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Mindset and Fear of Failure of Prelims 2021

Hello students, few days ago I have posted a questionnaire form on Parivarthan IAS, there were so many questions and most of them were overlapping with each other.

The most common theme being fear of failure and how to manage it, so I have picked some random questions and tried to answer them, hope this helps. The questions were totally anaonymous so I have no idea which question was posted by whom .


So in case if you need any clarification or more suggestions feel free to message me on telegram or mail it to me.

If you have any questions, issues, fears, or just need some suggestions, feel free to message me on Telegram @kalyanz or mail to [email protected], just remember I am here to help you.

Each Heading from here is a question posted by students.

How to manage Revision of current affairs

  • Current affairs are covered in Subject wise mocks + Full length tests [They are most important topics/areas among the thousands of topics.] This is best way to identify and filter topics and revise them multiple times.  
  • Not all topics are important maximum 250 topics Which again overlap with economy + environment + polity
  • Don’t target on covering months wise or years wise, but topics/areas wise.
  • PYQ should give a proper benchmark for filtering. Spend time analysing the previous paper 2020-2013 for trend.

Juggling a lot of things, forgetting whatever studied due to panic, schedule planning.         

  • Totally understandable, focus on static first.
  • Then most important CA topics – like top 100- 250 topics.
  • Rest is covered in mocks.
  • 20% of your efforts get you 80% of scores, Fear of missing out is real FOMO is hard to overcome, but the simple thing is to prioritize the core areas and master them and move to next.
  • Not all topics are equally important.
  • Simple rule can be core first, anything next.

First one is obviously the unpredictability of prelims and the old age fear “if not passed then what next” second one is my biggest fear because of situations due to covid      

  • Unpredictability is a given, but it’s not as random as it seems, solving PYQ should help you gain good insights in to core areas of each subject, which should reduce anxiety to a great extent.
  • Solving Mocks from [Let’s say Hypothetically Vision IAS or Forum IAS ] should help you understand the latest trends + reduce the uncertainty. 
  • Both above points should help in tackling the uncertainty and also teaches you how to develop the Art of stone throwing/ Guessing/ Guess ability. Whatever one chooses to call it.
  • Write 2020 paper today or tomorrow, it should give a reality check where you stand and how many of your fears are illusions.
  • Coming to COVID, people have gone through lot of traumatic situations, but the same nation is jubilant over Olympic medals, human will is amazing, the only thing you should feed your mind is stories on how we are bouncing back, and think as as a case study, tomorrow you are appointed as an IAS of XYZ district, you have a duty to serve the nation + you have fear of covid, how will you overcome and go out to perform and also inspire. ??

The uncertainty of the exam. Low scores in mocks. And of course the humongous volume of syllabus.

  • Uncertainty part addressed above.
  • Humongous syllabus, is as real as Himalayas, but need not master all the areas. SO spend some time with PYQ and note down core of the core areas and core areas in each and every subject, then check if you are comfortable In those areas or not. [if yes focus on mocks]
  • Low scores in mocks
  • Please do not write mocks to check your knowledge, write mocks to identify weak areas.
  • If you core of the core or core static area is weak, your scores will be low by default.
  • When you identify weak areas make sure you cover the topic properly.
  • More you identify your weak areas and overcome them less your chances of failure in prelims.
  • Not all mocks are worth your time, not all questions are equally important.
  • Revise your core static areas that should reflect when your scores increase.


  • Solve 550 question by Vivek Singh sir
  • Solve all PYQ
  • Solve Budget/Survey test from any reputed institution.
  • Do 25 questions a day if you feel it as burden, but do every day. Before oct 10 you need to Master those questions, not in few days, no pressure, follow your own path, no pressure.

Fear of failure in earlier attempts.. not able to remember many facts, not able to cover few months current affairs, time management for revision   

  • Whatever happened in past may never repeat, but even more importantly failure is like gravity, its real , we manage gravity [ Not technically correct but for example sake] we do not keep the mobile on edge of table, because we know gravity is always there, but we are managing it, overcoming it[by placing mobile in a pouch and in center of the table]. In the same way in UPSC failure is always there, in every corner, we have to learn to manage it, overcome it.
  • What lessons have you learnt from your past mistakes?
  • Have you solved all previous year papers? [Not questions but areas are important]
  • How strong have you become from previous attempts?
  • Can you write 2020 paper and cross 125+? Even if you directly remember the answer no problem.
  • Coming to current affairs, focus on topics not on months, not everything in magazines is prelims worthy.
  • You can cover the most important areas in subject wise mocks + Full length tests. Pick topics and read them multiple times.

