How to Clear UPSC Mains After 3 Attempts?

Have you failed the UPSC main exam even after 3 attempts? Some of the reasons why you failed even after multiple attempts at UPSC exams include the following:

  • Proper planning and preparation were lacking.
  • Lack of understanding of the questions’ requirements
  • The quality of the answer was poor.
  • The management of time was poor during the examination.
  • You scored average marks in the optional subject.

Let me address each of these issues so that you can have a clear understanding of them.

Lack of preparation

With a vast syllabus and strong competition from other aspirants, you need to be smart when it comes to planning your preparation. You need to completely understand the pattern of the examination and should have total control over it.

For example, you need to understand how the questions are framed, what kind of answer is expected from you, the topics and subtopics of your syllabus, the types of questions asked in the exam, etc. The better you understand, the easier it will be to plan.

Refer to both your syllabus and previous year’s question papers again and again as a part of your planning strategy.

Lack Of Understanding The Question

Read the previous year’s question papers to get a better understanding of what kind of answer is being demanded in the question. You can discuss these questions with your friends or any like-minded group to identify if you have missed any part of identifying key aspects of the question.

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Sometimes the questions will be tricky, and many aspirants will misread the questions in a hurry to complete the exam within the time limit. This will confuse them and they’ll write an incorrect answer. Hence, it is very important to practise old question papers to improve your knowledge of key aspects.

Practice Writing

Another important thing you need to remember while appearing for the exam is to understand how to present your answer. What I mean to say is that you need to follow a proper answer structure based on the question’s demands.

You have to keep in mind the various keywords used in the question, like analyze, elaborate, discuss, etc., and frame your answers accordingly. In addition, each part must be answered under its own subheading in order to enhance the answer.

To learn this, you can start by writing newspaper editorials in your own sentences, which will make you assess your abilities and weaknesses. You can also refer to previous question papers or mock tests.

Once you feel you are confident enough to answer questions, you may take part in the test series to test your abilities.

Management of Time

It is a known fact that if you cannot manage your time, then you cannot accomplish your dreams. Managing time is very important for UPSC aspirants since the syllabus to be covered will be huge and there are very few chances to waste your time.

If you are prepared well enough, then you can attempt at least 17–18 questions and all the questions on the optional paper. By proper planning, you can make sure you don’t leave any questions behind due to lack of time. The only way to achieve this is by practising more and more.

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Your Optional Topic

In order to excel in an optional subject, you need to have a complete understanding of the subject. You should be completely prepared for your optional subject even before your prelims. There will also be some topics outside of the syllabus for which you should be prepared. Your teacher can guide you on this, and you can also refer to old question papers.

All that is left is for you to practise regularly. There is no other way but to practice. That will help you excel in your exams.


You might want to make some notes on a few issues that come up rather frequently, such as the role of technology and women’s empowerment. Analyzing the essay questions of the many different test series that are currently available is an excellent way to get a sense of how the questions are prepared.

Write essays and make notes on these themes; they will assist you in the organisation of your essays as well as the management of your time; also, if you’re fortunate, the essay paper may provide you with a readymade topic to write about.

In the essay, you should strive to provide maximum coverage of the subject in a variety of areas. For instance, when writing essays, students often ignore important things like the environment, ethics, etc.


If you have experienced failure repeatedly, then the first thing you need to do is an honest analysis of what went wrong and why. You should be able to recognise your weaknesses and learn how to overcome them.

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Also, do not shy away from approaching your teachers and other senior aspirants since their guidance will be very valuable. You can also check the internet for tips on how to prepare.

But be aware that too much information from too many sources will badly affect you. Only stick to a few sources that you are comfortable with.