Is test series important for UPSC?

Is test series important for UPSC?

UPSC exam overview

The UPSC exam is one of the toughest in the world. It is held in 3 stages – the prelims, mains, and interview. On average, over 500,000 candidates appear for the prelims, and about 1000 of them are finally selected. The syllabus is vast and dynamic, and the exam tests a candidate’s depth of analysis, memory as well as overall fit for the job.

Thus, generic exam preparations fall short in providing holistic coverage. A test series for UPSC will help in focusing your efforts in the right direction. To recognize the lacunae that a good test series for UPSC can address, it is important to understand where people fail.

Prelims:

Lack of knowledge

This is especially true in factual subjects such as Geography, Environment Science, and Science and Technology. A comprehensive test series will set your fundamentals right, as well as keep you up to date on the latest developments in these fields. It is better to get questions wrong in a preparatory test and learn the topic than to never have heard of it till it appears in the actual prelims.

Lack of clarity in studied topics

This problem crops up especially in subjects like Economics and Polity. The questions in prelims in these topics have increasingly become analytical. You will need to apply your knowledge, and a firm hold on the fundamentals will make the difference between +2 or -0.66 for every one of the over 25 questions in these two subjects combined.

Poor accuracy rate

The outcome of the ratio of questions answered correctly to all total questions answered is important. Many end up having an equal number of right and wrong questions. A seasoned test taker will know her strengths and weaknesses. She will be able to judiciously avoid the temptation of marking answers on questions that fall in her habitually weak area.

Mains:

No strategy in preparation

The syllabus is huge and needs to be covered in a short span of time. A good test series lays a dedicated focus on high-frequency topics. Apart from testing your understanding at the end of every unit, it also subjects you to many comprehensive tests. This helps you chart out your progress and make course changes accordingly.

No time management in answering the questions

You get, on average, 8 minutes to answer a question in the mains. The answer needs to be well organized, address the question, and highlight your insight. Time is not your ally. A test series will help you pre-formulate a working structure and give you some ready feeder points. This saves your time, so you can attempt more questions, and attempt them satisfactorily.

No Revision

Scientific studies have found that humans forget over 75% of what has been studied in merely 6 days. Given this fallacy of the human mind, revising what has been studied becomes far more important than studying a large range of topics. Test series for UPSC help you do precisely that.

To sum up, a competitive test series should equip you in the following areas:

  1. Formidable grasp over fundamental concepts in high-frequency topics
  2. Dedicated lessons for NCERT, newspaper analysis, and other current affairs
  3. Repeated exposure to test environment and questions that closely resemble the actual exam pattern
  4. Constructive competition with peers and reliable feedback on performance
  5. Access to trained mentors, with personalized guidance

Attempting the UPSC is an uphill task that needs consistent effort and motivation. A test series can become the most useful companion in this journey. With the right tools and attitude, you too can clear the exam. All the best!

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