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Mains 2020: Doubt and strategy discussion thread

I love it. Will definitely need your help, my people! Like @AzadHindFauz said, this time is crucial af to put it in a crude manner. Let's do this.

I'm on a personal day till tomorrow. 

Today is about anniversary celebrations with my love, and lying down on my Mother's tummy. (It is the best pillow ever.)

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PYQ.pdf

               Last 35-40 years Mains PYQ arranged topic-wise in minute details.
I'd suggest you all get the printout! Can be a brilliant guiding document! :)

Thanks for this gold, mate. 

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Looks great! This thread was much needed, lot of negativity and chaos being spread around in the prelims thread. So much so that I banned myself from the forum on mobile to avoid reading the clutter.

Do let know what you guys are doing for answer writing practice!

Maybe we can help each other :)

Agreed! The number of new people also brought out the introvert in me. Was mostly observing silently like @Sherkhan1428 said. 

Even if its futile, when we are not in the safe zone, we try to help ourselves by debating the answer key even if the exercise is futile. Been there, done that. But now, the time is for moving on. Mains is the road ahead. I'll do the best I can on this thread, to the extent I can, both in terms of my content-wise inputs basis my understanding of the exam and generally in keeping spirits high.

And man, I love you guys. Thank you for this thread.

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On the surface, @Patootie celebrating the anniversary.
Deep down,
@Patootie is preparing Indian society for GS 1 by analysing modern relationships in the current Indian societal milieu and its impact on modern nuclear and joint families! :P

Oh man😂😂

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Right, so I have a lot of individualised ideas regarding mains in my head, and this is an attempt to achieving some clarity in those thoughts. Penning them down for my own further reference. Feel free to ignore.

In other words, here is a "Bunch of Thoughts" I write to myself (Although much more benign than Golwalkar's) lest I forget or lose sight of them later. They are mostly in the nature of thumb rules I intend to follow:

General

1. 93 days must be used for consolidation of information, achieving crystal clear clarity on the things you already know, and practice. Revision and Re-revision is key. For this, the crispest of notes is necessary. You are not a genius, do not act like one. Consolidate and consolidate again.

2. Prioritise maximising score over acquiring information.

3. Prioritise certain parts of the syllabus over others, but do not ignore anything at all.

4. Cost-benefit analysis for every single thing you do. Time is the most scarce resource.

5. Optional> Essay, Ethics> General Studies 1, 2 and 3 in that order in terms of variability of score.

6. Plan less and execute more.

7. Too many cooks spoil the broth. Listen to yourself and trust your understanding of the exam when in doubt. However, this should not stop you from being adaptable, when it makes sense to tweak own understanding.

Content 

8. Answer writing practice without content is useless. However, do focus on presentation as well so that the battlefield in the mind is not accurately represented in the sheets in front of you.

9. Do not fall into the trap of trying to draw too many diagrams/ flowcharts at the expense of quality content. You are terrible at drawing things. Your chicken looks like a horse. Quality first, always. You cannot hope to dupe the examiner with a flowchart.

10. 30-45 seconds to understand the demand of the question and structure answer accordingly will pay you a rich dividend.

11. 150 and 250 words isn't a lot at all. Each word must be pregnant with meaning, as far as possible. Do not exceed word limit; adhere to time limit. Filling space without content is a waste of time.

12. Must learn to differentiate the paper from that of the crowd. Sell what you have produced over what the next person has. Statistics help, relevant graphs help, examples help, SDGs help, best practices help. But only if they are relevant to the demand of the question. Otherwise, you would only succeed in looking like a blithering idiot.

13. Be a generalist in GS. Prioritise breadth over depth as a rule. Converse is the exception. Deeper you go into one point, the less of other dimensions you'll be able to show in one answer. 

14. Be a specialist in optional as a rule. Prioritise depth over breadth as a rule. Converse is the exception.

15. Try and link everything with what is happening in the world around you.

16. Ready made intros and conclusions for hot topics.

Essay and GS

17. GS1: Too many books involved and too little time; must do bare minimum in new topics such as World History to achieve average marks. Be good at modern History, use quotes to add value. Learn Maps for Geography, they can add value. Use examples and link Society with Current Affairs. In fact, as a rule, Point 15. Accept that I cannot aim for top marks in this, aim for above average and do not be disappointed with average.

18. GS 2: Must de-specialise. I might know Constitutional law, but the paper is not about that. IR is generally high yielding; overprepare, but don't underprepare. No room for complacency, tread extremely carefully. Go back to Point 15.

