In past 3-4 years, Main Examination General Studies paper has undergone a qualitative change and has made outlook more challenging.
Undoubtedly, UPSC is in experimental mode and devising newer methods to select the genuine talent which is reflected in the changes in the setting-up of question papers and in type of questions asked.
What is the situation?
As a matter of fact, General Studies is one area which remains top of mind for candidates in the beginning and have the best resource, study material in abundance, books, magazines and the best of the guidance available as many reputed coaching institutes impart coaching for General Studies.
When you have so many positive aspects and the task is crystal clear still, many candidates talks of many questions which looks like alien and despite of reasonably good preparation, it has become hard-hitting.
Another facet is that now, because of strong performance shown with optional subjects, candidates give more weightage to optional subject’s preparation in comparison to General Studies.
Why is it difficult to score?
With the recent changes, the question papers don a new look and have become comparatively lengthy. With question paper split in multiple value questions with smaller denomination having wider coverage of topics, the strategy of selective study is no more working.
With drift towards contemporary developments and application, the conventional knowledge is of limited use. Most of the questions are conceptual and requires complete understanding of topic. Many questions have 2-3 issues interlinked and only deep understanding is of help.
To sum up, the current situation seems to have a sense of frustration and despair among candidates and many have changed their strategies with main focus shifting to optional subjects.
What to do?
General Studies necessitates divergence from the way candidates used to prepare traditionally. There are little facts and figures which are being asked directly.
The biggest problem is that many candidates try to deal with General Studies preparation in limited time-frame like they do it for optional subjects. Whereas General Studies preparation is a long term preparation and requires candidates to be in touch with current affairs over a longer period of time.
Which resource will work?
Unarguably, observation and awareness put together over a long period of time and being in touch with the contemporary developments is the prerequisite.
Newspaper reading has more rewards than customary guidebooks, magazines and even coaching institutes as these have a limited use in present set-up.
The role of basic text-books has got more significance as conceptual clarity comes with fundamentals which helps comprehend the related things effectively.
What tactics can get good marks?
You need to adopt wide extensive approach to build an analytic view and have to put up a strategy that deals with how you collect information, facts, figures and data more systematically and to use it effectively.
You need to learn the art of answer-writing as it is extremely important how you convey the information in limited words and still remains convincing and fulfilling the necessities. And answer-writing practice is going to be the key and would help you in ‘Time Management’ as well.