An Open Letter(s) to those who flunk(ed) Prelims - ForumIAS

An Open Letter(s) to those who flunk(ed) Prelims

Prelims Flunked - An Open Letter

Update : Open Letter #2 -Click here

Open Letter #1

This years' Prelims was tougher than the past decade - that is a settled debate now.

However, this is a note - some sort of open letter to all those who did not clear Prelims 2021.

First, as much as the dictum - that you are either 'IN' or 'OUT' remains the most relevant fact, what is sometimes missed in the cacophony is an objective assessment of where you stand at the end of your prelims 2021 results.

The Prelims failure is often as humiliating as the Interview low score. You always think there is somethingfundamentallywrong   with you - something beyond correction, and perhaps you are beyond redemption.

This is far from truth.

As a professional or a Mentor I can tell you that what is more important that wheather you are in or out, is what you are scoring, and what is the natural progression from here.

I happened to meet two people, close friends two weeks back in New Delhi - one of them scoring something like 60 and another something like 88. They both had one thing in common - they both had not cleared the prelims.

But the stupidest thing to assume that you belong at the same point in your preparation journey based on the binary result of IN or OUT.

As a matter of fact, for those of you who have flunked prelims, look beyond the facts wheather you are IN or OUT.

And try to look how much you have scored.

Let me explain , and make it more objective. 

If you have scored somewhere in 80s, it is certain that you had a decently good preparation, and in most likelihood if you give about 3.5 - 4 months for Prelims - with a laser sharp focus, you will clear Prelims 2022.

In short, stop crying over the fear of not clearing the Prelims in CSE 2022 also. Those are irrational fears, even if they are deep seated.

Two, make a plan as to how you will balance your GS Mains, Optional & Essay next year, apart from the Prelims. Also you will need to stick to some rules like

  1. 4 Months at least to Prelims
  2. 4 Months ONLY to Prelims and no touching Mains
  3. Studying for 8 hours for the first two months and upto 10-11 hours in the last 2 months
  4. Developing Ability to study under stress, and not resort to binge watching / eating / pron etc, and accepting that stress is a part of the exam process. We have to perform despite the stress.
  5. Solve at leas two coaching Test Papers and revise like a maniac
  6. Expand your reading list, ( but stick to the multiple revisions of Primary sources ) , so that you are able to answer a bit off track questions. You can take a look at the SFG Booklist for reference.

Three, do not put yourself in the category of all those who have not cleared prelims. There are people who have not cleared Prelims this year, but will clear it by all means in 2022. 

And there are people who have not cleared prelims in 2021, and wont clear in 2022 and 2023. You are not the same people. Nor are your study style, commitments, and understanding of the exam, or idea of what constitutes hard work  the same.

Also, there is a massive difference in Attitude itself.

For those who are scoring in the range of 60-85 types, it simply means you have not given the exam the time it requires. You have not done the umpteen revisions that the exam demands. Also, you have not developed the right paper solving strategy, which comes from writing more tests, with the purpose of figuring out how to increase attempts, how to manage time, and where all places has the paper setter asked the question from.

You at best require 5 months of dedicated prelims preparation. 5 months, accounting for loss of 1.5 months to heart break, sardi khansi, nazla, zukaaam, anxiety and depression, and for some people plain laziness and procrastination - which are a different class of diseases altogether.

If you give it 5 months, with 6-8 hours of studies religiously - excluding newspaper and classes and 10-11 hours in the last 2 months, you should be sorted out.

For those who are scoring less than 60, you will need to ask yourself the below questions.

First, was this your first attempt? If the answer is yes, you will do well, and there is often a 60-80% jump in marks, given that first attempt + less than 60 marks simply means not finishing the syllabus and reading the syllabus only once or twice. You will do fine in 2022, if you are cautious, give 5 months to prelims, and go for revisions like a maniac. You should see your score hugely improve.

Secondly, if this is your third attempt or more and you are scoring less than 60, dude, you have not been preparing. The habitual offender that you are, you are liklely to flunk the next prelims as well and the year after. Less than 60 marks after 3 attempts is not about ability to work hard or understanding of the exam.

It has to do with poor study culture and study ethics. By poor study culture and study ethics I mean

  1. Saying that I will something on my own, and not take coaching - and then neither taking coaching, nor doing self study
  2. Saying - Yes I have read Laxmikant, but like a ghost govt employee ( weeding out whom will be one of your key tasks in Civil Service ) who cant answer anything related to his work, you cant answer any questions from there. To find out such people, I often ask two questions. One, Who was the Chairman of the Drafting Committe, and two b) Who was the chairman of the committee for negotiating with States. Most people answer Sardar Patel for (2), becuase they want to guess and not read the damn book.
  3. Not able study for 3+ hours at a stretch, and spend hours dreaming of IAS, or how life will be after they become IAS. They are the ones, who form a majority who provide the 3 crore views to IAS / IPS Entry videos.
  4. Not studying throughout the year, and then doing two things. Six months before the prelims, joining Optional classes / Test Series and 2 months before prelims suddenly realizing that they are not prepared. And then looking for IAS Gurus asking how they can clear the prelims in 2 months, and that they are willing to do "anything" for clearing the prelims. 

