The prelims 2017 is over and multiple answer keys are out, few questions and their answers, as always depends on what UPSC thinks is the right answer to those questions. Meanwhile, lets do an analysis and find out what is in store for PRELIMS 2018.
Geneal analysis of this year Prelims:-
We had a believe that UPSC will change the paper pattern this year. And it did. Whether it is good or bad – that depends and varies from aspirant to aspirant.
The good part is that:-
Many questions are conceptual and analytical rather than straight-forward, which is good for those candidates who have done in-depth study of basic books and really understand them.
The current events based question did take a hit this year, UPSC has asked few of them as compared to last year.
The last year prelims paper was “criticized” in many forums as the questions were not very UPSC like.
However this year, UPSC stuck to its standards and asked those questions that really resonates with the demand of the exam.
For 2018 , there will be no more surprises ( according to our opinion) and the paper will be as analytical as this years. It might be little tougher than this years.
The reason we are certain of this fact is not based on “prediction” or “feeling”, it is based on a news report which we came across few days back (New Report)
It is in tune with the recommendations of the Alagh Committee, which observed that “the standard of testing should be raised incrementally and the questions should be designed to test a broad spectrum of knowledge”
PRELIMS 2018 Strategy
The devil is in the the details:-
Few questions this year such as those related to IPR & DIPP as nodal agency or question related to NPS were asked to check the aspirants “eye for detail”.
Irrespective of which site you follow, do an in-detail reading of the policy at least once and make a note of it (especially those points that seems “odd or out-of-the-box”)
The current events question related to policy and program will not be humongous for next year as all the policy of this government has already been launched, so how many more will be there – not much of course.
Question related to government initiatives and policy will be less going forward for the same reason that all the polices are already launched by the government and there is hardly any new policy coming out these days.
Always look out for the CATCH:-
Always look out for the CATCH, that is look out for those points that can be tricky. For example , UPSC asked a question related to bio-remediation this year, although almost all of you had prepared for the concept of bio-remediation yet the question can be tricky.
A golden rule for this kind of question is – Always find out the limitations of any technology or in-applicability of a policy. The questions are getting very specific, hence this will be very important for next year exam as well.
For example – if you read on bio-remediation, check where it is not very efficient or what are its limitations. That will go a long way in helping you eliminate the options, also as compared to applicability, shortcomings or ineligibility of a concept or policy is usually less and easy to remember.
Focus on the CATCH:-
Last year Start up India program was on the forefront, yet UPSC asked about Stand up India and its application. Similarly this year , UPSC asked about UNNAT BHARAT scheme.
The name of this kind of scheme does not resonate well with their objective. Hence they are the “CATCH” and can confuse an aspirant in real-exam.So focus more on them. The name of the schemes implies something where as their objectives are entirely different.
Don’t solely rely on Current Affairs materials-
The current affairs based question will be comparatively less going forth, so while you prepare current affairs, don’t compromise on static portion. Also if the current affairs is little analytical in nature, spend little time over it to internalize and understand.(For example-Indus water Treaty and which one belong to India exclusively etc).
The days of short-cut seems over, so do a rigorous study of static portion as well.
Substantiate your study with Map:-
Every-time you read a news that has geographical connotation, always refer a map. For example – if you read a news on Syria, check its location, check the map , and its surrounding region. Also check the periphery region as well. For example, if you read on Syria and check the map , do check Mediterranean sea in the map as well. Or if you read a news on India’s rescue mission in Gulf, add knowledge of Map to your study.
This is how all mapping question are framed by UPSC (all the time)
For Environment question- Focus more on organizations-
Environment questions were little tough this year. So prepare a list of organization and initiatives, especially those related to UN.( One should obtain full knowledge on all UN systems and programs). Also focus on few important NGOs and Initiatives that are not sponsored by any formal systems. While UN or govt initiatives are essentially top-down, NGOs and civil society initiatives are bottom-up.
A case in point is water.org , which may sound like part of UN or intergovernmental initiative but it is an initiative by group of individual (Matt Demon is part of it) and it devised the concept of water credit.
If you don’t know it, and a question is asked on water credit , one would be inclined to think that it is an UN initiative or related to some kind of protocol ( For example-Kyoto and carbon credit).
For History and Culture – Don’t miss the woods for the tree:-
For any history related question , develop a strong sense of chronology, as UPSC is asking this kind of questions. Also last year there was a question on Keshab Chandra Sen and this year it was related to Radhakant Deb, and it appears UPSC has been shifting its reference material to frame tougher question on history year after year.
Don’t loose sleep over it because if you invest a huge amount of time to get one question right, chances are that you might miss the woods for the tree. Read the standard material , but read them thoroughly.
To Sum it up , here is what you should do for PRELIMS 2018:-
- Start with basic books, read them thoroughly, solve all previous questions related to static portion. Usually 2 or 3 questions are always repeated by UPSC (Mediterranean question was asked in 2014 as well)
- Build a strong sense of chronology on History, read the standard books thoroughly. Meanwhile allow us do some research and find out the reference sources.
- Develop a strong knowledge on Map. Integrate knowledge of location in all your studies and wherever applicable.
- Culture questions were tough this year (Except the Padmapani question). Apply the golden rule for history and culture- Don’t miss the woods for the trees.
- Don’t restrict your learning to understanding the environmental concepts, do find out their limitations.
- For all policies, check where it is not applicable and the implementing agency/nodal agency.(For example Dept of Pharma is under Ministry of Chemical and Fertilizer- that’s a catch)
- Always have an eye for the “CATCH” and focus more on them. UPSC always goes for the catch.(Example- Brominated Vegetable oil in Soft drinks,NPS, Unnat Bharat, Radhakant Deb and many more)
- Follow PIB regularly (It has taken over the place of “thehindu” this time)
- Lastly, don’t miss a word from the Polity book.
We will soon be launching PRELIMS 2018 program and intend to cater to the UPSC needs. Many question such as Quality council, Navy Symposium, Zika etc were asked in our last year prelims exam, so it appears to us that, we must include 2 yrs of current affairs instead of one in our 2018 program.
The schedule is being worked out. We are planning something different this year, and we will be rolling feedback forms before we launch the program.
Of course, there are certain other findings/pattern study with us related to PRELIMS and MAINS, we will be soon be releasing them once we finalize. Meanwhile, do remember- “The battle is not over until you win” – that should be your guiding spirit.