How to Approach IAS MAINS EXAM?

CSE Mains is the second stage of Civil Services Exam. After Qualifying CSE Prelims candidates gets the opportunity to write Main Exam which is the ladder to climb their dream destination.

It is the CSE Mains which decides whether a candidate will be finally selected or not. Mains marks along with interview decides the final selection, but since mains consists of 1750 marks and interview consists of 275 marks, it is very clear that mains marks are the prime deciding factor in final selection. So utmost importance should be given to this stage of examination.

In comparison to the prelims which is objective in nature, mains is descriptive, which means you don’t have to identify the correct option from the given option but  have to write answers convincingly to get the maximum marks. Hence systematic and consistent preparation is key to success, as rightly said “Rome is not built in a day”. Dedicated hard work , Smart work  & good strategy will fetch you most. So, here are certain basic requirements which you should adopt to maximise your marks in mains:

1. Syllabus on tip of the Tongue:

  • Foremost important is to go through the syllabus of mains thoroughly. You should religiously follow the syllabus, as good knowledge of syllabus saves your time and energy as it helps to be more focused on important stuff rather than unimportant or unwanted stuff. You should always have a copy of syllabus on your study table.

2. Know the exam pattern:

It is very important to know what are the subjects in mains, how much marks are allocated to each subject, duration of the exam etc. By knowing these details you will come to know the pattern of the examination. Mains consists of nine paper, each having exam duration of 3 hours, total 1750 marks. English and language paper is of qualifying nature.

  • Paper-A: One Indian Language from the Languages included in the Eighth Schedule to the Indian Constitution. Total Marks 300
  • Paper-B: English language: Total Marks 300.
  • Paper-I Essay (It Can be written in the medium or language of the candidate’s choice) 250 Marks
  • Paper-II General Studies-I (Culture and Indian Heritage, History and Geography of the World and Society) 250 marks
  • Paper- III General Studies –II (Constitution| Governance| Social Justice| Polity| and International relations) 250 marks
  • Paper-IV General Studies –III (Economic Development| Technology| Environment| Biodiversity| Disaster Management and Security) 250 Marks
  • Paper-V General Studies –IV (Aptitude| Integrity| and Ethics) 250
  • Paper-VI Optional Subject – Paper 1    250 Marks
  • Paper-VII Optional Subject – Paper 2    250 Marks

3. Going through previous year’s questions paper:

Go through at least 5 – previous year’s questions paper, that would give you a fair idea about the kinds of questions, difficulty level of each question, weightage of different section in the question paper. For example, in GS paper 2, there are different section like polity, constitution, governance, social justice and International relation. By analysing the previous year’s questions paper, you would understand the trend, which section has been given more importance over the other, so you can prioritise your focus on that part.

4. Making Notes/Synopsis:

Making notes or synopsis on each & every subjects or the difficult one will ease your preparation. This will also help in your revision & last moment preparation for the exam as its not possible to revise whole lot of books which you have studied. You can quickly revise notes/synopsis on topics within no minutes. Try to develop at least 200 words content on each topic; it will help you to tackle almost all questions in mains.

5. Answer writing practice:

Since marks are allotted as per the quality of ones answer, it is very important that one should develop good writing skill, which requires a lot of practice. A good answer demands it to be relevant, succinct, well organised, within the word limit and with legible handwriting. A very important point here to be noted is that the answer must be finished within the time limit. So, answer writing practice is extremely important.

Many a time candidates overlook this crucial step, they are in mistaken belief that if they have information at hand, no need to practice answer writing before the exam as they can directly write answer on the exam day. It is a very faulty approach as you need to assemble that relevant information into a well organised answer and it does not come by mere information. You need to practice well in advance.

To know about your writing skill, you need somebody experienced who can correctly evaluate your answer and provide you the correct feedback. You can join some good test series which would provide you exam like environment and valuable feedback. Do not ignore this exercise, it is of utmost importance.

GRACE IAS is conducting IAS MAINS TEST SERIES which is  meticulously designed keeping in mind the requirement of this exam.

6. Equal importance to each paper:

General Studies papers are as important as Optional paper, so one should judiciously devote adequate time to each subject as per the weightage given in mains. We have seen that many brilliant candidates lose their selection because of poor marks in Essay so one should give equal importance to practice Essay writing as well.

7. Time management:

Apart from having a good writing skill, time management is also very crucial during the exam. You have to maintain your speed without compromising on other aspect of your answer like content, organisation, handwriting etc. You must attempt all question rather than writing few exceptional answers.

8. Glancing the Question Paper:

When you get your question paper, first thing you should do is to quickly glance/go through the paper and see how many questions you can answer. If you can answer all you have to maintain a good speed so that you can finish the paper in time. Remember time management is very crucial. Taking test series religiously will help.

9. Managing exam-anxiety:

This is very important as it can make or break ones cherished dream. Anxiety which arises because of fear of failure, lack of confidence in one’s preparation etc, has to be dealt with properly as it can mar one’s performance in exam. Managing anxiety/stress can be done through gaining self confidence by systematic & adequate preparation through good answer writing practice. It can definitely bring down your stress level.

10. Hold over Current Affairs:

A good hold over current affairs is extremely important to substantiate your answer. Especially in GS paper II and III, questions are predominantly based on current events and even in  Essay, one cannot manage well without the Knowledge of current affairs. Adequate preparation is required.

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