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Expected cut-offs

After collating feedback on estimated scores from various sources, our experts say that the cutoffs for different categories are expected to be as follows : 

General Category :  105 to 107 marks. 

OBC : 101 to 103 marks 

SC : 93 to 95 marks 

ST : 88 to 90 marks 

Also, since there are some questions for which answers are ambivalent, we feel that anybody scoring 82 - 83 (General category) or above should start preparing full-fledgedly for Mains.

The road ahead after prelims

"Arre Mekong-Ganga Co-operation mein China hai kya ?" 
"Haan hain na. teesra option sahi hai"    
"Sigh ! maine bhi teesra. 104 marks mein clear ho jayega na" 
"Arre cutoff 100 se upar nahi jayega"

These sort of conversations are very common among students in the week following the Prelim exam. This year the suspense is heightened as there is only one paper in which candidates had to perform.Once you find that one or two of your friends have marked the same option as you have for a particular question, you think that is the right answer. Please refrain from this. If you anxious about your performance dont subject yourself to torture. Go and check answer keys. You should check 4-5 answer keys and find an average estimated range of score.Those who are confident of clearing CSP 2015 may not check the answers. It is dangerous to stealthily check up on only few Qns. If your answers to them turn out wrong then it can torture you till the result ( & after if you dont clear ). So bottomline is -- either find out all the answers OR keep totally away from the answer keys. 

If estimated score is more than 75 (General category) then start preparing the optional subject and take to writing answers as soon as possible. If your score is less than 75  then you have to make sure you are not in shock for more than 1-2 days. You have to rise quickly and get back on track. Take a break of 10-15 days from studies if it helps you to keep away from anxiety about the expected adverse result. But make sure you dont lose the rythm of study. It is strongly recommended to estimate your score if you are a first-timer. If it less than 75 then you can go back to strengthening your GS knowledge base for the next 3-4 months. ( Usually first-timers are left with holes in GS knowledge). 

There is a small but decent possibility that UPSC may do away with optional in next few years.It could even be next year. You will get lot of hearsay about it  by December or January. If UPSC is intent on scrapping the optional then generally it will be expected to announce the decision by Feb/March. If UPSC does scrap optional then it will mean you have not "wasted" too much time in studying it. You can start writing essays. Essay-writing cant be improved in just 2-3 months and takes time & painstaking efforts.(Well-prepared candidates whose estimated score is less than 75-80 (General category) and are financially constrained can think of taking up part-time jobs. This will also help you to get out of shock) 

You do deserve rest & recreation for 3-4 days (not more!) after the draining experience of Prelims & the lead-up to it. But sometimes the "rest" period extends to 15-20 days  & it becomes difficult to start study again for Mains & valuable time is lost. This piles up the pressure & invariably real study starts only after Prelims results. And the overall study is very haphazard. It is best to study for some time every day immediately after prelims rather than totally relaxing. It is a good idea to start with quickly revising the parts of GS which you have read for Prelims. This will reduce time required for studying GS as the concepts are fresh and will also act as warm-up. Helps to continue the momentum generated while studying for pre and will also be useful for other exams like MPSC/ Banking/ SSC.

Also, in this period of rest, you can do some things which will save your time from future like collecting all the certificates required to fill Mains form (DAF) – Caste, degree etc. rather than making haste at the eleventh hour. You can decide on your service and cadre preferences for DAF. If somebody has not even touched optional subject till now, you can devise a strategy for it in this time. Geography and History optional students can start mapping practice. If someone is not comfortable with language papers, this is ideal time to solve 2-3 language papers and get familiar with the pattern.

There may be confusion about joining a test series. You must join but make sure your papers are properly evaluated. Mains examination is all about writing good answers. The main aim of test series should be self-evaluation. Focus on the immediate feedback you yourself get after writing a paper. The evaluator’s feedback is about answers you have written, but self-feedback is about the overall status and quality of study. Using this feedback try to identify weak areas and work on them immediately.

      People with scores between 80 & 100 may feel doubtful or unsure of clearing prelims. This leads to indecision and we end up doing nothing. I would advise to start preparing for Mains immediately even in this case. UPSC is unpredictable, but it is positively unpredictable too! You have every chance to clear Prelims even if you are not sure about your performance. And even if you don’t get a chance to write Mains this year, this study will make a solid foundation for next attempt.

     As almost all the candidates stop reading newspaper during prelims, it gets a little tough to get back to news papers as the continuity is missing. For this, after the exam you can just go through the online editions of newspapers you read to cover that missing part. This way you can also avoid missing some important news issues.

Dont forget that time management is of the essence in Civil Services Examinations, especially in  the period between Prelim & Mains. The value of time available goes on increasing exponentially as the examination comes closer! So if there are some things which can eat up your valuable time in future, get them done now, proactively. As they say ‘one who sweats the most in peace, bleeds the least in war’.
Note : If one is eligible for appearing for Forest Service Mains, this is good time to devise a strategy for it. First of all, think and decide with what intensity you are trying for Forest Service. In case you are willing to give a good try, selection of two technical optionals, allotting time for their study and also focusing on English paper of Forest Service Mains are some of the things that should be done proactively.