The UPSC Prelims, conducted by India’s Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), marks the initial phase of the esteemed civil services examination. It includes two objective-type papers: General Studies (GS) Paper 1 and the Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT) Paper 2. Annually, a staggering 10,00,000 students participate in this rigorous test. Aspiring candidates must attain a minimum of 33% in the General Studies Paper II and meet the specified GS Paper 1 cut-off to qualify for the UPSC Mains.
The UPSC Prelims GS Paper I is a of total 200 marks. The marks distribution in this paper is typically as follows:
Is there any negative marking in UPSC Prelims? – You will be penalised for every incorrect answer by 1/3rd of the total marks allocated for that question in the UPSC Prelims GS Paper i.e., 0.66 marks out of 2. However, there is no deduction for unattempted questions.
The cut-off for UPSC Prelims GS I is usually around 90-120 marks in the General Category. With proper preparation and practice tests, it is quite possible to clear the Prelims on the very first attempt itself!
Preparing for the General Studies section of the Civil Services exam can be challenging due to its dynamic nature and sometimes vague question patterns.
To thrive in UPSC preparation, it’s essential to develop a structured study plan with defined goals, consistently take objective tests, and establish a firm grasp of the fundamental concepts. Comprehending the syllabus, making connections, and exploring the “how” and “why” behind questions are crucial. This is where the guidance of a mentor becomes indispensable. In summary, a three-step strategy is needed. Initially establish a strong foundation and cover the syllabus using standard books, next, engage in regular tests and stay updated with current affairs, and finally, conclude by revising your sources. Following these steps will bring you significantly closer to reaching the cut-off threshold.
In the world of UPSC exam preparation, there are often myths and misconceptions that can add unnecessary stress and confusion to aspiring candidates’ journeys. Let’s break down these myths:
One common myth is that there’s no specific syllabus for General Studies (GS), but this is far from the truth.
Analysis of previous years’ question papers reveals that UPSC tends to stick closely to the established UPSC CSE syllabus.
UPSC is in search of well-informed and curious aspirants with a deep understanding of issues and comprehensive awareness of current events.
The exam seeks individuals who are open to learning and staying updated with what’s happening in society and its impact on the nation.
The UPSC exam serves as a map for selecting candidates who can fulfil the country’s needs and meet the government’s expectations of future Civil Servants.
For this, it’s crucial to keep up with daily current affairs and have a solid grasp of the syllabus. However, doing this on your own can be tough. Our mentors help make it easier by guiding students in finding relevant news and connecting links and notes. This has allowed us to source many questions for the prelims.
✅ Another misconception is that reading NCERT books is a waste of time and questions are not asked from them.
✅ The purpose of studying NCERT books is not just to source questions from them but to create a solid foundation for GS preparation.
✅ Recent years’ Prelims papers have included questions that could only be answered by those who had studied NCERT books thoroughly.
✅ For beginners, starting with NCERT books from class VI to XII for History, Geography, Economics, and Polity is an excellent way to establish a strong foundation.
✅ Focusing on NCERT books from classes XI and XII, in addition to the lower classes’ materials, will provide a robust start to your GS preparation.
In debunking these myths, it becomes clear that the UPSC syllabus is well-defined, and NCERT books are valuable resources for building a solid foundation, even though questions may not always be directly lifted from them. These clarifications can help candidates approach their preparation with a more informed and strategic mindset.
✅ Policymaking’s growing significance in UPSC exams is evident in both prelims and mains, and it’s likely to remain a key focus in the future.
✅ Recent times have witnessed numerous policy changes and amendments in India.
✅ Polity questions are typically straightforward and can be answered with diligent study.
✅ Frequently examined topics in polity include Constitutional developments, Fundamental Rights (FRs), Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP), Union Government, Judiciary, Amendments, Local Governments, Federalism, and the Election process.
✅ Many available books lack information on current constitutional developments, necessitating a thorough review of newspapers and magazines.
✅ Being well-informed about provisions in the Constitution is crucial, including awareness of significant Supreme Court judgments such as those related to Triple Talaq, Right to Privacy, Right to be Forgotten, Adultery repeal, the Aadhar verdict, and more.
General Science, Life Science and Science and Technology
✅ This section comprises Science and Technology, Biology, Chemistry, and Physics, which can be challenging for arts background students.
✅ However, a basic understanding of science, especially a thorough grasp of NCERTs, can be highly beneficial in solving most questions.
✅ Our mentors have aided arts/commerce background aspirants in simplifying these extensive topics into easily digestible knowledge materials.
