15 Super Tricks to Crack IAS Mains Exam

Every year, roughly 8-10 lakh aspirants apply for UPSC Civil Services Prelims Examination. Out of this, only about 11,000 aspirants qualify prelims to sit for the mains. Preliminary examinations are qualifying by nature, which means their final rank is determined largely by their performance in the mains examination. Thus, aspirants are advised to mold their UPSC preparation around their IAS Mains exam.

Roughly 2800 aspirants make it through to the interview phase having cleared the IAS Mains exam, and a mere handful of about 1000 aspirants find themselves in the final merit list. Thus, it is crucial to crack mains to qualify for the IAS Exam. In order to achieve this humongous goal, there are certain tips and tricks one can follow to ensure they have an upper hand over most other aspirants. Below are 15 super tricks to cracking the IAS Mains exam.

Super Tricks to Crack IAS Mains 2020

1. Have Standard Quotes Ready

Memorize quotes by important personalities in the field of science, art, culture, education, history, etc. This will not only greatly help you in the Essay and Ethics Paper of the IAS Mains exam, but it will also enrich the general studies papers considerably. It makes a good impression on the examiner as well.

2. Statistics And Definite Data Give Your Answer Gravity

Logical arguments are further enhanced by using data points and statistics from several reports published either by the government, international bodies, or private organizations of good repute. They add strength to your answers and tell the examiner that the arguments presented are rooted in facts. 

3. Editorials Are The Entry Point To Well Argued Answers

Reading newspapers is essential and is a part of the UPSC Syllabus. However, even if you find yourself short of time in reading all 25-30 pages of it, and instead choose to read news summaries, it is advised that you do not skip reading editorials. By reading editorials, you learn how to write well-argued answers, based on facts, data, and statistics. It also enhances your grasp over a language and overall, helps you improve your writing skills.

4. Real-Life Examples Trump Ones Read From Text Book

There are a lot of case studies in books that can be used for your ethics or essay papers in UPSC Civil Services. However, nothing trumps using examples from your personal life, presenting your perspective. Examiners tend to treat such examples as an extension of your personality and award marks accordingly.

5. Short Crisp Answers with The Right Infographics Fetch You Marks

No matter how much information you have, you have to present it within 150-250 words. This is doable by using maps, diagrams, and other infographics such as tables and graphs, to present data and statistics. You can always present the rest of your argument within the limit set by UPSC. This kind of presentation also fetches you better marks.

6. Reading and Revising Is Just One Part, Writing Is Even More Important

Reading and revising is all fine, but you must practice answer writing as much as you can. Only when you write enough will you be able to form structures for different types of questions asked, which will allow you to start writing in the IAS Mains exam immediately, without a second thought. It will also give you enough information to keep improving.

7. Practice Essay Writing Separately

Essays are structured differently from your general studies and optional answers. The question paper has a different requirement altogether. In order to understand that, it is important to practice writing at least a dozen topics before your IAS Mains exam.

8. Time Yourself

And finally, always time your answers. Ideally, a 10 mark answer should be anything between 150-180 words and be completed within 7-8 minutes. A 15 mark answer should be 200-250 words and be completed within 10-12 minutes. Until and unless you keep this pace, you will not be able to complete the whole paper in your UPSC IAS Exam. Thus, when practicing, time your answers, and keep trying until you reach the set goal.

9. More Resources Do Not Necessarily Translate Into More Marks

It might seem that studying from more resources will help you gather more information and provide you an edge over the competition, but more often than not that is not true. Most resources have the same information presented differently. Sticking to standard resources allows you to spend less time taking in the limited amount of information, revising more, and leave you time to pursue other aspects of the examination.

10. Bulky Books Don’t Necessarily Give You The Best Information

Always look at the cost/benefit analysis before choosing to study from a resource. For example, going through the whole India Year Book might be a good idea with respect to understanding how the country fared, however, is it really necessary? When it comes to UPSC, there are a million good summaries available online for many such reports which are more than sufficient for your needs.

11. It’s a Competitive Exam And Not Your Chance at Grabbing Your Doctorate

Do not go into in-depth research mode about any topic in the syllabus. UPSC expects you to have a basic understanding of everything under the sun, and then some more, as per the UPSC syllabus. They do not want specialists. The posts you are vying for are for generalists and the UPSC IAS exam questions are set the same way.

12. Do Not Go Down The Internet Rabbit Hole

The internet has so much information that once you start looking, you’ll get lost. Instead, if you want a better understanding of a topic, or can’t find something in books, simply Google “<topicname>+UPSC” and pick the first one or two results. That would be more than sufficient for the UPSC IAS Exam.

13. It’s Not an Art Exam

Infographics are a great way to make your answer stand out. But using too much of it takes away from the value of the content. Do not overdo it.

14. Just Because It Worked For Toppers Doesn’t Mean It Will Work For You

Do not blindly follow a topper’s strategy. If it is not working for you, do not force it. Instead, identify your own strategy by modifying strategies used by other toppers. That is how they did it too.

15. Do Not Ignore Regional Language Paper

The Regional Language Paper for IAS Mains exam may be qualifying, but it is compulsory. Many aspirants do not give it the importance it deserves and they end up not qualifying despite having written great answers in the other papers. Do not ignore it.

By following these simple tricks, anyone well-prepared enough should be able to achieve their IAS dreams.

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