How to prepare for UPSC Mains Exam


  • Developing ‘Unique’ content

During my preparations I used to maintain 4 set of notebooks one for each of the GS papers. I used to write the part of the syllabus, important points relating to the syllabus and leave a few pages before writing the next topic.

For example : In GS paper 2 there is a syllabus portion ‘ Issues related to poverty and hunger’ . During the course of the preparation if I found any new information about ‘Poverty or hunger’ in some book or newspaper or magazine or on the internet I would immediately update my notes.

So at the end of the year I had a good collection of unique information on different topics for revision.

  • Improving vocabulary

I maintained a small note for this purpose where I wrote down 3 new words a day – their meaning , usage in a sentence. A good vocabulary can make your answers rich and to the point.

  • Writing Practice

For mains there is only one foolproof strategy-It is Answer Writing Practice. Only when you’ll write answers will you get to know how well you can put the information, you’ve been cramming in your little head all this while, on paper for the examiner to judge you. The more you’ll write the better you’ll get with each passing day.

  • Taking tests and evaluation

Join a GS test series which gives you atleast 15-20 tests. Most important thing is evaluation and feedback. Work on those feedbacks and make it a point not to repeat the mistakes you made in previous tests.

I used to write answer for a particular question – evaluate it on the same day and award marks. After 14 days, I wrote answer for the same question and compare both the answers. This way I improved the quality of presentation of answers.

  • Optionals

I finished the syllabus for optionals 2 months before prelims. After prelims I made it a habit to spend 2 hours everyday for optionals. Every weekend I wrote a test on a specific portion.

The marks in optional can be a game changer, so one should make sure that atleast 10 optional tests are written before appearing for mains.

  • Essays

I had made it a point to write 1 essay every week and get it evaluated from seniors and teachers. Making note of important illustrations and every day examples can add a lot of value to your essays.

For example : For the essay ‘ Social media is inherently a selfish medium ‘, I started the essay with the a inhumane incident which happened in karnataka last year – A man hit by a vehicle bleeding and begging the bystanders for help while the bystanders clicking pictures and taking videos to be uploaded on social media.

Create your own notes for every major topic like : Women issues , Democracy , Education ,etc and keep updating it with eye catching illustrations that you see on everyday newspaper.

Tips in text article by : Madhu Balan, AIR 71 CSE 2017 at Indian Administrative Service (2017-present)

In Video Tips by Vishal Sah