How to overcome fear of failure in UPSC Prelims Exam

How to overcome failure in UPSC prelims

Achieving a goal is a wildly exhilarating thing. If you re flirting with the idea of giving up, you could be throwing away something wonderful your best future.

There s going to be anxiety about uncertainty and fear about failing, but push yourself to keep going. After all, you ll never know how close you are to succeeding if you quit now.

It's very common to get disheartened by failure because it's psychology. When we do something, we want something in its return as a reward, but when we study for long hours for months and do not get any rewards, then we start to think whether we've taken a right decision. We feel like quitting, but then just pause and think.

why you started at first, what do you want to accomplish? If possible, take a small break from studies and then start afresh. Have small rewards like once you complete 1 chapter in polity, then you'll go for lunch at your favourite spot. Use it every day with every subject and you'll be back in preparation with much more determination than before. I believe this will work. All the best for your preparation. Never give up

If you are not living on the edge, you are taking too much space.

How to overcome failure in UPSC prelimsThe first thing is to believe in yourself. Next, do your best to achieve your goal. Do not get disheartened by failure; destiny has something else in store for you. If you succeed well and good but do not boast about it. Be contented and do your job to the best of your ability and the best thing you can do is not to worry about the outcome since that is putting the cart before the horse.

Fears of failure and uncertainty are very normal to every aspirant preparing for the UPSC exam. So, do not worry. There is always a way out, but for the time being focus all your energy on the task, you have taken.

If you are a lot worried and uncertain about your future, write your state civil service exam along with other exams like RBI (there are so many exams a CS aspirant can attempt) or even join a job. This is something only you can decide. Still, it is your duty to keep your dream intact.

Above all relax, that is the worst-case scenario and will happen only if you are not true to yourself and are extremely overconfident. UPSC is not the end of life. There are many other well-paying govt jobs that a serious UPSC aspirant can get into with few side efforts.

Try to enjoy this exam; don't make it a matter of life and death. Be true to yourself and work as hard as you can. Absorb what you learn and try to apply your knowledge and concepts to real-life situations.

This is a long journey with lots of ups and downs. Be prepared for setbacks and challenges. After all, you knew it very well the journey to becoming an IAS officer is not the bed of roses.

Let us now look what logical steps can be taken to circumvent the uncertainties and reach to some conclusion by analysing the previous year's trend.

Prelims General Studies (Paper I) Trend Analysis

Preliminary exam preparation haunts every aspirant with an amount of fear and uncertainties. With each passing day, one needs to allay his/her concern by keeping the preparation in the right direction. Fears can be calmed down only with diligent preparation; you can research on previous year question paper which will help you draw a good strategy for exam preparation.

In the subsequent paras, we have tried to present an overall strategy for the exam coupled with subject wise analysis. It is to be noted that GS paper in CSP has undergone marked shift post clubbing with Forest Service Examination Prelims in 2013.

UPSC Prelims subject-wise question count from 2011 to 2017:

Subject 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
History 11 19 16 20 17 15 14
Geography 11 17 18 14 16 7 9
Polity 12 20 16 14 13 7 22
Economy 19 17 19 10 13 18 16
Science & Tech 19 9 14 16 8 8 9
Environment 15 17 17 18 11 18 15
Current Affairs & misc 13 1 0 8 22 27 15
Total 100 100 100 100 100 100 100

How to overcome failure in UPSC prelims

How to overcome failure in UPSC prelims

The bar chart gives you the UPSC Prelims subject-wise weightage/question count from 2011 to 2017:

Emerging pattern of the Exam-Trend and Constant Factors

In the previous year papers, one can see a shift towards Current Affairs (CA) questions over static /conventional questions. Interestingly there are subjects like History and culture which has maintained a fairly constant weightage across years, thus making it minimum risk, high benefit zone for the aspirants with the subject as the strong area.How to overcome failure in UPSC prelims

Similarly, we can see economy questions to be very much relatable to the Current Affairs. The economy section has found an increasing trend in the examination paper which reflect that UPSC wants aspirants with a basic understanding of emerging economic situation.

Post-merger of Forest services exam with the civil services prelims, the environment section has become quite relevant. Almost 12 to 15 questions are asked from this section. The environment has a small syllabus and this is a high scoring topic for the exam.

