Utility of Mains Test Series – A first attempter perspective by Kanishak Kataria (Rank 1)

Hello everyone!

Before I deep dive into this article, I would just like to clarify that it is neither a rant against any particular test series nor an attempt to undermine the feedback I had received through them. I have benefitted a lot from them. Here, I am just trying to document my experience with test series and the ebbs and flows of emotions I had during my Mains preparation.

Since it was my 1st attempt and I was doing self-study in Jaipur, there was a lack of sustained guidance and I did feel a little lost sometimes in between. My rank and GS marks do not reveal the uncertainties and fears I had. I feel aspirants, especially first-timers, need to be a little cautious in their evaluations and dependency on test series. Too much attachment to their feedbacks might affect their self-belief and confidence which I feel is very critical to excel in this examination – as UPSC does test your emotions along with your skills and intelligence.

In this post, I will talk in detail about

  1. Which test series I appeared in
  2. My level of preparation post prelims
  3. My expectations from test series
  4. My schedule for completing a test series
  5. How to maximize the value of test series
  6. My performance and analysis of the evaluations done by the institute.
  7. Final thoughts
  8. My evaluated test series copies

Before elaborating on each point, I would just say that what worked for me might not necessarily work for you. Do not take whatever I say on its face value. I took decisions based on factors like the time availability, my focus and dependence on optional, my command over language and general confidence in expressing my thoughts in an answer, etc. With Mathematics optional and less time to cover GS, my expectations and utility of test series was a lot different than any other aspirant.

The article is very long (#tldr) but I have tried to be as exhaustive as possible. Hopefully it would be of some help.

So here we go!

1. Which test series I appeared in…

Vision IAS Test Series:
8 Full-Length Tests (2 for each GS paper) – offline at Jaipur Test Centre.

  1. Why Vision?
    • Almost everyone appears in their test series, so even if the evaluation may not match UPSC standards, you can measure your performance relative to the best performers and it would be similar across both test series and UPSC.
  2. Why only FLTs?
    • I didn’t have enough time (to appear in sectional/topic-wise tests).
      I started writing answers only after prelims and mostly focused on my optional until the prelims results came out.
    • I downloaded the sectional tests at home and used them for revision and reverse learning (few selected topics) instead of writing the full tests.

Additionally, I wrote 6 essays (3 tests) with Triumph IAS (by Vikash Ranjan Sir) – online from home. I chose it as my friends had given good feedback.

2. My level of preparation post prelims before appearing in a test series

The Mains examination was scheduled to start from 28th September 2018. I started my focused GS preparation only after 21st July 2018.

  • Before that, I only wrote 1-2 answers on the TLP IASBaba platform for 15-20 days to get into Answer writing rhythm.
  • I focused more on optional and took a break from GS due to saturation after prelims.
  • I finished topics like Disaster Management, Internal Security, Ethics Case Studies in the next 2 months.
  • I had covered other topics before prelims (I studied from Mains point of view always) + I was well versed in my class notes having revised them multiple times.
  • I was confident about my presentation and the ability to write well if I knew something about a topic. There was no fear of “writing” as such. Because of this I delayed my answer writing a little. I will not recommend this to someone who is not as proficient and also if they have much more dependency on subjective answers. With Mathematics optional, I could afford to focus less on answer writing skills.

3. My expectations from test series

I believe in “Exam Simulations” and felt with test series I can go and write tests with the mindset that I am appearing in Mains. I had developed confidence by writing on the TLP platform but felt I needed to write FULL TESTS, i.e., 20 questions in 3 hours; as completing the paper is the biggest challenge in mains.

Also, I felt with the detailed feedback, I will be able to improve the quality of my answers. But did it actually happen? More on this later…

4. My schedule for completing a test series

Aspirants need to keep in mind that it is hard for institutes to evaluate the copies on time especially with Mains approaching. It will take them as many as 10-12 days to evaluate 1 copy. When less than 25 days are left, you can bet on not seeing your evaluated copies unless you have some backdoor contacts!

