An aspirant asked me some important questions that I had not addressed in my blog post about my preparation strategy. Here are the questions I was asked and the answers I gave:
Q1. Since this was your second attempt could you tell me what do you think went wrong in your first attempt? I would like to know this so I could keep it in mind as well.
A1. My mistake was that instead of aiming to attempt maximum possible correct questions in the GS paper in Prelims, i only tried to stay above the "cut-off", not realising that cut offs can change and vary drastically depending on the difficulty of the paper. I also did not practice enough of CSAT and as a result couldn't attempt as many questions as i would have otherwise managed, due to lack of practice.
Q2. Also a couple of times, you make a mention of vision IAS notes. Which ones are you referring to? Like even if I go to the market, which do I ask for?
A2. Vision IAS is a coaching institute in Old Rajendra Nagar near Axis Bank. Go to the market and ask the shopkeepers for "Vision IAS notes". They will understand what you mean.
Q3. What test series did you join with CL ? Just CSAT?
A3. CL test series contain both GS and CSAT. They're mock tests conducted just like the UPSC conducts the prelim exam.
Q4. Since I also do not excel at Math, I had already solved the last 4 years CSAT papers (2011-2014), and had scored above the qualifying after having it self corrected on the basis of answers provided on the UPSC Website. So how do I go about with it now?
A4. Go about CSAT as i have written in the blog. Pick up Mathematics NCERTs from 7-10th standards along with Tata McGraw Hill publications' book on CSAT. It's this very fat book which will be quite helpful in understanding all type of questions that come in CSAT. Just because CSAT is now qualifying doesn't mean you don't need practice. The paper is unpredictable so you should prepare for the worst. Here too the aim should be to attempt maximum possible correct questions.
Q5. Also suppose I begin with History now. I read the NCERTs mentioned, as a first reading. And then from my second reading onwards I make bullets for each para? Is this right?
A5. I suggest you start making bullet point notes from the first reading itself. This way your second reading will go much faster.
Q6. Is it advisable to finish one chunk, like say Ancient India completely and then move to say Geog? Or do the whole of Hist and then move to Geog? Or simultaneously do 2-3 subjects?
A6. Personally I preferred finishing off one whole subject and then move on to the next. This ensures continuity and clarity in your understanding. But different techniques work for different people so this is something you will have to figure out on your own.
Q7. When would be the most ideal time to begin taking tests?
A7. Prelims test series usually begin around March i think so you can start then. For Mains i started the GS test series only after the prelims result had come because i wanted to be sure i was in before I invested money in a test series. But depending on how your prelims go, if you feel confident of clearing it, then you may start Mains tests soon after the prelims, some time in September i guess.
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