Revision and practise are key for cracking prelims. For better revision, confine your studies to a few important materials for every subject. Revise them at least 4 times before prelims. Ensure that the basic books like Lakshimkanth are properly covered. Don’t focus too much on Current affairs and confine it to one source and few tests.
Schedule your time table in such a way that you will cover all prelims topics at least once before the start of the test series. Join a test series that has at least one week between the exams so that you have adequate time to revise the corresponding topics before the exam. This way, you can ensure that the second round of revision is done along with the sectional tests. After completing the sectional tests, start the third round of revision along with the full tests. At least 2 weeks before the prelims, you need to start the 4th round of revision.
Practise doesn’t mean joining multiple test series. It means joining one test series and following it properly. After each exam, take 3 or 4 hours to thoroughly analyse the paper. Find out how you made those silly mistakes and how else you could have reached the correct option. Note down the recurring mistakes and revise them, as it helps you avoid those silly mistakes in future.
In UPSC prelims, a small fraction of questions will be indirect and difficult for the majority of aspirants. Interestingly, many of them could be solved by eliminating the wrong options. Again, ability to eliminate depends on your practise.
While doing test series, don’t be hesitant with negative marks. For difficult questions, try to find the answer by eliminating the options. After the exam, give a proper analysis to eliminate work you had done to find out what went right and what went wrong. Also, note down those “logics” and “correlations” you found useful in solving those questions. This way, you can hone your elimination techniques.
Previous year papers are a good source for developing elimination techniques. Go through them (preferably the papers after 2013) at least once before the prelims. They are also the best guides for proper direction and orientation to your preparation.
If you are doubtful about your CSAT skills, practise them properly as many have lost the prelims due to poor CSAT scores. Even if you are good, at least solve 2 or 3 previous year papers to get an idea of it.
Finally have faith in yourself and your hard work. On prelims day, if you find the paper difficult, then it will be difficult for everyone. No need to get panicked as panicking affects your concentration and can lead to careless mistakes.
Summing up, proper revision, practising a test series smartly, honing up elimination techniques and confidence are the key ingredients for cracking prelims.