If you are a seasonal aspirant like above, and have clocked 3+ years like above, the best and only course of action for you is to go for a rehab.

And by rehab, I mean joining a foundation course, where you see younger people study, and with much more energy, and you feel guilty and you study as well. No amount of guidance can put you back on track. The second way to get out of the rut is to take up something like SFG , right from Level 1, and write it as a Test with twin goals of scoring well and improving learning, and not as a question bank to solve at home. You will be able to break the chain that way.

And those of you who are Type 1, that is getting in 80s and have worked hard this year, for not only 1-2 months, but for at least 3-4 months AND have seen their marks increase from 50-60 to 80+ this year, do not over react to the situation. Give Prelims sometime, you will be through.

In the end remember, this exam is about having a little faith in ourselves, and taking that leap of faith.

You will do okay next year, like 10,000 other people. Do not have a pity party and under estimate yourself, trying to solve a problem that does not exist in the first place.

Remember, competitive examination is also about time and timing. Get both these right, set up and fix your non changing first principles, follow them to the hilt and you should be through for CSE 2022.

Wishing you only success,

and no sympathy 

-

Neyawn

Naadan_Parinda,Joeyisthebestand79 otherslike this
26.3k views

48 comments

@Neyawn , awesome post sir, thnx a lot. It just strengthened my plan

14.8k views

4 prelims failed consecutively ! 93 in first attempt in 2018..then 80s in 2019 ..78 in 2020 ..and again near 90 in 2021 !

Such posts still give hopes ! May be too little or too late

shinchan,Admgenalanezhand12 otherslike this
14.8k views
This is amazing . Neyawn please come up with videos as well . Much appreciated !!
14.5k views
@MANORANJANJHA sir, has already taken a session on this just after prelims result this year.


14.2k views
@DM can you please share the link.


13.6k views

As sir talks about two test series to be solved.

I am sure about forum test series, but I need help wrt other test series. Any suggestions?

13.3k views

As sir talks about two test series to be solved.

I am sure about forum test series, but I need help wrt other test series. Any suggestions?

Join any Top 3, that is usually the least important factor. Doing well whatever you do, is the most important factor.

DM,THE_MECHANICand1 otherslike this
14.2k views

@Neyawn sir i want to contact you for my doubts and preferably want to meet you personally. Can you you please share your mail id 

status : prelims failed 

current status : dipin sir's classes online  

13.1k views

@Neyawn sir i want to contact you for my doubts and preferably want to meet you personally. Can you you please share your mail id 

status : prelims failed 

current status : dipin sir's classes online  

@RAGNAROK Sir, Failed Prelims is not the relevant fact. The relevant facts are

  1. What is your estimated score in the past attempt(s)
  2. How many questions did you attempt in CSAT
Rashmirathi,
14k views

@Neyawn your posts are awesome. Learning a lot from these. Thank you!

Rashmirathi,
13.2k views

sir these were my score 
1) 94(2019) / 86.33 (2020) (all 4 s&T question with D option got wrong and 2 eliminated/ 94-102 (various coaching keys score forum,shankar,toppers, vision lowest was 94 from vision) 
2) csat was never my weak area this years expected score 97 ( through shankar and nextias keys ) 
csat i usually do maths and reasoning and few like only 15 verbal of which 7 was correct 

previous attempts were 97/89/ 92 


Rashmirathi,
13.2k views

Open Letter #2

Setting poor standards for yourself.

So, I met this young man, from an IIT last to last week. He was curious as to what mistake he had made as we was getting 90+ by almost all keys. he almost blamed the unofficial keys for the varaiation.

IMO 90+ is a safe score for this year. But he did not make it.

"How many questions did you attempt in CSAT?"

"Around 45-48 questions". Should qualify.

Now out of 80 questions, if you are setting the bar so low for yourself, and being a Maths background student , and that too from IIT, it is completely you to blame.

If you are writing the exam - allegedly one of the toughest and the most unpredictable, we do not play russian roulette with different parts of the exam. 

Why not attemp at least 55-60 questions. If you dont know how to solve that much, practice, solve, take coaching, whatever you need to do.

