The preliminary test of Indian Administrative Services (IAS) exam is scheduled to be conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) on June 3, 2018. Hence, it is high time for all the aspiring students to analyse their individual preparation level and deeply consolidate all that has been prepared by them in this last one year.
Every year around 5 lakh students appear in the IAS Prelims and only 15000 are able to qualify it to reach the second level. So, when asked what is the best way to start preparing for this competitive exam, most of the successful candidates suggested that the first step is to go through the previous year question papers.
The previous year question paper gives the much-needed perspective to the student’s preparation and hence answers the most important question of what is not relevant to study. After familiarising yourself with the papers, it’s easy to guess that UPSC has some constant favourite topics that consistently appear in the question papers either in the IAS Prelims or in the IAS Mains.
Here's a list of topics suggested as per their occurrence in the IAS Exam that can help you score more:
1. Environmental conventions and agreements
Environment agreement and conventions have become the cornerstone of international politics and it reflects the changing dynamics of India’s position in the arena. The questions are mostly asked from famous protocols or conventions like Ramsar convention, Kyoto protocol, UNFCCC cop meeting and their major implications on India’s environmental policies.
Conversational organisations like Birdlife International, WWF, 360 Degrees, etc have now become a part of IAS Prelims question paper. Events like Paris summit on climate change and international conference on wetlands are exclusively asked in the examination.
2. International groupings, treaties and conventions
This section is greatly reflected in the examination because of the new growing role of India in the global politics. Specifically, the questions on groupings involving India and major Asian countries like ASEAN, SCO, BIMSTEC, SAARC are very important.
Questions are asked about the objective of these organisations, the major decisions and the protocol signed by the members. Some institutional questions are also asked about the major global groupings like UNSC, WTO, World Bank.
3. Scientific achievement of Indian especially in space and defence
Science and Technology is considered as one of the difficult sections of the IAS Prelims Exam. Generally, the questions asked in science and technology section are based on the current developments that are taking place in the science and technology sector of the country. Achievements by ISRO, DRDO and Defence ministry from the core questions like on the new PSLV Satellites, Agni missiles, Brahmos, Guided Missile System etc.
For Science and technology section, the IAS aspirants must stick to the daily newspapers because the questions asked under the Science & Technology section of the IAS Prelims Exam are generally based on the current events.
4. New acts passed by Parliament, pending crucial bills and recommendation reports
Every year questions are asked relating to provisions of popular acts like the GST Bill, the Land Acquisition act, report of the 14th finance commission, a women reservation bill pending in parliament etc. The main source to study all the updates regarding major bills of parliaments is the PRS website annual report.
5. Government's New Social Welfare Schemes
Awareness of new social and economic welfare schemes is important for both IAS Prelims as well as IAS Mains. Schemes largely impact the common everyday life of people and hence largely discussed in the current affairs. For example, questions on Jan Dhan Yojana, Namami Ganga and swatch Bharat Mission have already been asked in Prelims.
Every year new schemes and programs are launched with the onset of the annual financial statement and an analysis of schemes is done via economic survey. Both the budget and the economic survey should be the standard document to study the government schemes.
6. Important cultural sites and monuments in India (UNESCO) as per in news
India is known for its cultural heritage worldwide and hence many culturally important issues are discussed in current affairs and many monuments and places are successful in securing a place in the UNESCO list.
The list is easily available online. Read the whole list and try to remember the important points on all the mentioned places like Harappa sites, Cholas temples, Ajanta caves, Ellora caves, Himalayan institute etc.
7. Geographical indications, IPRs, trademarks, patents and agricultural implications
All major advances, like in biotechnology, genetically modified crops, details on IPRs and GIs should be duly noted separately because a direct question may be asked for this section.
The questions are mostly factual, but some knowledge on basic should be done like how does the new technology work and how it impacts the agricultural practices, for example, the question on neem coating was asked in IAS Prelims 2016.
8. Most important conservation sites, both in-situ and ex-situ like national parks, wetlands etc.
All major conservations sites should be memorised with the associated wildlife and vegetation. Every year at least 2 to 3 questions are directly asked for this list. The questions are mostly factual and can be prepared beforehand to be revised at the end.
Also, pay due attention at the wetland sites and why these sites are so important for the environment conservation for example questions have been asked about the role of mangroves and wetlands in a specific region.
9. Freedom movements from 1930 to 1947
This is the most static part of all the topics mentioned here and it can easily be mastered from books like NCERTs and Indian Freedom struggle by Bipin Chandra. Questions are focused on freedom movements like Non- cooperation movement, Quit India movement and personalities associated with these movements.
The focus of the examination is also on constitutional advances during freedom struggle like the act of 1935, Wavell plan, Mountbatten plan, cabinet mission plan etc.
10. Indian geographical mapping like rivers, mountains, passes etc
This part also requires more of the academic knowledge which can be easily gained from NCERTS and atlas. Focus on major river systems and their tributaries specifically the ones influencing the agriculture of a place.
Important trade routes via mountain passes and main industrial hubs are also important. Focus on the climatic pattern in India that influences the economy of the country.
The above-mentioned topic list can prove to be very high yielding if meticulously prepared by students. More than 50% topics asked in IAS Prelims are repetitive, only the question type asked is different. The main focus should be on Current Affairs in all segments, even in art and culture portion questions are asked about sites and monuments that are much in the news.
The IAS Prelims question paper is always surprising and unpredicted but some topics can be prepared very thoroughly beforehand to be more confident while giving the exam.