How to attempt UPSC CSE Main 2020?

UPSC CSE Main 2020: A total of 10,546 shortlisted candidates will appear in the CSE Main to be held from January 8 to 17

UPSC CSE Main 2020: The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) will conduct the Civil Services (Main) exam from January 8 to 17, and a total of 10,546 shortlisted candidates will appear for the exam that will be held in two sessions — morning (9 am to noon) and afternoon (2 pm to 5 pm).

If you are one of the shortlisted candidates, you are about to enter an intense 10-day period that will test both your knowledge and mental tenacity.

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UPSC CSE Main 2020: Follow these important tips to attempt civil services exam

Revise, do not read

This exam requires you to comprehend and present in your answers a complex web of concepts and data from across subjects. By now, you would have made notes for all topics. Prudence on your part requires you to trust your preparation and revise your notes. Reading new topics, concepts and reports is not going to be helpful and could even compromise what you have prepared and learned.

Revision improves your memory and makes you deliver answers effectively.

Time management

In the Main exam, time management is as much a skill as answer writing is. The Main paper will not only test your knowledge but also your ability to present comprehensive answers within a stipulated time. So, make sure you keep the following pointers in mind while you sit for your exam.

a) Stick to the word limit. Don’t get carried away with questions about which you know a lot. Exceeding the word limit compromises the prospective answers that you would attempt.

b) Move on to the next and don’t get stuck with a question. You can come back after completing the paper or when you recollect any pointers. Always attempt the questions you are confident of first.

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c) Use appropriate flowcharts and diagrams wherever possible to be more efficient in both time and content in expressing your points

d) Stick to one pen. Remember, a good presentation is about proper structure, coherence and legibility in your answers and not excessive beautification.


This is closely related to proper and methodological preparation along with revision. Brainstorming will train your brain to be active and efficient. On average, with hardly 8-9 minutes are available for each question to be answered, you don’t have the luxury to ponder upon the question for long.

One way to brainstorm in order to generate points is by analysing the topic in a question in multiple dimensions. For example, if a question comes on the recent farm laws, think about it from constitutional, economic, social, political perspectives. Not only will this help in generating points faster, but also in presenting a holistic answer.

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Do not panic

The questions asked in the main exams are a mixture of tough and very tough questions. At times candidate panics at the first look of the paper and stresses himself/herself excessively which ultimately compromises the answers that could have been attempted well.

The key is being calm and composed while attempting answers and figuring out how best an answer can be constructed with information you know. Often one who does not panic ends up churning out a good answer.

Stay positive

Remember you are one among a few thousand who made it to the Main. This shows that belong here. You possess the potential to be on the final merit list. Never doubt yourself and trust your preparation Be confident, focused, and positive throughout the process.

COVID-19 guidelines, instructions to follow at exam centre

– Follow all COVID 19 protocols as mentioned in the hall ticket.

– Do not enter unnecessary discussions with your friends and fellow aspirants before or between exam breaks.

– Reach the Exam center on time to avoid any last-minute rush.

– Go through the whole question paper once and start with questions you are more comfortable with. It will boost your confidence.

The author is CEO, co-founder, Skholar (Oliveboard)

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