19. GS-3: Do not underestimate the utility of Economic Survey for the past 2 years. Paper is extremely dynamic in nature. MUST MUST MUST adhere to Points 11 and 15 to maximise score. Consolidate from Newspapers, online sources. Can be highly scoring if dealt with appropriately. Paper is dynamic, answer sheet must correspond to that demand. NITI Aayog Vision Document is a goldmine.

20. GS4: Do not get too bookish. However, basis past year papers, do not ignore books altogether either. Think deeply about the keywords in the syllabus, and use it as an opportunity to express myself as an administrator on the answer sheet. This takes work. Can creep up on you if ignored. Must give due focus every single day. Think about case studies. Read up on renowned officers in service.

21. Essay: Could be ticket to interview if dealt with appropriately. Learn the art from topper copies like Vikram Grewal's. Content from GS preparation will be enough. But the beauty of the essay lies elsewhere. Focus on possible themes, have ready ideas to be used and work on them. Maximise breadth of dimensions in both the essays. Focus on flow of thought. Best opportunity to show clarity of thought. Do not yap away just because you have 1200 words. Write concisely, and stick closely to the topic. Do not go on a tanget because you think the tangent is beautiful. Demand of the paper> Beauty of the essay.

Optional

22. Make or break. Work on it every single day. Differentiate answer from a guide-based answer at every possible occasion. Examiner is a specialist. Attempt to speak to the examiner at the same level.

23. Be careful not to show off knowledge. Demand of the question is paramount.

24. MUST NAIL IT, no two ways about it. Study for 320, be content with 300. Nothing less than that. Single most important thing.

Compulsory Paper

25. No room for complacency. Get evaluated basis past year papers early enough. Do not wait till the last minute to do this.

Freedom in the mind

Remember that in mains, the ball is in your court. It's about what you show to the examiner. Flaunt the good, hide the bad. Prune the good so they appear fantastic, work on the bad to the level they seem passable. Play to your strengths, work on your weakness. If you ignore your weaknesses, you will be found out. Stay authentic during the preparation, do not follow the herd. Do not do things that do not work for you. Do not try to be a person different from yourself. Work on yourself, get closer to yourself. Victory in the mind is key to victory elsewhere.


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Sample Answer.pdf


Hello, can any audit my Sample answer. 

Here I am taking 20 min to write this answer. Suggestions need as on- Content, Structure, Keywords, and How to improve on the time aspect. 



ODR answer.pdf

Good question, tried writing an answer to it. Obviously, lots of scope for improvement, but I think it touches upon the core issues. :)

Broadly agree with what @TheNotorious mentioned in his detailed review of your answer. In addition:

1. Answer is too long.

2. I think the answer misses the core demand of the question. Key components and issues in implementation have not been asked. They have asked prospects. As a second part, they've asked whether you agree that it can give more people access to justice and ease burden on courts. I think the crux of the question is to analyse why ODR may present an improvement over the present situation, not necessarily who all can access justice with ODR or the benefits of ODR.

Issues in implementation (page 4) should ideally only be a point to show that ODR may not be feasible.

3. In UPSC answer sheets, less is always more simply because there is no time.

Of course, I am a novice at this; so, do take my words at face value only. Ignore if you don't find the approach correct or disagree with my approach. :)

 


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Sample Answer.pdf


Hello, can any audit my Sample answer. 

Here I am taking 20 min to write this answer. Suggestions need as on- Content, Structure, Keywords, and How to improve on the time aspect. 



ODR answer.pdf

Good question, tried writing an answer to it. Obviously, lots of scope for improvement, but I think it touches upon the core issues. :)

Broadly agree with what @TheNotorious mentioned in his detailed review of your answer. In addition:

1. Answer is too long.

2. I think the answer misses the core demand of the question. Key components and issues in implementation have not been asked. They have asked prospects. As a second part, they've asked whether you agree that it can give more people access to justice and ease burden on courts. I think the crux of the question is to analyse why ODR may present an improvement over the present situation, not necessarily who all can access justice with ODR or the benefits of ODR.

Issues in implementation (page 4) should ideally only be a point to show that ODR may not be feasible.

3. In UPSC answer sheets, less is always more simply because there is no time.

Of course, I am a novice at this; so, do take my words at face value only. Ignore if you don't find the approach correct or disagree with my approach. :)

 


Tried writing it better since I think it is an important topic for CSM 2020.

