Common mistakes to avoid while preparing for the UPSC Prelims exam

Preparing for the UPSC Prelims exam can be a daunting task, especially for those who are attempting it for the first time. The competition is tough, and the syllabus is vast. Many aspirants tend to make common mistakes while preparing for the UPSC Prelims exam, that can prove costly in terms of time and effort. Let’s have a look into 8 such mistakes and how they can be resolved.

1. Lack of a structured plan

Students preparing for the UPSC Prelims Exam often make the mistake of not having a structured plan in place. Without a clear plan, it is easy to get overwhelmed by the vast syllabus and lose track of what needs to be covered.

To avoid this mistake, start by setting realistic goals and breaking down the syllabus into manageable portions. Create a study schedule that allocates time for each topic based on its weightage and your level of comfort with it. Follow the schedule consistently, revising regularly to ensure that you retain what you have learned.

Having a structured plan not only helps you cover the entire syllabus but also boosts your confidence as you see yourself making progress towards your goal. So, start planning early and stick to it diligently for best results.

2. Neglecting current affairs

The UPSC Prelims Exam is designed to assess a candidate’s general knowledge, which includes current events. It is not uncommon for aspirants to dedicate most of their study time to history, geography, and other core subjects, at the expense of current affairs.The lack of in-depth knowledge of current affairs can prevent an aspirant from answering questions that require the application of knowledge to real-life situations.

Several questions in the UPSC Prelims exam require candidates to have a deep understanding of current affairs. For example, questions related to the economy, international relations, and politics tend to be heavily based on current events.

In addition, knowledge of current events can be the key to success in the mains exam. UPSC Mains exam essays, case studies and answers to aptitude test questions are often based on current national and international events. Candidates who are well-versed in current affairs are more likely to excel in these sections.

To succeed in the UPSC Prelims exam, aspirants need to stay updated with current affairs through newspapers, magazines, and online sources. Spending even a small amount of time daily to keep abreast of current news events can make a significant difference in your overall performance.

3. Insufficient practice with mock tests

If you want to avoid surprises on the day of the prelims, it is essential to practice through mock tests. Many aspirants fail in the UPSC exam because they do not give enough importance to practice exams. Mock tests allow you to get a feel of the exam and help you identify your strengths and weaknesses.

Moreover, practicing through mock tests helps build stamina and improve time management skills. It enables you to effectively allocate time for different sections of the paper. A regular assessment of your performance in these mock tests can help you keep track of your progress and understand where more effort is needed.

Therefore, it is crucial that aspirants put in an adequate amount of time practicing with mock tests. It will help them gain confidence, reduce stress, and increase their chances of succeeding in this highly competitive examination.

Get access to UPSC Previous Year’s Questions Papers by clicking the link.

4. Failure to understand the UPSC exam pattern

The UPSC exam pattern is an essential aspect of the Civil Services Exam and understanding it is crucial to success. Unfortunately, many aspirants fail to comprehend the nuances of the exam pattern, leading to poor performance in the prelims.

The UPSC exam consists of two stages: the Prelims and the Mains. The Prelims comprise two objective-type papers, each worth 200 marks. The first paper covers General Studies while the second paper covers CSAT or Civil Services Aptitude Test.

It’s essential to note that both papers are qualifying in nature, and only marks from Paper 1 are considered while calculating a candidate’s merit for the Mains examination. Hence, aspirants must prioritize Paper 1 over Paper 2 and understand that it holds greater weightage in their overall performance. Understanding this pattern will enable aspirants to prepare strategically for both papers and improve their chances of success in the preliminary examination.

Also Read, UPSC Prelims Syllabus  

5. Not Prioritizing Important Topics

Another common mistake to avoid while preparing for the UPSC Prelims exam is not prioritizing important topics while preparing for the UPSC Prelims exam. This can be a costly error, as the exam is designed to test candidates’ knowledge of various subjects, and it is essential to focus on the most critical topics to secure a high score.

