What are the changes required in the approach with the Evolving UPSC exam pattern? -PART 1

Charles Darwin in his book Origin of Species quoted the term- “Survival of the fittest”. The phrase denotes the similar idea that one’s survival during UPSC preparation is based on their capability to adapt to the changing exam patterns and demands of UPSC.

Since last few years we have witnessed certain changes in the examination pattern, the questions are now based more on one’s analytical skill rather than rote learning. Integration of several topics together and the increasing toughness of CSAT paper requires one to approach the exam differently and prepare himself or herself in a slight different manner.

So is the UPSC exam really Unpredictable? It is no longer possible to prepare for exams from existing sources?

Let's break this myth..!!!
UPSC itself guides you to prepare for the exam in the best possible way. Now after reading this line the first thing that come on your mind must be “Wait what”?

And we will say “Yes”, you already have the answer: it's the PREVIOUS YEAR QUESTION PAPER.
From time and again UPSC has brought home the fact that there is no other best possible way to understand its pattern than its own previous year question. However, we often end up exploring unrelated queries and resources, attributing this to the unpredictable nature of UPSC.

What kind of changes are we talking about when we witness the evolving and changing nature of the UPSC exam?

Let's summarize some key important changes that are required for you to fit in the exam process:-

Holistic and integrated coverage of topics - UPSC has become more multidisciplinary in its approach. You may find questions where topics of history are mixed with economics or may be society with history and so on.

Example: To what extent has the urban planning and culture of the Indus Valley Civilization provided inputs to the present day urbanization? Discuss? (The question is integration of history and society topic of urbanization).

We often see people saying - It's no more just the hard work rather the smart work now.. But how do we implement it?

"Employ your time in improving yourself by other men's writings so that you shall come easily by what others have labored hard for" - Socrates.

Hard work is when you give the ample amount of time required to cover the syllabus topics holistically. However smart work is when you smartly gather information from already existing sources

Example: Toppers notes, their answer sheets etc. Why do we have to work hard for something that has already been done by someone rather we can try to integrate and revise things multiple times. This is what we call value addition to our existing efforts.

Shall we really read newspapers or monthly magazines? This question has been asked by a multitude of aspirants...

Let's try to answer it.

Newspaper reading has multiple benefits from helping you to improve your English language to helping you improve your scores in reading comprehension in CSAT and also helping to articulate points for essay ethics and general studies paper. It's always an add on. Besides, it helps you to revise basics again and again.

Example: Reappearing topics like G20 , ASEAN, WHO ,WB, IMF,SCO- other international and inter-governmental bodies which upsc has been asking time and again.

In 2023 prelims we had a question on G20 and we are sure aspirants who have regularly read newspapers during their preparation can hardly get the answer of the question wrong. Apart from that, current affairs and magazines are helpful in covering topics in a holistic way but it gets monotonous .After 10 pages it seems nothing is comprehensible.

Let’s integrate both of them and make our preparation holistic. For example, make reading newspaper a habit in the morning for 1 month and you will feel the difference (I have always believed the घड़ी detergent tagline ad-'पहले इस्तेमाल करें फिर विश्वास करें…!)

The question regarding the increasing toughness of the CSAT paper still needs to be addressed…!!How we can approach it? Do we need to start preparing for CAT level math now? Is UPSC being unfair to the humanities students? How do one with a humanities background approach CSAT?

Let’s connect on our next blog to answer a few more interesting questions and unwind the changing approach needed for the preparation of the UPSC Examination.

Thank you.
I hope you enjoyed reading it.
Megha Agrawalla (Sociology faculty)
RICE IAS Faculty.
Email address -agrawallamegha4@gmail.com(will love to hear from you)