ODR final.pdf




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Tried writing it better since I think it is an important topic for CSM 2020.

ODR final.pdf




Effing brilliant ! Sorry bro, just stole all your points :)

value addition : in the point where you showcased how online filing saves wastage of paper (right to environment), you could also bring in more technical dimensions like, online filing reduces administrative expenses of courts which are essentially charged on the consolidated funds of the states/center.

Absolutely, thanks brother

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Thanks for your comments.

My take - 

1. Classical Topper Emulation Syndrome - You are trying to emulate the basic features of Anudeep's answer without building a capacity for the same. Just using arrows, vertical tree in introduction, and long conclusion with SDG is what you are trying to emulate. But here's the catch - scores are based on the points/content/structure/presentation and not on overall appearance. This may boost your confidence but not your marks in final exam until your answer is of that level. I know this because I know people who have done this before.

2. In your 3rd point, you have written that courts are using paper - so Courts themselves are violating Art 21? I mean really? Whose FR? 

3. Another classical syndrome of providing an expert comment but not an answer to validate the same. You are just providing 3 points to effectively validate in a 15 markers question assuming paper wala point is wrong! That is - Accessibility, Accountability and Capacity utilization.  I think these are subsets of the number of points that I mentioned.

4. You yourself has declared that with 3 effective points of yours you are touching all the core points while my answer is far away from it even though I too have talked of Accessibility, Capacity Utilisation (Village people, Multitasking, Pending cases) plus many other points.

5. You said ODR description is not asked/needed and end up giving the types of Alternative Dispute Resolution methods - Mediation, Conciliation, etc? Was that demanded. This is another Classic Syndrome of excessive faith in one's answer. 

I do agree that I have to cut short on components, I could have made a diagram here. But description of the concept is a common principle which many topper suggest.

And please don't get offended. This is the process of learning. And there is no final stage. Even I am in the process of learning and improving. But if you think deeply whatever you are saying is already reflected in some or the other points I covered.

I will post more answers and hope more constructive criticism and suggestions. Please try that Welfare scheme wala question. 

Thanks



Haha, yes, definitely, the first one with the arrows was not my style. I wrote it again to fit my style and make it more lucid. 

They are of course sub points of what you have mentioned. I did not say that it was not there in your answer or that I've raised something new entirely. 

Mine was a common sense answer which I thought was relevant and addressed the question.

I'm not offended at all, thank you for your review. :)

PS: I haven't seen Anudeep's answer though. 

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@whatonly I think the one you are talking about must be class notes. 

He has another set of booklets, they are printed ones. Most of the content from printed books is discussed in the class and class notes serve the purpose. However, certain topics like applied ethics, etc you will have to read from book. He even mentions it in his class. 

There is another printed booklet for case studies.
Both of them are available on telegram. I am unable to attach files here. Check Civils mathan group and type orient ias.. You will find the printed notes. 


Thank you! I think your username should be Iamthebest. :P

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Am I the only one who is totally overwhelmed by the sheer volume of work that needs to be done? 
Started with forum ca classes, there are some 22 classes which are needed to be covered (just finished the 8th one today)- each about 3 hrs long. There will be fresh uploads from 17th onwards. So need to clear up that pendency soon and quickly. 

Then, the gigantic optional called Mathematics need to be tamed. Of which I haven't done 2 sub-topics even once yet. 

Then comes the essay. Had downloaded some videos from telegram to watch and improve upon my essays as I have never written a good essay and thus feel very underconfident writing one without "actual preparation". There are some 17 videos each about 2 hrs long. 

Ethics has also been neglected since I started off into the prelims mode. Really feel the need for revision. 

Apart from this, I have my notes of earlier versions of yojana, eco survey left to be revised.

Then there will be mains ca compilations out in the market soon. Have to study and internalise them too.

The most important part of answer writing has to be incorporated in the schedule too.

Then there will be test series to be written of both optional and gs. 

How are you guys managing time for all this?!


I really feel we should have at least 40 hrs in a day. 24 are grossly insufficient to manage all this :( :(

I went (and maybe even am going) through the same thing, so I can empathise.

I would suggest you make sure that you integrate PYQs into your preparation. @SergioRamos had posted a brilliant document with topic wise PYQs. That gives one a really good idea about what not to read, I think. I personally dont subscribe to the idea of doing too many compilations (or too many mock tests), but think they serve better as indices.

