Immaculate Performance ensures success in Civil Services Examination

This is article published in June 2011 issue of Pratiyogita Darpan (English) which talks about the new-look Preliminary Examination 2011 related requirements of the candidates particularly about Interpersonal relationship and communication skills, decision making and problem solving.

Well, it is month of May and like every year, these scorching hot days brings fresh life to many young dreams that make great efforts for making career in ‘Civil Services’.

Yes, it is Civil Services Examination 2010 result I am talking about and by the time you would be reading this, probably, we all will come across many lucky aspirants around us who are being rewarded for their sincere efforts.

While this is going to the press, the interview schedule of more than two thousand five hundred candidates is completing and their fate is getting sealed and many of them who showed immaculate performance would find their names in the merit-list and will be on the way to realize their dreams.

Many will realize the fondest dream to be civil servant

It would be truly rewarding as a lot of aspirants amongst you would accomplish the goal in style by achieving top ranks which ensures post of IAS.

Not all, who have worked hard to achieve this by reaching interview stage, would get the desired post and many would be upset and saddened who will miss their names in the merit-list.

But, this is the part of the well-known uncertainties attached with this examination and these disappointments does not last long at least with the candidates who are left with more attempts.

Most of the candidates get charged quickly to try luck again and appear in Preliminary Examination.

Although, this year scene is little different and the changes introduced from CSE 2011 at Prelims level have made things unsure and a lot of reservations attached to the coming pattern has left many previous candidates worried.

The scene is turning optimistic out there!

The highlight of the last few month for me was talking to hundreds of fresh aspirants who are eyeing for a career in ‘Civil Services’ who come with a dream and their eyes say it all.

Now, as the examination date is near, most of the candidates are preparing and focused on the immediate goal –Preliminary Examination. I must acknowledge, many new and previous candidates are upbeat despite the changes the examination pattern is witnessing.

The competition is expected to be fierce as many candidates who left Civil Services Examination unnoticed earlier, as it had different pattern; but, now are preparing to try their luck in CSE.

Both, for the candidates who are new or those who have appeared earlier are seemingly almost on same footing. For candidates who appeared earlier, they may have some advantages in Paper I but, for them Paper II is completely new thing.

And, for those young talented candidates who are looking to test waters for the first time, their fresh approach, high energy level and a gateway for realizing so-called “Administration Dream” can work wonders for them, at least at the first level of examination –Preliminary Examination.

Making a proper preparation work for the Civil Services Examination requires a delicate balance of long and short-term strategies, a strong and measured magnitude of pragmatic expectations, aggressive and impressionable efforts to cover the syllabus. A concentrated effort coupled with proper practice and realistic measure of your preparedness will ensure good show.

New-Look Preliminary Examination 2011

To identifying potential among the applicants who appear in Preliminary Examination, UPSC has devised this new pattern for which much has been written about and Commission is in search of people with fresh approach and leadership talent as the job of Civil Services is neither simple nor straightforward and requires a complex, multifaceted capability.

A look at earlier Preliminary Examination General Studies papers (Now, Paper I) indicate that UPSC is responding to a complex situation in hand and have come up with clearer, precise and well-defined questions with innovative touch in Preliminary Examination in past years to check the awareness level of the candidate.

Paper II, as people call it CSAT (Civil Services Aptitude Test), has come in place of optional subjects chosen by the candidates in earlier pattern. UPSC has introduced this paper for the first time and this compulsory paper has almost all new constituents except General Mental Ability section. Presence of Paper II in the new pattern is very important and would have come after a lot of research.

As many candidates inquire about questions from Interpersonal Skills & Communication Skills, Decision Making & Problem Solving sections may be asked in comprehension format.

Other common question is relating to - can questions from these constituents be asked from English language, vocabulary or grammar?

I may be seen as a person with contrarian view that questions from most of the constituents in Paper II are not going to be based on comprehension where text in paragraphs would make base for questions asked. If such is the case, the paper would become lengthy.

Even, UPSC has very clearly indicated in syllabus and sample questions that Comprehension and English comprehension section will have such set up.

For the second question, once again I don’t know what others say but when UPSC has specifically devoted one section to English comprehension how such questions can be asked from linguistic knowledge, where this fits in. Another logic is what is asked in English is to be there in translation in Hindi so can the effectiveness remain in questions when asked in other language?

Don’t be in arguments prepare effectively. In any case you are to prepare yourself for ‘English Comprehension’ so you are getting ready to face such questions, if asked.  My humble suggestion is to discuss these confusions only after Prelims on June 12 if such things are there in Preliminary Paper.

Looking at Comprehension related questions you need good reading skills and a good vocabulary. A good dictionary that gives word roots and synonyms would be quite handy.

For question related to numeracy, reasoning, if you enjoy it, you should not face big problems. For those who have just picked up this section for the exam, must have utilized time to improve intelligence.

What change in Preparation-Plan demands due to ‘Negative Marking’?

