Prelims Checklist: The Do’s and Don’ts Before and During the Prelims

ias-prelims-checklistWith the Civil Services Prelims just around the corner on 26th May 2013, there some important Do’s and Don’ts that you should remember to make your Prelims experience enjoyable and without any last minute glitches.


Take a print out of the e-Admit Card

As you might know UPSC does not send admit cards to your home address any longer, rather you have to print out the admit cards from their website You will need the Registration ID that was mailed to you when you applied for the Prelims online and your date of birth. Ensure that the photograph on the admit card is clear, if not, carry another government approved photo identity proof like Aadhar card, Driving License, Passport, or Voter I/Card along with the e-Admit card.

Carry a Black Ball Point Pen

Very important. Rounding the answers in OMR sheet has to be done ONLY using a BLACK Ball Point Pen. Pencils are NOT allowed. So remember this. In stead of bothering and borrowing from other candidates remember to keep one or two black ball point pens in your compass box or shirt pocket before you step out of home.

Reach the Center at least 30 Minutes in Advance

The exam timings are: Paper 1: 09.30 A.M to 11.30 A.M and Paper 2: 02.30 P.M to 04.30 P.M

Ensure you reach the center by 09.00 A.M since you will need to find your hall number (literally fight to see the notice board since there will be hundreds more looking for the same), relieve yourself/freshen up before the paper starts, fill in the details like Roll No., Paper id etc in the answer sheet, deposit your mobile (if carrying it).

Carry Quick Revision Notes for Paper 2

Since you get 3 hours break between the two papers you can utilise at least 2 hours for quick look through of important topics in Paper 2, if you want. Of course you can choose to just relax and relive yourself of the stress but if you want to study something then carry some quick revision notes that you might have prepared. Or maybe you can just carry a book or two and look at some tricky questions concerning Decision Making, Mental Ability and so on.

Carry a Watch

In stead of asking your fellow candidates or the invigilator about the time remaining every few minutes, it’s advisable to wear a wrist watch or carry a table clock along. This will help you know exactly how much time is left and  whether you need to rush through the questions or carry on at the current speed.

Get a Good Night’s Sleep Before the Prelims

The prelims requires at least 8-10 months dedicated preparation. It is a marathon and not a 100 meters sprint unlike our graduation exam. If you have prepared well in advance, there’s no point in taking undue stress so get a sound sleep, or at least try to, before the Prelims. There’s no point burning the mid-night oil and turning up for the exam in the morning with your mind half asleep. Remember, your brain should be alert and kicking when it matters most, during the exam.

Tick the Option Chosen in the Question Paper

This is another suggestion I often give to IAS aspirants. Always circle or tick the  the option in the question paper that you have attempted in the answer sheet for future reference. Although this is a basic tip, but something that many first-timers often fail to do. You will need this for tallying and verifying your answers later on.


Do Not Carry Mobiles or Other Gadgets

Other gadgets include Google Glass 🙂 GSM bugs, bluetooth devices etc or some other latest innovations to aid in exam copying. Please shun such innovations. Although many candidates carry mobiles, safekeeping cannot be ensured at the examination hall. If it is unavoidable to carry your mobile remember to carry a bag as well in which you can safely keep your mobile outside the examination hall. Also calculators are not allowed in the exam hall, scientific or unscientific.

Do Not Attempt All Questions

Except for the Decision Making questions in paper 2, each question carries a negative penalty of 1/3 marks (of that question). So please do not try to fool yourself by attempting all questions. Pick and attempt the questions your are absolutely sure of first, then go for those which you are almost certain but still not 100% confident. Chances are, you will most probably be right. If your attempt is less you can gamble on some 50-50 questions of which you can eliminate at least 2 choices with surety but not three. Leave those questions where you have no idea whatsoever of the options given. Chances are, your fluke will prove costly.

Also, refer this post on how to tackle negative marking in Prelims.

These are some the do’s and don’ts that will hopefully be of use to you before the Prelims. If you have any last minute queries regarding the Prelims, shoot them in the comments below.

Recommended Books for IAS

Recommended For You

About the Author: IAS Kracker

IAS Kracker is your friend, mentor and guide to help you crack the IAS exam. We have been guiding hundreds of IAS Aspirants since 2009 to help realize their dream of cracking the IAS exam. Know more about us.


  1. Hi LazyLord,
    Can you confirm what the negative marking in both papers is? I recently came across somewhere that it is -1/3rd of the marks assigned to that question. This means that in GS, where each question carries 2 marks, for a wrong answer, it is -0.667 (NOT -1/3) while for CSAT, it would be -1/3rd of 2.5 –> -0.833.
    Could you confirm this?

  2. I have O knowledge on GK and coming to other subject i have an idea means i have thats it… am eligible to write this exam with or without coaching class. even my financial status is also very poor pls help me out.. thank you.

    1. Yes. You are absolutely eligible.

      By birth, no body is having any knowledge. Please start studying. Set a target for next 2 year(if one is not sufficient) and start working towards it.

      It is true that coaching provides you with guidence, but your hard work and research over internet can compensate mot of it. This blog is also a good place to look for latest update, ideas on books to read and many more. Keep following and keep working. Finally everything is possible.

      Good Luck

  3. Thanks for the tips guys , although i need a advice on study material & current affairs …for cureent affairs i was following jagran josh & till now …anything for Rapid review of current affairs with free of cost ?

  4. hello sir,

    I m travelling to another city fr prelims,will they allow me to keep my bag outside examination hall safely ?
    this question is troubling me the most though it sound lame but its deviating my mind from the prep :/ 🙁

  5. Thanks for your exhaustive posts,they do are of great help for us.

    I have a small doubt regarding filling up of answer sheet in ias prelims exam.
    If a person has Roll No of Six Digits in e-admit card(eg-875462),but in OMR answer sheet there are Seven columns to be filled in Roll No section,so do i have to prefix ZERO ‘0’ (eg-0875462) in columns and then encircle them OR should i have to write the same roll no as (875462) and left the last column respectively.

    Please guide me regarding this,as am really confused about it.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *