What is the perfect time to start answer writing practice for a beginner for the UPSC (Debotosh Chatterjee,IRS)

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Answered by Debotosh Chatterjee, Indian Revenue Service (C&CE), Batch of 2016
Roughly 1 year prior to writing CSE Mains, or earlier if possible. Let me explain.
  1. You simply cannot start writing practice for CSE 2018 all of a sudden. If you try that, you are likely to end up getting frustrated very soon. Type of writing required for CSE is not the same as what people are used to in colleges and offices.
  2. It is not possible to write even decent answers without having covered a substantial part of the syllabus. Without adequate reading, you will not have the necessary substance to frame good answers.
  3. Ideally, people begin their CSE preparations 12 to 18 months prior to Mains exam. Hence, if you had begun your preparation between May-October 2017, for CSE 2018, you have ample time on your hands.
  4. From Day 1 of your preparation, set aside 30 minutes in the day for writing. But, this is not for typical UPSC-style answer writing practice. This half an hour should be dedicated to writing anything. Just anything, from sports to cinema to society, as long as you use proper language (i.e. not the SMS/Whatsapp brand of English), and do it everyday. Observe the way in which The Hindu editorials are written, and try to write on similar lines. You will not be able to match the high standards, but keep that as a beacon.
  5. While you continue this practice every day for 3 to 4 months, you will also be getting through a good deal of the syllabus. By this time, say January 2018, you would have built sufficient understanding of the syllabus and requirements of the exam. If you manage to be regular with the 30-minute practice too, you will see a marked change in the way you are writing.
  6. You will now have roughly 10 months to go for Mains. Go to the websites of the various coaching institutes and hunt down as many toppers answer booklets as you can find. As I have seen, there are many such booklets available in the public domain. Start studying their answer writing styles very carefully. Extend your 30-minutes to 60-minutes at this stage. But still, there is no need to get anxious if you are still unable to write good answers on your own.
  7. Do this for a couple of months at the most. You would have completed the entire syllabus by now, and gone through atleast 60–70 excellent answer booklets too. Even though you might not feel it, but your subconscious mind would already have developed a lot of expertise to adapt to the UPSC-style of writing.
  8. April and May 2018 should be dedicated exclusively to Prelims, given its unpredictability in recent times. During these two months, try and devote just 10 to 15 minutes every day to write answers on your own from previous years GS question papers of CSE.
  9. After Prelims, you are ready to devote more than 2 hours everyday to writing practice. By now,
    (a) Your own writing standards have improved courtesy Point No. 4.
    (b) You have exposed your mind to the many ways in which successful people have written their answers.
    (c) You have yourself tried to frame answers to previous years questions.
    This arsenal is quite enough to prepare you for a Test series.
  10. Take a decent test series, after proper research. Do not run after brand names, but ensure that your answer scripts shall be evaluated in quick time. Write 8 to 10 tests, between June and October 2018. After following Point No. 1 to 9, I can assure you that this will not be a big deal.
  11. Try not to waste much time getting anxious over the Test series scores. Instead, put your heart and soul into improving your time management techniques. You will hardly be able to attempt 13 questions out of 20 in the first couple of tests. By the last test, this number must be 20 out of 20. Besides, try and implement the words of advice given by the evaluators from one test to the next.
At first glance, this seems to be a very simple combination of 11 points. In reality, it is not. Out of 5-lakh-odd aspirants who will appear for Prelims 2018, hardly 1 to 2% will actually be deadly consistent with their writing practice. The rest will waste time in fighting over coaching/test series, Prelims cut off, and unpredictability of UPSC. Remember, only few among these consistent 2% of aspirants will see the light of the merit list.
Good luck.


Source: xaam.in

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