TIPS FOR MAINS
- INSTRUCTIONS GIVEN AT THE BEGINNING OF THE QUESTION PAPERS SHOULD BE READ CAREFULLY.
- Preparations for Mains examination should be done intensively.
- It always helps if the choice of the optionals for the Prelims examination is one of the subjects chosen for the Mains.
- After analysis/taking the decision on the options, one should sort out the Main question papers according to the syllabus topics of the Mains examination. If one analyses these questions, after sometime the questions are repeated in one form or the other. This will give you time to prepare a standard answer to the question papers of the previous years. This will also make your task easy at the Mains examination.
- Questions asked are of the Masters level examination. Sometimes the questions are ‘conceptual’ in nature, aimed at testing the comprehension levels of the basic concepts. So, if you don’t have a basic grounding in the basic concepts, it would be advisable to start from simple books.
- The right choice of reading material is important and crucial. You should not read all types of books as told by others. Get a list of standard textbooks from the successful candidates, or other sources and also select proper notes for studying.
- One should always target for Mains even while preparing for Preliminary examination. This is because there is much in common ground for study and there is little time for preparation for the Main examination after the results of the Prelims examination are announced.
- While studying for the optional subjects, keep in mind that there is no scope for selective studies in CSE. The whole syllabus must be completely and thoroughly covered. Equal stress and weightage should be given to both the optionals. Remember – in the ultimate analysis both subjects carry exactly the same amount of maximum marks.
- For subjects like Mathematics and Statistics and Geography maps etc, practice is very important. One should also practice other subjects and should not treat the same examination, as an “experience gathering” exercise to get a chance for writing mains is a great thing, which one may not get again. Hence, you should go through the unsolved papers of the previous papers and solve them to stimulate the atmosphere of the examination. Stick to the time frame (roughly 1 minute for 2 marks. Speed is the very essence of this examination. Hence, time management assumes crucial importance.
- Writing skills (packaging) matter a lot in the Civil Services. Most of the candidates appearing for the Mains examination have a lot of knowledge, but lack writing skills. They are not able to present all the information/knowledge in a coherent and logical manner, as expected by the examiner. It is not only what you write, that is important, but also how you write what you write.
- For developing the writing skills, one should keep writing model answers while preparing for the Mains examination. This would help the candidate to “get into the groove” of writing under time pressure in the Mains examination. The attitude should never be “I will directly write in the examination”.
- Develop and follow your own style of writing. Try not to be repetitive and maintain a flow in the style of your writing. Never try to imitate others in the style of writing.
- Sequential and systematic style of answering comes after a lot of practice and analysis of standard answers. Try to stimulate the actual examination hours to judge your performance and to plug any loopholes.
- Strictly adhere to the word limit as prescribed at the end of the question to the extent possible. Try not to exceed the word limit, as far as possible. Sticking to the word limit that will save time. Besides, the number of marks you achieve are not going to increase even if you exceed the word limit.
- Revision of subjects is very important because “anything you could not revise prior to the examination is as good as not having prepared at all”. The reason is that you have been preparing for months or years together. It is a human tendency to forget something after some time. Hence, revision is a must.
- Write it legibly as it will simplify the evaluator’s task and he can read the answers easily.
- Highlight/underline the important points, which you feel, are important.
- If the write up is in essay form, write in paragraphs. A new point should start with a new paragraph.
- If the question needs answer in point form, give it a bullet format.
- Keep sufficient space between two lines.
- Try to maintain uniformity in your write-ups throughout the paper. Some students write well in the initial papers. Under time pressure, the script goes from bad to worse in the later stages of the answer sheets and gets bad treatment. This may irritate the evaluator.
- Don’t count words after every answer. If you have practiced well, you can count “how many words do you write in a line and how many lines in a single page and the total words per question”.
- Give space and divide it by a dividing line between two questions.
- One should target 1200-1250/2000 marks in the Mains. The main cut off also varies from year to year.
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