#7 General topics for preliminary examination
TNPSC is a one day match, UPSC is a test match! Are you a Dhoni?
Some simple tactics to score big in preliminary examinations!
As far as preliminary examinations are concerned, there is only one difference between UPSC and TNPSC - 'Negative Marking'. It isn’t there in TNPSC preliminary examinations, but it is there in UPSC preliminary examinations. Hence the way to approach each is different. If we look at this in cricket terms, then TNPSC preliminary examinations are like 50 over matches - in the given overs, amass as many runs as possible without worrying about anything else and raise the score as much as possible. Similarly, in TNPSC preliminary examination which doesn’t have negative marking, without worrying about anything else, if you attempt as many questions as possible in the given time, it will lead you towards a good score without any obstacles (assuming you have studied!).
The strategy for UPSC preliminary examinations is quite different. UPSC preliminary examinations are like batting in test cricket matches. In test cricket, the batsman approaches each ball with a lot of care. Without hitting every ball, he hits only those balls that he is sure of hitting well and leaves the other balls alone. In UPSC preliminary examinations also, likewise, the decisions we make in the exam hall regarding which questions are to be attempted and which are to be left, will play a huge role in deciding our success. In 2010 when I appeared for the preliminary examination, general studies paper had a total of 150 questions. Of these, I answered only 104 questions. I left 46 questions which I didn’t know anything about! Totally I got about 74 right, and that turned out to be enough to clear the preliminary examination. In the same preliminary examination, there were many who couldn’t clear despite getting more than my 74 correct. This is because needlessly they attempted many more questions!
“How many questions should we attempt? “ “How many answers should we get right to pass?” - if u ask these, then I can’t say it is sufficient to attempt a certain number of questions. Because, just like our college entrance examinations, the difficulty level of the question paper will decide whether the cut-off mark would be high or low. That is to say, if it is a very easy question paper, then the cut-off would be rather high, and if the questions are tough then the cut-off would be a little less. Therefore, it is not possible to categorically say that these many questions are sufficient to pass the exam; it requires a lot of training. Therefore the first thing to be kept in mind is - “if the questions are tough then don’t get disheartened, and if the questions are easy then don’t get careless either.” If the questions are tough for us, then they are tough for most others also, and likewise, if the questions are easy for us, then they are easy for most others also!
This can be further elaborated with an analogy from cricket itself. However big a batsman might be, the first thing he does upon entering the field is checking out the “pitch!” Upon a seeing the pitch, a good batsman can judge what is a good score on that pitch and how many runs would be required. Accordingly, he will shape his innings. Similarly, upon seeing the question paper in the examination, like “Dhoni having seen the pitch”, we should also be in a position to judge how the question paper is, how many correct answers would be required, etc. We should prepare ourselves to that extent. To prepare to that extent the best way is - model test papers. Try to do as many model questions as possible. In a day if you do a hundred model questions, then in a month 3000! In a year 12000! If you enter the examination hall with the confidence of having encountered 12000 model questions, automatically you will feel motivated and refreshed. That itself will take you past the finish line! Therefore attempt model questions every day. Definitely, it will prove useful. “How to know which nails are useful and which aren’t” - like this satiric verse, “which questions are to be attempted and which is to be left” can be known only by doing model test papers. Most of the model question papers I wrote in my home were corrected and “scored” and rated “good” by my mother! Some of them were evaluated by me also. Thus model test papers train you towards success, focus well on it.
However well prepared a batsman may be a match, the match day’s performance is what matters. Without playing well, even if he consoles himself “I practiced well but somehow couldn’t hit in the match,” the lost chance remains lost. Our exam day is the same. However well prepared you might be, it is your performance on that day that matters. So, go to the exam hall well prepared, and hit a century filled with huge sixers!
We shall win!