UPSC has moved a step ahead with CSE 2011 and in addition to cut down on ‘guesses’ and ‘luck’ with penalty on wrong answers introduced few years back, now UPSC is insisting on candidates who have the aptitude for the job in question - Civil Services by means of some questions with inbuilt negative marking.

Penalty for wrong answers:

In this immerging situation, to tackle the ‘Negative Marking’ you need to develop clear conceptual clarity, sharp memory and recall which can eliminate the chances of getting confused in examination hall.

The best approach is extensive study and as suggested by many toppers and even subject experts at coaching institutes that Prelims-Mains focused study is best way to cover the syllabus.

Excellent preparation backed up by practicing solving questions within time-limit can be a boon.

To tackle ‘Negative Marking’ you should be careful and in control as sometimes candidates do some silly mistakes. The following points would guide you in attempting objective questions with fewer chances of wrong answers.

  • The first and basic fundamental of solving objective type questions is to read complete question carefully.
  • If you know the answer while reading question, don’t jump to conclusion before reading all the alternatives.
  • While attempting mathematical questions, many a times in hurry candidates read the wrong figure or don’t look carefully at graphs or diagrams which lead to wrong answers.
  • If you get confused with any question, look for the clues in the question and the given alternatives. Re-read the complete question and try to reason out.
  • In seemingly tough questions eliminate the most unlikely answers first and then try to work out the correct answer.
  • Sometimes, you get stuck among two alternatives; try to take an educated guess.
  • If you muddle up with some question, many a times it is the first choice that is correct. So, look at the question again and make sure that your answer is the best one as per your knowledge.
  • Try each question if possible but, leave those questions which you are not able to reason out completely.


Inbuilt Negative marking

As clearly indicated in the application form, UPSC is going to introduce inbuilt negative marking in some questions which will have no definite ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answer.

Each of the alternatives given would be the most appropriate or least appropriate answer and on that basis would have different value for each answer you choose.

These question may relate to work environment, relationship with other people, can be general in nature to assess your outlook towards common things, these can be framed to assess your ability to deal with your emotions and even other’s emotions as well.

Even some questions involving decision making and finding out the ways which leads to problem solving as well can have such differential value of marks attached.

Interpersonal Skills & Communication Skills, Decision Making & Problem Solving

To understand it better a few situational questions are being given and you can visualize none of the alternatives given can be termed completely wrong.

The choice of the answer depends on person to person and the here you need to make such decisions that set you apart from the pack. The most appropriate answer will get you full marks and lesser or the least appropriate answer would have negative marking built in.

Question: In your office you have a major problem you are facing and there is no solution is sight. What will you do?

  1. You will continue to deal with it yourself
  2. You will try to distance yourself away from the problem and wait for eventual outcome
  3. You will go to your seniors in search of solution
  4. You will surrender and pass it on to someone else.

Question: You are dealing with a department and you find that situation is really tough. Actually someone from your office failed to keep promise on an earlier occasion hence hitch is there. What would be you action in such scenario?

  1. You will bring that incidence to the notice of higher-ups and malign your colleagues image
  2. You will find out the cause for such a goof-up. By finding the reason, convince people that you will ensure such mistake is not repeated again.
  3. You will close that negotiations and divert your energies for a fresh project
  4. You will take it as day-to-day problem and will cover-up the matter somehow.

Question: One of your colleagues has done some wonderful work for which he needs to be complimented.  What would be your reaction?

  1. You will ignore his achievement
  2. You will do something nice for him so that he feels honoured
  3. You will bring it to the notice of seniors and take the message to the right people up in hierarchy
  4. You will reward him with monetary benefits

Question: A handicapped person comes to your office and ask for such help for which you may require to break the convention to get his work done out of the turn. What you will do:

  1. You will get his work done and feel bad for breaking rule
  2. You will feel bad but get over it relatively quickly as the services delivery to the people with special needs is prompt
  3. You will apologies  and tell him the correct procedure
  4. You will change the rules first so that anyone with special needs can get the work done on priority.

Question: In a restaurant, you order for main course. What would be your reaction if you are served cold food?

  1. You will leave the table and walk away.
  2. You will scold the waiter and take a vow not to visit the place again
  3. Would call the Manger and insult him to show others sitting out there
  4. Would say the waiter that food is cold and would request him to replace it.

Question: You are going to attend an important meeting and on the way you find you old teacher standing waiting for the bus. What will be your action?

  1. You would ignore him and go to meeting.
  2. You will postpone meeting and drop him to his destination.
  3. You will stop and take him along as you are getting late for the meeting
  4. You will arrange conveyance for him.

Question: You are driving and see some vehicles are in the way and not giving way to ambulance. What would be your response?

  1. You will immediately call the traffic police
  2. You will do your part and park your vehicle on side and wait for Ambulance to pass
  3. You will ignore and move ahead
  4. You will help getting the way cleared for the ambulance


Question: You went to buy bathroom fittings for your home. As the market place was crowded and congested you took help of a person to get the articles dropped at main road from where you could get conveyance.
Due to heavy rush, you get separated from that person – what would you do?

