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When to start preparing for CSE Mains


Prepare for CSE Mains : Civil Services Examination (CSE) aspirants are aware of the fact that the CSE exam comprises of three stages; Prelims, Mains and Interview, but what they fail to decipher is that exactly when should they start preparing for these exams. Well, the first thing you should keep in mind is that it’s not a wise idea to study for these 3 phases of UPSC exam in silos. The CSE prelims, CSE Mains and the CSE interview are not exclusive of each other. In fact most of the syllabus for UPSC Prelims and UPSC Mains overlaps, the difference being that in UPSC prelims, the questions are objective type whereas in UPSC Mains the questions are subjective type where candidates have to write long answers. So while there is not much difference in the syllabus there is certainly a difference in the approach which needs to be adopted for clearing the two examinations.

Concentrating on clearing just UPSC Prelims first? Think again!

Many aspirants keep studying exclusively for CSE prelims, thinking that they will start studying for CSE Mains only after the UPSC Prelims get over. Well, this is the biggest blunder a CSE aspirant can make and he or she will end up paying heavily for this blunder by wasting another precious year. The UPSC exam calendar has become as such that there is a gap of only three or four months after the Prelims and with three General Studies Papers, Ethics paper and the optional paper to prepare for, candidates often find themselves strapped for time.

Start preparing for CSE Mains and CSE Prelims will be covered automatically

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When you start preparing for UPSC exam, always remember that you have to start preparing from the point of view of writing the CSE Mains. It’s only when you develop a critical bent of mind and analytical abilities, right from the start, that you will be able to write scoring answers in CSE Mains. Always start your preparation on the super optimistic note that you will clear the UPSC interview in this attempt itself and hence you have to study for all the stages of UPSC exam in an integrated manner. The two months preceding your UPSC prelims date should ideally be devoted to exclusive revision for UPSC Prelims.

CSE Mains optional subject needs to be covered first

Always prepare your optional subject in its entirety, way before the CSE prelims. The time after your UPSC prelims should be utilized for revising and consolidating the most important topics of your CSE Mains optional subject, rather than starting its preparation from scratch at that time. Having prepared your optional subject well in time will do you a whole lot of good as many UPSC toppers have repeatedly confessed that it’s the marks you score in your CSE Mains optional subject which determines your rank.

CSE Mains Answer writing practice is important

Another important aspect of UPSC Mains exam preparation is the answer writing practice. No matter however good you are at expressing yourself on paper, CSE Mains is a time bound exam where you have to answer a lot of questions in a limited time. Hence it’s imperative that you know how to preset your thought in a concise yet most effective manner which appeals to the evaluator. This requires prior answer writing practice so that you do not waste time just collating your thoughts on the day of the exam. While starting answer writing before CSE Prelims is not a bad idea at all, it is mandatory to start practicing answer writing as soon as your CSE Prelims exam gets over. This will give you ample practice to test your writing prowess on the D-Day.

So, if you are a serious CSE aspirant, just get in the groove and start preparing for CSE Mains right away!

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