UPSC Prelims 2020 Postponed: How to Reorient Strategy?

Due to the extraordinary Corona situation, UPSC Prelims 2020 exams have been postponed. In this regard many aspirants have asked me, how to reorient or change their preparation strategy. The answer will be different for different level of preparations. So I will explain it one by one below. Just note that whenever I say ‘Finish Prelims Test Paper’ I mean the following:

Finishing a UPSC Prelims Test Paper means:
1. Completing the paper.
2. Evaluating your answers based on answer key
3. Going through all the explanations.
4. Going through the topics whose question you marked incorrectly

If you have qualified Prelims previously

If you belong to this category, you can devote 30-40% of your time to Mains preparation for the next 2 weeks and then reduce the time according to the new date announcement. If the new dates are too close, drop Mains preparation totally. In the next 2 weeks, you should try to solve at least one full Prelims Test paper daily, including covering all the explanations and revising the topics where you failed to answer correctly.

You should guard against being over-confident about Prelims. I had made the same mistake. In my opinion, Prelims is the biggest hurdle. So you should show due respect and devote enough time to it daily. Just make sure you do not break the daily chain. One Prelims test paper everyday.

If you feel well prepared and scoring well in Test Series

UPSC aspirants who are well prepared and confident about coverage of the syllabus as well as current affairs, should follow this strategy.

Give a solid 2 hours everyday to Optional Paper and give 2 hours to GS Paper every 3rd day instead of Optional. Remember, the marks in Optional decides your rank. In GS most of the toppers get around the same marks. But to get that average optional marks, you will have to practice answer writing. Write at least 3 answers in those 2 hours and self evaluate or ask your roommate/friend to evaluate.

This strategy should only apply for next 2 weeks and depending on the new UPSC Prelims 2020 date announcement by UPSC, the strategy has to be modified.

For Prelims, this category of UPSC aspirants must finish 1.5 Prelims Test Paper everyday.

If you feel underprepared for UPSC Prelims

I know many of the aspirants would be in this category. But don’t feel bad about it. We all are underprepared to begin with. Preparation is a journey.

For you, this is ideal time to fill all the gaps. I will list out what you must do during this golden period that has come your way to close the gap with seasoned aspirants. I believe you are already solving test papers and have done a decent amount of coverage. Then follow this:

  • Cover the high value subjects like Indian Polity, Modern History, Ecology and Current Affairs by solving the subject specific Test Papers. You should not mark a single question in Indian Polity and Modern History incorrectly in the exam. So prepare well.
  • At this point, all coverage should be done on the basis of solving test papers only. Just put your trust in this strategy. It worked for so many toppers! It will work for you.
  • You should attempt 2 to 3 UPSC Prelims Test Papers daily. No excuse. My batchmate Dinesh who got 6th rank used to finish 3 papers everyday for 2 months. Imagine the level of preparation he had. You can also do it. Push yourself.
  • You should continue this strategy till UPSC Prelims 2020 unless they are postponed for say 2-3 months or more. Let us wait for the 20th May announcement.
  • Clearing Prelims will give big boost to your confidence. That is why I have not emphasised on the Mains preparation during this time.

So, I have tried to list out the strategy for aspirants placed at different preparation stages. If you have further questions, you can post in the comments below. All the best, Future Officers!

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