Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Analysis of the changes in IAS Exams Syllabus

  • Both papers will be of 2 hours duration which means time management will be crucial factor in scoring.
  • Roting is out as no more optional paper. Wide study of all topics mentioned is required.
  • Mental ability, logical reasoning has gained added importance so expect more questions from these topics.
  • English comprehension is a factor now. Candidates from non-English background will need to vastly improve their English reading and comprehension skills as it is mentioned that no Hindi or other language translation of the passages will be provided in the exam.
  • Syllabus is more clearly defined now especially concerning Economics, Geography and Climate Change which is again good for the candidates.
  • Role of coaching classes will decrease somewhat as analytical questions relating to decision making cannot be "taught" but require common sense and presence of mind.
  • Expect some situational questions as this blog has consistently advocated.
  • Inter-personal and communication skills will also be tested. So candidates will do well to start improving the same
what are the changes in the civil services prelims from 2011?.

1. No more optional papers. Optional paper in CIvil Services Prelims has been replaced by compulsory paper. So now there will be two compulsory papers common to all candidates. 

2. Each paper will be of 200 marks and two hours duration each.

3. First paper is the same as present General Studies paper.

4. Second paper will comprise questions on mental ability, logical reasoning, English comprehension, decision making, interpersonal skills and communication skills, general comprehension.

What has not changed in the new IAS syllabus

Some things which many candidates for the IAS exam were fearing have fortunately remained untouched. Here is a short list.

  • Age limit remains 30 yrs. Older candidates can heave a sigh of relief.
  • Number of attempts have not been reduced. So those on the 3rd and 4th attempts can rejoice.
  • IAS mains exam pattern has not been changed from 2011 but will be changed after a few years most probably.
  • The name of the exam. This is the biggest joke. Everyone rooting for CSAT and all those who started web sites on this title might be cursing themselves now.
  • General Studies paper or Paper 1 is more or less the same. Only thing is that mental ability has now been included in Paper 2 instead.

Benefits to candidates from changes to IAS Syllabus

Candidates who were against UPSC's scaling system due to variable difficulty level of optional papers can feel happy now as optionals have been removed from 2011 IAS prelims. As both papers will be common to all, there will be fair play and equal opportunity to all candidates. From now on what you score is what you see in terms of final results (whether qualified or not for IAS mains). Candidates who could not mug up or rote will also cheer the changed IAS syllabus as now wide studies on different topics is required and second paper will focus on decision making, logical reasoning, mental ability, English comprehension. None of these can be mugged up but have to be practiced, understood, tackled using common sense and presence of mind but not mugging up. Finally, candidates who haven't taken coaching can also feel relieved as coaching will make less of a difference now than in the past where optionals could be cracked simply by mugging up the coaching class notes. Now paper 2 will require individual efforts rather than coaching notes.

Challenges from the changed syllabus for IAS exam

GS has always been a tough paper to clear and now candidates will have to clear two GS papers with more questions in less time (just two hours). So time management will be the most crucial factor in IAS prelims from now on. Also, the second paper will be tougher for those who ignored mental ability and were never too keen on data analysis and logical reasoning. These cannot be skipped any longer but will need to be attempted in order to clear the IAS prelims. Candidates from non-English background will face a tough challenge as there will be English comprehension passages and no translation will be provided for the same so they need to be read in English only. Questions on inter-personal skills and communication skills will test a candidate further and only those who are good at both can now answer questions confidently

Additional books for IAS Prelims

Apart from the regular books for IAS prelims exams candidates will also need some additional books and materials to cover the new syllabus introduced from IAS 2011 exam. I have provided a short list here.

  • CET notes for MBA entrance exams will do fine for tackling mental ability, logical reasoning and data interpretation questions in the new IAS preliminary exams. No need for CAT notes as mental ability will not be of such a level.
  • For English comprehension pick up your Std. 10th English grammar text book as the level of the passages will be of similar level and is clearly mentioned in the new IAS syllabus.
  • For decision making refer to some good books on this subject. Public Administration students might have a very slight edge here.

When should you focus on the prelims

Right now. There's not a moment to lose especially there's a new paper to be studied now. Also IAS candidates who used to conveniently ignore mental ability, data analysis can no longer hide from such questions and will have to face them head long. So start practicing such questions. Also non-English background students will need to improve their English passage reading skills whereas everyone will need to reflect on their communication skills in order to tackle tricky questions on the topic. So start preparing for the prelims right away and don't wait till March. 

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