IAS Gyan


Re-organize Yourself to Crack UPSC Civil Services Preliminary Examination this year.

9th September, 2020 Prelims

Re-organize Yourself to Crack UPSC Civil Services Preliminary Examination this year.


With this year's UPSC CSE Prelims only 26 days away, the most important issue on which we need to focus on how to Re-organize ourselves for the day. While getting organized to deliver in the optimum way itself is a challenge, the task of Re-organizing due to the unprecedented COVID-19 Pandemic is a Herculean one.

Although, it may be blessing in disguise for those who started late for this year's examination, However, on the other side there is every chance that Aspirants will need to fight it out in a scenario where the Average Knowledge Level is higher. These 3 months have created a Knowledge Bubble among UPSC aspirants this year.

I am just going to try to elaborate on different challenges and opportunities in this inflated market and most importantly how can we tackle it even in this last lap.


Challenges and Opportunities in this Changed Scenario

Knowledge Inflation:

Well, with 130+ days of an unplanned tranche of time may have two possible implications on the aspirants. In one hand it will form a ‘Knowledge Bubble’. This, apparently, is not as dangerous as some of the Bubbles we have come across on the backdrop of different economic crises.However, inefficient use of this excess resource in the form of 'TIME', may well prove to be a fatal distraction.

 The problem is to detect the consequences and take preventive steps in order to minimize our fatalities. Let us analyze the situation.

 If we consider UPSC CSE as a battleground, there are roughly 3 categories of aspirants in Prelims.

  1. The Expert ones. (Those who have cleared mains earlier).
  2. The Advanced and Intermediate Ones. ( Those who are not very much sure about their prelims selection)
  3. The Novice ones. (Those who are in the nascent stage of preparation).

The most likely victims of this problem are likely the aspirants belong to the categories 2 and 3. If not already started, the Advanced and Intermediate player need to study in a camp mode for at least for the next 14 days. Go through everything you have prepared for the whole year. Forget that there is Mains, at least for the time being.

Basic Steps to follow:

  • Put more time on reading or skimming, rather than waste time on writing them down. 
  • Take one subject each half of the day and cover your notes/references for 2 months in one such session..
  • You may test yourselves in mocks, but keep in mind that you are primarily fighting to be with those who are ahead of you. So, your primary job is to cover up what you have done already.
  • Once you are done with this 14-day camp, dedicate next 4 days for mock test. During this period, cover up at least one mock test series, with all the questions asked properly studied. Also, cover up the previous years’ question papers.
  • Don’t plan anything for the last week. Just calm yourself down.

Set the target in such a way that it improves you by 15-20 questions at least during these days. This is going to contribute up to 40 marks, which may put you in the North Side of the Danger Zone.

UPSC and its trickery:


Cut off Marks for
General Category

Number of Students
Appeared IN Mains

(Approximately 13 times
than total vacancies)























FYA(Five year’s avg)




Table 1: Analysis of Last 5 Years' Vacancies and Selections with Cut Off Marks for General Category

UPSC CSE-2020 has 796 vacancies declared as per Official Notification this year. So we can expect around 14000 aspirants are going to get selected for the UPSC Civil Services Mains Exam this year. Therefore brace yourselves for a much tougher battle this time around.

We all are well acquainted with the jugglery of UPSC. As far as the Preliminary Examination is concerned, we are totally dependent on them. So the keyword is, while there is an inflation in Knowledge, the UPSC like a true regulator, is highly likely to take all possible steps to curb down the inflation as it was during 2016. 

  • One assumption I can make is that since all the schemes which were declared in the 2014-15 and later, are presently in the implementing stage and review reports have already been published. Based on those reports, there have been certain modifications in order to reap the benefit in a better way. So, it is recommended, to go through those reports along with the actual schemes. In this regard, please rely on the actual Government websites.
  • Also follow Different steps regarding COVID-19 Economic Stimulus – Allocations, Cut-off Dates and Projections.
  • World Trade and Geo-Politics is the probable hot spot, as far as UPSC Prelims 2020 is considered. Make sure you know the Maps like your palm. Please go through all the important Geopolitical Hotspots and their surroundings, Boundaries.


Balancing Act

There are some cheat codes regarding how to attempt questions, answers for which we are not 100% sure. First, if you already haven’t tried the techniques successfully in mock tests, don’t even think this at this stage. 

Even though you have successfully applied this technique, I would like to warn you against the application of those techniques, especially in this year’s Preliminary Examination.



 This year, it may well go down to the UPSC’s trickery at its best along with the Knowledge Inflation at its peak, which may leave a very minute margin for error. So my suggestion is unless you are attempting below 40 questions, Don’t Try your luck and intuition.



The Advanced and Intermediate category aspirants must focus on 14+4+1 Model (14 days of Catching Up, 4 days of Mock test Revise and 1-day reserve and 7 days of keeping the level intact). 

The novice ones, must not be disheartened. They should follow the 14+4+1 Model, along with an approach to improve by each passing day. One thing we must not undermine here is that all these 3 months have done to you is nothing but reducing your time for next year’s preparation.

It is expected that the overall average for the Expert ones will be inflated. They have nothing to tackle but their own complacency or any unfortunate event beyond their control. I don’t think these categories of students need any suggestions as far as Prelims is concerned.

  • Just keep up your momentum.
  • Keep the basics right and clear.
  • Don’t take any important steps in life that may have implications in your preparation.
  • Never feel too lazy to give a mock test. Keep the scoring level consistently beyond 120+.

I am going to try to put more minute analysis, regarding each subject’s preparation keeping in mind the Preliminary examination for this year. 

For now, let’s buckle up and start the first minute of your next 26 days. It is time to think like “Now or Never”.