Rule #1: Maintain a Diary of Mistakes

Consider this equation
x-33=(17/2)
=>2x -33 =17
=>2x=17+33
=>2x=50 hence x=25.

Wrong! The Correct answer is 41.5.
What was the mistake? We multiplied 2 with x, but forgot to multiply 2 with 33.

This is a frequent calculation mistake made by many candidates, But in CSAT/CAT/IBPS, they’ll also give “25” as one of the four answers, so people happily tick “25”, come out of the exam hall and boast about how excellently they performed (mera paper toh bahot acchaa gayaa!).

• Then waste 3 months in doing nothing but cut-off and result date speculation. Come August, enter your roll number in UPSC website and it says
• “Sorry! your name doesn’t figure in the list of successful candidates!”
• Dream is shattered, become Devdas for a few months, then again gather up courage to re-appear in the next prelims.
• And this Cycle continues because you did not take follow the first rule of aptitude preparation, called “Maintaining The Diary of Mistakes
• Whatever mistakes you make or tricks that you discover, while solving the sums at home, do note them down in your diary. Keep a track of your progress. Go through this diary before going in the exam hall.
• You don’t need to write a lengthy formal note, just a crude line in your own mother-tongue, e.g. for above mistake:
• “bracket mein multiplication jaroori”
• (necessary to multiply in bracket)
• In the same way, also check explanations given in the book and see if your method was faster and more convenient. Also note down such discoveries.

Here are few points from my Diary of Mistakes

• In Data interpretation, do see its unit: lakhs and crores before ticking answer.
• To type 1 to 300 on keyboard:· 100-300 got 201 numbers and to type every number, need 3x keystrokes.
• 5/4 speed = 4/5 time. So 1-4/5= 1/5 of original minutes are saved.
• 20% discount on stock, getting 15% on face value, yield always remains the same. 15/80=18.75, irrespective of investment.
• Join midpts of rectangle= rhombus

^these may not make any sense to you, because this is my “personal” diary out of my “field-adventures”. You’ve to set out on your own adventurous journey and maintain a diary like this.

Rule #2: Get your hands “DIRTY”

• To actually write a diary, you’ve to walk on a lengthy field trip. If you just “read” the solved-sums in the book, it is not going to help you.
• “Reading” the sums will only help you memorize the formula and the procedure involved in solving the sum. It will by no means, save you from making silly mistakes in the actual exam.
• You cannot know what type of silly mistakes you’ll make in the exam, unless you make them at home.
• So, When you make mistake at home, don’t feel sad or guilty about it, take it in a positive sense:

Now I’m· less likely to make that mistake in the exam! So by making the mistake, I’ve increased y winning chances.

• Aptitude cannot be learned by reading the books, you’ve to get your hands dirty by calculating the sums on your own.

Rule #3: Know when to give up the fight

• You’re doing a sum on permutations, you do calculations, but your answer doesn’t match any of the 4 given options.
• You recheck the multiplications, still no help. Then you start from scratch again, trying a different approach and logic to the same question.
• In this process 7-10 minutes are wasted and you don’t even realize it.·
• People get stuck in a sum, they don’t leave it, they keep fighting and calculating· again and again with different angles.
• Always keep a wrist watch ready, because they don’t allow mobile phones in the exam hall, and you’ve to keep track of time!
• If you’re not getting the answer, Just leave it for the end, keep moving forward.
• The ‘arrangement’ questions are very notorious for this e.g. A is father of B and an engineer, B is mother of C who is a teacher and..
• Such questions may eat up 10-12-15 minutes if you’re not very careful, because everytime you don’t get the answer, you’ve to read the entire paragraph one more time.
• And there is ‘greed’ involved, since you’re unable to solve previous 20 mathematical sums in the exam, you’re under stress. You think you can solve this sum,· so out of the greed, you don’t give up and in the process you end up wasting precious time.
• All this happens because you did not follow the two principles: you didnot maintain a diary and you didnot get your hands dirty.

Practice is essential.

The Mock-test “SERIES” for CSAT

• March-April is “Diwali-season” for Delhi’s coaching classes.
• It is their final chance to rob the aspirants, before preliminary exam.
• People live in some myth that : One must join a “Mock Test Series” during this time.
• They join the regular or postal test-series after paying Rs.1500 to 7000 depending on the reputation of the class.
• Some request their Delhi-friends to get ‘fax’ the photocopies.
• Some of them so naïve they think they’ll actually get questions from this in the UPSC exam.
• So if Xyz “sir”‘s test-series asked about the number of countries sharing border with Burkina Faso, these people will actually mug up the answer, thinking that it’ll come in UPSC.
• You should keep in mind that UPSC also keeps a track of such test-series and makes sure that no question comes out of this. Beside the level and style of UPSC question is just unique in its own way. It is beyond the aukaat of anybody to actually replicate the toughness and variety of questions of real-CSAT exam.
• Besides UPSC has taken only one CSAT, so we don’t have enough authentic questions to build and speculate mock aptitude-questions. What these ‘test-series’ peolpe are doing? Just lifting and rephrasing the aptitude questions from earlier Bank PO, CDS/NDA exams, set up a ‘mock-test’ and rob 2000-5000 rupees.
• Ofcourse such simulated mock tests have their benefits, they gear you up for the exam, they give you practice, you can know about your weak areas. But I don’t really see the logic in demanding 5000 rupees for such mock-tests, this is as absurd as Kalmadi’s overcharged sports equipments in CAG.
• And I can cite a dozen+ names who cleared prelims earlier without even touching such series.
• Anyways in any case, what is the ‘right time’ to appear for mock test? Only after you’ve completed the topic or the syllabus. Otherwise you won’t be able to solve many questions and it’ll only add to frustration. And there are enough mock-questions given at the end of your aptitude books: Arun Sharma, RS Agarwal, Pearson or any book you’re using- You’ve truckload of questions in them for practicing @home.

So get your hands dirty, maintain a diary and get crack the CSAT exam. Same advice for IBPS, CAPF, CDS, SSC all of them.