "Khauff" fromt them). I think after 4 failed tries, logic deems to quit and start afresh in a different field, yet simultaneously I feel that the immense knowledge and know-how acquired shall go futile (atleast partly) if i do not go for it again and utilise the attempts.  Why do I think that? I am 29, working in the 'off-seasons' (Public-Policy @govt think tank) without a sound future back-up as of now, the skills I have can be easily duplicated.


All in all, in these current 'doldrums' please suggest me some course of action, I prepare by myself without a peer group, heck I barely have friends who are preparing too. Didn't undergo any coaching and do self -study only.

Earlier had a time-table and schedules but now its all haywire, strongly feel to enroll in a test series and follow it.


Would really appreciate,if you can give me an ear, here or otherwise and any sort of course correction would be extremely helpful.

1. Have made notes but they must be refined and tuned, since I have not written mains even once, most articles/news/data etc seem very relevant but I know so that they are not. So how do I separate the chaff.

2. Diligent student who needs guidance and maybe even a 'danda'

3. Willing to go extra mile to cover up things.

PS- Please don't suggest that the remedies lie in my own comments above. 

Thank you for your time.

Regards.


Answering your queries inline here



Found it really relevant for someone like me, I have attempted this exam for the 4th time this year, starting from 2016 as a tester attempt to flunking at every prelims (be it paper1 -2( yes I missed paper 2 by a whisker as well, once)), so now this "khauff" of prelims has crept in.  I am a fairly average guy who is decently read and has basic knowledge on almost all portions of CSE Syllabus. Yet those multiple failures haunt me somewhere and often most of the times now , hampering my preparation for next year. 


This is not unusual. We fear what we do not understand or cannot solve. I would tell you one thing. Never think in terms of cut off. I mean it is not impossible to score 120+ in Prelims and in fact its easy to do it once you break that barrier.


And no, I am not talking from a teacher / coaching perspective. I am taking from perspective of someone who has consistently secured 145 types marks in GS Paper 1 Prelims. 

There are few keys to it. 

#1 Be rock solid with basic books and prvious years papers. Do then like 7-10 times. Do them until you puke. You cant get even 1 questions wrong from there.

#2 Take one test series - by joining it and not online. Take a pen and paper and do it well. Try to be in Top 20%tile. Take another one from market and be thorough with it.

#3 If you have an error problem, focus on revision. Revision is antidote to error rate

#4 If you spend 2 hours solving a paper, spend another 2 hours revising and analysing it and making sure that if similar question comes in next test from same topic, you wont get it wrong.

#5  If you are still having accuracy problem, solve a previously solved unmarked paper after 15-20 days, and see how you many you are able to solve. You will realise that if the first time, you had net 45 correct, and after seeing the answers, attempting the same paper after 15-20 days, you will not have 100% score. You will have 60-65 net correct or so. Make sure that you solve and re-solve a paper afresh until you solve 90 questions net correct.

#6 Test Series ranks/ marks don't matter. For that matter life is so big that even UPSC performance does not matter. But while we are at it, this is what our life should revolve around. So take your marks and ranks seriously.


_______

I feel i have reached a stage where I am very far from where I started and even further from the destination, this lack of confidence (mind you, it wasn't there before but for these successive failures and the emanating "Khauff" fromt them). I think after 4 failed tries, logic deems to quit and start afresh in a different field, yet simultaneously I feel that the immense knowledge and know-how acquired shall go futile (atleast partly) if i do not go for it again and utilise the attempts.  Why do I think that? I am 29, working in the 'off-seasons' (Public-Policy @govt think tank) without a sound future back-up as of now, the skills I have can be easily duplicated.

All in all, in these current 'doldrums' please suggest me some course of action, I prepare by myself without a peer group, heck I barely have friends who are preparing too. Didn't undergo any coaching and do self -study only.


__________

Take classes. You get a good peer group, develop discipline and learn in 3 months what you cannot do in 8 months. While attending classes we all feel that we can do this in less time, but truth is you won't sustain.

