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Mocks are not Mains

A map is not the territory it represents, but, if correct, it has a similar structure to the territory, which accounts for its usefulness. 

Alfred Korzybski, Science and Sanity

There are a lot of FLT’s [Mains like mocks] going on and some of you are writing them, which is highly appreciated. Most Mains aspirants are already in a defeatist mindset, or feeling the stress and making sure they are hurdles to their success.

No mock can be mains. Why!

  1. They are not a test of your knowledge. E.g., The essay or GS answers which you are writing very badly here is not the end, if a similar question comes in mains, you are already in a better position to deal with it.
  2. The real aim is to train your brain to be as creative and as relevant as possible in 3 hours.
  3. The grilling your brain goes in those 3 hours is the reward, not the marks. It tries to recollect every thing and more the struggle the better it is.  
  4. Time saved: 12-14 expected areas might repeat in mains from mocks, so brainstorming and structuring takes fewer efforts.
  5. Marks are subjective, the top 10 in All India mock may not clear mains, or might end up in top 1o in final list, who knows. It’s pointless to discuss marks now.  
  6. Don’t take marks too seriouslyfocus on the mistakes. Where you are supposed to draw a map or table or give an example you failed to, so that is a silly mistake, learn from it.
  7. Dealing with uncertainty: Mocks help you gain a clarity that no matter how much you prepare there are questions that you will never know or are bouncers, you have to learn to live with it, attempt them and sound sane all at once.
  8. They help you gain an edge over armchair brainstorming batch, in time management, structuring and expression. Map is not the territory; brainstorming is not writing for 3 hours.
  9. Mocks are a tool, not an end, they should help you gain advantage, not push you into stress or affect your mental health.
  10. Mocks are complete only when you sit with your copy and model answers. If you don’t have time to introspect because you are too busy thinking about the next test, then you are doing it all wrong.

These are some things that I believe as a mentor that will help you gain some clarity. Sometimes taking a tiny break, stopping to breathe deeply and see which direction you are going helps 10x more than just doing things for doing.

In my decade of experience in UPSC field I will summarise mains in few words, no one clears mains only with knowledge or good handwriting or drawing diagrams, relevancy and context separates you from others[which you learn through mocks] and lastly, it’s the accumulated knowledge that helps you than new knowledge.

Believe that you have what it takes to clear mains, if you are not convinced, you won’t write on the same frequency.

Low aim is a crime. Don’t kill your dream s with self-doubt.

I wish you more than luck


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