This year, the time to prepare for mains is comparatively lesser than before. Even then, I think that you have enough time to prepare and crack the mains in the time available. Kindly calculate your Preliminary marks as soon as possible by clicking here and do not wait till the results are announced. Even if you do not clear Preliminary this time, it would be better to start Mains since CSE-2021 calendar shows just 80 days for your Mains preparation.
Once you are ready mentally, start by going through the syllabus first. This has to be followed for GS 1, GS2, GS3, GS4 and the optional. Remember, UPSC has given you a detailed syllabus for Mains. This seemingly big syllabus is not something to be scared of, but rather a boon in disguise. All you have to do is to get yourself acquainted with the syllabus, study accordingly so that you don’t miss any portion and also you don’t learn anything that is not required.
How to prepare your GS topics:
While going through the syllabus for each of the GS topics, make sure that you have enough content for each of the keywords/sub-syllabus given. In addition to this content, prepare the current affairs part related to each of this sub-syllabus. Keep revising these topics and start taking tests as soon as possible. Get yourself evaluated and work on the feedback given by the evaluator. The evaluator being more experienced than the candidate, will be in a position to tell you what you must work on to better yourself. On the other side, keep going through the previous years’ questions and understand how UPSC will be asking questions. Try to attempt these questions just like the actual CSE exam so that you will get the feel of the exam and you will also get more writing practice. During this period, attempt as many questions as you can and make sure that you do it in the proper exam style. Many a time, students are not able to finish the actual exam, and this, in particular, denies them an interview call. So, practising as many questions as you can now automatically help you complete the exam in the stipulated time. While writing the answer, make sure that you do not deviate from the question. For this, give relevant sub-headings so that the answer has a good structure. Also, give precise points and add diagrams, charts, graphs, maps etc. to make the explanation more appealing. Though this has nothing to do with content enrichment, making an answer presentable is essential for clearing Mains.
How to prepare your Optional:
The method of preparing Optional and GS remains the same as the aspirant has to go through the syllabus, have sufficient writing practice, and refer to the previous years’ question paper. Apart from this, each optional has its own identity, and hence it has to be prepared accordingly. But the important thing to remember here is that you have to interlink the topics in your optional. While you do your writing practice, kindly make sure you are able to link topics from Paper 2 when you write a test in Paper 1 and vice-versa. This method of interlinking applies to almost all the optional like Public Administration, Sociology, etc., barring a few. Keep revising the notes that you have made and avoid reading new texts now. Emphasis should be given to writing practice and getting yourself acquainted with all the topics that are repeatedly asked in your optional.
How to prepare for the essay:
I sincerely request you not to underestimate the Essay preparation as something trivial and easy. Go through the previous years’ papers and find the topics that are being repeatedly asked. After this, find out other major topics and start making content for this. In short, you have to have enough content to write a decent essay. The content that you make for Essay will help you in both GS and Interview, and hence, it won’t go in vain. Practice writing essays and you have to write at least ten essays to see a considerable change. Your essay has to have language, content, structure, coherence and paragraph unity. The essay section is one of the few areas where you can score maximum marks with minimum effort. Click here to read our special article on how to deal with Essays.
Regardless of what people think, CSE Mains is more manageable to crack than Preliminary as much of the information you have already got from studying for the Preliminary exam. The emphasis should be given to identifying what the question demands and how you present the answer. Continue your writing practice and keep this up until your actual exams. Remember, even if you miss a few questions in the mains exam, there are many more to bring yourself back into the game—all the very best in your journey.