Also, while everyone says no coaching, I happen to know and meet every second selected person, and I know how many classes they have taken. More than that, I know them sending their siblings for classes, but saying things like I didnt take coaching.

I may have bias for classes because I recruit people to work , and would not hire people who have NOT taken classes, because of the extended learning-on-the-job they require.


___________

Earlier had a time-table and schedules but now its all haywire, strongly feel to enroll in a test series and follow it.


______

That is not too much of either a plan or effort on your side. Thats a normal. Everyone joins some test series somewhere.  



_____




Would really appreciate,if you can give me an ear, here or otherwise and any sort of course correction would be extremely helpful.

1. Have made notes but they must be refined and tuned, since I have not written mains even once, most articles/news/data etc seem very relevant but I know so that they are not. So how do I separate the chaff.


---

Take two coaching notes / previous toppers students and make own notes out of it or take classes. Thats the best way. Secondly, to be honest, you cannot separate chaff from the grain without extraordinary effort or without wasting excessive time if you not written Mains.


--



2. Diligent student who needs guidance and maybe even a 'danda'

3. Willing to go extra mile to cover up things.

PS- Please don't suggest that the remedies lie in my own comments above. 

Thank you for your time.

Regards.



-- 

I have said all I wanted to say. As I have come to realise that where we end up depends not so much on our abilities, as on the choices we make.

--

Sir

This yeaar i got selected in bpsc , i want to know whether i will be in obc non creamy layer ??

Hello Neyawn Sir, I have heard a lot about telegram group by forumIas for CSE interview preparation. Could you please provide the link here?

You can call me Neyawn. No Sir here.

Man, we had a brilliant group till last year . Everyone was there. I used to provide some inputs myself. The problem with telegram and whatsapp groups are that they do not have archival value at all.


I mean one year later I can’t even search things . Not even Googlable.


Can we not have a group here that works ? And the content is there permanently for future candidates.

@coolcitizen_10292 


Answering your queries inline here

Found it really relevant for someone like me, I have attempted this exam for the 4th time this year, starting from 2016 as a tester attempt to flunking at every prelims (be it paper1 -2( yes I missed paper 2 by a whisker as well, once)), so now this "khauff" of prelims has crept in.  I am a fairly average guy who is decently read and has basic knowledge on almost all portions of CSE Syllabus. Yet those multiple failures haunt me somewhere and often most of the times now , hampering my preparation for next year. 

This is not unusual. We fear what we do not understand or cannot solve. I would tell you one thing. Never think in terms of cut off. I mean it is not impossible to score 120+ in Prelims and in fact its easy to do it once you break that barrier.

And no, I am not talking from a teacher / coaching perspective. I am taking from perspective of someone who has consistently secured 145 types marks in GS Paper 1 Prelims. 

There are few keys to it. 

#1 Be rock solid with basic books and prvious years papers. Do then like 7-10 times. Do them until you puke. You cant get even 1 questions wrong from there.

#2 Take one test series - by joining it and not online. Take a pen and paper and do it well. Try to be in Top 20%tile. Take another one from market and be thorough with it.

#3 If you have an error problem, focus on revision. Revision is antidote to error rate

#4 If you spend 2 hours solving a paper, spend another 2 hours revising and analysing it and making sure that if similar question comes in next test from same topic, you wont get it wrong.

#5  If you are still having accuracy problem, solve a previously solved unmarked paper after 15-20 days, and see how you many you are able to solve. You will realise that if the first time, you had net 45 correct, and after seeing the answers, attempting the same paper after 15-20 days, you will not have 100% score. You will have 60-65 net correct or so. Make sure that you solve and re-solve a paper afresh until you solve 90 questions net correct.

#6 Test Series ranks/ marks don't matter. For that matter life is so big that even UPSC performance does not matter. But while we are at it, this is what our life should revolve around. So take your marks and ranks seriously.

