Another prelims gone, but this time I did not publish the expected cut-off since these to be fluctuating wildly one year to next. In stead in this post, I will try to list the trends that continued from previous Prelims exam and what was new to this year’s Prelims. Also based on this feedback, how should you re-orient or modify your preparation, if required at all.
Both Papers Were Easy
Unlike last year, when paper 1 was more difficult, in 2013 both papers were quite easy. There were no confusing or tricky questions; also the options seemed pretty straight forward. In fact candidates could end up scoring more or even the same in Paper 1 while last year, average marks in paper 2 were much higher compared to paper 1.
Current Affairs Questions Were Missing
A lot of IAS aspirants focus on current affairs so much that they end up neglecting other topics in Prelims. I have a Prelims Test Series Course containing 6000 questions where results are sent by email. Analyzing the attempt of various course learners, I realized that aspirants were very enthusiastic for the current affairs based questions and majority of them attempted such questions but neglected the conventional questions on History, Polity, Geography etc.
unfortunately in the 2013 Prelims paper, current affairs questions were missing almost entirely except for a couple of questions. It seems UPSC is well aware that many candidates prefer the easier route of only preparing current affairs topics and not the rest. You had to have knowledge of other topics as well to score well in Paper 1 this year.
Stress on Basics
This year UPSC stressed on the basics and many questions on Polity, Economy, Geography tested your knowledge about the fundamentals of the topic. For instance, many questions on Economy were on inflation and money supply which were pretty simple to answer provided you had a good idea about these basic topics of Indian economy. Similarly, questions on Polity could be answered easily if you had gone through some basic books like Our Constitution in detail. For Geography, Goh Cheng Leong seemed to be the book from which many questions were asked and I have already written in the post on Prelims books, Goh Cheng Leong is a must-read book for physical geography. The 2013 prelims just proved this.
Paper 2 was Unchanged
It followed the same pattern of large stress on passages to test your comprehension skills which is good since passages are relatively easy to answer. Even the mental ability and logical reasoning based questions were of easy difficulty. Decision making was also less confusing than last year and one only had to choose the option with a balanced view as the correct answer. So no surprises here.
Should You Re-Orient Your Preparation
No. Continue preparing as is. This year’s prelims was not path breaking in any sense. Rather continue to focus on conventional topics and books and not just current affairs as this seems to be the only tried and tested formula for success. Also build up your GK base through newspapers, magazines and reference books like Manorama Year Book to be able to face the Prelims confidently. Mental ability cannot be ignored and since only questions of easy difficulty are asked you should not leave them. Rather focus on speed in paper 2 as time seems a bigger challenge in paper 2. With adequate practice in solving the math-based problems you can manage to complete the entire paper.
How was your Prelims this year and have you started preparing for Mains?