Mains Approaching: Go the extra mile!

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Tyrion Lannister once said and I quote, “You are in the great game now, and the great game is terrifying!”

Gearing up for Mains, are you?

We can all agree that Mains is inevitably the rank-determining stage of the UPSC Civil Services Examination. Hence, the great game!

Irrespective of whether or not you cleared Prelims, now is the time to prepare diligently for Mains. Next year this time, you’d be thankful to yourself that you did it anyway! 

When preparing for Prelims, you felt that Mains is more predictable, easy to conquer, not so vast and definitely, not as daunting as Prelims. Only when an event presents itself do we actually understand the nature and demand of it. 

And right now, most of you are feeling that Mains is insurmountable too! But we all know for a fact that every year 1000 odd students clear the exam and a few of them repeatedly clear to improve their rank. (Chandana Jahnavi, AIR 50, 2023)

And how to follow suit in the run-up to Mains? 

1. Don’t chase too many resources.

Everything you have ever wanted, to write Mains, is in front of you. Don’t go looking for more and more.

Instead, extract the best from the single source available to you. I know a bunch of selected candidates myself, who have utilized every sentence from Dipin sir’s Current Affairs course or Ethics+ classes by Ayush sir. 

It promptly worked for them because they found the right context to use all that information to optimize their scores.

2.Consistency always beats intensity.

This is true in real life too, but more so in Mains answer writing practice. Don’t be the hare that ran swiftest for a while only to rest and let the tortoise win! 

Steady and consistent answer writing practice, even if it is 4-5 questions a day, would make all the difference in the end. But the key here is, you cannot miss a bunch of days!

Similarly, clocking in a set number of, say 8-9 hours/day would do wonders than studying for 16 hours for 4 days, only to have a burnout that lasts like, forever!

3.Build game-changer habits.

Pick a standard time to start your day. To practice answer writing. To brainstorm PYQs. To read the newspaper. To take a break and unwind. To get some sleep.

Because if your habits are predictable, all you need to do is show up and execute the tasks. This will set up a productivity streak even before you realise it!

4.Ritual of note-making.

A short, keyword-based notes of the important issues/topics will save the day.

There is simply not enough time to make numerous iterations of notes. If you already made comprehensive notes for Mains, add a layer of current affairs to the same. 

If not, read directly from your primary sources and hand-pick the keywords.

5.What do we say to reinventing the wheel? “Not today!”

Be willing to learn from a teacher, a well-curated handout, an experience of a selected candidate or a mentor. 

A tried and tested strategy or content is more valuable than trying to build everything from scratch, all by yourself in a short span.

6.Avoid the perfectionist trap!

A perfect answer. A perfect essay. A perfect strategy. A perfect day. 

They simply do not exist.

You will drain yourself and yet don’t even come close to your own sense of perfection!

7.Build a positive feedback mechanism loop.

Specific, timely and comprehensive feedback you receive on your writing practice is precious. 

One, it helps you to be proactive in the process and keeps the momentum going.

Two, it helps you cross your critical threshold and makes you write more mindfully. 

8.A relentless pursuit of goal!

Relentlessness is one common trait that I meticulously noticed among my mentees, who are now successful candidates. 

They fully understand the right time to peak. (Ruhani, AIR 5, 2023)

They make no excuses.(Saurabh Sharma, AIR 23, 2023)

They blame no one. ( GVS Pavandatta, AIR 22,2022)

They leave nothing to chance. (Manan Agarwal, AIR 46, 2022)

And that my dear, separates them from the pack. 

Give yourself a fair chance to accomplish what you set out for! 


Because, there is always a goal which makes you feel like–the universe has crafted it, to keep you alive. Nurture it. Now, more than ever!



P.S: Tyrion Lannister is a very small man who cast a very large shadow in the realm of Game of Thrones.


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