_______

I feel i have reached a stage where I am very far from where I started and even further from the destination, this lack of confidence (mind you, it wasn't there before but for these successive failures and the emanating "Khauff" fromt them). I think after 4 failed tries, logic deems to quit and start afresh in a different field, yet simultaneously I feel that the immense knowledge and know-how acquired shall go futile (atleast partly) if i do not go for it again and utilise the attempts.  Why do I think that? I am 29, working in the 'off-seasons' (Public-Policy @govt think tank) without a sound future back-up as of now, the skills I have can be easily duplicated.

All in all, in these current 'doldrums' please suggest me some course of action, I prepare by myself without a peer group, heck I barely have friends who are preparing too. Didn't undergo any coaching and do self -study only.

__________

Take classes. You get a good peer group, develop discipline and learn in 3 months what you cannot do in 8 months. While attending classes we all feel that we can do this in less time, but truth is you won't sustain.

Also, while everyone says no coaching, I happen to know and meet every second selected person in the final list that you see, and I know what they have done. More than that, I know them sending their siblings for classes, but saying things like I didn't take coaching. It is not they are trying to mislead. It is juts a problem with humanities subjects. Humanities subjects are so self doable that anyone who can read and write can do it.

Unlike Maths and some parts of syllabus ( like Geography ) which needs to be taught.i.e. you would not want you nephew to discover the zero, humanities subjects are very self explanatory. This creates two problems.

If you are an engineering student you will better understand this, and if you are not, you WONT, so ignore this part.

Like in +2 when people prepare for JEE, you study projectile motion,  you will have the same content and problems in both FIIT-JEE and Vidyamandir classes material. If you have done one, you have done all. Or you can pick up Irodov's book for the most difficult problems.

But in humanities, there is a lot of subjectivity. So the key is not only in understanding the concepts - which can be done with some ease ( there are some grey areas everywhere ) - it is is knowing all the concepts in the first place. So in the end in humanities, the effort is in gathering all the ideas itself.

Also, the locus of what is to be studied is not so clear in Humanities, in which case classes help. 

I may have bias for classes because I teach - but more than that because I recruit people to work , and would not / do not hire people who have NOT taken classes, because of the extended learning-on-the-job they require.

___________

Earlier had a time-table and schedules but now its all haywire, strongly feel to enroll in a test series and follow it.

______

That is not too much of either a plan or effort on your side. Thats a normal. Everyone joins some test series somewhere.  And it is not uncommon to see people not having a daily personal time table - leave alone study schedule after few years of preparation. Get organised. Its not worth wasting your life in the wilderness of UPSC preparation.

_____

Would really appreciate,if you can give me an ear, here or otherwise and any sort of course correction would be extremely helpful.

1. Have made notes but they must be refined and tuned, since I have not written mains even once, most articles/news/data etc seem very relevant but I know so that they are not. So how do I separate the chaff.

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Take two coaching notes / previous toppers students , ( if you dont want to take classes )and make own notes out of it. Take up a test series and follow its schedule. Thats the best way. Secondly, to be honest, you cannot separate chaff from the grain without extraordinary effort or without wasting excessive time if you are not written Mains, and have a few years. This is because you are exposed to so many things, without having developed the ability to filter out things.

Also, if anyone tells you that you can, you ask him if he was able to do it when he was writing his first Mains. Most people, including me, will give you advice from their perspective and based on the number and kind of people we have met. Earlier I used to assume that any civils aspirant would know at least this much. But that is not true. People are surprising unique.

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2. Diligent student who needs guidance and maybe even a 'danda'

3. Willing to go extra mile to cover up things.

PS- Please don't suggest that the remedies lie in my own comments above. 

Thank you for your time.

Regards.

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I have said all I wanted to say. As I have come to realise that where we end up depends not so much on our abilities, as on the choices we make.

Only you know your exact position, and things that you have done so far. I would earnestly ask you to either give your 100%, and dont be a seasonal aspirant - apperaing when prelims comes and disappearing all throughout the year. UPSC is not worth preparing seasonally, or woth less than 100% committment. You either leave preparation or risk everything.