“Fears and lack of ideas about peers”

  • Fear and Uncertainty covered above.
  • Idea about peers, is both important and not so.
  • Important when you see a question in prelims you should get an idea, if it’s tough for you or tough for everyone.
  • If you write an all India mocks/ open mock you might get an idea. [But in my understanding, some really serious aspirants just stay offline, take a print and not attempt it there, so not a perfect benchmark.]
  • Not so important because at prelims level omr sheet or score calculation is immediate back up to know where you are in a given paper, reality check happens then and there.
  • Have 3-4 trust worthy friends. Who will create a positive momentum and act as supporting group. Stay away from leeches and attention grabbers.

Sir Im unable overcome negative marking

  • In my understanding you are weak in static area or have not revised the most important current affairs areas.
  • At the risk of repeating myself, I am posting a part of post I have shared recently.
  • Revise Static: This is the most important step, revise standard books. What everyone knows you should know, extra questions are bonus.
    • “There are known knowns. There are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns. That is to say, we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns, the ones we don’t know we don’t know.” Donald Rumsfeld
    • Adapting this to UPSC
    • Known knowns are Static books + Most obvious CA in news, You have to get these questions correctly. [This is what helps you get 65% of score]
    • Known Unknowns to be guessed/eliminated You have a vague idea, some static knowledge, some accumulated knowledge, some hunch/intuition, random luck, combine them all you can guess such questions. [This is what helps you get through the cut off]
  • Unknown Unknowns are risky, every one will face issue. [if everything works out, Cut-off + 10 marks comes from this kind of questions]

Completing & forgetting the ocean of information.

  • Have you started solving mocks?
  • Have you see this video?
  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UEJmgaFQUH8
  • If you are forgetting some thing means you are not testing your self adequately. You are not stressing on active recall.

“1)My fear of failure takes over more often than not. This is my third attempt, having come very close in my 2nd attempt. Constant feeling of ‘what if I don’t make it’ eats up my confidence, thus making me more anxious of the future.

i am not afraid of failure ….my strerngth is to work hard…i am a bit concern about what friends and family will say if i fail..which i shoudnt acutally   

“Main issue – I know I can do it (I feel like this because I have done well in competitive exams and I know what it takes to clear the exam) but I am not able to concentrate and getting distracted to things which are easy on my mind. I feel If I continue like this I may totally jeopardize my confidence and lose faith I have in myself. I want to get back on track and be consistent, disciplined and focused.

  • Fear of failure addressed above.
  • Self-fulfilling prophecy: We attract what we fear, the more you are entertaining that idea of failure, by wasting time , more you are making a reality.
  • You have the luxury of time, you give a few minutes free time to your mind or reading some thig it is using that as an excuse to feed the same loop in to your mind.  Idle mind or bored mind in this case is a devils workshop, so stop feeding the brain with the same loop, break it, tell it a different story, and be mindful of slipping in to the loop. BREKAK THE LOOP.
  • Next pressurize yourself with deadline, use pomodoro technique or time blocking or simple alarm clock to move from topic A to B. Do not give it time to think about the loop.
  • Try mediation about the loop, what is the worst case scenario, failure, ok .. so what should be done to overcome it!

2)In some topics, my “”I already know this”” attitude takes over, makes me lazy sometimes. I fear this will affect my performance in the actual exams eventually.

  • It will surely come back to haunt you.
  • Whenever you feel so, take a subject wise mock or PYQ and start practicing some questions will give a reality check and helps you stay motivated.  

Negativity.. I can not concentrate on study these days.. after postponement of exam I Fully concentrated on mains for 2 month but after that when I switched again for prelims it seems I can’t recall anything… And because of that feeling I am getting panick and becoming negative..            

  • Negative thoughts and self-fulfilling prophecy discussed above 
  • Write down subject wise resources and focus on quick core area revision it will reduce huge amount of stress and panic.
  • Don’t worry on completing every book and every line, initially target core areas.

Marks in mocks not up to the expected level. Leads to negativity .Difficult to control mind. Overthinking. Though covering everything sometimes feel that this is not sufficient. 

