Ten things to remember on the day of Mains - ForumIAS

Ten things to remember on the day of Mains

Last minute calming of nerves!

It's here! Finally. And you're going through a mix of emotions, some anxiety about the part left undone, some excitement about what is to come and also somewhere a little bit relief that it will be over soon. 

Whatever your state of mind is,  know that just about every single person writing mains is going through the same. Irrespective of first attempt or last, everyone is in pretty much the same boat.

So here is my take on what to keep in mind on the D-Day:

1. Get enough sleep

This point cannot be stressed on enough. It doesn't matter what your schedule has been so far. Right now you have enough number of days to sort it out. It's worth wasting an entire day to sort out your schedule so that you get at least eight hours of sleep (and even more if you can manage to fall asleep). 

A well rested mind will surprise you with what all it knows. When you will see a question you have never heard of before (more on that later) your mind will race to find what all it knows but for that it's imperative that there is no fatigue. So put that revision sheet down by nine and hit the pillow.

2. Be prepared for absolutely anything

That moment when the examiner hands over the paper you will see glimpses of a few phrases and right in those five minutes of reading time you'll see questions that throw you off-guard. However you must remember you've prepared and if there is something you've never heard of it's quite likely most of the people writing the exam haven't either. So calm yourself down and don't let it affect you.

Expecting the unexpected also includes sudden changes in pattern. The weightage of questions might change and so might the number. So re-align your strategy and get started.

3. Don't get elated seeing things you've prepared

While getting hassled by unheard of things is bad, getting excited seeing a question you've prepared just might be worse. You are more likely to write what you know rather than what is asked. 

So basically this will be the test of all the Zen/Buddha you can muster and stay unfazed: no disappointment and no excitement.

4. Read and re-read the question

In fact in essay keep going back and looking at the topic to ensure you're not going astray. You will get a question paper attatched to answer sheet separately, keep it infront of you at all times and glance at the question while writing the answer. Make sure you're addressing the 'How' by writing that and not writing 'What' instead.

5. Keep your eyes on the minutes hand 

This is an absolute must. At no point must you let the time surprise you. Even if by chance some question has taken more of your time you can speed up the next one and make sure you don't leave anything.

A warning here that things you know well tend to take up too much time so resist the temptation.

6. It doesn't matter what you couldn't revise

The sheer vastness of the syllabus doesn't allow you to revise everything the way you have planned. You will invariably leave behind some portions. I am assuring you that it doesn't matter what you didn't do. Your mind will truly surprise you by remembering things you've read once upon a time. Moreover just remember it's not just you, nobody has been able to go through the ENTIRE syllabus once before exam. Even that guy you see at library claiming to have read everything- just hasn't!

7. All there is, is this moment.

In the end all you have are those three hours. If you're running a fever, despite your best plans you couldn't get any sleep, upset stomach, headache - whatever seems to be going wrong just does not matter. So many people have written the exam in the strangest circumstances and aced it, so can you! Leave all your worries and externalities behind when you enter that examination Hall and just do what you're supposed to without any thought for all the problems.

8. Do not think of the last paper

It is very important that you don't let your last paper get to you. If you have a bad GS 1 according to you, don't let the disappointment of that spoil your GS 2.  The simple rationale for it are two: firstly what according to you is bad might as well turn out to be the highest and secondly even if one paper was messed up a little the second one can more than make up for it. 

9. A tough paper is tough for everyone

Just remember it's the relative performance that will matter. If you are getting worried that some paper was very difficult, it probably was for everyone else. Don't think of the difficulty of it during/after the exam because it simply does not matter. 

10. Logistics

Keep your admit card, stationary, clothes, food, snacks, travel plans for the next day ready. Make sure that any of your precious mind space isn't going waste taking care of these things at the last moment.

To conclude turn on your favourite song, talk to people who make you feel positive and be ready- because you really are ready. You've prepared for this day and now is the time to face it- head on. The exam will not just test your knowledge but your character: persistence, calmness and adaptability. Make sure you put your best foot forward!

Good Luck!

-Himadree Kaushik

(I was writing mains last year and like you reading such last minute calming things. Despite the fact that everything that could have gone wrong seemed to be doing wrong during mains I got 97th rank in CSE 2018)

jack_Sparrow,curious_kidand27 otherslike this


@himadreeleo29208  Nice One, Keep it Up :)


Thanks@himadreeleo29208  :)

Way to go!


Thanks sir.. Really helpful much more than any fact sheet Or revision notes because what matters more is the 'mind' not 'matter'


@sharma_atul13104 I'm glad you find it helpful! Good luck

@Neyawn I get that a lot. ?

@himadreeleo29208 I don't see why you should get that often. Himadree is a very girly name :P

Can anyone please suggest for Atal adarsh vidyalaya Moti Bach 1 centre, unable to find it. Please help


I have the same centre. I'm visiting it tomorrow. Search for N P coed senior secondary school moti bagh1. You will find it.

Np Co Education Senior Secondary School

G Block, Moti Bagh, Near Charak palika road, Moti Bagh 1, Block G, Moti Bagh, New Delhi, Delhi 110021

011 2688 1737


Thank you@himadreeleo29208  :) That was a brilliant write up? Can I share it on my wall :D


@himadreeleo29208 ma'am please also suggest few specific tips for Economics optional. How to utilise those 5 days in the best possible manner?


@himadreeleo29208  We know this is too much to ask for, but given that you have cleared the exam at least twice, can you do a write up on preparing Economics Optional? :)

Sir,how I  will prepare for chemistry optional subjects as well as for mock interview?


Thank you Ma'am, it helped in the Mains. Thank you again!


Hello All,
Anyone here with Economics Optional?
Or any group already prepared for discussing the Economics Optional?

Do let me know..

Guys, read this!!
Neyawn,GaryVeeand3 otherslike this
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