Just think of the numbers. This year Rank 1,2,3,4,5,6,7 of IFoS are all ForumIAS students. In Bihar PCS about 30 people selected for SDM , about 10 of them , whom I know are forum students ( at least mains preparation has been done with forum assistance ) - most of them Interview appeared. What is the anomaly? ForumIAS does not conduct programs for IFoS and State PCS - except provide former rankholders to hold guidance sessions. This year Arushi Mishra ( Rank 2 ) came, last year it was Satwik ( AIR 17 ), before that Abhishek Surana ( Rank 2)  and Vaibhav Srivastava ( Rank 1) came to help out aspirants.

So my point is that in this line of career, the people getting through IFoS, State PCS , RBI Grade B and other services are not the guys who are cant clear Prelims, but are topping these exams. All of the people are rigorous IAS aspirants, having cleared at least Prelims, and actually appeared for Interview. So that is the crowd actually competing there.So you will be competing with them, even if you have a  Plan B .

So either give 100%, prepare like a first timer or don't , and walk out of this.You are the best person to decide this. Noone can do that for you. All I am saying is that late 20s is not the best time to take life and career casually. You won't and dont get away with it. You are not the first person doing this.

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@Neyawn, I graduated (Dual 5 year degree) from IITD last year and gave my first mains in 2018. Have been preparing for UPSC since 4th year - First Vajiram in 4th year and then 5th year self study + PSIR coaching. In the Mains 2018, I missed the cutoff scoring 758 last year (when cutoff was ~774). I couldnt complete my papers  - Left almost 60-70 marks in GS and 60 marks in Optional. Giving alongside college gave me less writing practise time.


This time for Mains 2019, I diligently prepared right after Mains 2018 since I saw a similar post for Post Mains period schedule last year. I had joined ForumIAS MGP B, was placed well in terms of rank (top 10-20) + joined two test series (one year long and one for Prelims to Mains period) for optional too .

In Mains, I attempted all questions in both GS/Optional almost to my expectation. 

Now after consulting my seniors/friends like Atirag (Rank 15), Smith Lodha (Rank 80s) etc, I just recently came to Mumbai to work in a startup for the time till my interview or till around March-April after which I plan to resume studying for UPSC if the results are anything except IAS. Reasons being that I thought I would be able to prepare for Prelims and Mains after the interview result (although I have self doubts like everyone else) but seniors who knew me through the preparation phase assured that this time would be better utilised working since I have already given 2 Mains + theres less productivity here. Moreover, in my mind (and those of seniors who cracked the exam) now in the Oct-Jan period, unlike last year, this time should be reserved for interview prep and not next Mains prep, so I trusted myself that I will balance the job and interview prep. 

I am hoping to receive an interview call this time (given the baseline of last year), and planned to devote few hours everyday for the interview prep. 

Neyawn, can you advice me - 

1. How should I prepare for interview - in terms of time/day, when should I come to Delhi for Mocks etc

2. Importantly, do you think (as per going through your advice to aspirants to prepare for next Mains in this Oct-Dec period), I took a wrong decision? I can still leave the job and come back in next 1-2 month or so. 

3. Any other advice on how to manage my time for the next attempt or anything else. I am all ears.

Thank you so much. 

@jayant8860840  Answering your three questions


1. How should I prepare for interview - in terms of time/day, when should I come to Delhi for Mocks etc

Begin by making a diary / evernote and writing questions from DAF.  Then 1-2 lines of Answers of each of them. The people with good communication skills usually do not do this, because they think they are good at it. Besides it is a test of one's personality. 

Read this


https://forumias.com/portal/ias-interview-preparation/




2. Importantly, do you think (as per going through your advice to aspirants to prepare for next Mains in this Oct-Dec period), I took a wrong decision? I can still leave the job and come back in next 1-2 month or so. 


