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AIR-5, Utkarsh Dwivedi’s strategy for UPSC CSE Mains GS Paper-I

Oct 26, 2022

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Mr. Utkarsh Dwivedi took three attempts to crack UPSC CSE but managed to reach the interview round every time. Keep reading to know the secrets behind his amazing performance in the UPSC exam. 

In this blog post, we shall look at his preparation strategy for General Studies Paper-I for the Mains exam. In addition, we shall go through some pro tips on how to prepare for the UPSC Mains exam. 

Let’s begin. 

The Key to Scoring Higher Marks is Simplicity

When we looked at Mr. Dwivedi’s preparation strategy in detail, one aspect stood out very clearly to us. He was able to score well in all papers, even in subjects that were not his strength. 

And the reason behind his superb performance is simplicity. One thing Mr. Dwivedi advocates wholeheartedly is that the key to writing an impressive and scoring answer is in writing in simple language. 

Remember what Einstein said? The message behind his quote was, “If you cannot explain it simply, you have not understood it well.” And this holds true in the UPSC CSE as well. 

Examiners will award you higher marks when you quickly get to the point while using simple and easy-to-understand language. Using jargon and complex sentences are some of the common mistakes to avoid in UPSC preparation

But why is it so? This is because it is easier for examiners who are checking hundreds of copies of answer sheets to read answers that are written in clear and lucid language. 

Now let us look at what other advice Mr. Dwivedi has for aspiring IAS officers. 

Mr. Utkarsh Dwivedi’s Answer Writing Strategy for UPSC Mains GS Paper-I - 4 Key Points 

There are four answer writing and study practices that Mr.Dwivedi advocated to clear the GS-I paper of the Mains exam. Let us look at each one separately.

  • Diagrams 

Mr. Dwivedi advocates using diagrams to supplement your answers. Considering that this paper includes topics like Geography and, Indian Heritage and Culture, using diagrams will enhance your Mains answer writing. 

For example, if you have to write about a particular topic, such as the Vijayanagara Empire’s architecture, you first need to gather relevant facts. In this case, you would need to gather information about the Lotus Mahal, the Kalyan Mandaps, the Musical Pillars, and the Lord Virupaksha Temple. 

While writing, you can include diagrams relevant to each topic such as the pillared architecture. However, do not overdo the diagrams. They should form only a tiny part of your answer. 

  • Examples 

The second point is giving relevant examples with each point you write. For example, if you are writing about the IT cities for a particular point, you can substantiate your point by giving an example of how many IT cities there are in India. 

For this, you can draw a small map of the country and mark the different IT cities across the country like Noida, Chennai, Hyderabad, Lucknow, Pune, and Indore. 

Again, if the question revolves around urbanization, you can use the example of Indore, India’s cleanest city, and Bangalore as an IT Hub. 

  • Limited Resources

This is a strategy recommended by every UPSC Topper out there. Most of the resources have additional unnecessary information that will confuse you. 

Instead, it is best to stick to a few selected texts throughout your preparation. 

Here is Mr. Dwivedi’s list of resources as mentioned by him. 

  • Ancient India - R.S. Sharma (Old NCERT)
  • Medieval India - New NCERT book
  • Modern India - Both Spectrum and New NCERT books. 
  • Indian Heritage and Culture - Fine Arts NCERT book
  • Geography - Class XI, XII textbooks plus self-prepared notes

Urbanization and Society and, Poverty and Development - These are highly dynamic topics so he prepared using his own notes. To make sure his answers were up to date, he sourced his information from the newspaper, YouTube videos, articles, and monthly compilations of Current Affairs. 

  • Previous Year Question Papers (PYQs)

According to Mr. Dwivedi, PYQs are like lighthouses standing in front of a vast, open ocean. Aspirants are UPSC sailors trying to find land and the lighthouses, or PYQs, help them to see it faster. 

He recommends going through at least the past five years of UPSC CSE question papers. This will help you solve answers for Prelims, Mains, and even the Optional subjects in terms of what to study and what not to study. 

