This articles needs to be tweaked further in the light of actual papers of Mains-2013. However should give the basic idea to new players.
- What is not changed?
- Prelims approach
- What about the current affairs?
- Mains Exam: Change of format
- GS1: Culture History Geography
- GS2: Polity, Yearbook, IR
- GS3: Economy, Environment, S&T, Agro, Disaster and Security
- GS4: Ethics
- Personal Opinion?
- Ok, so few days back UPSC released the much awaited notification for 2013 So you already know, what is changed. It is a stale news. This article is just an overview article for future approach.
- I’ll upload a full fledged strategy / approach / studyplan for General studies (Mains), combined with all list of topics to be prepared, resources, downloads etc. Yes i know preliminary is over, but it takes time for me to wade through all the books and pdfs myself. You don’t want me to misguide you in haste, do you? hahaha. Besides I’ve other exams to look into IES, CDS, RAS et al.
- Age- attempt limit is not changed.
- Age is still counted on 1st August of the given year. (rumor market said UPSC was planning to count age on 1st Jan.)
- Vacancies are almost the same (2012: 1037 vacancies, 2013: approx. 1000)
- Mains to Interview quota is same (twice the number of vacancies. It was same in 2011 and 2012)
- Prelims syllabus is not changed even one bit. (so the approach / strategy for prelims remains one and same.)
Approach to general studies for prelims, already given long time ago.Here is just a checklist, ask yourself:
- I’ve finished reading NCERT, NIOS, Yearbook, Laxmikanth etc. (+static topics from GS Manual) multiple times. I’ve rock solid command over them (or I’ll be revising them often until I get rock solid command).
- I’ve tried/ will try myself with the MCQs given in GS Manual.
- For aptitude, I’m doing maximum practice at night (so I don’t fall asleep by simply reading some book).
That’s Well and good, you’re on right track. Now the question that bothers a lot of candidates:
Current affairs itself is quite big. But for prelims, you’ve to concentrate only on the current affairs associated with specific sectors:
|High priority current affairs|
|Low priority current affairs|
- If you’ve been maintaining notes out of Hindu/Indianexpress past one year, that’s totally awesome. Just keep doing it.
- But those of you, who joined the game late and or did not diligently read newspapers/maintained notes. What to do now? Here is a firefighting tip. Do any one of the following
- Get a book called Wizard’s Current Affairs 2013. (they publish it every year. Please note, other publication houses also release similar books. Use whatever is easily available to you.)
- It doesn’t guarantee UPSC is directly going to asks questions from it. But such book gives an overview of what happened past one year (in topicwise fashion: bilateral, sci-tech etc.)
- The book itself is quite thick but you don’t have to prepare everything, just concentrate on the high priority areas. Then you dig internet, standard reference books etc. for topics that are directly indirectly related to it and are “basic” in nature. For example, there is news about Libya, then you check Libya’s location in the map, its capital, its bordering nations and so on. There is some news about Eastern Dedicated freight corridor, then you dig out from which states does this corridor pass through? …..Prelims is not about Ph.D. Prelims is mostly about tricky questions from very basic concepts / facts.
- hit the public library. Pick past 1 years’ current affairs magazines (CST, Chronicle, PD, Wizard..whatever is available).
- Go through the first 20-25 pages :the important national international affairs are given here.
- And Remaining pages of magazines is usually filler material (toppers’ interviews and recycled articles on polity), you can read them if you’ve time and mood.
- But from those first 20-25 pages, note down the exam worthy current affairs, come back home dig net +/- standard reference books as and where required.
^Please note, these option A / B are just firefighting tools. They’d work fine for SSC, SBI type exams. But Current affairs for UPSC is a different game altogether. That’s the reason I’ve always advised people to read daily newspapers and maintain notes out of it. As a UPSC aspirant, Current affairs must be part of your daily routine. If you don’t do it on dailybasis, that’s when you’ve to turn to such (not so reliable) ^firefighting tools.
And don’t put too much of your time in current affairs, because lot of questions come from static part (theory) too.
Another concern is regarding “Cutoffs possibly getting high” because IFoS and IAS have common preliminary exam. My point is: Just read revise and practice. Leave rest in the hands of God. Don’t enter the exam hall with the cut off mindset or negative marking will dig your grave.
That’s for prelims. Now let’s move to Mains.
|Before (upto 2012)||After (2013)|
|Regional language paper.|
Marks not counted in merit.
|300||Same as Earlier||300|
|English Paper. But marks|
in final merit list.
|300||same as earlier||300|
|General Studies||2 papers||600||4 papers (new topics included)||1000|
|First optional||2 papers||600||2 papers||500|
|Second optional||2 papers||600||Removed||0|
|Interview||Yes||300||Yes but marks reduced||275|
Merit from 2300.
Merit from 2025
What is removed from general studies?
- Statistics and data interpretation topic removed from General Studies (Mains).
- Public Health, Health education and ethical concerns regarding health-care, medical research and pharmaceuticals topic removed. (It is no longer Explicitly mentioned under syllabus, although doesn’t prevent UPSC from asking this under GS3!)
