2015 UPSC Prelims Paper 1 Analysis – Moderate Difficulty Level

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Now that the 2015 Prelims is over, it is time to analyze the Prelims 2015 Paper. In this post we will be looking at GS Paper 1 of Prelims 2015. At first glance the paper seems easy and general in nature, but is it really so. Let’s find out.

Topic-wise Questions and Marks Distribution

Let’s first look at the number of questions asked from each topic in GS Paper 1.

Art & Culture24
Envt & Ecology1020
Science & Tech714
Current Affairs1428

Questions were asked from all topics evenly, no one topic was favoured over other although more Current Affairs and General Awareness or GK related questions were asked in 2015 Prelims paper 1 as is the trend for past several years now. Also questions cannot be neatly categorized as current affairs or GK questions. Rather both these topics are inter-related and it will be more appropriate to say that 29 current affairs and GK questions were asked. This translates to 58 marks out of 200 or 29% weightage which is quite significant.

In History, more questions were asked from Modern India as compared to Ancient and Medieval India which is always the pattern. And among Ancient and Medieval India, more questions were asked from Ancient India. This follows the trend in History topic and nothing new could be seen this year.

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Environment and Ecology got its fair share of 10 questions although some current affairs related questions were also based on this topic. In Geography, map-based questions were also asked apart from Physical and Economic Geography of India and World. More than 10 questions have been asked on Indian Polity last year as well as this year which just proves that knowing our Constitution thoroughly is very important to score good marks in Prelims Paper 1.

Only 7 Science & Tech related questions were asked but then not many questions are asked from this topic nowadays and also most of the questions are based on new happenings and technologies.

Difficulty Level of Questions in 2015 Prelims GS Paper 1

As I have mentioned in this posts heading: the questions were of moderate difficulty level. However, at first glance the paper seems quite easy but when you start looking at it in detail, you realize that many questions are tricky and disguised in simple language. This does not mean that there were no easy questions thrown around by UPSC. To be sure, UPSC always sneaks in some easy questions and it was no different this year as well.

Let us start with Polity questions. While factual questions were also asked like on provisions in 5th and 6th Schedule in the Constitution there were tricky questions also like “Who is the custodian of the Constitution of India?” Answer is the President but many aspirants get confused between the President and Supreme Court. Similarly a question says that the PM is the ex officio Chairman of the Civil Services Board whereas it is the Cabinet Secretary who is its Chairman. However other Polity questions in 2015 UPSC Prelims were quite straightforward and a good reading of the Constitution should fetch you good marks in this topic.

Coming to Geography questions, map-based questions were asked which is always good since these are factual in nature. But many climate related questions were also asked like which place has the characteristic of so and so climate or vegetation. Physical Geography by Goh Cheng Leong would be useful for such types of questions. Conceptual questions like those relating to latitudinal winds were also asked. A good read of NCERTs for Geography would surely help you here.

Environment and Ecology questions were based on recent developments as is almost always the case. Questions were asked on Bio-carbon fund, Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, Birdlife International etc which are all current affairs based. Overall almost all questions from this topic were factual rather than conceptual.

Economy questions were a mix of factual and conceptual. The latter included questions on inflation, economic growth, rupee convertibility, international commerce, monetary policy and so on. Questions were of moderate difficulty.

History questions were somewhat difficult to answer. In Ancient India one question was asked on the life of Buddha which is usually the trend. In modern history questions on Congress Socialist Party and Rowlatt Act were somewhat difficult while those on Govt of India Act 1919 and Swadeshi Movement were quite easy to answer. Overall history questions were a mix of easy and hard type.

As usual, most of the questions were current affairs and general awareness (GK) based. Questions from these topics were also of moderate difficulty and if you were well read with a grasp of the latest domestic and international developments, you wouldn’t have faced much difficulty in answering these questions. For instance, question on Ebola virus that recently struck certain African countries was asked. Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana that was launched with much fanfare also featured in the paper. Question on India’s membership in regional groupings was also asked.

Two questions were also asked on Art and Culture which is always kind of a lottery ticket, either you get it or you don’t. But it doesn’t make a big difference at the end of the day.

So you see that GS Paper 1 of 2015 Prelims wasn’t too difficult although somewhat tricky but overall I would grade the paper to be of moderate difficulty level. But as you know that since 2015 Prelims, paper 2 is only qualifying in scope so that makes Paper 1 marks the deciding factor in your chances of qualifying for the Mains. Mere average marks won’t work here. you will need to score well in Paper 1, more than 110 marks at least out of 200 to stand a chance in the stiff competition out there.

What’s your opinion about the 2015 Prelims?

Reference Books for IAS

GS Solved Papers
General Studies Manual
Manorama Year Book
Oxford Student Atlas
Science and Technology

Topic-wise Books for IAS

Indian Polity Laxmikanth
Ecology and Environment
India's Struggle for Independence
Brief History of Modern India
Indian Art and Culture
Certificate Course in Geography

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Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 5 comments
rxb - September 19, 2015

very good analysis. i have been look all over the internet to find such a concise and simple analysis

    aditya prakash - October 7, 2016

    so i thanks a lot

Rajkumar pahade - March 23, 2016

Dear sir,I m Rajkumar.
Thanks for your support,through website..
I have done BBA,n at present M.B.A. running..
So my question is that

1) which medium is best for me…’coz in school social science studied in HINDI
and Science in ENGLISH.

2) which subjects is suitable for Mains exam..
Whether Public administration will help me ‘coz doing mba..
Or other else..?

    Abhishek Jha - May 16, 2016

    If you are comfortable with English, and ready to learn new words and styles of writing, then it’s better you chose English, for you would find best quality material in this language everywhere- from Internet to hard copy books. Otherwise, language does not matter much if you have got quality material which is there in every language, but for Hindi and other non-English languages, you would have to rely mostly on hard copy books. Internet may not be very useful for you then apart from that for current affairs.

AMAN - July 22, 2016

above u mentioned in the polity past that custodian of the indian constitution is the president. kindly check it because i think it is supreme court.
thank you,
aman gupta


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