Everyone wants to “prepare well” before writing tests and delay it as much as possible. This creates the demand-supply imbalance in the latter stages of Mains preparation. But this does not mean you should write tests 3 months before Mains when your preparation is not as per the required standards. In doing so you will not be able to write good quality answers and end up wasting test series. In short, there is a trade-off between the quality of answers vs getting timely evaluation and feedback.

I did not write sectional tests but believe they are a good source for revision and covering up gaps in your preparation. I wrote 8 FLTs at the Jaipur test center. I considered them as 2 attempts in the Mains.

  • Write 1st iteration – 4 tests (one GS each) at least 45 days before Mains.
  • You will get the evaluated copies in 10-15 days.
  • Learn from the mistakes you have committed and incorporate the feedback given in the next iteration.
  • Write the 2nd iteration when 25-30 days are left and not later than that.
  • If you delay any more, you will not be able to get your copies evaluated.

My date wise schedule:

  • 12th August 2018: Appeared in GS1(1) and GS4(1) tests.
    • Started GS preparation on 21st July. 10 days each for GS4 and GS1
  • 22nd August 2018: Appeared in GS2(1) and GS3(1) tests
    • Completed GS2 and GS3 syllabus as much as I could in 10 days and gave the tests (with full focus despite not finishing the syllabus).
  • 31st August 2018: Appeared in GS1(2) and GS3(2) tests
    • Finished off remaining topics from GS3 and appeared after incorporating the feedback.
  • 4th September 2018: Appeared in GS2(2) and GS4(2) tests
    • Revised and gave the last 2 tests.
  • Post this I only studied sectional tests at home and had some simulations using other full tests available online.
  • 28th September 2018: UPSC Mains start

5. How to maximize the value of test series

One is never fully prepared for all the tests. So you have to go in even without full preparation. But it doesn’t imply that you should go with a relaxed attitude. Test series should be considered as a real exam. It is not for “answer writing practice” – Do that at home! Many people do this rookie mistake.

Follow a strict deadline of 3 hours. Institutes do not provide invigilators and it is up to the students to submit the answer sheets on their own. They take more than 3 hours to finish as they feel they should write good content, time factor they will handle in the actual exam. In this process, they inflate their marks also as the evaluator doesn’t know how much time they took to write the answers. If you do so, you are essentially wasting the 10-15k you paid for the test series. As I mentioned earlier, the real challenge is completing the paper with quality content. There is always a reduction in quality if you aim to write 1 answer in 6-7 minutes.

If you are able to complete only 15 question in 3 hours, do not take 1 extra hour for remaining 5 question and feel happy about finishing the paper. On the other hand, you should feel bad about not being able to complete all 20 questions and make it a goal to improve next time. By doing this, you can measure your progress also. Aim 17 questions 3 hours in next test.

Give multiple exams on a single day just like you will do in UPSC. It has multiple benefits:

  • Proper simulation – UPSC is very physical and you have to write for 6 hours in a day
  • Reduces the recency bias, which happens if you study for a single paper and write a test on it the next day. You are bound to perform well as you can recall easily from the recent memory. But if you prepare for more topics it is much more difficult to recall – you will observe this as you approach Mains and have prepared all the 4 papers.
  • Saves the time of going to the institute again and again

6. My performance and analysis of the evaluations done by the institute.

Although my performance was good in all the papers (barring GS3), I was a little worried. I didn’t feel confident after giving the second iteration of tests and felt my preparation is not as per the required standards.

