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Mains 2019 learnings.

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  • Hello all.
    I had quiet a few insights this time while preparing and writing the mains.
    General studies.
    Major focus during the exam is to ensure that one fills up 2 sheets in 10 markers and 3 in 15 markers.
    I felt a need to ensure that I have innovated methods to ensure the same for questions I lacked content. Be it increasing distance between lines or diagrams.
    I had some areas which were not prepared well. Probably I should start working upon them irrespective of the result.
    Optional. Mine is mathematics. I personally felt that one needs to be prepared to such a level throughout the year that any given day he/she can score 300. This requires full coverage of syllabus along with internalization of concepts that they come naturally to you rather than mugging up in the least moment.

  • Others please feel free to add their learnings.

    • More analysis oriented questions in this year's mains generally, and GS 2 in particularly. They're asking your for your opinion in your answer like not just what is separation of power but what that entails across different dimensions.

    • Preparation aside, they're actually requiring you to have that fast information processing - to understand what question demands, to frame structure and to present different sides of an issue - all in those 8-10 minutes.

    • Many questions were not direct and required merely to comment, so with no sub-parts one would have to breakup the question for oneself to be able to write well.

    • Also, no direct questions in most current oriented topics like society, governance and polity - so merely reproducing mugging up is not enough. Many such questions required a summation of what you've read, observed + facts to create one answer.

  • Nice thread. GS1 Gandhara central asia influence was it given in usual books?

  • @Phagocyte bhai i read sangwan, it's given in that.. But i dont think anyone would be able to exactly recall it

  • @Caesar hmm. In papers like these the direct questions have to be maximized, i seem to have screwed up in these

    • Questions needed very careful reading and then, answers had to be written catering to the demands - cliched but necessary to keep in mind! Despite all said and done, answering to the demand of the question should remain the utmost priority while resisting the temptation to dump all the things we've read about a particular topic.

    • There was considerable gap between quality of UPSC Qs and those I found in mock tests across the board. For instance, it took additional 30-40 seconds to comprehend the Q during Mains which was not the case vis-a-vis the mocks. In the mocks, either the questions were relatively direct or just too esoteric (which could safely be ignored).

    • Given the scope for multiple interpretations in some Qs; additional time had to be spent (30-40 seconds extra) in understanding the question during Mains. Consequently, the answers towards the end suffered due to inadequate time. Moreover, to be able to attempt the entire paper, sometimes even the stuff that you knew in other answers had to be toned down or even overlooked (mostly forgotten because of the compelling need to attempt maximum Qs).

    • Reading Vision, Forum material etc. may give satisfaction but considering the nature of Qs, consistent answer writing practice (throughout a good portion of the year) is vital because Qs asked are too broad in scope. Further, constant revision is imperative.

    • Also, I found some institutions earmarking certain topics and emphasizing far too much on them. Ex - Private investments, nudge theory, MSMEs (because of 'Dwarfism' in ES, 2018-19) etc. They may be important but not more important than making topic wise notes and having a command over it. Notes that we make are much more important than say Vision 365 or Forum notes. The coaching material should only add value to our topic-wise notes not supplant them especially during the final rounds of revision.

    • It's unfortunate how much fear psychosis tends to be generated by some of these institutions over-emphasizing on their so called 'important notes/topics'. If one has prepared topic-wise notes diligently and sincerely, then it's important that one keeps faith in oneself and doesn't lose sight. Thus, the lesson is to prepare topic-wise notes no matter what and keep adding current affairs content to it until at least a month before the exam.

    • Also, it's quite evident that UPSC evolves faster than we can imagine*. Therefore, what toppers might have said about what worked for them or how they went about getting a good rank is almost rendered useless. For example, I remember a top 10 rank holder saying how s/he earmarked important current affairs topics before the exam especially with regard to GS-2 and GS-3 and fetched maximum marks in the exam. We listen to it and start doing the same the subsequent year, but UPSC turns everything upside down by asking a lot from static with negligible current affairs Qs. Therefore, don't treat what toppers say as gospel of truth. Hear them out but apply reason. Buddha's advice holds true, "Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense."

    • All said and done, the nature of the exam is such that it puts us through mental stress and exhaustion. Deliberate attempts are made to unsettle us (Ex - additional pages in a couple of 15 M answers in GS-3). We may be more effective when we accept it as a norm and respond rather than being overawed by it.

    • Finally, just enjoy the next few days/weeks and forget about how you've written Mains and stop analyzing and over-analyzing. Let's spare ourselves of miseries and recover well from the exhausting period we've all gone through in the last few months. Read a nice book, take a vacation or watch good movies. Basically, do all the non-UPSC things we've not done in a while.
      *To illustrate it further, even in Prelims, the length of questions have increased. Earlier while the entire booklet was 40 pages long; in the last two years, it's close to 50 pages. Thus, multiple reading of Qs (what people popularly tell) may become challenging and one may have to attempt at least a fixed number of questions in one go without having to come back to mark it.
      PS: Sorry for the long post and a lot of unsolicited advice. But I write this from experience of having dealt with the exam for a while now to be able to just reflect on a few things I thought may be relevant. Cheers! 🙂

  • @millachin Good analysis buddy

  • @Phagocyte in one of my attempt for cds way back felt irritated on the paper setter....the question was related to patloon (trousers)....I was like who asks such silly question what patloon has to do with history......Now I quoted this in Graeco Roman art.....the Kanishka statue wearing full coat and pant belonged to temperate climate.

  • @Phagocyte yes, it was directly from class 11 fine arts ncert

  • @Hakunah_Matata said in Mains 2019 learnings.:
    Kanishka Mathura ka nahi tha? Difference between Gandhara and Mathura me padha tha ki Gandhara focused on Buddha and Mathura on religions(yakha) also.

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