Sunday, October 16, 2011

Possible change in 2012 mains exam? Will there be optional subjects? - Mrunal's blog

Before you gear up for the IAS 2012, here is an important information for you – another change in the IAS exam (main examination) is likely to be introduced sooner than we expect. After the marathon meeting with experts, UPSC has almost designed a broader framework of GS Main exam that will replace the optional subjects. However, this is not a new information, as last year only, it was deliberated by the officials to replace optional subjects from main examination very soon. What is new is its timing. The expected decision is based on the Alagh Committee Report. The relevant portion of the Report goes like this- "The present testing of optional subjects is based on College/University curriculum. Re-examining the candidates in their own subjects appears to have a doubtful utility. The universities have already done the work and retesting, possibly even at a lower level that what candidates have completed earlier, appears to be unnecessary. What is important is the relevance of a subject to the job requirements of a Civil Servant, especially in the changing scenario." In this regard what is to be done? Large count of students ask - Should we go for PT first or do we need to devise an integrated preparation? Preliminary test (PT) is little bit unpredictable because of its vastness. CSAT confirms it. But understanding of the trend can be of some help in the changing scenario. For that you need to go through previous years' questions again-and-again and try to understand why UPSC asks questions of current development. The aim of prelims is to test candidates' range of information. Configuration of questions has been changed in the last few years. However, previous years' questions will give you clear idea about the formation of questions. You need to give up the traditional approach in order to accept fresh challenges. More time should be devoted to GS. General Studies is as vast as an ocean. It cannot be measured merely on the basis of topics or sections.

Anything that exists in the universe can be a part of General Studies, especially if that is in the news. Aspirants, those who are taking Civil Services Examination must be aware of this fact. Its Vastness often leads to directionless preparation. But understanding of the trend helps in carving proper focus.

To tame the dreaded demon of GS, candidates must, first of all, select important areas and then go for extensive study. Reason behind this argument is the vastness of the syllabus and changing configuration of questions. Even CSAT is nothing but an extension of General Studies. Don't try to read it in isolation. It always gives a shock. Result of this year PT exam is the latest example. (by Manoj K Jha)

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Possible change in 2012 mains exam? Will there be optional subjects?


The panic mails, I'm recieving after the article in The Hindu about 'possible change in mains exam from 2012"

My answer:

Since 2007, I've been hearing following rumors.
  1. UPSC is going to scrap down optional subjects
  2. UPSC is going to reduce the upper age limit from 30 to 25
  3. UPSC is going to reduce the attempt limit from 4 to 3.
  4. 18 years old teenagers will be allowed to give UPSC exam right after std.12, without requiring college graduation. Selected candidates will be given 3-5 years training like the NDA exam (you get both graduation degree and job)
  5. In the mains exam there will be no optional subjects, only : GS (+Public Administration), Essay.

^These are some of recommendations of various Committees and Commissions appointed by Government and UPSC.

For some reason, folks in Delhi keep planting these stories at regular interval. Earlier the rumor-market was hot about age and attempt limit, until some of them finally figured out that since it is a politically sensitive issue, UPSC is unlikely to play with age and attempt limit. So you don't hear that rumor much. But now the market is switched to 'whether there will be optional subjects in 2012 or not?"

You'll find lot of people saying "my insider sources in UPSC tell me this and that" but if there is any real-change in mains exam, it can be confirmed by following two sources only

1. For 2012's exam, the official notification of UPSC will be released somewhere in December 2011 or January 2012. That notification will set the rules of the exam: syllabus and everything, whether there will be optional subjects or not.

2. If UPSC chairman thinks that it important to notify people in advance, he may release a press statement, few months before. (like they did in 2010, to tell people about the upcoming CSAT change in 2011.)

My personal take on this matter is, IF at all there is any change in mains exam, the UPSC will release a press-statement only after this 2011's mains exam is concluded. (Somewhere in November 2011.) Otherwise directly wait for the official notification for 2012's exam (In December 2011 or January 2012).

Unfortunately, UPSC doesn't show haste in confirming or denying the rumors, result-date speculations, or cut-off marks. Don't know reason: whether it is incompetence or pure sadistic pleasure.

Now the questions

Should I goto Delhi for coaching of xyz optional subject or not, given these rumor-mongering?
Well, Delhi coaching is a big investment (above Rs.50,000/-). So before you put your time and money in it, you might want to wait till the official confirmation or rejection comes out about optional subjects.

I bought the books for optional subjects, what now, should I read them or not?
If your optional subject is Public Administration, political science, socio, geography, history etc.- it wouldn't hurt doing a cursory reading of those books. Because in any case whatever you read, will help you somewhere in Essay, GS and interview.

Should I wait for another year, till the optional are out?
Very difficult question. Answer depends on many things such as your age-attempt limit, financial position and backup plans etc.

I'm in high-school or college right now and going to appear in 2015/16....
  • Then of course you don't need to invest your time and energy in deciding / preparing optional subjects at this moment.
  • Try to atleast get a first class in the graduation degree.* And simultaneously do light preparation of GS and aptitude.
  • *In Civil service exam, they don't care about your score in 10/12th standard or college, but in case things go wrong and you want to pursue Post-Graduation or some other job, the first class helps - in the backup plan.
This is my advice to everyone, ALWAYS have a backup plan, before entering in the UPSC arena.

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