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Are you planning to enrol for Test Series for IAS Prelims? A test series has many benefits but you should know how it can benefit you and what you cannot gain from it before enrolling for an online or offline test series. This post goes into the details of what you can expect from enrolling for a Prelims test series.
The Prelims paper is not a standard paper with just one type of question. There are fact-based questions, there are analytical questions that require you to think and reason before attempting, there are numerical questions in Paper 2, then there are decision making questions that require selecting the most probable decision from amongst different options and so on. Moreover one question can have different components in it. So for example, one statement may be factual while another may be analytical or dealing with fundamentals. So to be able to attempt such a question you not only require knowledge of the facts but also have sound analytical skills.
A Prelims test series helps you to attempt these different types of questions and gain confidence in each of them before the actual exam.
As you are aware Paper 1 consists of 100 questions that need to be answered in 120 minutes. While in Paper 2 you have to attempt 80 questions in 120 minutes. To be able to get to the last question, specially in paper 2, you need to develop time management skills. You cannot waste too much time on a single question since every question carries the same marks. If you are finding it difficult to answer a question, you should leave it and quickly move on to the next question.
Mock tests for Prelims that are based on UPSC pattern with time limit help you to develop crucial time management skills. You can go through your attempt and see how much time you took to answer the test and then try to improve your attempt in the next test you take. Our test series also tell you how much time you spent on each test in the User Reports. So you can analyse your attempts with reference to the time taken to complete the tests.
For instance, if could answer 40 out of 50 questions in Polity while you answered 50 out of 50 questions in History, you will realise that your attempt is slower in Polity questions and you can then work on your Polity preparation to increase your speed.
A good test series will not contain equal number of questions from all topics. Rather it will consist of questions on basis of the importance of the topic. Let's say you are attempting a test on Modern History. In this test there should be more focus on the period 1900-1947 than equal focus on all events between 1857 till 1947. Since the syllabus of the tests will be pre-defined you can first prepare those topics that are asked in the mock tests before attempting the tests.
This approach will help you to cover the important topics first in stead of putting in more effort on topics that are unlikely to be asked in the Prelims.
This is another big advantage of joining a test series. Our test reports list the details of your every test attempt; from the time taken to attempt to every correct and incorrect answer. You can also see which question category you attempted the most. For instance you attempted ancient history more than medieval history.
Also as you review your test scores, you will know the areas where you are strong and areas where you got many answers wrong and you then need to improve your preparation of these topics. You can then plan your preparation accordingly.
We are always more confident in doing anything when we are prepared beforehand. Take the example of our college vivas when we are able to answer more confidently if we have prepared the topics beforehand. But if we just go into the viva without adequate preparation we will fumble with our answers and this anxiety will cause involuntary mistakes during the exam.
Same is the case with the Prelims exam. If you have attempted mock tests earlier you can attempt the actual Prelims with more confidence and less anxiety than if you just sit in the exam hall without any experience of attempting mock tests.
Any good test series will help you with the above features listed. You can share your experience of attempting mock tests in the comments below.