Your case is very much like Vaibhav Shriv , who was like dying to get back to job. I do not recommend it. This is the time, people sharpen the axe. Your approach has to be "Hope for the best and prepare for the worst." As far as I remember my besties ( by which I mean best students, since this line of work does not leave scope for much friendship ) were studying. Even people whom I see slog for past 2 years were also studying - Like Minal Karanwal and others.

Also, last week I happened to be in town to meet some of my juniors from DPS R K Puram. One of them was CEO of Zilla Parishad the other was the Municipal Commissioner - basically seeing te urban and rural development of a district. Both were in the IAS, and one of them had a singel digit rank. This dude with as single digit rank  , and IIT Bombay, was slogging in library in his 4rth attempt with a overgrown beard in December and not just before the Mains. He had gotten some Allied Services from which he had resignedm and studying till he got the IAS. He was the male topper that year. In my opinion, generally people from IITs make better and more well informed choices than this. Not being critical.


3. Any other advice on how to manage my time for the next attempt or anything else. I am all ears.

I know only one way of clearing the exam, that is read , read and read. By now would have honed writing skills. You can go for reading at least a dozen good books. Trust me, this dude, this dude, this dude, and this dude, are voracious readers and when we meet and talk, its mostly about books. So finish some good books in these holidays and work on fitness.

Lastly, you are not going to end up jobless, poor, single or a combination of these things. So working for start ups can wait. Besides the thought process for a start up and that for bureaucracy is orthogonal, and does not augur well for personality test preparation. I mean the thought process required for the two is completely different. So come back soon. I would also recommend you to be in student mode and take at least one class till you are in the Top 100 - to be in student mode. Helps keep the discipline, even if you feel like puking looking at books and classes. 

A lot of what I have said above could be Placebo, but it delivers.

@neyawn When can I come to meet you? Have to discuss about preparation.

Hey @neyawn!

I wrote my first mains in 2019 (2nd attempt). I could answer all questions and I'm optimistic about the results. 

I joined MGP after failing in 2018 prelims. I have made my notes for almost all the topics. So, the thing about working on weak areas is less applicable. I mean, I need to read world history kind of things. But otherwise, I am sorted. 

Now, I want to join SFG batch this December. But the test is this sunday and the program starts before the Mains result is announced. So, I'm uncertain about it. Should I join SFG now? or the later batch? I'm scared of Prelims (more than anything else in the world. Such uncertainty. )

About writing Mains test series, I think I can manage it post 2020 prelims. My writing skills are decent. Plus, I have written many MGP tests. So, any loopholes w.r.t Mains prep can be covered post- prelims.

What's the best use of the present time? I'm reading transcripts. I'm gradually planning to start preparing topics for interview i.e. current affairs preparation. 

Please guide w.r.t SFG.


Hello @neyawn!


I graduated in 2017, took a decent paying software job (10+), worked for a year and then quit in June 2018. Took coaching from Vajiram during 2018-19. CSE 2019 was my first attempt. I cleared prelims and gave Mains, which went okayish (almost full attempted). After resting for 2-3 days, anxiety started to creep. Thoughts of joining back software job came, which might be because of lack of UPSC peer group. 
Regarding gaps in my Mains preparation


    - I did not take Essay coaching or test series in this attempt. Just wrote 5-6 essays and brainstormed about some more


    - Optional (Sociology) notes, GS4 notes are ready. 


    - For GS2, GS3 - relied on standard sources (Laxmikanth, Mrunal, Shankar etc) and filled the gaps Vision value added material 


I tried to study for RBI Grade B in October but have zero motivation for this exam, so this month was unproductive (but still managed to read TheHindu every day, sometimes coupled with videos.)
How should I move ahead from here?

Can you suggest some affordable classes which are held regularly so that I can get back to a routine?

I'm thinking of focusing on both, Pre+Mains as well as Interview till the results are out.

Thanks!


Focus on Pre+Mains+ Interview means no focus at all. Focus means keeping the target area small.

The Prelims can wait for sometime for you. Work on your lacuna in Mains.


And give 1-1.5 hours to Interview prep in the evening.

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