  • In all of them, I found it harder to attempt all the 20 questions. As I had completed the full syllabus once, I wasn’t able to recall in the limited time given the information overload in my brain 🙁 . This was evident in GS1 where I scored 106 in GS1(1) and 83 in GS1(2). But overall evaluation and comments were as per my expectations.
  • In GS2, I was quite surprised by my marks – 95 in GS2(1) and 109 in GS2(2). My preparation wasn’t adequate in GS2(1) so 95 seemed a little higher. And in GS2(2), despite not attempting 100% I scored 109! I was confused as to what to make out from that evaluation.
  • My performance and evaluation in GS3 and GS4 were even more confusing.
  • I scored 79 and 67 in GS3 tests which were way below my expectations. I felt I deserved better marks in a few questions but the evaluation was a little strict. To give you a comparative analysis, I scored 117 in UPSC!
  • In GS4, the evaluation was so subjective that I gave up on it! In GS4(1), I did well in case studies but got fewer marks whereas in GS4(2), I didn’t even attempt the case studies fully due to lack of time and yet the marks were higher! In the theoretical section, I felt I did well in GS4(2) but the evaluator had given lesser marks.

This doesn’t mean that the evaluation was completely faulty. The comments at the start were very helpful and in few questions they did point out some possible improvements and also praised some of the good points or answer presentation.
However, in GS3 and GS4 I was in serious need of some sincere to the point advice but couldn’t find any. I felt a little lost as it was my first Mains and I had no idea how UPSC would evaluate my answers. Such was the desperation that I had made up my mind of moving to Delhi for Mains preparation in next attempt!

It was during this time, optimism and self-confidence bailed me out. I didn’t give up. I thought of improving my writing speed and ensuring that all the questions are attempted fully. I had 100% confidence in my answer style and decided to leave it for UPSC to evaluate them instead of some institutes. I knew that if I could rectify the mistakes from my 2nd iteration, where I couldn’t finish the papers, I would do well in Mains. And luckily it was the case!

7. My final thoughts on test series and Mains preparation:

Firstly I would like to make you aware of some realities of test series. Institutes take somewhere around 10k per student for 8 FLTs. If 100 students enrol in their test series , they are making 10 lakh Rs. from it. Now if they hire 2 evaluators (who are themselves UPSC veterans and not real faculties with subject expertise) and pay them 50k each for evaluating 100 copies, you can easily calculate who benefits eventually. (Note: these figures are just estimates). So even if there is a drop in quality of evaluation and few gullible students still join their test series, they will keep making the profits!

Also, the evaluations are highly subjective. It is not necessary that what the evaluator from an institute says is what UPSC demands. It is true that they are highly experienced and much more capable of evaluating answers than any of us, but their evaluation shouldn’t be taken on its face value. Do apply your mind instead of blindly following their feedback. Try to pick up general pointers instead of dwelling into specific comments.

I truly believe that no one – be it any institute, aspirant or evaluator – has cracked the formula for excelling in GS4 paper. No one knows how to write or evaluate it in the manner desired by UPSC. There are mostly speculations. Moreover, the paper itself demands common sense. So stick to it! I could have easily faltered because of the mixed feedback I received but I had self-belief which ultimately paid off and I scored 116 in Mains.

Similarly, in GS3 I was getting worried with less than 80 marks in both the tests. Having seen the 2017 toppers score more than 140 in Mains, I felt that this paper might cause my downfall in UPSC. But I kept confidence in my preparation and thought that the evaluation might have been harsh. My final marks in Mains (117) proves this. Even though the paper was on the tougher side my marks actually increased.

To get a better idea of my performance, I always saw the best copy from each test and analysed what the person did different from me and what aspects I can incorporate in my answers. Aspirants can learn a lot from other answers along with their own marks and feedback they receive!

People talk about quality of answers in Mains. But in my opinion, quantity is equally important. Quality in individual answers and Quantity overall (number of questions attempted) is needed. A person writing 12/20 excellent answers in 3 hours cannot expect to realistically top the exam.

Don’t reverse learn from test series unless you are in extremely tough situation. By doing so, you will get into habit of seeing a question first, reading about that topic and then writing an answer. Whereas in UPSC you will encounter new questions. So get into that habit where you can answer unseen questions as well.

