The Civil Service Examination conducted by UPSC has three stages – Prelims, Mains and Interview. One has to clear all the stages in order to get any one of the coveted posts. When a candidate clears his prelims, there is very little time left to revise and get ready for the next level, the Mains.

After the prelims exam is over, the candidates can check their answers and calculate the approximate score. If the score is close to the expected cut-off of the year, then the candidate can decide whether to get ready for the Mains or not. There will be only a few months between the prelims result declaration and the Mains exam.

Unlike the prelims stage of the exam, the UPSC Syllabus of the Mains stage is much more elaborate and is listed subject-wise in the official notification every year. The candidates can go through the syllabus and start their preparation accordingly.

Tips to cover UPSC Mains Syllabus in 3 months

The Mains syllabus is more detailed than the prelims, and the candidate has to prepare for all the topics in the syllabus. Here are a few tips to cover the vast and detailed syllabus for UPSC Mains in three months.

  1. Plan your time sensibly – If you are preparing for the Mains exam after prelims, you will have only 2-3 months. In the little time given, the aspirants have to plan their time wisely in order to prepare for the entire syllabus. If you plan your studies in advance, you will be able to allocate sufficient time to all the subjects. Also, remember to follow the plan and try to be consistent in the preparation.
  2. Collect all resources – Based on the subjects and topics in the Mains syllabus, collect all the study materials needed for the preparation. Refer to the official website, their reports, and publications for accurate data regarding a topic. Note down the statistics and data, and use them to substantiate your answers.
  3. Allocate more time for Optional Paper – Allocate time for optional paper in your daily timetable. The optional syllabus is more extensive than the GS papers, and thus needs more time and focus to cover the entire syllabus. Allocate at least 2-3 hours daily to prepare for the optional paper, and plan to revise it 2-3 times before the exam.
  4. Do not delve too deep into a single subject – If you have to finish preparing for the entire syllabus of the Mains exam in three months, avoid researching individual topics in depth. A lot of materials are available on the market and on the internet. Be careful not to dig up too much information on a single topic, as that will waste your precious time and deviate the focus. If a lot of time is wasted on a single topic, the possibility of finishing the entire syllabus becomes remote.
  5. Revise simultaneously – In three months, do not continuously read for the first two months, while planning to revise in the third month. This might cost the aspirants a lot of time and cause anxiety. Always remember to learn, revise, learn, revise – because if you don’t revise a topic immediately, it will look like a fresh one when you revise later.
  6. Mind Mapping and interlinking of topics – Find the link between the GS papers, and try to interlink topics in the syllabus. This will help in better retention of the data and faster coverage of the syllabus. Also, the information you learned for GS papers is very much helpful for Essay papers. Similarly, options like Political Science and International relations, Geography, History, Economics, and others have topics that are overlapping and interlinked. Identify and segregate those topics.
  7. Take Smart Notes – Take smart notes to revise faster and at the same time, effectively. The use of bullet points, diagrams, flowcharts, hints, etc., can help in better retention of the data and also help in quick revision.
  8. Attempt Mock tests – Try to take mock tests frequently and check the level of preparation. This can test how extensively the syllabus has been covered by you, and the levels of preparation. Always gauge your own performance. This will help in improving your own preparation.

The candidates who have appeared in the UPSC Exam, or are preparing for the exam, can check for information such as exam patterns, important dates related to the different stages of the exam, and other such updates from the linked article.