UPSC Civil Services (IAS) Prelims Exam : Evolving Trend

UPSC Civil Services (IAS) Prelims Exam always surprises in one way or other to the candidates. Let us take a quick look on the evolving pattern and trend of IAS Prelims Questions and make our IAS Exam Preparation better

UPSC each year conducts the Civil Services (IAS) Exam to recruit in the All India Services and the Central Civil Services. In all of them IAS has a different footing even in the services because it provides the leadership in the district and in the departments.  IAS Prelims Exam serves as the filtering exam and it weed out the number of deserving candidates who did not done well in the IAS Prelims Exam.

The civil services examination is no more cramming and cracking stuff. The dynamics have been changing rapidly every year and this has been the case in all its three levels, i.e. Preliminary, mains and interview. However, it is the first level that is the most crucial step towards attaining the success in this exam. This very first step has seen enormous changes in last five years, since the beginning of CSAT, substituting the optionals in preliminary examination. This two paper format paper has finally evolved in giving all the importance to the first paper and making the other one only qualifying in nature. So, through this article, we will mostly discuss and analyze about the change, shift, evolution and volatility of the first paper.

It all started with the introduction of CSAT in the year 2011. From this year onwards, the GS paper (first paper) too observed massive change in the nature and character. Most of the questions are being asked conceptually, rather than factual in nature. Questions check the crux theme of the topic and extract the understanding of the candidates about the subject. For example, consider this question:

To meet its rapidly growing energy demand, some opine that India should pursue research and development on Thorium as the future fuel of nuclear energy. In this context, what advantage does Thorium hold over uranium?

1. Thorium is far more abundant in nature than uranium.
2. On the basis of per unit mass of mined mineral, thorium can generate more energy compared to natural uranium.
3. Thorium produces less harmful waste in comparison to uranium.

Which of the statements given above is/are Correct?

This question asks for the basic and correct reasons which can truly explain the higher want of Thorium as future fuel over Uranium. This requires candidates to bring out the crux concept based on understanding, not on the basis of cramming and memorizing.

Another transition being observed are integrating more than one question in a single one. This encourages candidates to read all the words and statements of question very carefully and attempt only if she is well adept with all its subparts. This can be observed by following examples:

What is the provision to safeguard the autonomy of the Supreme Court of India?

1. While appointing the Supreme Court Judges, the President of India has to consult the Chief Justice of India .
2. The Supreme Court Judges can be removed by the Chief Justice of India only.
3. The salaries of the Judges are charged on the Consolidated Fund of India to which the legislature does not have to vote.
4. All appointments of officers and staffs of the Supreme court the Government only after consulting the Chief Justice of India.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

The above question asks the candidates to check for two things, whether the statements given in the question are all factually correct and whether they comply to the autonomy of the Supreme Court. The candidates will also have to ponder what constitute the autonomy of the institution.

It has also been observed that the questions being asked conform more towards the application rather than the established theory. UPSC is increasingly trying to judge the applicability of the candidates IQ. Such aspects are mostly being seen through the questions of Science & Technology, Economics and Environmental Science.

Rainbow is produced when sunlight falls on drops of rain.

Which of the following physical phenomena are responsible for this?
1.    Dispersion
2.    Refraction
3.    Internal reflection

This question talks about the application of Dispersion, Refraction and Internal Reflection. Which can only be answered if a candidate is well versed with the theory part and has the capability to apply the same.

Talking about the content contribution and weightage of different subjects, current affairs topic is gradually petering out in the preliminary examination. Moreover, even if a question pertaining to current affairs finds its place in the question, it is related to an event which might have occurred in last four-five years and not in the recent past. Subjects like art & culture and environment science are usurping the importance of traditional subjects, i.e. Indian Polity, History, Geography and Economics. In fact above mentioned two subject constitute more than a quarter of the question paper now a days, reflecting their criticality.

However, off lately the questions are being asked in factual manner and with traditional approach (rather than; wherein, multiple statements are given, and candidates are asked to identify the correct or incorrect statement). It was observed more in 2015 rather and to some extent also in 2014. The difficulty of the questions had been diluted in these two years. However the subject matter followed the same gradual pattern, with environmental science and art & culture continued to be the darling topics of UPSC.

Important points

Some important observation in the evolution of preliminary examination can be enlisted as following points:

•    Static and traditional subjects like Indian Polity, History, Geography and Economics have been diluted to 10 questions each (in some years up to 15)
•    Environmental Science has evolved as the most critical and most vital subject, contributing up to 30 questions alone in some years.
•    Art & culture has picked up the importance too
•    Current Affairs is increasingly losing its importance
•    UPSC is increasingly asking the questions, wherein, multiple statements are given, and candidates are asked to identify the correct or incorrect statement.
•    More emphasis is being given on theory, concepts and understanding with respect to  standard reference books.

The paper – II (famous as CSAT), has lost its criticality since it was made only qualifying in nature. It is relatively easier to score 33% marks with very little preparation (3-4 weeks), by practicing reading comprehension, Quantitative aptitude, Critical reasoning and Syllogisms. Reading comprehension comprises almost half of the CSAT paper and should be most focussed upon. However, the time management is very crucial in the CSAT paper as have been the observation of last four-five years.

Some Important Tips for IAS Prelims Exam

  • Read and understand the Topic Fully and interrelate it with other topics
  • Prepare the notes from different sources regarding the important points of the Topic
  • Always expect the unexpected questions, UPSC always try to surprise the candidates
  • Try more and more mock tests and Model Test Papers for IAS Prelims because more you practice in the exam like conditions better you perform in the real exam that IAS Prelims Exam
  • Try to solve previous year questions papers so that you can find the real grip of the UPSC questions
  • Try to solve the questions with explanations so that you can understand the real concept
  • Always discuss the topic with friends also that you can explore and discover some more points which can help you in answering
  • Keep Visiting for improving you preparation

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