UPSC: UPSC Civil Service Mains exam pattern includes nine papers out of which two are qualifying language papers and seven papers are merit-based. English language is compulsory and is of qualifying nature. The marks obtained in this paper are not included in the final ranking.
A candidate needs to score a minimum of 75 out of a total of 300 to qualify the exam. Often candidates from Hindi medium background worry about qualifying this paper. As per the UPSC, the main objectives of the English paper are:
- To assess a candidate’s ability to read and understand serious descriptive prose.
- To assess a candidate’s ability to express his/her ideas correctly and clearly.
The syllabus for the English language paper will be of matriculation or equivalent standard.
The pattern of questions would be as follows:-
(i) Comprehension of given passages.
(ii) Precis Writing
(iii) Usage and Vocabulary
(iv) Short Essay
Let’s discuss the strategy to prepare for each of the above topics:
➤ Comprehension of given passages
- The comprehension question carries 75 marks. Take note of the below points while solving the comprehension.
- Read the questions before reading the passage
- Underline keywords you witnessed in the questions while you read the passage.
- A good vocabulary will help you read and understand the passage in less time. Hence, read English newspapers and magazines to improve your vocabulary.
➤ Precis Writing
Precis writing is summarising a comprehension in limited words, covering all the important aspects and details of the passage given.
To avoid making any errors in writing a precis, follow a set of rules as mentioned below:
- Read the comprehension carefully
- Note down the important points
- Make a rough draft of the precis
- Make use of simple and precise language
- Draft the final precis once all the points have been included
➤ Usage and Vocabulary
This part includes the use of vocabulary and grammar. It is essential that the aspirants practice the related questions and enhance their vocabulary to ace this section. You can also solve the previous year’s questions to understand the pattern.
➤ Short Essay
The short essay is general and different from the essay that you would write in the UPSC mains essay paper.
Choose your topic wisely and draw a rough structure for your essay. There should be an introduction, body, and conclusion. Use active voice rather than passive wherever possible. Use diverse vocabulary and avoid repeating words. Use appropriate quotes wherever necessary. The essay in this paper is more along the lines of the essays that you wrote in your school and college days.
You need to take this paper seriously if you want to clear the UPSC Civil Service exam. Although you only need to score at least a minimum of 75 marks out of 300, all your hard work in other subjects would be in vain if you fail to pass the UPSC compulsory English paper. Solving the previous years’ papers will help you get a hold of the exam pattern and the type of questions asked in this paper.