The new format for Main Examination 2013 has created curiosity among aspirants who wish to know more and more about the related requirements and what kind of preparation strategies one need to adopt in tackling the emerging situation effectively?
When we tossed this question to some of the IAS toppers, we got a mature reply from all these intense candidates that would help you in undertaking meaningful preparation strategies.
Stuti Charan (AIR 3) visualizes these changes as innovative that will help in extracting qualities in an officer. “It’s important to accept new challenges and dimensions to refine ourselves, she adds.”
Welcoming the recent changes Mayur Dixit (AIR 11) says, “it makes the examination more diverse and by reducing one optional, more importance is given to common papers. I don’t think strategy should change much – focus on the syllabus given by UPSC for all papers, prepare well and write your answers in crisp and point to point manner.”
For Raghavendra Singh (AIR 12) new pattern is a welcome change. Sharing his opinion he says, “Now, the Preliminary and Main Examination look more integrated. General Studies has become the key to crack the examination and with no second optional candidates will find more time for General Studies.
According to Debasweta Banik (AIR 14) interpretation of new format for Main Examination clearly indicates that General Studies has become all the more important in the Mains examination now.
She adds, “It has become more dynamic and use of newspapers and internet has become quite indispensable. Though I would not be able to comment too much on the new pattern at the moment, I feel that whatever be the style of examination if one is conceptually clear with their basics, tackling tricky questions and writing good answers becomes easy.”
Sharing her interpretation of this move Tanu Priya (AIR 18) says, “I think UPSC is moving in the correct direction with these changes. The best strategy would be to focus more on General Studies as it would make and break the result in my opinion. Prepare your optional well but over reliance is not advisable.”
Voicing the pains of aspirants, Tanu added that the only thing is it would have been more considerate to announce these changes at least one year in advance respecting the sentiments and difficulties of students.
In view of Raj Kamal Yadav (AIR 21), everything is almost same, only the wrapping package has been changed. He adds, “I think now UPSC has elaborated the syllabus with more headings and sub- headings except few fresh additions (like moral integrity, ethics, world history, a part of Public Administration).”
“But, due to changed dynamics of the Marks, General Studies will command the preparation. I think one has to devote much more time for its preparation, along with it I think they have created a level playing field for all aspirants.”
Ajit (AIR 26) feel that the change in the pattern in the Main examination is in favour of candidates. Preparation for this examination with two optional papers was a very difficult affair. It also compelled most students to go for coaching for at least one subject as it is very difficult to master two subjects on your own. But in the new pattern candidates will choose one optional subject which will save them lot of effort, time, and money.
Secondly, in the new pattern GS has a huge weightage which is how it should be. Also, the scope and syllabus of GS papers have been revised and enlarged. Those who are aspiring to be civil servants in a new, emerging, and incomprehensibly complex India must be very well aware of the world around them. To score well in GS papers one needs to be very well read not only in terms of basic text-books but also about the social, political, cultural, economic, ecological, and technological changes taking place in india and the world.
When it comes to strategy candidates should realize that everybody is a master in her chosen subject. Therefore one should try to score maximum in the optional paper. Scoring high in the optional paper may not give an edge but a low marks in optional will spoil the chances of the candidate.
With such a big weightage, GS requires extra attention. The one who covers the syllabus well will reap the benefits of high marks. This requires an aptitude for all kinds of news. One should read a lot and should be well aware of the world around herself.
And last but not the least, time-management in the examination hall and writing skill will play key roles. To develop these skills one should devote more than half her time in writing answers while preparing for the Main examination. Joining a good test-series will help immensely.
Amanbir Singh Bains (AIR 45) says, “I am a firm believer in change. An examination process can continue to be effective only if it can force the candidates to adapt and still retain its credibility.
The increased focus on GS is a welcome shift from since it will discourage optional centric preparation and allow for better informed and more flexibly oriented recruits. I am especially supportive of Paper-4 which has added the component of ethics in administration explicitly. Besides the significant reduction in Mains duration from 21 days to only 5 days is most welcome.
Welcoming the recent changes in the Main Examination pattern, Rishi Garg (AIR 49) says, “Optional subjects have led to huge subjectivity in the scoring pattern of the examination. Since candidates opt for different optional subjects UPSC has to do scaling or normalisation to be fair to everyone. But, due to different nature of optional subjects marking pattern differ considerably; fair comparison and making of merit list is a difficult task.
