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Civil Services Prelims 2014 Analysis

Now that Civil Services Prelims 2014 is over, it’s time to analyse the paper to know the current trend and how to orient your preparation for IAS 2015.

Download Prelims 2014 GS Paper 1

Download Prelims 2014 CSAT Paper 2

Prelims 2014 Paper 1 Analysis: General Studies

This year’s GS paper was definitely tougher than last 2 year’s. Very few current affairs questions were asked, however, the focus clearly was on General Awareness based questions. In fact some sites are calling this a General Knowledge (GK) paper than a conventional one. But I feel it will be incorrect to label it completely as a GK paper. In fact there were quite a few questions from conventional topics like History, Science, Geography, Polity, Economy. As usual, Environment and Ecology received a major thrust as is the trend for the past 3 years.

Before we continue, let’s look at the topic-wise question distribution.

Current Affairs

As you can see from the above question distribution the highest number of questions, 20, were GK-based. And these are pure GK questions. Even in other topics like Environment and Ecology, Geography, and Science, questions were a combination of GK and conventional topics.

One surprising aspect of 2014 Prelims was the questions on Indian Art and Culture. As you can see, as many as 8 questions on culture were asked.  It seems UPSC is preparing candidates for Mains in Prelims itself! If you have attempted Prelims or Mains earlier you will know, questions on culture are like a lottery. If you can answer them, count your lucky stars. This was just the case with these questions as well.

In History, as usual, maximum questions were on Modern History followed by Ancient and Medieval History. This has always been the trend in Prelims. Modern history questions were not difficult,rather were of moderate difficulty. In ancient history questions on Buddhism and Vedas were asked as is usual pattern.

Polity questions were also quite manageable provided you had read the articles thoroughly. Some questions were tricky like those on Constitutional Government, executive actions of government etc. But overall, Polity questions were quite straightforward as is always the case. And multiple readings of PM Bakshi’s Constitution of India  was enough to solve most of the Polity questions.

Twelve questions were asked from Environment and Ecology. As stressed multiple times on this blog, Ecology is a very important topic for Prelims as well as Mains and most of the questions revolved around the issues of climate change and biodiversity. One aspect of ecology questions is that they focus on recent developments like new summits, pacts, phenomenons so if you covered these topics then you should get majority of ecology questions correct.

Coming to Economy, the focus in 2014 Prelims was on the basics. No statistical questions from the Economic Survey were asked, rather just the basics from Ramesh Singh’s Indian Economy. Questions on SLR, banking, trade, credit supply were asked. A basic understanding of these concepts was enough to tackle the Economy questions.

Science questions were more GK based than theory based. And were quite tricky as well. In fact your concepts needed to be quite clear to get these questions correct; guess work will not do. And focus was on new findings and technologies like transgenic crops, photovoltaics, biometric identification and so on.

Geography questions were a combination of maps, general knowledge and conventional topics. The easiest to attempt were the Map based questions as is always the case. For this reason, I have included two full map-based quizzes in the Online Test Series course.

Current affairs were asked as part of other topics like Ecology (Global Environment Facility), Economy (Bank Saathi), GK (Agni missiles) etc. So the 2 questions that I have mentioned above do not neatly fit into any conventional topic and so I have listed them separately. But even otherwise, there is less focus on current affairs based questions as compared to previous years.

Overall, GS Paper 1 was of moderate to hard difficulty. In fact, more tricky than hard. Your concepts needed to be clear to know the precise answer. Mere idea or guess work would not work since the answer choices were tricky as well. This year’s cut-off will definitely be lower than 2013 cut-off.

Prelims 2014 Paper 2 Analysis: CSAT

In paper 2, as many as 8 passages were asked consisting of 26 questions. So the trend of past 3 years continued in 2014 CSAT paper as well. Passages are easy to score off and an opportunity to candidates with non-Science background to score well in Paper 2. Two passages consisting of 6 questions were exclusively English-based and could be skipped since there marks will not be counted for purpose of determining your Paper 2 score. From next year, English comprehension passages will no longer be asked.

Mental ability questions included questions on data interpretation, logical reasoning, time and distance, work, direction, arrangements, percentage, profit and loss, probability etc.

A unique feature of 2014 prelims was the complete absence of questions on decision making. These 5-7 questions carry no negative penalty and so always help to boost paper 2 scores. But with the absence of decision making and non-inclusion of English Comprehension question for scoring purposes, paper 2 was more difficult than last year as now mental ability will play the deciding role in your Paper 2 score.

This again underscores the point that mental ability cannot be skipped and regular practice and attempting practice tests will help you gain speed and skills in tackling mental ability questions in Paper 2.

Again, I predict lower Paper 2 cut-off than 2013 Prelims. Overall, cut-offs will go well below last year’s cut-off for General Category which was 241 out of 400 marks. Did you attempt 2014 Prelims? What was your experience? Share your views in the comments below.

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