Going through PYQs can help you predict high-yield topics and common questions. While the questions are not repeated verbatim, they are certainly similar in essence.  

Since we are talking about PYQs, here is a video that you will find interesting and you must watch. Mr. Atul Garg, India’s leading Ethics faculty takes us through the past 5 years of PYQs to bring out the high-yield topics and most important questions asked in the UPSC CSE. 

This is part of our new series, 5 Saal 25 Sawaal, a must-watch for every aspiring IAS officer. 

https://youtu.be/dL8qxmTLBlE

So there you go. These are the four important points that Mr. Dwivedi recommends you keep in mind during your preparation. 

To help you we have listed additional six proven tips to crack the UPSC Mains exam. Let us go through them below. 

6 Proven Tips To Prepare For UPSC Mains Exam

#1 Tip - Consistency is the key

At the outset, you are expected to understand the UPSC Mains syllabus and exam pattern inside out and most importantly, be consistent in your preparation. 

This means you need to schedule all days, weeks, and months with properly set targets and seek to complete those set targets without fail.

Make sure you devote your 100% during your study hours. It is not the number of hours you study but the quality of study time you achieve during those hours that will help you clear UPSC Mains.  

Enhance your UPSC knowledge base with our Daily Current Affairs video wherein we discuss important topics from the UPSC CSE point of view:

#2 Tip - Choose Your Optional Subject Carefully

Your choice of UPSC optional can decide whether you crack the exam or not. 

In the CSE Mains exam, two papers out of the nine papers are UPSC Optional subjects, Optional Subject Paper 1, and Optional Subject Paper 2. Both papers carry 250 marks each. 

You can choose an optional subject that is unrelated to your academic background but the deciding factors should be your level of interest and your degree of comfort in the subject.  

Once you have made your choice, there is no going back. Make sure you master your optional subject with dedication and determination. 

If you are still doubtful about choosing your Optional subject read How to Choose the Right Optional Subject for UPSC Mains

#3 Compulsory Subjects Require Equal Attention

As a candidate, you need to remember that all papers are equally important. 

The compulsory papers comprise English, Indian Language, and Essay Writing and you need to be proficient in all three to cross the Mains round and get to the interview. 

Each and every mark counts in this state and you will need your undivided attention. You should also be fluent or at least well-versed in the Indian language of your choice. 

#4 Tip  Consistently Practice your Answer Writing 

Since the Mains exam is descriptive, it becomes crucial that you give time to answer writing during your UPSC Mains preparation. 

The Essay Paper in the UPSC Mains exam paper consists of two sections, A and B of 125 marks each and each section has four topics in it. 

To impress the examiner you need to write short, concise, and impactful answers and capable of summarizing well. 

To achieve this you need to dedicate an hour or two to answer writing every day. The best way to prepare is to try to summarize everything in your own words.

Also read: How to Write Good Quality Answers for UPSC Mains 

#5 Stay Updated with Current Affairs

Cracking the Mains exam is no easy feat and it requires a multidimensional approach. 

Your knowledge of current affairs needs to be strong and updated with all important events of national and international importance. 

Current affairs help you develop knowledge about the various societal issues along economic, political, cultural, or social lines. It also helps you develop strong analytical and logical thinking abilities. 

Also Read: How to Prepare for Current Affairs in UPSC

#6 Regular Mock Tests 

At any point in your UPSC preparation, Mock Test will help you to understand exactly where you stand with regard to your preparation. 

They are a valuable tool to help you understand what is missing in your preparation and where exactly you need to improve. 

Mock tests are an opportunity to understand how the answer-writing process works, the demand of the questions asked in the UPSC Mains Exam and how to answer them to score the highest marks possible.

When you regularly attempt mock tests they will help you make your UPSC Mains preparation more effective, help you manage time, and boost your confidence significantly. 

So there you have it. These are a few of the time-tested tips you need to follow to ace your UPSC mains exam. 

However, before Mains, you have to prepare for UPSC CSE Prelims 2023. And that is only 7 months away. 

If you want to kickstart your Prelims preparation and gauge your progress, register for PrepLadder’s IAS Scholarship Test

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