Introduction of more common papers helps in creating a more level playing field. However, one optional still remains. I hope that this is a transition stage and in future optional papers are done away with.
The new pattern requires considerable work on GS with additional topics like culture, ethics and governance issues. For ethics one can refer to 2nd ARC report on Ethics in Governance which will be good foundation to tackle problems in this are. CSAT questions will also give a glimpse into type of questions that might come in the mains examination. Traditional Indian text on ethics by Kautilya and Thirrukural may be helpful as well.
For culture part- candidates need to develop a strong interest int he field in-order to score good marks. Questions in this area are more likely to be analytical measuring interest and understanding of various facets of Indian culture. There might be few facts based questions as well. Internet is a good source of information on culture, watching videos relating to various dance forms, paintings and cultural events help in understanding finer differences between the various facets of Indian culture. Visiting museums and National modern art gallery may also help.
According to Nitin Singhania (AIR 51) the change is progressive for sure. He considers that the new syllabus has become much more relevant to create a level-playing field and reflects a better orientation towards Civil Services.
Aman Gupta (AIR 57) also feels that the recent changes are forward looking and would provide a greater level playing field for everybody apart from making the selection process more relevant. So far as tackling the situation is concerned, I think that the examination increasingly demands a conceptual clarity rather than rote learning of facts - be it the Optional or the Compulsory papers. One should be abreast of all current developments and be aware of the historical background thereof. The new topics in General Studies, such as World Geography and History, need to be gone through, though not it too much detail. Focus on the Optional should still be retained for that may still remain the differentiating factor.
Appreciating the move, Tapasya Raghav (AIR 78) says that UPSC is doing nice job as it is making a level playing field for all candidates. For example, I am from dental background none of my subjects was there in UPSC’s curriculum. This gives advantage to the candidates who have done their post-graduation and graduation in the subject which they opt as optional. By phasing out one optional is progressive step in right direction. Now more emphasis is on General Studies which is good. Also, introduction of paper on ethics might help the in achieving the right frame of mind for future bureaucrats.
Encouraging a fresh approach, Satish Kumar Shanamugam (AIR 137) says that focus should be on the General Studies papers. It is better to avoid technical subjects as optional subject as these may not contribute much to other parts of the CSE.
An experienced campaigner, Chakresh Mishra (AIR 160) senses that actually if we look closely, General Studies exam was already on the same pattern. They have just made it official. Now, we have only ‘One’ optional, so it is better to focus on General Studies for high score.
Sharing his observations on new pattern, MANU MUKT MANAV (AIR-180) says, “In present scenario the importance of conventional parts has decreased and more focus is now on current affairs and applied aspects. So, we should read one newspaper and news magazine regularly and thoroughly. While preparing for our optional subject we should focus more on conceptual understanding rather than on facts. Command over language is very important as it helps in expressing your thoughts and views lucidly. Try to increase your writing speed as with the increase in parts and sub-parts; now, we have to write more words in 3 hours than earlier.
On a lighter note, Kumar Abhinav (AIR-207) says, “If I weren’t appearing again, I would have said this is a very positive change. On a serious note, the changes are indeed on the right direction. It might appear a little harsh for people like me. As I had both the optional subjects equally well (or equally bad, if you want to term it that way prepared. The General Studies syllabus has expanded with addition of topics from multiple subjects like History, Geography, Sociology, Public Administration, Philosophy, Psychology, etc. Also it has become more elaborate with some sections like disaster management explicitly mentioned.”
“This should not change the strategy much, which according to me should be preparing extensively for General Studies and intensively for the optional paper”, he adds.
Welcoming this move specially the expansion of General Studies from 2 to 4 papers Apoorva Gupta (AIR 283) says, “Since, we already cover almost everything under the syllabus for the two General Studies papers, expanding the scope of the same to four papers makes the effort put into General studies more productive and more scoring. No major change in strategy should be required for the same, just carry on your previous strategy for General Studies exam this year too. Besides, the changes in the syllabus gives us something to look forward to, a new challenge.
We sincerely hope that these views and opinions render some help in formulating strategies to tackle the ensuing Main Examination 2013.