  • Don’t write mocks for score, write them for identifying weakness and revising the topics.
  • More importance you are giving to scores, more you are wasting your time and creating a negative cycle.
  • Do a basic check list –
  • Static books
  • CA magazines
  • Mocks
  • Revsision of all the above
  • If yes then humanly you are doing every thing you can, that is what most of aspirants can do and will do, only thing is how qualitative is your efforts and how you are using mocks to your advantage and getting good and using the existing knowledge

“Forgetting facts as time lapses sir. For instance, one question that was attempted correctly right after revising history , will be blurred out after a week or more .

You should do some thing called as spaced revision and write more mocks,  watch this video and you should do PYQ as well to identify the core areas https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UEJmgaFQUH8

Second , able to eliminate two options sir , but choosing one of the remaining two is difficult since both options feel strongly and equally correct .”

  • Weakness in static [May or may not be only reason]
  • Weakness in revision is also might be issue.
  • Sometimes the topic is tough and difficult that is where solving mocks will give you a detailed idea about that topic, so summary here is use mocks to learn as much as you can about a topics so that if it comes in prelims you will be happy.

“1. Couldn’t able to recollect the information after few days. As a result, feeling difficult to recognise the right answer in prelims

  • Addressed above

2. Having a psychological feeling that what I have read won’t appear in exam as final prelims questions will be so in-depth and out of our traditional resources sir”

  • Not all questions are coming from nontraditional sources and you need not get all 100 questions correct, net 55 will be safe. So focus on the static areas and important current affairs.
  • Use reputed institution mocks to filter not so important topics, and check your hunch with their areas and also mocks are covering those nontraditional sources also, so if you solve them, indirectly you are covering them as well.

A psychological feeling of anxiety because ‘i have read current affairs booklets of one institute but many of its topics aren’t same with the other institute current affairs booklets as current affairs is a vast domain’s sir                  

  • Current affairs is an ocean, no one can master it all.
  • Stick to one standard source and trust and revise it multiple times.
  • Mocks + Full length tests actually cover a lot of important areas so no need to worry about it as really important areas being covered indirectly.
  • FOMO is real, but in-depth revision of select few topics cannot be sacrificed at the altar of covering everything.

Query – I have conceptual clarity in topics but I have become slow in recap. Keeping in view 30 days – Would it be beneficial to focus more on static part rather than spending time on CA? Suggest an efficient way to revise static part.Also, shall I cover current affairs via CA MCQ compilation and test series? Can’t thank you enough for your efforts.

  • Static is king queen and entire chess board also, so investing in static is the best thing you can probably do.
  • As you make your static strong, covering current affairs becomes very easy.
  • As you already have a good conceptual clarity, best thing to do is cover more subject wise mocks [ one a day] + writing full length test, at least one every 3 days.
  • CA is covered indirectly in the mock so, static + CA is done.
  • CA is covered in mocks, if time permits solving mcq compilation is going to help you.

Not prepared for c.a and in test not good marks coming thought that concept is not clear what to do in 30 days    

  • Solve PYQ for improving conceptual clarity in core subjects.
  • Solve subject wise mocks, and get your static stronger.
  • CA less time so focus on completing PT365 or similar compilation at least for economy, polity, science and technology, environment and biodiversity. 
  • If not solve 15-20 FLT and cover all ca topics again and again.

“Not sure to call it fear, but issues are as following There is lack of confidence, still.One thing (might be funny) but, will I recollect and be able to pull off, in prelims exam hall?”

  • Everyone goes through this cycle of stress, fear and panic.
  • Confidence comes from knowing that you have done everything that you are supposed to do. So make sure you cross check that you have given your 100%.
  • No one can tell if they are going to clear prelims, but after sitting in the prelims hall and before seeing the question paper there is a magical time, those few minutes if you are sitting there with confidence, believing you have done humanly everything you can and should, that sense of satisfaction is important tool to fight the stress and confidence issues.
  • If you don’t believe in yourself and your own hard work and effort who else will?
  • So the question is not whether you will be able to pull it off or nor, question is will the future you on October 10th morning be 98% content with the efforts s/he has put in?  What should be done to improve that confidence from now on is more important.

2 thoughts on “Mindset and Fear of Failure of Prelims 2021”

    • it means to solve Full length tests of various institutions which contains most important current affairs questions, so reading the explanation more times should improve the chances of getting those CA questions in prelims.


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