IAS Prelims is the first stage in the Civil Services examination. It consists of two papers: General Studies Paper I and General Studies Paper II. The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) has made some major changes in the pattern of the exam in the past few years. It is very important for the candidates preparing for the exam to understand the evolving trend in the IAS exam in order to channelize their direction in the right direction.
The UPSC introduced some major changes in the Civil Services exam from 2011 . Before the introduction of General Studies Paper II(aptitude test), the exam consisted of two papers: Paper I (General Studies) and Paper II (Optional subject). After the chqanges in 2011, the exam consists of two papers: General Studies Paper I and General Studies Paper II popularly called as Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT).
Evolving trend of General Studies Paper I
First and foremost, the General Studies Paper I has seen a drop in the number of questions asked from 150 to 100 from 2011.
In the past, the GS Question Paper used to be more factual in orientation. But in the last few years, it has become more analytical and logical in orientation.
To increase the difficulty level, the question format has been changed. Now, the question consists of four statements regarding a topic and then the candidate is asked to find out which two statements are true or false. This combination of statements in the answer options makes the questions more confusing and complicated. The candidate might be sure about two statements but may not know the other two. This lures the candidate to mark the answer even when he/she is not sure, increasing the chances of negative marking.
Also, these long and multiple statements also make the paper very lengthy to read. Now the candidate has to spend much time on reading and analyzing the question and statements.
Earlier, the questions related to Mental Ability, Basic Numeracy, Logical Reasoning and Data Interpretation were included in Paper I (General Studies) itself. But after the introduction of CSAT, they are not asked in GS paper I, but in paper II. This has increased the importance of GS topics as more number of questions is asked from GS now.
The areas that have gained immense importance in past few years in the exam are Ecology, Environment, Biodiversity, Sustainable development and Climate Change section. These areas have gained much importance on the national and international level and the same is reflected in the IAS examination. A lot of questions are being asked by the UPSC from these topics.
In the past few years, the focus in the General Studies paper I has been more on the conventional topics related to General Science, History, Geography, Economy and Polity, rather than the current events.
Also, a lot of questions are being asked from the topics related to Art and Culture. This is because the Civil Servants are expected to be thorough with the culture of the country they intend to serve.
Earlier, very frequently, questions were asked related to famous personalities. The candidates were asked to match the personalities with their respective professions. Such kind of questions has rarely been asked in the recent years.
The occurrence of Geography map related questions in the General Studies paper I has also dropped in the IAS prelims exam.