But trying to crack the exam with a razor thin margin by doing 45 questions and saying - "But I am God Like accurate in CSAT and I will clear the cut off" is not how people who top exams behave.

Even if you get 10 questions wrong, you are at 35, and then with negative marks you are at 32, andout of the game.

The said person, a brilliant student otherwise, did come back saying that he finally checked the CSAT, and it must be CSAT.

He is not alone. For those of you who cant do CSAT, try to finish it off in Dec-Jan-feb. If you are the genius who will pick up the CSAT paper in March April, you are signing up for a stupid avoidable failure. 

There is no point wasting your youth and your parents money if you have such study and preparation ethics.

If I am not able to carck an exam, what should I do?

Plain simple truth is, I should give it more time.

We are not created equal honestly. Some of us maths skills, some of us have good language skills, some of us are brilliang with self study, some of us are complete teacher taught , coaching fed students. 

Next week, I am going to meet an old friend, a District Collector now. We even did a small talk last year in an online webinar at IIT Kanpur, ( she was from IIT D, Electrical ). I still remember that while the smart people flunked prelims year after year, she was complete ghissu, doing her classes diligently, both at IIT and at CSE , and made it with an under 40 rank.

In the end we have to find what works for us, and what does not. We may have to try and see and sometimes , the utility of doing something is in knowing that it does not work.

I did tell Harsh the story of Lord Buddha when he came next day saying he didnt clear CSAT and it was pure stupidity.

The story goes that Prince Siddharth went to the jungle leaving behind his wife and child seeking peace. Many years later, his wife, who lived in the palace, heard a knock at the door. When she opened the door, she saw Gautam Buddha.

She asked him, why did you leave us?

"To seek peace", Buddha said.

"Did you find it in the jungle?"

"No"

"Then?" asks a bewildered Yasodhara." What was the point of it?"

"Knowing that I wont find peace even in the jungle".

In your civils journey, you will have to try out a few things. You must learn from whatever you try. You will find few things useful and other things less useful. You will have to learn to extract the best from many places, including this wonderful forum.

Things that has pros, will not be without cons.

That is a settled debate.

Do not afraid, take risks, and if you are putting in 8 hours of studies 6 days a week, you will not flunk prelims.

And do not ask stupid questions.

I often meet people who say - If I do laxmikant, will I be able to solve all Polity questions?"

The correct answer is - No, you will not. But you will probably know what to do, if you have done it that well.

Sometimes people ask if book X or Y could be done. A good way to find out, often is , by doing it.

And we are here to study. There is no harm in reading a new book or taking some class., if you feel your knowledge base is not improving with passing days.

Also, last but not the least, a little bit of madness to needed to achieve anything worthwhile. 





Naadan_Parinda,Joeyisthebestand25 otherslike this
15.9k views

Neyawnsaid

As sir talks about two test series to be solved.

I am sure about forum test series, but I need help wrt other test series. Any suggestions?

Join any Top 3, that is usually the least important factor. Doing well whatever you do, is the most important factor.

Which one are Top3?

Plz tell me if I am missing out something!

12.9k views

sir these were my score 
1) 94(2019) / 86.33 (2020) (all 4 s&T question with D option got wrong and 2 eliminated/ 94-102 (various coaching keys score forum,shankar,toppers, vision lowest was 94 from vision) 
2) csat was never my weak area this years expected score 97 ( through shankar and nextias keys ) 
csat i usually do maths and reasoning and few like only 15 verbal of which 7 was correct 

previous attempts were 97/89/ 92 


Please give yourself a break and try for IFos for one year.

The minute you do that, you will raise your bar for Prelims.

Many people do this, when they face issue in Civils.

This year at least 15+ candidates were there who focused only on forest and cleared it. I still remember this year a brilliant kid Nitesh from Bihar, who focused on IFoS and cracked with some rank in 40s. ( Brought some Haldiram sweets also :) ) And there was AFAICR, Dhivya , who has secured under Rank 10 in IFoS. Have not bee able to congratulate any of them personally, but these were the kids who have solved a problem. So open your eyes to the world around, and work on the strategy. Three attempts gone is not good, if in any attempt, you knew beforehand that you wont clear the exam.

Look, my point is, before the exam, we should have a fighting chance. before a war, we should have an army that has a fighting chance, or you are simply a general who is going to be responsible for the mass murder of his soldiers. 

In your case, you have good scores. If possible go for IFoS once, if you are eligible.

I still remember there was a very very old forum member ( not my student, I mean he may be a forum enrolled student in MGP and others, but I knew him from forum, the old forum.) All he wanted was IAS or IPS and he cleared IFoS and secured himself, then after working as DFO ( Divisional forest officer ) which is kinda big deal and equivalent to DM / DC and SP in the District , this year he managed some good rank.