✅ An integral part of GS for the past 15 years, it now carries more weight with current affairs.
✅ Questions revolve around scientific developments and achievements in India.
✅ Focus on observing and experiencing everyday science, as questions often require a general appreciation of daily scientific phenomena.
✅ Prioritize areas based on recent developments, such as ISRO initiatives like Chandrayaan and future missions.
✅ Zoology takes precedence, with limited Botany questions, mainly on agriculture, biological diversity, and plant systems.
✅ Zoology questions centre on the human system and diseases.
✅ Topics like communicable diseases (e.g., COVID-19) and nutrition hold ongoing significance.
Economic and Social development
✅ Topics in this section encompass Sustainable development, Poverty, Socio-economic Inclusion, Demographics, and Social Sector initiatives.
✅ While many questions pertain to the Indian Economy, it’s vital to stay informed about International Economics and its impact on India.
✅ Recent question trends highlight a focus on Industry, Agriculture production, Exim Policy, Money and banking, public finance, and reforms.
✅ Additional areas of importance include government initiatives in economic reforms (e.g., ease of doing business), infrastructure, support for start-ups and small industries, and reform policies like RERA.
✅ Money and banking demand attention, particularly regarding financial and banking reforms (e.g., bank mergers, Insolvency and bankruptcy law, NPAs, etc.).
✅ The growing significance of this section is evident in the latest Indian economy trends, where most questions are current but require a strong foundation in the static aspects of the Indian Economy.
✅ Our classes provide a thorough coverage of Economics, including in-depth discussions on topics like Budgets and Economic Surveys, along with regular sectional tests and multiple doubts-clearing sessions. Our mantra is to simplify economics for aspirants.
Geography and Environment
✅ This is one of the most important sections in the preliminary examination which covers a good amount of questions.
✅ In Indian Geography a thorough understanding of the physical aspects of India with a proper clarity of locations is essentially vital, it is the minimum requirement and it also helps in the economic as well as the human aspects of Indian Geography.
✅ In World geography, the emphasis is more on current developments. It is better to locate places in your ATLAS while reading the newspaper every day.
✅ For the Environment section, one should be aware of the developments associated with Ecology and Environment issues and also the various initiatives and conferences that have been held and also been in the news, especially for preserving the biodiversity and the ecosystem of the country and the world.
✅ Our Mentors also help you to prepare for this through the ‘Places in News’ section in our monthly released magazine. Also, we collect relevant Environment-related questions from multiple sources like Down to Earth, Yojna, Kurukshetra, and The Hindu’s Frontline Magazine. You get all the concise information in one place.
History and Culture
✅ Analyzing the pattern of previous years’ questions gives us the information that the number of questions has been declining and they have increased the level of toughness. The questions in recent years have been asked from untouched areas.
✅ If we talk about Modern History most of the questions are being asked from the period between 1857 and 1947, which includes the uprising of 1857, social reform movements, Governor-General and Nation Movements.
✅ In Ancient India the Vedic Age, the Mauryan Period and the Gupta Period are dominating, Sultanate and Mughal periods are the most important in Medieval History.
✅ Marathas, Vijaynagar, Bahamani kingdom and South dynasties are getting more importance in recent years.
✅ The importance of Indian Culture has increased significantly. Thorough knowledge of the development of Indian Culture, right from ancient times, is vital to scoring good marks in the Preliminary Exam.
Current Affairs has gained the maximum significance in Civil Services preparation. Its weightage has an increasing trend.
✅ Current Affairs is a vast area comprising events of national and international importance, bilateral development sports, and personalities in various fields along with prizes; awards, and honours of the highest accolade.
✅ Half of the Current Affairs questions can be termed as General Knowledge questions. So it is wrong to assume that reading newspapers and current affairs magazines will be sufficient to solve such questions.
✅ In the final analysis, if we categorize the questions being asked, it is found that GS can be handled with much more ease. It is not as frightening as what is projected by many. A successful candidate only needs proper planning and strategy to delve into this section.
|History||A Brief History of Modern India - Rajiv Ahir|
|Indian Polity||M.Laxmikanth’s Indian Polity|
|Human Geography, Physical Geography and World Geography||Certificate Physical and Human Geography - G. C. Leong|
|Indian Economy||Indian Economy - Sriram Srirangam|
|Environment and Ecology||Environment - Shankar IAS Academy|
|Science and Technology||-|
|Art & Culture||-|
The Subject-wise weightage for the number of questions in General Studies I from 2011 is as shown in the table below:
|Year||History||Geography||Polity||Economy||Science & Technology||Environment||Current Affairs|
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