One advice which I would give to the first-timers is that do not get overwhelmed and under-confident if you cannot recall in tests. It is bound to happen in the first attempt and is primarily because of the lack of revision. In the last month before Mains, revise as much as you can. Maintain short notes with keywords and keep on revising them. Trust me, you will be able to do well in the Mains examination.

Ultimately, self-belief is the key in UPSC. You have to be a little arrogant. Instead of depending on institute evaluations and getting demotivated because of them I thought that I will let UPSC evaluate my answers and give the marks. If I do not perform well, I will know which subjects I need to focus on. Fortunately, I wasn’t made to do this task!

I have reiterated the point about self-confidence multiple times because I believe it helped me overcome negative emotions. Please do not let someone else demotivate you easily. Even if you perform badly just remember one quote:

Either I succeed or I learn…

8. My test series answer copies:

It was the 1st time I was attempting any test or essay, thus there is a lot of scope for improving all the answers. You can get a fair understanding of the level of my answers, my general habits while writing plus the quality of evaluation done.

I benefitted a lot from last year toppers’ copies. I analysed their styles and tried to adopt them as per my comfort level. I didn’t believe in reinventing the wheel given the paucity of time I had. If some of you are in a similar situation, you can look at my answer copies and learn from it. If you do not like anything, just discard it. Ultimately, you have to write as per your own style.

I hope this article will help all of you going forward as many of you would have started writing the test series by now.

Best of luck!

Stay healthy and believe that you will crack UPSC! 🙂

95 thoughts on “Utility of Mains Test Series – A first attempter perspective by Kanishak Kataria (Rank 1)”

  1. How did you get best copy of each test conducted by vision ias?? do they upload it on their site??

    1. They are available on the test portal of Vision IAS where one can see own performance and also the median and average performance. Best copies are also uploaded there.
      I am not sure about the process followed by other institutes.

  2. Thank you so much sir … I was in a perplexed ,demotivated situation..this came as a ray of hope

  3. Should we join test series only after completing syllabus once or can we complete syllabus as per there sectional test wise also?
    Any suggestions

    1. There is no point where you feel 100% confident in covering syllabus.So you have to write tests even if the preparation is not as per your satisfaction. If you have ample time to go and write tests and that too with full sincerity, you can utilise the sectional tests. They will act as good tool to monitor your progress and cover the syllabus timely. But from what I have heard from my friends, completing all sectional tests between the prelims and mains is very difficult.

  4. Thanks you sir for providing us such type of detailed valuable guidance .

    Really due to lack of guidance in all perspective make a aspirants unconfident and we loose our hope.

    But by using your reference of path and making it comfortable ( never copy of your strategy as it is ) , surely we crack UPSC.

    Now we are on the path of UPSC and try to enjoy the journey …

    I think that under your guidance, we work on our negative areas and make it positive …

    Again thanks a lot for your valuable response to our each queries …

  5. Sir this is my Second attempt and hopefully I’m going to write mains(for the first time).Can you please tell me which topper’s copies did you followed? What was your detailed schedule after Prelims.. please also tell about your daily time table..

    1. I mostly saw the copies of CSE 2017 toppers — Saumya Sharma Ma’am (Rank 9), Ashima Mittal Ma’am (Rank 12) and Prudhvi Tej Sir (Rank 24).
      I have already shared my broad pattern of study in my posts. Daily time table is very person specific and should be made as per the target one sets for themselves. There is no “universal” way of studying. Having said that I will try to share my daily time table as well later, if possible.

      1. Sir I went through your GS3 copies..

        Did you followed all the suggestions given by evaluator.. Please mention few of them in detail..

      2. You send you prepare self study in Jaipur..
        But in chamomile chat with toppera , you said you preared by going classes vajiram arts and history and alll..

        What is real??

        1. June 2017 – March 2018: prepared in Delhi with GS coaching at Vajiram
          April 2018 onwards – self study at home

  6. Sir,
    I don’t hv any group / single friend in preparation. Sometimes I am not able to get like minded in preparation. During first/ second attempt I completed my syllabus without any help , but now this isolation triggers a lot while preparing ahead. How should we cope up with it?any suggestions for it.

