Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, UPSC has postponed the preliminary exam of Civil Services to October 10th from the original schedule of 27th June. It has given more than 100 days extra for aspirants to prepare for the exam.

Now having an additional window of preparation right before the exam might appear a blessing to most of us, but haven’t we all wasted the long gaps just between the exams in our school and college days? This gap carries an additional risk of straying away from the path of optimal preparation.

There are 2 possible categories on the basis of preparation done by June, when it comes to Prelims 2021:

1. Those who were sure that they were not going to make it to the exam.

2. Those who were not in the first category, meaning, they at least stood a chance, or better, were certain of a selection if the exam was conducted in June only.

If you are in the first category, you can suffer no loss from this additional time. This could be your one chance to grab the opportunity and create that additional chance for you. You must focus majorly on Current Affairs (from May 2020 to 10th September 2021), Polity, Environment, Geography and Economics. You must target practising a minimum of 100 MCQs daily and ensure that you revise all those questions every week. The core idea is to spread your coverage of syllabus to a level where you can confidently solve 50-60 questions.

If you are in the second category, then this additional time carries a lot of additional risks for you. You must not try to reinvent the wheel. Focus on the strength areas and try becoming strong in just one of your weaker subjects. For example, if you were excellent in Polity and rather weak in History and Geography, please ensure that your command over Polity is not weakened and focus on capturing any one of the weak subjects, not the both of them. If you go on to replan your preparation, the chances are that you will end up losing your edge in your strong points as well. You must ensure that in order to retain your edge, you must practice as much as possible.

Also try to practice in the actual examination conditions, ensuring that you eliminate the common anxiety related errors.

A lot of aspirants have asked the question about the preparation of Optional subject in this additional time. It is an interesting idea considering that you are getting only 89 days between Prelims and Mains this year. It is definitely advisable to finish at least one paper of your optional subject before the Prelims, but you have to make sure that in no case this preparation is to exceed the 10th of September. Till then, if you are reasonably confident of clearing Prelims, you can focus half your time on the preparation of your optional subject. Please do not attempt any

answer writing for GS before Prelims. It will distract your attention from the Prelims orientation unnecessarily and will be counterproductive for your preparation of Prelims.

Irrespective of whatever is your state of preparation, please do not take the Paper 2 of Prelims for granted. It is advisable to everyone, even the ones who find aptitude papers very easy, to solve a minimum of 10 full length question papers of CSAT Paper 2. If you score more than 70% in all

of them, there is no need to do anything. If you are in the 50-70% bracket, find your weak areas and work on them. If you are below 50%, you must properly prepare for this paper, section by section.

In the end, it is very important to ensure that you stay in good health, both physically and mentally. These are trying times for everyone and it might be difficult to be cheerful. Remember, you are preparing for larger goals and this is one preparation that can change your life. Take each day as it comes and try to get the maximum out of it.

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