To avoid this mistake, it is crucial to understand which topics hold more weightage in the exam and allocate your time accordingly. For example, topics like Indian Polity, Modern Indian History, and Geography are crucial and require special attention. Similarly, questions from Current Affairs have increased over the years, so staying updated with recent events is also essential.

Neglecting any of these important subjects can significantly impact your score. Therefore prioritize your study plan according to your strong and weak areas and give extra attention to areas that you find challenging. With proper planning and dedication towards prioritizing important topics while studying for UPSC Prelims Exam, you can increase your chances of success significantly.

6. Ignoring NCERT textbooks

Ignoring NCERT textbooks while preparing for the UPSC Prelims exam can be a grave mistake. Many students ignore these textbooks, assuming they are too basic and not relevant to the exam’s difficulty level. However, this mindset can prove to be detrimental to one’s preparation.

NCERT textbooks provide a strong foundation for various subjects and are recommended by UPSC experts themselves. Ignoring them can lead to missing out on essential concepts, which may prove challenging to understand at later stages of preparation. These books also provide a concise summary of the subject matter, making it easier to revise closer to the exams.

Therefore, it is crucial to include NCERT textbooks in your study material and read them thoroughly. This will help you build a strong foundation and gain confidence in the subject matter, leading to better scores in the UPSC Prelims exam. 

7. Making too many notes

Many UPSC aspirants have a habit of making copious notes while studying. However, this practice can be counterproductive in the long run. While notes are helpful to revise important points, excessive note-taking can lead to information overload and confusion. It is essential to prioritize and focus on the most critical topics.

To avoid this mistake, aspirants must have a clear understanding of the syllabus and exam pattern. They should only take notes on topics that are important and interconnected with other subjects. Additionally, it is recommended to take short and precise notes that capture key concepts rather than verbatim copying whole paragraphs.

Another way to avoid this mistake is by utilizing technology effectively. Nowadays, there are many digital tools available to help aspirants take effective notes such as online databases like Evernote or OneNote which allows you to organize your study material better and keep it accessible at all times.

You can also refer to the UPSC Notes by Aspirant IAS Academy and get a comprehensive yet crisp and precise ready made notes!

8. Not managing time effectively

Time management is one of the most crucial factors in cracking the UPSC Prelims, yet many candidates still struggle with it. The first step to effective time management is creating a realistic study schedule and sticking to it. This schedule should include ample breaks and time for relaxation, which will help you stay focused and motivated.

Another important aspect of time management is prioritizing your study material. It’s easy to get distracted or bogged down by less important topics, so make sure you’re spending enough time on the subjects that carry more weight in the exam.

Additionally, use timers or other tools to keep yourself on track during study sessions. By effectively managing your time, you’ll be able to approach the UPSC Prelims with a clear mind and a sense of confidence.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):-

Q1. What mistakes should be avoided in UPSC preparation?

Ans: The following are the mistakes which one should avoid:-

  • Lack of consistent effort and focus
  • Not following a structured study plan
  • Ignoring current affairs and newspaper reading
  • Poor time management and procrastination
  • Overconfidence and underestimating the exam
  • Focussing too much on memorising instead of understanding
  • Choosing recommended books without assessing their usefulness
  • Ignoring physical and mental health during preparation
  • Not taking mock tests and previous year question papers seriously
  • Focussing only on theoretical knowledge and ignoring analytical skills.

Q2. What are some of the common mistakes by UPSC aspirants?

Ans: Some of the common mistakes that UPSC aspirants tend to make have been discussed above. Aspirants can refer to it to make sure that they do not make any such mistake.

Q3. Does spelling mistakes matter in UPSC?

Ans: Spelling mistakes should definitely be avoided while writing answers in UPSC Mains. If you’ve opted for English as your medium of language then it is expected that you’ll be having a basic knowledge of vocabulary and grammar.

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