    1. Is it necessary to study in group / with like minded people? No
      You just need to keep your morale high. You can interact with people online on website like insights or forumias or iasbaba or on telegram groups.
      But make sure you do not end up spending too much time on them. It may end up backfiring.
      Also in case of isolation, talk to your family members and other friends to freshen up yourself.

  7. Sir, please provide us Elaborate strategy for Sociology as optional, from any Topper whom you know.

    1. Sir, I am preparing for CSE 2020. I have started my preparation from December and as of now I am covering the basics books.
      When should I start answer writing, after covering the basic books once or right now with the limited study I have done?
      Also what should be the source for starting?

      1. Answer writing should be done as early as possible, more so if you have time to write answers daily. Best source for starting is UPSC Previous Year Questions, specially GS1 and GS4 which are kind of static portions.

  8. Sir,when did you joined test series for math and which year question papers did you finished before final, and did you took coaching.

    1. I did 2 year IMS Test series – 2017 and 2018.
      I joined IMS classes (June – October 2017) but most of my preparation was self-study with assistance from the lectures as and when needed.

  9. Hello sir , sir me abhi bigner hu mujhe 2021 me exam dena hai to me abhi se kya aproch banau ,or kya abhi se test series bagera dena sahi rahega,sir me confuse hu kis tarah se ek proper starting karu, ki ek acha score kar saku , please tell me sir

    1. You have asked a very broad question. Do some groundwork by yourself by referring to other topper blogs. Many of your queries will be sorted out.

  10. Sir,which free online platform would you suggest for mains answer writing for 2020 ?

    1. I followed IASBaba as its questions had mix of static and current affairs.
      Insights is also good as many other people follow it.

  11. Sir, Can u provide a monthly plan for upsc 2020,alongwith when to start follow test series for prelims and mains and plz also try to provide those notes which you made for each n every topic of syllabus ?

  12. Sir ,is it necessary someone has to review our answers??(had to find a genuine feedback)

    1. It is not necessary but some form of feedback definitely helps. Getting it checked from someone with different perspective tells you about the mistakes you have committed or areas where you can improve upon. But do not always fall into other’s advice. Develop your critical thinking and apply it to all the feedbacks you receive.

  13. hello sir,

    I am preparing UPSC 2020 and doing self preparing not joined any coaching yet as i am working professional.

    I am doing preparation with study material got from online sources.

    It would be great if you can guide me.


    1. Hi, there is a lot of material available online through which you can take guidance and develop your strategy. I would have loved to guide each and everyone of you, but it is humanly impossible. Moreover with imminent training our schedule will also get busy. That’s why we have started this portal to share our tips and strategy.
      Hopefully they will be of much help to you. Best of luck.

  14. Hey, Sir. 2019 prelims was my first attempt. I am scoring somewhere around 98-104 marks from different answer keys. The cut off is expected to rise as per the consensus. This fear has affected my performance in the tests for mains and overall preparation. What would be your suggestions in this regard?

    1. I would advice you to not waste any time. Your score is in a zone with good probability of clearing. Stay away from any prelims discussion and focus on your daily tasks and routine without worrying about the future. Study something which excites you and which can get your mind occupied. I usually shifted to my optional in such a situation.

  15. It would have been useful if you had mentioned number questions you attempted in mocks(1st & 2nd iteration) and in REAL exam.
    Thank you.

    1. You can see my attempt in mocks in the test-series copies which I have shared.
      In real exam, I attempted all 20 questions in all the GS papers except GS3 where I voluntarily didn’t attempt the Bose Einstein Condensate question. (79/80 attempted)

      1. Sir , i passed 12th this year and i also want to take optional maths can’t understand how to prepare for it ,which resources i have to use ..