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Strong areas for acing the CSP Exam- Factual and Current Affairs

Coming to the Current Affairs, one has to be through with Govt. Schemes, National/International Organisations, Climate Change scenarios and Technological developments taking place in India and across the globe. It is important to study any Govt scheme in the light of its salient features, history of the origin and prospects. Such a detailed study of any Govt Scheme would help one in eliminating option in the exam.

Post Globalization of Indian economy, the global events related to economic developments, geopolitical conflicts, Trade pacts, domestic policies of our export/import partner countries have an impact on the Indian polity, this has lead to making this section of current affair important from the exam point of view.

Similarly, any development in the Environment is to be studied understanding the need for any intervention, core features and mitigation strategy to meet the climate change. Any developing change in the environment has an impact across the globe and one has to see how affected parties have responded to it. This can be in the form of conventions, organisations and bilateral/multilateral treaties and mitigation strategy.

To clear CSP exam, one has to be thorough in Polity, Economics, Geography and History to get the factual questions around basic concepts correct. This would help offset some level of uncertainties emerging from the pattern of the exam.

With so much to cover in the current affair, one has to be constantly updated with the events going in and around the world. In 2016 the current affairs questions were asked mostly from the recent events and those who focused on current affairs of past 90 days were through.

Key Insights emerging from CSP 2017

  • In the 2017 CSP paper, the questions were proportionately divided amongst the easy, moderate and difficult type of questions. For many questions, options felt to be very close and similar to each other, thereby selection of right option even by elimination became very difficult and uncertain.
  • Talking about questions from Current Affairs, examination tested the candidates on conceptual clarity as well as the facts around the news. Moreover, the questions in this section were not only from this year but from last 2-3 years. Thus, making it pertinent to read news as not stand alone news but relate to the similar events occurred in past.
  • If we analyse the questions asked from Geography and Environment section, there was great impetus on conceptual clarity and linkage with current affairs. For instance -Questions on Indian Ocean Dipole, Conventions/Alliance to which India is party/not a party were linked to both CA and basic concepts.This section further emphasised on the need of through reading of Atlas to map the geographical locations
  • Economy section majorly covered questions from Current Affairs with thrust on the conventional understanding of the economy. It was a good blend of CA and basics of economy. Likewise, questions in S&T were heavily CA based.
  • In the History sections, weightage remained same as last years but the degree of difficulty increased as far as static data and standard sources of preparatory material are concerned.
  • As far as Govt schemes on education, health, nutrition and development are concerned, there was a good coverage requiring an in-depth understanding of the subject.
  • In the Polity sections questions were mostly from conventional and traditional concepts, making the static portion of the CSP 2017 dominant with Polity and Governance concepts.
  • Overall this year's paper .i.e. CSP 2017 tested candidates by asking questions which were highly concept based. On the whole, the paper reflected a excellent mix of CA and traditional subject s questions.
  • Analysing the questions across the paper, the sources for most of the questions can be traced to The Hindu, Indian express, PIB and other standard sources. Like always it is highly appreciated to have exhaustive knowledge of each, and every topic studied.

Key learning points as take away for the forthcoming CSP Exam

  • First and foremost, basics must never be missed as static portion covered from standard books act as the saviour and building block for the preparation.
  • Revision of concepts, updated with current news and following at least one good book for each subject will help the candidates prepare for all three levels. This has to be supplemented with solving previous year s UPSC CSP question papers to mark the areas and trend which the UPSC follows in the selection of civil servants.
  • While attempting the paper, judicious selection of questions to be made by keeping in mind 33% negative marking against any wrong answer. Thus, it becomes imperative to attempt easy questions first and then move on to moderate and difficult questions. Elimination techniques should be used wherever possible.
  • Candidates must prepare in such a manner that he/she can attempt factual as well as analytical questions at the same time. Also, he/she should have such a preparation that he/she can fully rely on strong areas in the worst-case scenario as well.
  • As a reference point and to be on a confident side, one must follow one good newspaper (The Hindu, Indian Express), online news portal (PIB, PRS) and India Year Book to update oneself with Govt initiatives/ schemes/projects.


It always seems impossible until it s done. Nelson Mandela

All the very best :)


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