Dear 24-year-old Basant

Dear 24-year-old Basant,

You’re less than a month away from your UPSC prelims exam and this is your first attempt and you’re excited like a headless chicken. I’m slightly busy today. So I’ll take the easiest route and write to to you in a list form.

1. Don’t read newspaper after D minus 20th day, D day being your exam day.

2. You’ve a tendency to bite more than what you can chew. Try to stick to the bare minimum these days. Don’t read new study materials. Keep revising your notes till you’re bored. And try solving previous years’ question papers in exam-like conditions.

3. Hang “Don’t disturb” sign on the door of your hostel room. Don’t let your friends create emergency for you. Friendships can wait. For the time being.

4. When it comes to UPSC CSE prelims, there are four subject areas in terms of what to do and what to expect.

      1. High investment – low return
      2. Low investment – low return
      3. High investment – high return
      4. Low investment – high return

Category A subject areas need a lot of hard work (you don’t like these subjects or they’re too vast or study materials are difficult to find in the market) and you don’t get too many questions from these subjects in the exam. Category B subject areas need very little work (these are your favourite subjects or you don’t have to read too many pages or study materials are easy to find in the market) and you don’t get too many questions from these subjects in the exam. Category C subject areas need a lot of hard work (you don’t like these subjects or they’re too vast or study materials are difficult to find in the market) and you get a lot of questions from these subjects in the exam. Category D subject areas need very little work (these are your favourite subjects or you don’t have to read too many pages or study materials are easy to find in the market) and you get lots of questions from these subjects in the exam.

Try to plan your preparation and orient your execution according to this classification.

5. You’re good at attracting traffic jams since you were a kid. So make time to visit your exam centre in advance and get a fair idea about its location and its distance from your Brahmaputra Hostel. Please try to reach there 90 minutes before the exam starts. Delhi’s traffic can be tricky. Please don’t take things lightly.

6. Don’t wear new shoes (or clothes) on the D day. You tend to feel uncomfortable in them. Typical of you. And take off your wrist watch once you find your seat and sit down on your chair in the exam hall. You hate wearing a watch. That’s why.

I know you hate faaltu ka gyaan. I’ll still take my chance.

Sincerely yours,

Basant

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