      1. Sir ye to me download kar chuka hoon. Actually ims institute upsc ke previous years question paper topic wise dete hai wo share kar dijiye sir.plz sir


    1. Will try to address it in future. You can follow my telegram channel for some prelims tips I had shared.

  17. Bhai , tumne apni answers copies main bade fonts and less than 150/250 words main likha hai mostly…
    But tumne apne mains bhi aise hee likha tha

    1. Yes, this is how I wrote in Mains as well.
      You do not have to write exact 150/250 words. Quality is important and that you can achieve by writing less and emphasising more on keywords.

  18. Dear Kanishak,
    I am just now starting my preparation and I have to do it from home given some constraints.
    Can you please suggest when should I join any test series as in which month should I enroll in?
    May be this is a repeated question to you but is it required to go through all the Ncerts from Class 6 to 12 specially Social Science.
    I shall be waiting for your response.

    Thank you so much for your time,

    Ved Singh

  19. Sir I’m a beginner.. and I want to know how should I start my preparation first? ND then how to manage current affairs along with reading NCERT and standards books? How can I develop an inter disciplinary approach while reading static ND current affairs?

  20. Thank you sir for sharing your experiences.
    I am in a quite opposite situation in which you were. I am going into my third year of Btech,and I am aiming for CSE 2021. I started reading 6-7 months back. I have decided to cover my static portion first(including maths, which I have decided upon as my optional) because of availability of time. I guess I would finish reading the standard sources at least once within next five months. What advice would you tender to me in context of any change in this strategy of solely reading static part up until may 2020(i m planning to start focusing on current affairs from then)?

    1. You have ample amount of time. Develop strong command on static till May 2020. But I would advice you to not leave current affairs. UPSC has a tendency of asking ~2 year old current affairs also.

  21. Really helpful thanks a lot . I have a query which might not be orthodox about essay paper i want to as topics related to geography or environment comes directly so while explain the cause of phenomenon can we use diagram in essay ?? I am novice don’t have any mentor yet so asking you . Hoping for a reply

    1. To be frank, I do not have much experience with essay writing and saw only 4-5 different types of essays. Diagrams are generally not prescribed in Essays. If you encounter some other topper’s essay, which has diagrams, then you can confidently use it. Otherwise stick to a less risky option as we do not know how will diagrams be perceived by the evaluator.

  22. Sir , I have joined V&R & optional coaching. So , my entire day is consumed in coaching , reading their notes & newspaper. Can u pls suggest me how should I manage time so that I get time for ncerts & std books?

    Sir , in this year’s prelims paper more than 10 questions of current affairs were from 2017 & before . So , should I start preparing current affairs of 2018 also?

    1. Current Affairs preparation is very dynamic. Keep your ear and eyes open to any important news.
      Time Management with coaching is very difficult to do. You have to prioritise at the start but after some time you can focus on the left out topics also. Break down NCERTs and Std books into smaller chunks and try to cover them daily. It is difficult to complete books in one sitting.

  23. Sir , as different teachers teaches each day in V&R, after completing notes daily wise , what was Ur strategy to cover NCERTs and std book.
    After the classes for GS , were u studying topics covered in class from std books/ncerts daily wise or u had ur own schedule of covering any particular subject first & complete syllabus likewise?

    1. I didn’t follow one specific approach. If I had time, I used to read from books on the same day. Otherwise I would pick up that topic some other day and cover it. However my full focus on NCERTs and Books increased only after the month of November when I finished my optional syllabus.

  24. How to understand the demand of the question…like Analyze, critically analyze, discuss, explain, elaborate and many more? Suggest some views to understand and implement them thoroughly to optimise the score.

  25. Sir I went through your GS3 copies..

    Did you followed all the suggestions given by evaluator.. Please mention few of them in detail..