Time is really limited, you simply do not have time for doing all of this and then for adequate revision plus mocks on top of that. Limit the things you do, but do them well. In your case, Maths optional you cant ignore. But I do think the stress on current affairs is a bit much given how ideally with your prelims preparation, you've already done quite a bit of it. Given how current affairs usually just throws up issues from the static syllabus rather than being independent stand alone issues in themselves, make sure you only integrate them in your preparation and have an informed opinion of things. There's a need to be extremely focused in choosing what you do and what you don't, so as to maximise score. Questions from GS papers have been extremely analytical and it does pose a challenge to answer them well in the alloted 8 minutes unless you have a very clear understanding of core issues. One might be able to give general gyan on many questions like the question on divergence in the relationship between hunger and welfare spending in GS 2 last year, but to answer them well requires you to have a clear cut understanding of the core issue rather than a fragmented understanding from a compilation. Use the internet well, make things easier for yourself.

This is the first time for me at this as well, so I might admittedly be well off the mark here, but I know that simplifying things is the best way to stand a chance at being successful. One might think of this as a mountain right now, and trust me, most of us do. That can be, and is overwhelming. However, if we can move past that thought and actually break it down, it doesn't have to be that hard. It is an examination that a person who has not had the privileges you have had, or who still cannot afford the things you can afford should stand an equal chance of clearing. Always be mindful of that. Try and read extensively, but keep one eye on the syllabus and the PYQs. Make sure there is direction to your preparation, and that the direction is of your choosing. This is your shot, so own every aspect of it. 

Leaving excerpts from the poem "If", which has always had my back:

If you can keep your head when all about you   

Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,   

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;   

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;   
    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;   
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same;  

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,   
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,   
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,   
    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!"

You can do all this and more. Keep pushing forward. :)



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Also, on analysis, I see that a lot of the questions in GS are extremely specific in nature. The advice that is generally accepted in answer writing is that it is a generalist exam, and answers can be done with general points, some statistics thrown around, and draw flowcharts wherever possible. I don't disagree that presentation is important, but I think content and clarity in thought would be rewarded more.I might be well off the mark here. We can't always be giving general answers to specific questions. When I try writing answers, I find that when I have clarity in my mind about an issue, that clarity is reflected in the paper as well, and results in a good answer. 

On attempting a few questions from GS last year, I feel I can write something or the other for like 12-13 questions (them being average answers), but honestly, the content or the understanding that is required to answer the remaining 7 or 8 questions is honestly lacking if I'm being honest with myself. This is given the fact that I've been at this for quite a while, and have been following compilations/ the newspaper. I feel the syllabus has been ignored for a large part in my preparation so far. Analysis of the questions (at this late stage) demands a shift in approach. I think it can be done. Let's see. We'll know by February one way or another anyway. :P


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People, if you get time, do check out the link between mental health and urbanisation. Just a feeling it can come in handy. :)
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Though I run the risk of having a small sample size, but in my humble opinion, I think its time to revisit the popular notion that, "everyone scores same marks in GS, hence, it is the optional, essay and ethics with one needs to solely focus upon". Yes, it is definitely true that in papers like Optional, GS 4, and ethics, where one have certain degree of space to exhibit uniqueness in our answers, and derive dividends for same. But, considering the quality of questions they are asking in the remaining three papers, I think it would be wrong to term them as completely "generalist" in nature. Considering the rise of unpredictability quotient in prelims, maybe the mantra should be- "Jack of all trades, master of some", instead of "Jack of all trades and master of none".

I completely second this. Some questions are specific and one who answers them with specific points will obviously have an advantage. Think GS made the difference last time. 

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@Patootie sir aapke mains mein kaise rahe


I failed prelims :P

Also, I'm not a sirrrr! @Patootie is fine! :)

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@AzadHindFauz Thankyou Bhai. :)  Eased my nerves.   Yey Essay ke liye bhi 7 pages hote hai kya ? English paper jaise ? 


No. Itne pages nahi hote. 500-600 words only. Maine essay bhi question paper ko dekh kar likha tha. Cheating kar ke. 

This is actually brilliant. Thanks man. 

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I guess the DAF isn't out yet,  but I've heard so much about it being used as an instrument of oppression in the Interview stage. Could someone give pointers, and let me know the things to keep an eye out for?
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Okay, what is the password? :p
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Okay, what is the password? :p

Had to create the account first. Technically handicapped. I eventually got there.

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