#1: History and Culture
|Same as usual. NIOS, IGNOU tourism studies, Spectrum book on Culture.|
|Same as usual. Bipin Chandra +/- Spectrum +/- GS Manual.|
#2: History of World
#3: Socio stuff
|General Studies||Before change||2013|
|Preliminary exam||Geography = Physical + World + India||Same|
|Mains||Geography = only Indian Geography.||Now Geography = Physical + World + India.|
Now, Let’s check the syllabus of geography (general studies)
|Starting point is NCERTS / GS Manual.|
|Starting point is NCERTS + GS Manual + NIOS biodiversity + selective reading of IGNOU Disaster Management.+Indian Geography by Khullar.|
India and World Geography
|Distribution of key natural resources across the world (including South Asia and the Indian sub-continent|
|factors responsible for the location of primary, secondary, and tertiary sector industries in various parts of the world (including India)|
#1: Polity + rights issue
|Advanced topics||Starting point is (again) IGNOU MPS 003. Then again lot of good stuff scattered around in IGNOU Public Administration, Political science and sociology.Also newspapers, columns, net digging from current affairs point of view (e.g. Pressure groups –> Lokpal)|
Yearbook, Welfare schemes
|Basic functions and overview of policies given in India yearbook. After that, Newpapers, Yojana Kurukshetra, official sites of respective ministries.12th Five Yearplan PDFs click me. (they contain truckload of fodder points).|
Public Administration related
IR / Diplomacy
|Approach remains same as earlier.|
For a paper worth 250 marks, UPSC has packed way too many topics here!
|12th FYP plan PDF files.Basic of budgeting is explained in Laxmikanth, Ramesh Singh etc. But hardly any direct-static questions come in mains. So this is mostly yearbook, IGNOU (Economics) newspaper and current affairs.+ Mrunal.org/economy|
|Basic given in NCERT Class 11 economics. More can be found in Ramesh Singh, Netdigging.|
|Basic given in India Yearbook.Then IGNOU (Economics BA, MA) selective reading, Newspaper columns, 12th FYP pdfs for more fodder points.|
#2: SnT + Environment
Now this is a new topic introduced in 2013.
|NCERT geography, GS Manual+ Indian Geography Khullar etc.|
|1. Disaster and disaster management.||Selective reading IGNOU MPA 018|
|1. Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate||This is given in India Yearbook. Click me for the topicwise list|
|2. basics of cyber security||Also given in India yearbook. More stuff can be found the previous writing competition held at Mrunal.org/Write2Win|
For the remaining topics:
- Linkages between development and spread of extremism.
- Role of external state and non-state actors in creating challenges to internal security.
- Challenges to internal security through communication networks,
- role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges,
- money-laundering and its prevention
- border areas: Security challenges and their management
- linkages of organized crime with terrorism
For above topics, Lot of revision friendly content available in the previous writing competition held at Mrunal.org/Write2Win
+newspaper and net digging.
Lot of vague topics added. Anyways, first let’s check the topics for which exact material is available
Probity in Governance:
Ethics in Public Administration
For ^above topics, you’ll find content scattered in around in
- Ethics and Human Interface: Essence, determinants and consequences of Ethics in human actions; dimensions of ethics; ethics in private and public relationships. Human Values – lessons from the lives and teachings of great leaders, reformers and administrators; role of family, society and educational institutions in inculcating values
- Attitude: content, structure, function; its influence and relation with thought and behaviour; moral and political attitudes; social influence and persuasion.
- Aptitude and foundational values for Civil Service , integrity, impartiality and non-partisanship, objectivity, dedication to public service, empathy, tolerance and compassion towards the weaker-sections.
- Emotional intelligence-concepts, and their utilities and application in administration and governance.
- Contributions of moral thinkers and philosophers from India and world.
- corporate governance.
- ethical issues in international relations and funding.
- +Case studies
Father Wallace, a renowned Gujarati author and Maths Professor in St.Xaviers’ College, Ahmedabad. Once a TV reporter asked him, “Lot of students in class 10 hate mathematics. So, What is your advice to them?” I was watching TV and hoped that he’d give some awesome set of formulas that will completely demystify mathematics even for the weakest student. But all he said was:
“Mitro maare Etlu j kehvaa nu ke tamne gume ke naa gume, bhanvu toh padshe j!”
(Friends all I’ve to say is, whether you like it or not, you’ll have to study.)
Same applies to the pattern change, you can welcome it, you can condemn it, but as long you’re in this competition business, you’ve to play by UPSC’s rules. Anyways for the sake of timepass reading, here are my opinions.
- Most of the General studies syllabus (mains) can be covered using IGNOU, Yearbook, Yojana Kurukshetra, newspapers etc. So atleast the reform is not heavy on your pocket (in terms of having to buy lot of new books / material).
- Thanks to IGNOU’s material, self-study is easily possible. (available on egyankosh.ac.in)
- Reading so many PDFs on computer screen =painful on eyes.
- Each mains paper has 3 hours duration so UPSC can take maximum two papers per day. Now, suppose today is GS1+2, then tomorrow will be GS3+4.
- Here comes to issue: you’ve to prepare similar topics again and again for two days because of their overlapping nature. for example:
- Social empowerment in GS1, and next day Inclusive growth for GS3.
- R.T.I, citizen-charter etc. as [Polity] topics for GS2 and next day for Ethics under GS4.
- Role of civil services in a democracy (under GS2) and next day almost similar thing for Ethics under GS4.
So it feels as if the topic-list is compiled in haste, and that Agro topic in GS3 (+including supply chain Management!) sticks out like a sore thumb.
One Optional still kept
- Instead of two, now you’ve to pick only one optional. Makes it difficult for senior player to decide: which subject to keep and which one to drop. (especially when UPSC is yet to deliver marksheets for Mains 2012).
- UPSC should have removed both optionals. That way, people have to spend less money on books / coaching + more time sparred to pursue any career backplan/ other exams.
- It still takes 1 year to finish the exam. Very painful especially for those who fail in mains and have to reappear in next prelims within 2-3 months.
- UPSC Should have converted prelims into a computer based MCQ test like IBPS/LIC to hasten the result delivery.
On an unrelated note:
- If we look at the larger picture, everyone has to give so many exams simultaneously (UPSC, State PSC, IBPS, SSC, LIC, CDS, CAPF….) These should be combined into only 2-3 exams for combined recruitment into all these jobs.