  26. Sir, upsc ke topicwise previous year papers ims deta hai wo share kar dijiye thodi help ho jayegi preparation me.

  27. I will be glad if any one of the toppers could reply !
    Now the issue that I face is how to attempt a question and write it ? yesterday there was a question about loopholes in sexual harassment act 2013. Now if I use my mind, I would only come around some general points like committees not constituted, provisions delayed, risk of career etc. but these are not enough and to learn more I had to read justice verma committee suggestions and some specific points that will not come to your mind unless you have read it.
    please tell me if this the right way forward. and actually when should i attempt to write such question then ?
    Dear toppers, you are doing a great job through this portal, please if any one could reply to my query, i will be grateful

    1. There is no right time to start writing / attempting such questions. Your quality of answers will improve as you write more and more. Don’t read a topic after seeing the question. You are going to feel underprepared after you read specific report. Be little smart in covering them. If it is taking more time, use reverse learning from model answers etc. and update your notes and be ready to use them in future whenever you encounter similar question. Most of the preparation is about getting ready for the final day. You can (and should) never be 100% ready and satisfied before Mains.

  28. 1. sir plzz tell something for hindi medium also.
    2. Also on the topic that if he/she is good in english then should he go with it or hindi.

    1. Hi, I am not well versed about content for Hindi Medium. Please try to refer to any Hindi Medium topper’s strategy.
      Knowing “keywords” is important which I feel is a little difficult for someone who has switched from Hindi to English. So do not go for English just for the sake of it.

    1. Yes, it’s allowed. I used fx-991es calculator (the silver / bluish colored)

      1. Thank you sir….. Mere paas Casio fx-991es plus calculator hai….kya ye allowed hoga?

  29. Hlw bhaiya ….can u plzz upload the test series checked copies of mathematics ….just to have an idea about marking …if u have then plzz bhaiya

    1. Hi, I didn’t get much of the Maths copies evaluated. I just relied on solutions and checked for mistakes I did. Few checked copies are there on IMS website but they are from initial tests where my preparation wasn’t adequate.

  30. Sir how u managed coaching classes of both gs, optional with self study….how much time did u get for self studies…..plz share ur strategy for the people who r taking coaching….how they should manage things
    Thank u

    1. If both GS and optional coaching are going on, you will get very less time for self -study. Try to revise your class notes, complete newspaper reading and read few topics by yourself in whatever free time you get.

      Once optional is done, focus more on GS.
      Once both are done, you have all the time to strategise depending on your level of preparation.

      I do not have any mantra of doing it correctly. I believe in doing things as and when I have time instead of finding the ideal way of doing it.

      Perfectionism can be your nemesis, so be wary of it.

  31. Sir which institute did you go to for the mock personality interview?
    Can you suggest few institutes which provides Skype interview for students who cannot go to Delhi?

  32. Sir aapne kaha ki coaching institute ke feedbacks itne sahi nhi hote h to kya humme test series join krni chaiye ya nhi?
    Aur agar join bhi krte h to hume tests se kya or kis tarah se benefits mil sakte h?

    1. Please don’t take my article to the extreme. Test series are very helpful and should be done for sure. But any advice or feedback you get, please apply your mind before accepting it fully. You are your best judge.

      Also, if you are smart, you can gain immensely from test series.

  33. Hello Sir, I am following your telegram channel and I am finding it really helpful, thanks a ton for that initiative Sir.
    Sir, I have seen your paper1 and Paper4 notes, will you be uploading paper 2 and Paper 3 as well??

  34. Hlw bhaiya, if in a math question I did a little mistake at the end and found my answer wrong but I had started the question correctly . How much mark I get out of 15?

  35. Hii sir…
    I am working professional so i m not able to focus properly on my studies …and the other thing is i daily meets lot of negative people they always demotivates me regarding upsc … pls sir give me a suggestion how can i handle my work and studies together … ?

    1. I am sorry, I do not have experience of handling UPSC and job simultaneously.
      As far as negative surroundings are concerned, you need to be ruthless and ignore all such noises and cut them off. Nothing should reduce your intensity and dilute your focus.

