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Tips to Succeed

Last Day Preparation for Civil Services Preliminary Exam
02:08 AM Jun 15, 2024 IST | Guest Contributor
tips to succeed

As the Civil Services Prelims examination approaches, candidates are undoubtedly feeling a mix of excitement and anxiety. There are two papers in the UPSC CSE Prelims exam. UPSC CSE Prelims Paper-I will be held from 9:30am to 11:30 am.


Whereas UPSC CSE Prelims Paper-II will be conducted from 2:30 pm to 4:30 pm. This crucial test, which serves as a gateway to a prestigious career in the civil services, demands not only rigorous preparation but also a calm and strategic approach on the last day.


Here are some essential tips to help the candidates navigate this final stretch with confidence and poise. 


  1. Gather Your Essentials

Ensure you have all the necessary items ready and packed the night before. These include:


Admit Card: This is your entry pass to the examination hall. Double-check that you have it. Candidates can download the eadmit card from


Black Ballpoint Pen: The use of any other color or type of pen might lead to disqualification. Pack a few extra 0.7 black ball pens to be safe.


Photo ID Proof: Carry a valid original Photo Identity Card, the same ID proof, whose number is mentioned in the e-Admit Card. 


  1. Understand the Rules

Familiarize yourself with the examination guidelines. Key rules to remember:

Plain Wristwatch: Only analog watches are allowed. Digital watches, smartwatches, or any electronic devices are strictly prohibited.

Dress Code: Wear comfortable, non-restrictive clothing. Avoid wearing any accessories that might trigger suspicion or lead to discomfort during the examination. 

  1. Plan Your Journey

Plan your route to the examination center in advance. Consider factors such as traffic, weather, and transportation availability. Arrive at the center well before the reporting time to avoid last-minute stress. Please note that entry to the examination hall will be closed 30 minutes before the start of the examination. 

  1. Keep a Calm Mind

The day before the exam should not be spent cramming. Instead:

Review Key Notes: Go through your summarized notes and important concepts.

Relaxation Techniques: Engage in activities that help you relax, such as light exercise, meditation, or listening to music.

Adequate Sleep: Ensure you get a good night’s sleep. A well-rested mind performs significantly better. 

  1. Healthy Diet

Eat a balanced meal that includes fruits, vegetables, and proteins. Avoid heavy, oily foods that might make you feel sluggish. Stay hydrated but avoid excessive intake of water just before the exam to prevent frequent restroom breaks. 

  1. On the Examination Day

Stay Positive: Keep a positive mindset. Avoid discussing potential questions or doubts with fellow candidates, as this might lead to unnecessary stress.

Stay Calm: If you encounter a difficult question, do not panic. Move on to the next question and return to it if time permits. 

  1. During the Examination

Read Instructions Carefully: Pay close attention to the instructions on the question paper and OMR sheet. Any mistake in filling out your details can lead to complications.

Time Management: Allocate your time wisely during the exam. Start with sections you are most confident about to build momentum.

Accuracy over Speed: While it is important to manage your time, prioritize accuracy to avoid negative marking.

Double-check: The question number and the option you want to mark, before filling up the OMR sheet. Every year, the students share their experiences of marking the wrong option or wrong question number, resulting in the loss of precious marks

Answer in first attempt: If you are confident about a question, double-check it during your first attempt and read it carefully for small mistakes. Mark the questions on the OMR sheet after your first round; don’t wait until the end.

Avoid counting: Don’t get fixated on the number of questions you planned to attempt based on mock tests. Use it as a reference, but let the actual number of questions you attempt be directly dependent on the difficulty level of the paper. 


The Civil Services Prelims examination is a significant milestone in your journey toward a rewarding career in public service. With meticulous preparation and a calm, strategic approach on the last day, you can maximize your performance and move one step closer to your goal. Remember, this is just one phase of a larger journey. Stay focused, stay confident, and give it your best shot.

Good luck to all the aspirants.

By Abishek Gupta 

The author is CEO, Rau’s IAS Study Circle