PRE-PRELIMS 2020 CHECKLIST: 13 Crucial Last minute Tips

– By Shri Amit Kumar Singh, IRS

The UPSC Prelims 2020 is upon you! On the eve of this important milestone, we at wish to share with you, a few important lessons from our personal experiences to keep in mind before going into the examination hall.



  1. MARKING WRONG SERIAL NUMBERS ON ANSWER SHEET: Cross check question number on OMR sheet while marking EVERY QUESTION during Prelims 2020. While skipping over questions you might mark wrong serial number on the OMR sheet. So double check every time. It only takes a fraction of a second to cross check.

2. NOT BEING MINDFUL OF NEGATIVE MARKING: Keep a track of how many questions you have attempted in CSAT. Remember it is only qualifying paper. Don’t try to over attempt and risk getting negative marks.

3. GETTING STUCK ON ONE QUESTION. If you are doubtful between two options then just mark it to be done in second round of going through your question paper. That time you would have seen the full question paper. Know how many you have already attempted and can then take a call on whether to attempt this doubtful question. Move to the next question for the moment.

4. LOSING TRACK OF TIME: Keep track of time to keep at least 10 mins in the end to revisit all your doubtful questions during Prelims 2020.

5. WORRYING ABOUT TOUGH QUESTIONS: If there are a few questions you feel you have no idea about then don’t panic. Trust yourself and your preparation. If you don’t know it then there is good probability very few in your competition don’t know it either.

6. NOT READING THE QUESTION PROPERLY: Don’t miss out of half volley’s i.e. the straight forward questions. These are the questions which every serious candidates worth his salt will answer correctly. Double check that the question it is not a trick question like “which of these is NOT “ kind of questions. Trick to avoid these trick questions is to read the question properly and with cool mind. If you know an answer then double check what has been asked.


  1. GET A GOOD NIGHTS SLEEP: A good night sleep and being fresh in the examination hall is much more important than any new factoids you try to push into your overflowing memory tanks.

2. SOLVE SOME QUESTIONS TO GET IN THE GROOVE: Solve previous two years CSAT papers under exam conditions. Don’t leave CSAT for prelims 2020 to chance.

3. REVISIT HAND-WRITTEN NOTES: Go through all your handwritten notes for Prelims 2020. They take precedence over any printed material. You have written them. They are already in your memory bank. Just need to revise them for maximum utility.

4. MEDITATE: Stay calm while observing your breath moving in and out of your body until your heartrate slows down and you feel at peace. Prelims 2020 is the big moment. First step of the journey you have been planning for almost a year. Cherish this moment. Take stock of your growth since you began. No matter what happens in the exam. You should feel proud for taking a good shot at the beast named UPSC. Give yourself a pat on the back before the exam. Believe in yourself.


5. SEEK BLESSINGS: Say a prayer. Get your blessings. You are going to need all of them. And then just do your best without stressing about the results.

6. USE THE GUILLOTINE METHOD: This is what I used to apply back in my days, set a cut off time after which you will not study out of your own violation. Even if you keep cramming right till the moment you enter the exam hall, that moment will come when you have to leave books behind and go into the unknown. I always felt better if I choose that moment rather than some examiner rushing me into it at the last moment. For me it was the night before the exam but you can set it to the morning of the exam or at least few hours before the exam. What matters is that you experience the feeling that you have left the books behind and the exam beacons. Let it sink in and allow you to come to your best possible mental state for the next two hours during the Prelims 2020. You don’t want to be rushed into the biggest moment of your life.

7. KNOW THAT YOU ARE EXTRAORDINARY: Being belated IPL season try a cricket analogy. Imagine you are a debutant opening batsman. Going out to bat against the likes of Jasprit Bumrah and Jofra Archer. By appearing for Prelims 2020, you have taken the first concrete step towards a dream that a thousand others only dream about, but never undertake and therefore, will never achieve. Remember you are here because you have the talent and ability to compete at the top level. Go in and express yourself with confidence.

Know that you are one amongst millions.

You are truly extraordinary!

Good Luck and all the best for the Prelims 2020.

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