Looking at General Studies CSE 2011 question papers, one can easily guess that the papers were relatively easier comparing General Studies CSE 2010 papers. Still, the average marks secured in General Studies have continued declining trend.
It is strange because this time candidates were better prepared and even some of the quality conscious Coaching Institutes had worked harder and with extensive approach, tried to cover almost everything defined in syllabus.
This does not imply that insufficiency in marks secured is due to non-serious or low quality of candidates reaching Main Examination level. This is indicative of changing strategies candidates are adopting now where less importance is being given to General Studies and the major focus has shifted on Optional Subjects.
Such dilemma is because the optional subjects have a well defined syllabus and some certainty associated with these; whereas, in case of General Studies, it is difficult to lay hand on each and everything which probably is making scoring difficult for the candidates.
Other important factor is that the new candidates imagine General Studies can be prepared within 2-3 months time after Preliminary Examination. That is an area where most of them were found on wrong foot as it requires a long-term approach towards preparation. Again, it has few components which are traditional and some areas are dynamic in nature where current events, happenings and developments continuously impact your preparation.
Lack of Time Management during preparation as well as while writing papers in Examination Hall, has also impacted the performance of the candidates.
Some of the new candidates were under impression that by selecting optional subjects like Public Administration, Geography and Sociology which render some help in General Studies preparation, the General Studies more or less gets organized.
Looking at syllabus of General Studies, one may feel familiarity with some of the constituents but at the same time it is difficult to have everything under control within short span of time. Some of the constituents may be new to you which may require attention and updated information makes the things look easy.
What is needed?
UPSC has adopted a diverse approach and the kinds of questions being asked are more practical in nature. In such scenario, candidates should have basic knowledge with conceptual clarity and need to develop capability to correlate facts and interlinking issues.
A strategy needs to be in place to comprehend what all you read and its application as you are encountering questions with some creative and innovative touch.
Prioritize your needs and plan your strategies in such a way that you are able to have effective preparation for General Studies also along with your optional subjects to improve your prospects.