Written for those who feel stressed about General studies and their chances of success in civil service exam,

We’ve 5 category of players for each topic- Let us take a topic for example:
Geography: earthquake, tsunami and volcano.

JBPS no0b guy /Lord Curzon:

He doesn’t know the difference between earthquake, tsunami and volcano. He filled the application form just because his papa (or friend or relative) said and because it costs around 100 rupees only.

His Destiny:

We are not concerned.

Level 0 player:

  • He buys required books and magazines.
    He reads them only once, and thinks he’s done with the topic. 
  • He spends majority of his time day-dreaming about how he’ll kick the bad guys and impress his friends and family after becoming IAS/IPS/IFS. 
  • In his heart, he knows he has to study more, but for some reason he cannot gather enough motivation or desire to read the books. 
  • He believes some divine force will intervene and help him get through the exam. 
  • Last month before exam, he is in deep stress, visits local bookstore to buy some quick-fix current affairs magazines or notes because he cannot go through the whole syllabus from the original book-collection.

Destiny of Level 0 guy:

He may get lucky in a few very easy GK questions in prelims e.g. What is the use of Seismograph?
But he’s doomed to fail in prelims anyways because we know every question in prelims, will not be that easy.
So For most of the questions in exam hall, his facial expression is

“oh yes I think I’ve read this somewhere but I can’t recall it right now!”

Level 1 Player

  • His book and magazine collection is same as the Level 0 guy. 
  • Only difference is that he revises whatever he reads, so If you ask something from what he has read, he can answer correctly 6 out of 10 times. 
  • He knows what is Seismograph, what is Richter scale, can name a few recent EQ and Volcanos. Knows the difference between dormant and active volcano. Has layman’s understanding about how EQ, Tsunami and Volcano happen. Knows what is meant by Pacific Ring of fire and so on.
  • He has rudimentary idea about the current-affairs related to the topic. 
  • He is not an expert but at the same time, he’ll not appear totally dumb during a conversation about Earthquake/Tsunami/Volcano.

His limitation

  1. He sometimes fumbles in 4TF question (4 statements given and he’s asked to identify the correct ones), depending on his revision frequency. Because while doing revision he concentrates only on the fact and data part, and doesn’t pay close attention to the theory / principles part.
  2. He can only answer Multiple Choice Questions only, if you ask him to write 100 words on the same topic, his pen will stop after 50 words.

Destiny of Level 1:

  • Chances to succeed in prelims = 50-50
  • With every revision and practice of demo questions: His Prelim success chance increases exponentially.
  • Chances to clear mains or final selection=0%

Level 2 Player

He knows everything that Level 1 guy knows plus some extra knowledge : e.g. S and P waves. Has deeper understanding about plate-techtonics and Seismic-zones. Can talk about Cinder-cones, crater-lakes etc with examples. Can answer descriptive questions such as why some parts of India are more prone to Earthquakes than the other parts (in 150 words.)
He revises more often than Level 1 guy, so If you ask something from what he has read, he can answer correctly 9 out of 10 times.
He is less likely to be confused in the 4TF questions because he reads more thoroughly and pay attention to description and not just facts.
For certain important topics, he may be maintaining his own hand-written notes.

Destiny of Level 2 Player

Chances to succeed in prelims = very good, almost 80% and upwards.
Post-prelims result, There are two types of L2 players:

Type#1: L2 Player without answer-writing practice for mains.

He ends up with

  • a. low score in mains, hence no interview-call 
  • b. Even If he gets interview-call, he doesn’t find his name in final selection list. 

It is his reluctance to do writing practice for mains exam- So he may be knowing a lot but he is always unable to express it properly in the given time and word limit. That’s why his mains score is low and it ruins his chances of selection.

Type#2: L2 player with answer-writing practice for mains

He gets Final selection in some group A or B service,
But his chances of selection in the top three jobs: IAS/IPS/IFS, are low because he lacks the finesse of Level 3 players while expressing himself so his rank is around 200 or below.

Level 3 Player

Ranjikanth himself. He doesn’t mind writing descriptive answers for practice every now and then.
For this particular topic “Earthquakes, Tsunamis and Volcanos (ETV)” he knows everything upto Level 2 plus He can cross connect topics and deal with descriptive questions and essays related to it, e.g.

  • 1. ETV’s impact on global economy, 
  • 2. Human activities as a cause for ETV, 
  • 3. Disaster Management in ETV, 
  • 4. Feasibility of setting up nuke-powerplants in ETV prone area, and so on. 

Level 2 guy can also deal with above topics but sometimes he staggers while putting his ideas because he is a little low either in quality content part or practice part.
Level 3 guy isn’t a master of trivial details (dates and numbers) but still well versed in facts, and global-current affairs for the given topic. He can put his ideas eloquently both orally and in writing because

  • 1. He reads from diverse sources and doesn’t confine his reading to only one book or a class-note. 
  • 2. Since he consults more than one book/source so he comes across more words and sentences, hence he has better command over the language compared to L2 guy. That’s the reason why he can express himself better.

Knowledge wise he is just a little above L2 but presentation wise his answer-content is far superior both in terms of quantity and quality compared to L2.

Destiny of L3 Player

  • Most likely to get an interview call.
  • Even with bad-luck during interview, he can walk away with a decent group-A service. 
  • With just a little good-luck on his side during interview= smooth selection to IAS/IPS/IFS.


Now to those feeling helpless  

  • For each topic, you draw a line somewhere: e.g. For prelims, I’m going to be prepared for History upto Level 1, and for Polity Level 2. 
  • To clear the prelims, You can afford to remain Level 1 in a many topics, provided that you’re Level 2 in a few big topics.
    Being total ignorant about any topic = digging your own grave. 
  • Being Level 0 guy in any topic= wasting your time. Either you give serious preparation for civil service or do something else. Nobody is going to give you marks for “oh yes I think I’ve read this somewhere but can’t recall it right now” 
  • You don’t need to become level 3 in any topic for prelims. Being Level 1 in majority of topics and Level 2 in some topics, is more than sufficient to clear prelims. 
  • You don’t need to become Level 3 in each and every topic for GS- mains. But If you want to become IAS/IPS/IFS (Top in the merit list), then You must become Level 3 in a few selected ‘hot topics’, and level 2 (with answer writing practice) in majority of the remaining topics before mains and interview, else you’ll be washed out from the merit list.

For your optional subject,

Given the unpredictable scaling system, it is desirable that you become L3 in each and every topic of the optional subject. That way your interview-call becomes immune to the fluctuations in scaling-system for the given year.

For General Studies (prelims)

Keep in mind that GS is not all about current-affairs.
There are lot of questions from the core (static) part too- like history, polity, science.
Same way GS is not all about a single topic (History/Geography)…there are questions from diverse topics.

So, If a particular GS question is tough, then it is tough- not just for you but for a lot of other L1 and L2 players as well. So inability to solve some questions, doesn’t mean you’ll never clear prelims. But you’ll have to get at-least in that “Level 1” category first.