Indian Civil Service Examination (CSE) popularly known as IAS examination, is one of the most prestgious and and highly competitive examinations in the World!. Actually, CSE is conducted to various services under the government of India, most popular among them are IAS,IPS,IFS,IRS etc… This is a three stage recruiting process attended by the university toppers to average students, from the doctorate holders to degree holders etc.. Generally all sections and class of Indians attend this exam.
The Civil Service Examination consists of three stages
- Preliminary examination (objective type)
- An optional subject Paper – 200 marks
- A General Studies Paper – 200 marks
- Main Eamination (Essay type)
- Two optional Subjects – 1200 marks
- General Studies paper – 600 marks
- Essay paper – 200 marks
- English paper – 300 marks (qualifying nature)
- Language paper – 300 marks (qualifying nature)
- Interview – 300 marks
Civil Service Prelimanary Examination
Prelims exam is applied by about 3.5 to 4.5 lakhs but attended by 2.5 to 3 lakhs applicants. Recent trend indicate that only 4000-6000 selected for the main examination. The maximum filteration takes place in this stage and candidates complain that even after a exhaustive effort, they failed to qulaify for the main exams. At the same time, we can find that a small group of students qualify every year to the mains with little effort!
A closer look at the optional papers
First examination of civil service is the prelims optional paper. Most of the candidates come with laughing faces with the hope that they have scored well in the optionals and do not complain about optional paper. These papers are of degree level standards but often UPSC, in my personal opinion, set papers much higher standard than degree level. I can say that the score of those who did not study and simply attended will be around 25-35, those who studied but not full pledged will be around 45-55 and those who prepared honestly but not systematic way will end up with 65-75 and those who studied systematically with correct revision is able to get , more than 85 and can hope for a place in the mains list. So it shows that getting about 50-60 marks is easy but from here to make above 85 a great effort is needed. Here lies the expertise of UPSC in conducting world class examination.
A deeper look at the General Studies paper
Who determines who should qualify for the mains ? …. It is the General Studies paper. Most of the university toppers, IITians, doctrate holders may fetch good marks in optional but most of them find it difficult to clear it. Thus an harworking average student can find a level playing ground in the CSE exams if he prepares GS paper well. Civil service is a mixture of services, the candidates mixture of all categories, similary General Studies questions is a mixture of several displines.
Composition of Prelims General Studies Paper
- Indian History 25-30 questions
- General Science 30-50 questions
- Geography, Indian geography 15-25
- Polity 10-15 questions
- Indian Economy 10-25 questions
- Numerical mental abiltiy 15-25 questions
- Current Events 20-30 questions
- Other questions 10-30
This is general pattern and composition may change. Anyway for the prepartaion we adopt this as ‘basic structure’.
Degree of difficutly in each subject
If we classify further questions in terms of diffulty, in each subject, we can find that questions are composed of easy (basic)questions, medium level questions and advanced questions. Easy questions can be easily answered if u have studied the subject. Most of them are direct questions. But we can find only 2-3 questions from. The second and most important type of questions are with medium toughness questions. A planned and systematic study,revision and constant practise is needed to attempt these type of quesions. These are not always direct questions, may be confusing, sometimes a good guess can help in getting it right. The third is advanced questions, even after careful study, we may find it very difficult, even to trace the answers after exams!. Luckly these types of questions are also very few and my frank opinion is that just avoid it and donot get frightened of General studies prelims seeing this kind of questions. To sum up, a candidate taking history optional may not get all the history questions correct in the general studies and a candidate who has not studied history may get some questions correct.
Plan of Study and systemactic revision
As a first step, i recommend a detailed reading of the subject is needed. Only after two or three reading, you will get an idea of the subject.After an extensive study you can go for an intensive selected study. As CSE is a three stage examination, it is always better to concentrate on Mains general studies also. So a detailed study is required and prepartion of notes will tremendously reduce your stress while preparing for the main examination.
Plan of Study
The specific areas, where you have to make notes for mains at the time of prelims preparations are
- Indian National Movement
- Indian Geeography
- Indian Economy
- Indian Polity
- Science & Technology when preparing General Science
- Personalities, Indian art & culture etc. while studing Indian history
- Current Events
Systematic revision and Practice is key to success
Most of the candidates complain that in spite of thier hardwork, they fail to clear even prelims. The main reason is that they are not concentrating on vital areas and concentrating on portions which are unlikely to ask. The expert candidate can forecast which are likely to be asked. Here comes the help of coaching institutes and special courses designed for Civil Service Examinations. The second is the systematic revision. It is necessary that you revise the subject studied at least two days continuosly and thereafter, once in week for at least two weeks and revise the main points monthly once. Practise the Multiple choice questions at least once in a week to consolidate what you learnt and to assess the level of preparation. Note down the question which you cannot answer and memorise it. The main problem in this area in the traditional learning is to keep track of what you donot know. It will become a time consuming process to note down the unknown questions in your tight schedule. Here we come to your rescue, attempt our question bank after studying the notes and preferably after 5-6 days after your study. All the wrong answers are automatically noted down automatically and you can call review them when needed. We have imposed a restriction that maximum of 250 questions can be stored at a time. Attempting a seperate test consisting of your unanswered questions correctly removes the questions from unanswered questions. Thus you can manage and keep track of your difficult portion with great ease.