  36. Sir, I have been following your Telegram channel. The posts and your notes are immensely helping me in my preparation. Thanks a ton for a such an initiative Sir.
    Sir, I am bit confused regarding the note making part, I want to have my own syllabus wise notes but how to use the resources and fodder available in the market. Can you suggest any scientific way to it so that I may not get distract and follow a single path. For instance, through news paper regarding certain issue I have jotted down some points like in case of MSME sector but after few days I’m getting some more quality substance which is tempting me to incorporate it in my notes. Due to this I thought of going online but again it’s is not resulting into one consolidated notes and evernote I felt it is not sustainable also. PLEASE suggest me some process towards note making Sir.
    In addition, I have seen your Paper 1 and paper 4 notes, it will be very helpful if you upload paper 2 and paper 3 as well because lot of ambiguity lies in these two ones.
    Once again thanks a lot for whatever your doing Sir, it will surely help many of us for successfully clearing this exam.

    1. I will share my GS2 and GS3 notes as well.
      For note making, there is no correct way. Do what you like. You can hear my opinion in the CTwT video on YouTube.

  37. Hey
    I have this doubt.I’ll explain it in detail.
    I am preparing alone without any coaching.Started my prep in May end this year.
    I’ve just completed my GS1 .
    But regarding GS2 i am very confused to deal with the syllabus.
    I am not able to understand how to approach GS2 syllabus for Mains perspective.
    For eg. – If i am studying Centr-State Relations from Laxmikant.Then,for prelims I’ll study all facts but should i approach the same book for mains.
    Plus , talking about my confusion regarding syllabus .
    For eg. – Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining tothe federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges
    After reading this, now, how should i break up these topics to cover the topic comprehensively.
    Anybody , reading this comment ,can help.
    Thankyou in advance
    Sorry for making it too lengthy

  38. Hey
    I have this doubt.I’ll explain it in detail.
    I am preparing alone without any coaching.Started my prep in May end this year.
    I’ve just completed my GS1 .
    But regarding GS2 i am very confused to deal with the syllabus.
    I am not able to understand how to approach GS2 syllabus for Mains perspective.
    For eg. – If i am studying Centre-State Relations from Laxmikant.Then,for prelims I’ll study all facts but how should i approach the same book for mains?
    Plus , talking about my confusion regarding syllabus .
    For eg. – Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining tothe federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges
    After reading this, now, how should i break up these topics to cover the topic comprehensively.
    Anybody , reading this comment ,can help.
    Thankyou in advance
    Sorry for making it too lengthy

    1. You should prepare from Mains perspective where you understand the basics and build your fundamentals. Then practice that using answer writing where you apply this knowledge. GS2 is very dynamic and has overlap with current affairs. So any fact or topic you read in Laxmikant, try to apply it on the news item.

      Use the previously asked questions and if you have time, you can refer to the Vajiram class notes I have shared online to develop the understanding of the syllabus and then apply to your studies.

  39. Sir how did you manage to complete exam in 3 hrs that is something I have Been struggling with in test series .if u could give some tips.coz I think my mind thinks faster than my hands can write..

    1. Practice. Practice and more practice.
      Keep a stopwatch in front of you.
      Stick to time limits strictly.
      Try achieving small targets like 5 150word limit questions in 30 minutes

      I will also try to share a detailed post soon.

  40. Sir,
    How you manage IMS maths Test Series?
    IMS provides 1 TS with classroom batch. Which cycles’s (DEC OR JUNE) TS you joined in that and what was the purpose behind it(which you decided to give it in that month only).
    If you taken it in June then how you managed it along with GS?

    1. I took the test series after prelims. I didn’t take it before as I hadn’t revise and it would have been a waste to write a test series without full preparation.
      For me any test series == virtual simulation of mains examination

      I managed it with GS by dividing time properly between the two according to my preparation level. You need to be aware of where you stand with respect to GS and Optional and then divided time accordingly.

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