UPSC Civil Service prelims exam: Consider your mock test performance as a preparation indicator

While it is often suggested by many toppers to attempt a maximum number of questions, it should entirely depend on the candidate at what attempt level he/she is scoring higher marks

It’s time for the final countdown for UPSC Civil service prelims exam which is due in the next month. Aspirants are vigorously preparing to crack the exam and revision is at the last stage. While most CSE aspirants must have revised the syllabus, their next aim should be solving maximum mock papers before the exam.

With around 20 days remaining, this is the time to invest in solving mock tests and previous years’ papers. UPSC aspirants should solve at least one mock test every day or alternate days till the exam day. While a lot of stress is poured into solving the mock tests, there are certain parameters that should be followed and analysed while attempting and assessing your performance. 

Solve offline mock papers

As the pandemic has shifted the entire preparation to online mode, most aspirants are taking the mock tests online. While there are several attractive online mock test plans available online, these might not be as relevant as the offline mock exam. Since the entire UPSC civil service exam pattern is based on pen-and-paper mode, the candidates are advised to practice the mock tests in the same manner.

Use OMR sheets for solving mock papers

It is suggested that while solving the mock papers candidates use OMR sheets instead of marking the answer on the question paper. This will help in ensuring accuracy on the exam day. As there is a provision of negative marking in the prelims exam, candidates often choose not to attempt certain questions in the paper. While marking the answers in the OMR sheet a candidate has to ensure the utmost accuracy in marking the right answer against the question number. Practicing this during the mock papers will ensure carefulness in the exam. 

Attempt mock test in time bound manner

As the name suggests, a mock test is a model test of the prelims paper. Hence, candidates should attempt every mock test as if attempting the prelims exam. The mock paper should be completed within the two hours stipulated time. This will help you keep a tab on the number of questions you can attempt in the given time. Always mark the date and number of questions attempted on top of the paper to analyse the improvement in your performance with regards to the number of attempted questions. 

Mark the time-consuming questions

Although there is no set pattern of the type of questions asked in the UPSC civil service prelims exam, attempting mock papers and previous years’ papers will help in recognising the type of questions you take longer to solve. Mark such questions in the paper and after taking two to three mock papers analyse whether the time-consuming questions are related to a common subject, topic or the pattern of question is troublesome for you. 

Analyse the wrong attempts

Once you have taken the exam and have got the results, it is time to analyse your performance. Pay attention to the questions you attempted wrong in the paper and look for their detailed answers. It is advisable to create short notes on these questions which should be repetitively revised before the exams. 

Another important aspect is the questions you did not solve in the paper. It is not possible to know all the questions in the paper, however, the number of such questions should be variably less. If you are not aware of the 20-30 per cent of the questions in the paper then it should be a sign of worry. 

Revision of mock tests

Another important practice is to re-revise the mock test papers on a weekly basis. This will help ensure that you remember the questions and related facts till exam day. 

While it is often suggested by many toppers to attempt a maximum number of questions, it should entirely depend on the candidate at what attempt level he/she is scoring higher marks. Some aspirants attempt 70-80 questions and manage to qualify for the exam whereas some others attempted more than 90 and cleared the CSE. It is better to derive your own exam strategy based on the mock test performance.

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