So try to think on those lines. Raise the bar and reduce the risk.

Here is a Thank you note I had from him. Because he has Covid duties, we used to have mock sessions at 10-11PM this year, when we were supremely tired, and was like having drooping eyes. During the second wave, he would be interrupted by phone calls with some or the other casualties This person was someone I knew from discuss forum itself.

You will note that not once he has mentioned that he has been selected for IFoS.

He doggedly pursued what he wanted and got it.



DM,RAGNAROKand7 otherslike this
13.9k views
@Batman011  Bhai mere hisaab se ek baar, SFG 2nd waala, simulator and Abhyaas krke dekho [you have to do all the three]....tests mein yahin top karna apni priority bana lo and basic books ko rat rat k ghot lo, last 30 saal k papers and 1 year ka current affairs jubaan par rakkho, chances of clearing prelims will increase exponentially


DM,Foxtrotand1 otherslike this
13k views

Thank you so much for writing this@Neyawn 

2021 was my first attempt and I was scoring between 80-90 based on various keys. Couldn't clear and I have been struggling with the fear of failing again ever since. 

Your post has given me a new positivity which I hope to sustain for the next months .     

ash1sh0,iphoole
12.8k views

Thank you so much for writing this@Neyawn 

2021 was my first attempt and I was scoring between 80-90 based on various keys. Couldn't clear and I have been struggling with the fear of failing again ever since. 

Your post has given me a new positivity which I hope to sustain for the next months .     

Please do not overestimate the size of the problem, to an extent that it looks unsolvable. Give it more time. Thats all. If 4 months is not enough, give it five months. Dedicated Months. People do that all the time.

I remember a kid from Pune, who has been writing to me for the last two years. I never met her. She was just 20 at the time she was writing letters.

She just started studying and when prelims came near, she was so scared, she only focussed on prelims . She cleared Prelims, then she cleared Mains also but because of Covid her college did not give her the Degree Certificate.

So, UPSC told her that since she does not have the degree certi, she cant give the Interview ( weird ). She approached the HC who directed the Commission to allow her to give the Interview.

After two years of preparation and letter writing - almost one every two months, when I finally got to e-meet her for the Interview, I was so happy to finally see her. She was only 21 at the time of application. 

I was expecting her to get a Top Rank. Anyway, for some reason, her interview scores were not the best, and she has 199 rank, and will be joining IPS / IRS

She was there to see me and got me coffee, keeping her promise over the email, which she said she would buy me if she cleared the exam. I am hoping to see her soon sometime when she drops by from the academy and comes down to Delhi.

I only know her through emails, and web calls, and have never met her, but know her story through umpteen emails we have written to each other. It was easy to respond to her because she was very specific with her questions. 

My point is our only job is to work, no matter how we feel. Our feelings often have no correlation to our real life condition.

We suffer more in imagination than in reality.

DM,crikeymateand15 otherslike this
13.5k views
@Batman011  Bhai mere hisaab se ek baar, SFG 2nd waala, simulator and Abhyaas krke dekho [you have to do all the three]....tests mein yahin top karna apni priority bana lo and basic books ko rat rat k ghot lo, last 30 saal k papers and 1 year ka current affairs jubaan par rakkho, chances of clearing prelims will increase exponentially


Thanks@TsarBomba . Will surely do them!

DM,Ghostwalker
12.7k views

My GS 1  scores from all 6 attempts.

2015 - 92 ( just gave the exam after college with 4 months of preparation)

2016 - 132 ( had properly studied)-qualified

2017- 107.34 ( along with job)-qualified

2018 - 93.34 ( along with job) 

Resigned from the job , and then 

2020 - 81.63 ( had hopes because from  institute keys was scoring 92+)

2021- (81-85)

In CSAT in each attempt scores were in the range (92- 112).

I have exhausted all my CSE attempts. Also till now had not thought anything about IFoS.

@Neyawn Sir please gudie what can be done to attempt IFoS prelims with good amount of confidence and hopefully sail through it .

Sir, I have taken enough break after the results and today it is  1st December !!

What to focus in every month hereafter Sir? 

My optional papers are Physics and Forestry.

sator,krakatoaand7 otherslike this
12.6k views

@Neyawn sir, thank you for this thread and open letter

Adding on to what @Voyager has asked. if we get into Prelims only mode from January (ie 5 months before exam), post prelims is it possible to cover mains syllabus during that 3 months gap ?

This worry/lack of clarity forces many of us to stretch GS and Optional prep till mid march and repeat the whole cycle. 

Kasturi22,
12.1k views
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