  1. You will be in panic for the loss of goods and repent
  2. You will call police immediately
  3. You will ask passers by if someone has seen that man
  4. You will inform the shopkeeper from you purchased these goods and wait for that person at the destination.


Question: In your office, you don’t get along well with your senior. You have been sensing some problem but are not able to figure out the problem. You will:

  1. Pretend as if there is no problem that exist between both of you
  2. Would discuss it out with you senior
  3. Will keep on looking for opportunity to highlight any personal thing about your senior
  4. Will request for transfer or look for some other job

Question: You are starting preparing for your career growth, what you feel is the best

  1. You will set a goal that is challenging but possible to achieve
  2. You will set goal that are way above your  capacity
  3. You will not set any goal and will take things as it comes your way
  4. You will set goals that are just ‘cake walk’

Question: You come from a village background and your father is a farmer. You are studying in a Metro and once your father visits you. He talks to your friends and others about the village, agriculture, weather and about you. How will you feel about him?

  1. Find it okay till the time he talks about you.
  2. Feel satisfied that he keep his conversation with in limits of his experience.
  3. Avoid his presence when your friends come
  4. You will make him understand that he should talk about politics, films or even current affairs

Question: You are working in a group of two on a prestigious project which can bring recognition instantly. Both of you have spent a lot of time, effort and energy on the project work. Unfortunately, your work is not selected in final stage. What would be your reaction?

  1. Will look at the project that got approved and will try to figure out where you failed
  2. Will fight with your partner and will accuse him for the failure
  3. Argue with the deciding authority and would show your displeasure
  4. You will take the defeat in stride and go on with life.

To deal with such questions, you need logical thinking, reasoning, analysis competency, problem-solving ability, judgment and decision-making ability.

The best way to attempt these kinds of questions is to understand the situation or circumstances and what all is being asked.

First, understand the instructions and form an idea what is expected of you. As the experts say that the intelligence exists as a very general mental capability involving ability to reason, plan, solve problems, think abstractly, comprehend complex ideas, learn quickly and learn from experience.

Without the element of prediction, and would like to be immune for sharing my personal opinion that I will not be surprised if at the later stage of the examination – interview, these problems, questions asked in Preliminary Examination relating to Interpersonal Skills & Communication Skills, Decision Making & Problem Solving which can help ascertain your personality type, may go on to become guidelines for the interview board to identify the type of person you are and your interview may get influenced or depend on the basis of these.

As they precisely do right now with your Mains Application Form, the interview board may wish to make opinion about a particular candidate based on the information that surface from these questions to ensure that they are tapping the suitable person for the post.

So, all I need to remind you, is to prepare well and be ready to the Preliminary Examination confidently.

You need to be honest and should be aware of life experiences or skills. You should have knowledge of the related facts and should have ability to analyze certain characteristics that will be more or less appropriate for the job in question – Civil Services.

These questions represent just a little illustration of the type of questions UPSC might ask. I have been working on some more questions and would be glad to share with you. You can always reach me with your examination related queries and problems at atul@pdgroup.in. We have been regularly providing you with more such questions that may help you in Preliminary Examination in the model test paper section of the magazine.

IAS Passion: It is no less than an uphill climb

If you are craving to try hands again the Civil Services Examination 2011, you should be serious on the evolving requirements and need to adjust your preparation which accommodates new knowledge, the skills and practice.

As the Preliminary Examination is near and if you just trust on hearsay, gossip, casual observation and insufficient information about the examination related requirements, you are not doing justice.

No doubt, the process of writing prelims for the first time is really difficult. More so, in the evolving circumstances because one needs nurturing at every step, just like a child, to know that what he is doing is right or not. Make sure you have the right set of people around, who can render the right guidance, whenever you need.

The candidates with a long range, conceptual or strategic thinking would be able to perform better and they are the one who are looking at the new-look Preliminary Examination as opportunity where others see only confusion.

Time to learn new skills and techniques

The most common question I asked now is how many questions are going to be there in Preliminary Examination Paper I & II. I don’t have answer to this and it is going to be like a puzzle till the time UPSC doesn’t come out with details.

You have to prepare yourself to face the question paper as it comes and solving multiple choice questions (MCQs) is like any other skill you get better at it with practice.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.”

Don’t leave any stone unturned and make efforts do covert your dreams into reality. Scientific theories also suggest that there is no practical limit to human intelligence. The new look-Preliminary Examination is requiring you to learn few new things and improve your aptitude to make a great impression.

Utilize your time left before the examination sensibly and strengthen your strong points and care for the weak points if any you spot in your preparation.

In the next issue, we will talk about the Mains Examination related requirements as irrespective of your attempt - good or average, you will have to start for Mains Examination. It would be unwise if look for cut off after Prelims or waiting for Prelims result.

Wish you luck and all the best for the Preliminary Examination 2011.

Last Update Monday 15th August 2011     

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