Tips to crack Civil Services Prelims Exam-2017 Featured
The Union Public Service Commission conducts Civil Services Preliminary examination every year. The Prelims exam is also known as Civil Services Aptitude Test (CAST) is believed to be the toughest stage in the whole process of IAS selection. Generally, Civil Service Prelims subsumes two objective question papers of two hundred marks and time duration is two hours for each paper. One paper is General Studies and the other is General Aptitude (which is an optional paper).
The predominant common misconception about prelims is that it a test of facts and figures and it was never so and specially now. To get the goal, a proper action plan is required for the preparation of this exam. The thumb rule for success of this exam is making quick decision.
The candidates will be tested for some essential qualities like power of retention, clarity of concepts, ability to identify the correct alternatives with efficiency and accuracy, by working on these aspects on a consistent basis, these skills are developed over years and not just in a few months. Now it the time for candidates who are appearing for Civil Service Prelims in 2017, to set the action plan for preparation of exam with above aspects.
Many students appear multiple times to clear Prelims because limited number of candidates is chosen to write the main exam. Out of 100 candidates, who write the Prelims, 97 may not clear prelims due to two overarching two main reasons.
- Only a few vacancies
- Lack of right approach
For instance, in 2016 the total number of applicants is 11.36 lakh, out of which the number of candidates who qualify for second stage (mains) will be only around 15,000. Around a million applicants fight to find a place in the top 15000 positions which makes prelims stage certainly not a cake-walk. But, if you are a serious candidate, embrace right strategies, guidance and study material, self-study is enough.
Out of 11.36 lakh applicants, only half sit for Prelims
Out of the 11.36 lakh candidates, who register for Civil Services Prelims Exam, usually, only half of them take the Preliminary exam on D-day. This is still a bigger number considering the number of vacancies. Around 15,000-16,000 candidates (12-13 times the number of vacancies) will be selected for next round, i.e. Civil services Mains exam. This means only the top 3 per cent of candidates will get through the exam. Then question arise how to prepare for Civil Prelims.
How to prepare for Civil Services Preliminary Examination?
So, it's important to map out a potent strategy so that one can clear the IAS prelims and be in top 15000. Clearing prelims will turn out to be a cakewalk if the aspirant gets proper guidance and orientation.
Paper-1 is General Studies is the key now:
This includes areas like Indian National Movement, Indian Polity, Basic Economic Understanding, Geography, while there are static part of the syllabus, the dynamic part includes Current Affairs. General Knowledge and that does not have proper definition, thus making syllabus quite vast.
Till 2014, scoring high in GS Paper 2 (popularly known as CSAT) was the easiest and fastest way to crack Civil Services Prelims. Putting less effort as compared to GS Paper 1, aspirants used to score high in this paper and cleared prelims. But, with changes in the UPSC pattern in 2015 this strategy won't work in the future.
On the basic level, covering every subject of civil services preliminary exam is the best approach to clear prelims. It's not recommended to give priority to any particular book or area thinking that questions will come from that source.
Likewise, it's equally important not to miss easy questions from traditional subjects like Economics, Geography, History and Polity. At least, brushing up NCERT books and previous years' question papers would be a good idea if you are time-crunched. Keeping an eye on tight competition, areas like culture and environment should also be mugged up.
Current affairs preparation should be done considering the latest schemes and bills launched by the government.
Paper 2 Aptitude Test
Unlike paper 1, which has some static part, paper 2 is also totally dynamic in many senses. This includes mathematics, reasoning, analytical ability and interpersonal skills that requires acumen mental ability. This paper 2 is now of only qualifying nature and its marks are not counted in preparing the merit list of Prelims exam. However, it is essential to score 33 percent in this paper to qualify the Prelims exam.
Adapt requirements of the test
Since the Prelims exam is a test of endurance, candidate must prepare themselves mentally to adapt to the requirements of this test. The main constrain is the time one gets to answer about 100 questions in 120 minutes. On an average one gets around 40 seconds for each question.
However, the prelims exam is multiple choice test answer it needs a proper strategy for preparation. Since the prelims exam is an elimination round the candidate should learn to focus on the information needed and filter out the rest. This test is designed to evaluate qualities like a sharp memory and basic retention power.
There are ways to increase one’s memory and those techniques to be followed. A separate time slot has to be allocated for regular revisions and you have to take mock tests on monthly, weekly and daily basis as one can progress in preparation.
Take prelims mock exams:
This is one area which tells apart successful candidates from those who fail to crack prelims. Mock tests are integral part of regular preparations of successful candidates. By revising the attempted tests you get a chance to identify your mistakes. Writing mock tests arm you with confidence which is the key to success in any examination.
Invest on the right books for Prelims Exam:
An important thing is to remember is that conceptual clarity is needed for this exam. The questions are being asked are of plus 2 levels and therefore such level books should read properly to gain conceptual clarity. Any concept has to be understood with its origin, merits and de-merits, then it needs to be analysed with other relevant topics and has to be correlated with the events that have taken place, it is better to understand and establish a correlation between related concepts from other subjects and current events and other happenings.
For this purpose, picking up recommended books and right study material is of utmost importance. The NCERT books are thought to be must-read by experts as well as successful candidates, as they clear up doubts at fundamental level and help candidates in scoring higher marks at both stages of Civil Services Examination - Prelims and Mains.
Follow previous years and model question papers:
The preliminary exam requires the ability to choose the right option among the given four options. This has to be done through a method of elimination. To do so, it requires concerted efforts to go through previous years and model question papers and solve as many as of them as possible within stipulated time, as is done in Prelims exam.
Taking a mock test for each static papers question and also to current affairs and GK could give the candidates good practice to pick up the most appropriate option. It is not enough to know the right answer but it has to be marked correctly on the answer sheet.
Speed and accuracy are important in solving the model question papers on regular basis would be a great help, while taking care of negative marking in the prelims exam, so practice to be guarded while making guesses.
Follow Prelims-cum-Mains approach:
For Paper 1, an ideal strategy would be to cover GS Mains and Prelims syllabus in detail first that would give the concept clarity about all major topics. The type of questions asked in Prelims and Mains are different, but there are many areas where there is overlap too.
An integrated prelims-cum-mains approach is catching on among civil services aspirants which rely on clearing prelims and mains in a single attempt. Good knowledge of overlapping and non-overlapping areas in the UPSC GS syllabus for Prelims and Mains certainly gets you competitive mileage over your peers.
Go with a relaxed mind on the exam day:
All your efforts will go in vain if you lose your cool on the exam day. It's pertinent to read questions carefully and make sure that you do not make silly mistakes. In a relaxed state of mind, you will be able to answer questions accurately and in less time.
Count on your abilities and be confident that you can clear civil services preliminary exam, and you will. Eventually, it is a sane advice to the candidates, it is necessary to have a positive attitude and great amount of will power to succeed in prelims exam, one must remember to achieve the goal of getting through the Civil Service exam, qualifying the Prelims exam is the first hurdle. So all the best for IAS aspirants of 2017.