Prelims – General Studies (Paper I) Trend Analysis(Shankar IAS )

Dear aspirants,
As the count towards Preliminary Examinations, 2017 gets thinner, there are a lot of apprehensions and uncertainties that start appearing every day. If you manage to keep them down and continue your preparation, you are definitely moving in the right direction. But some doubts may still persist. In an attempt to solve them, we have decided to come up with a series of articles based upon a little research work of the previous year question papers and help you recognize the right areas to work upon. This one is a general guide towards the GS paper on the whole and this will be followed by subject-wise analysis in subsequent articles.
The format for General studies in Civil Services Exam has undergone a marked change after clubbing it with the Forest Service Examination Prelims in 2013. Hence it will be wiser to gauge the trends from 2013 onwards, that is, for the last four years.
(Note: Science and Technology and International Organizations are subsumed under Current Affairs)
 What is the trend?
A quick look at the graph tells us that the trend towards Current Affairs has been increasing. This has been particularly skewed towards Environmental Organizations and Summits which perhaps seek to strike a balance with those preparing for Forest Services. Core areas like Polity and Geography have seen a decrease in the questions but it is not a sign to neglect them. We will tell you the reasons as you read on.
What is constant?
These areas are the minimum risk – high benefit zones. History and Culture strongly falls under this category, with questions here returning 15 marks every year. Core economic concepts will also find a place here. Even though they have had only 7 direct questions in 2016, their application was vital in Current Affairs. For example, there was a question related to Payment Banks which could not have been answered without understanding of the basics of economics.
What is the life-saver?
Factual questions can fall from any corner, but when your foundation in Polity, Economics, Geography and History is strong enough, you can have all dimensions covered. When current affairs turn out to be tilting towards the factual side like CS(P) 2016, your score in these areas will decide which side of the line you fall upon.
Let us do a bit of math to understand this one. For the papers from 2013 to 2015, if you were able to attend 80% in this part, you would have got approximately 50 questions right. Added to that, getting through easier ones in environment and technology would have ensured you sailed through. Now coming to 2016, where 58 questions were related to current issues with majority of them being easier ones, the tricky questions came in these areas which became quite decisive.
How to deal with Current Affairs?
Three topics have particularly attained importance in the recent years – Government Schemes, International Relations and Technology.
At the outset, schemes may look simple but a nuanced understanding of their features will be of great help in eliminating choices in the exam. An example here would be the question related to the Gold Bond Schemes in 2016, where one could have arrived at the answer if the intention behind the scheme was understood by the candidate.
The structure and functions of International organizations that have been in news needs to be closely watched along with developments that usually concern India. There has been a rise in the number of questions related to various indices and reports which could be tabulated and studied for easy retrieval of information on the day.
Technology related developments can be a cakewalk for the curious technology watcher, but for others, one eye on developments in the tech-world can ensure that easy points are scored in areas like wireless technology and space related developments that have gained traction.

All it takes to get past this round is grasping of the basics and then application during the exam. While we tend to find and read new stuff, we fail to re-read known concepts, thus making the foundation shaky. Prelims could easily be cleared when we understand the scope of the exam and find the right answers to it.

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