How to Approach IAS PRELIMS EXAM?

What should be the approach for Civil Services Preliminary Exam ?

Civil Services Prelims is the first and foremost stage of the three-stage process of entering into civil service. Though it is a mere qualifying stage as its marks are not counted in the final selection, nevertheless it is the first Gate one has to open before entering the main Gate. How so ever a candidate brilliant in writing skills and in personality, he won’t get chance to enter civil services unless he clears the first hurdle. The correct approach and good guidance can help you achieve your goal.

The Preliminary Examination is composed of two components:

Paper

Subjects

Total Marks

Duration

I

General Studies

200

2 hours (9.30 to 11. 30 am)

II

CSAT

200

2 hours (2.30 to 4.30 pm)

Pattern for CSE Prelims:

  • The Civil Services Preliminary exam comprises of two compulsory papers of 200 marks each (General Studies Paper I and General Studies Paper II).
  • The questions will be of multiple choice, objective type.
  • The General Studies paper I consist of 100 question.
  • General studies paper II (CSAT) consists of 80 questions.
  • It also carries negative marking, 1/3rd of marks will be deducted for every wrong answer
  • The marks in prelims will not be counted for final ranking, but just a qualification for the main exam.
  • It’s a single day exam with two sessions which is in offline mode, where one gets to mark ones answers on the OMR sheet.

Syllabus for CSE Prelims:

  • Current events of national and international importance.
  • History of India and Indian National Movement.
  • Indian and World Geography-Physical, Social, Economic Geography of India and the World.
  • Indian Polity and Governance – Constitution, Political System, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights Issues, etc.
  • Economic and Social Development – Sustainable Development, Poverty, Inclusion, Demographics, Social Sector initiatives, etc.
  • General issues on Environmental Ecology, Biodiversity and Climate Change – that do not require subject specialisation.
  • General Science
  • Comprehension
  • Interpersonal skills including communication skills
  • Logical reasoning and analytical ability
  • Decision-making and problem solving
  • General mental ability
  • Basic numeracy (numbers and their relations, orders of magnitude, etc.) (Class X level), Data interpretation (charts, graphs, tables, data sufficiency etc. – Class X level)

Though there is an integrated approach to Prelims and Mains, there are certain basic skill one has to acquire to clear the prelims:

  • Foremost important thing is to go through the syllabus very religiously –Since the syllabus for CSE is very vast, analysing the syllabus helps the candidate to concentrate what to focus upon, where to invest one’s crucial time and energy.
  • The next step is to analyse the previous year question paper. It is a very important exercise as it helps the candidate to analyse the trend of questions, weightage of different subject in the paper etc, if there any change in the pattern etc.
  • Analysing at least past 10 years paper would give a fair idea. We have noticed that in these many years, there are Four main Pillar subject in both Prelims and Mains, they are History, Geography including environment, Polity and Economy, a good hold over these subjects can really help one to clear CSE.
General Studies Paper I (2018) – subject area vs no. of question

Subject area

No. of question

Indian History and Culture – History of India and Indian National Movement.

16

Indian Polity – Constitution, Political System, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights Issues, etc.  

14

Economics – Sustainable Development, Poverty, Inclusion, Demographics, Social Sector initiatives, etc.

20

Geography – Physical, Social, Economic Geography of India and the World.

8

Environment

13

Science and Technology

14

Current Affairs

15

Total no. of questions

100

* The above-mentioned weightage of subjects/marks may not remain the same every year, it is for basic understanding.

CSAT General Studies Paper II (Sample Question Paper)

Subject Area

Number of Questions*

Comprehension     

25

General Mental Ability

7

Logical Reasoning

15

Analytical Reasoning

8

Basic Numeracy and Quantitative Ability

10

Data Interpretation

7

Decision Making and Interpersonal Skills

8

Total Questions

80

* The above-mentioned weightage of subjects/marks may not remain the same every year, it is for basic understanding.

  • Solving previous paper and solving sample papers or joining any good test series is again very important to know well about the exam.
  • Analysing one’s performance in test series, working on one’s weak area and learning to optimise one’s performance can help the candidate to prepare well and gain confidence before the exam.

GRACE IAS is conducting IAS PRELIMS TEST SERIES which is  meticulously designed keeping in mind the requirement of this exam.

  • Multiple and on time revisions of basic text books like NCERT, some other recommended source like Economy Survey of India, India year book etc, a good hold over current affairs etc is the key to success.
  • More important is to translate preparation into performance. Generally, we have witnessed some candidate get overwhelmed by Exam anxiety, managing it is very crucial to clear the exam.
  • In Prelims, identifying the correct answer through proper elimination is key to success, for this it is very crucial to go through the question with proper attention, read the question again and again before choosing the option.
  • Though General studies paper I is the main paper whose marks are counted for selection in prelims, but CSAT is also very crucial, it should not be taken lightly. Many a times even very bright candidate has not been able to qualify the 33% benchmark of CSAT. Therefore, giving enough time and practicing CSAT paper is also very important, otherwise one may lose attempt even though scored well in GS paper I.
  • Hope this information becomes stepping stone for your success. Good Luck!

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