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Changing Trends in Civil Services Exams: How to Crack the UPSC Code!

Earlier this year in March, the news of ChatGPT failing the UPSC Prelims 2022 made rounds on the internet. People were amused but not surprised to know that even ChatGPT could not crack the IAS Exam; it is one of the toughest examinations in the world with more than 10 Lakh applicants on an average, and the success rate is only 1%.

Ensuring Difficulty Through Unpredictability

Year by year, UPSC sustains the difficulty level of the Civil Services Exams by altering question types, patterns, themes, subtopics, ratio of questions from different sections, and other aspects of Prelim & Main papers that no coaching or teacher can certainly predict. One may say that this unpredictability is a clever strategy adopted by UPSC to stay one step ahead of the candidates and coaching institutes.

For instance, in the Main Examination 2022, the essay paper surprised the candidates by introducing philosophical prompts in the entire paper. The tilt towards philosophical essays has put many aspirants in trouble as these kinds of questions need to be answered through a different approach than the essays based on current affairs.

New Trends in Prelim 2023

This year’s CSE Prelim paper substantially deviated from the past year trends and patterns. Nobody had expected that there would be 18 questions of Assertion and Reason (AR) type. “In 2022, no AR question was asked in the paper and there were less than five of them in the preceding years. These kinds of questions are quite time-consuming, and they used to be important about 10-15 years ago. UPSC seems to have brought back this trend now. It implies that there is a need to understand the subjective interpretation of topics,” says Satya Prakash (HOD, UPSC, Disha Publication).

According to the analysis done by Disha Experts, the UPSC has increased its focus on Geography, International Relations, and Polity. There were more map-based questions in the exam than ever. There is a shift from direct questions towards concept-based questions. There is also an increase in current as well as applied based questions. However, the most notable feature of Prelims 2023 is that about 46 questions have a “Unique Option Pattern” like Only One, Only Two, All Three, And None. As a result, it is impossible to use Elimination Techniques in these questions which were frequently applied by candidates earlier.

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In the GS Paper 2 (CSAT), Quantitative Aptitude questions were found to be of moderate difficulty. However, the Reading Comprehension part was lengthy.

How to Deal with Changing CSE Trends?

If unpredictability is the rule of UPSC, deep conceptual understanding combined with practice is the key to gaining confidence and overcoming surprises in the exam.Core subject knowledge and an analytical bent of mind will help you score where techniques like elimination and guessing won’t work. You gain in-depth knowledge of a topic when you look at it from multiple perspectives. Such a vantage point can only be offered by previous year questions of all past years that you can attempt after finishing each topic, such as Disha’s 29 Years Civil Services IAS Prelims Topic-wise Solved Papers 1 & 2 by Mrunal Patel.

Another obvious but often ignored advice is that one should not leave an entire subject/topic to focus on others as many of the questions are actually amalgamation of one or more topics. This, in turn, means that you need a strong conceptual understanding, especially to deal with Unique Option type questions where elimination trick is impossible to use.

A mastery of NCERT concepts will also help, not only to build a strong foundation for advanced concepts but to make connections for Mains answer writing too.Study from resources that provide complete, integrated coverage of old and new NCERT concepts while presenting content in one-liner format to save your precious time. For instance, Disha’s NCERT Digest series will really get you sorted.

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Furthermore, Disha’s unique TextGuides series have been designed to build strong conceptual base of aspirants along with providing ample practice. TextGuides are the only books in the market that come equipped with ‘Expert’s Advice’ – a unique feature that tells you what to study, which topics are important and how to frame answers. These exam oriented TextGuides can be trusted to qualify Mains papers in a single attempt!

In view of the latest exam trends, your grasp on Geography and Maps will substantially impact your overall score. You need more than just an Atlas to prepare this important section. Disha has recently introduced ‘Master Geography Through Maps’ with PYQs and Expert’s Advice which can definitely help you in this direction.

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UPSC Exam is the test of your knowledge and determination. So, persevere in your efforts and study with a solid strategy in place. Seek books that act as your mentors too. Explore Disha’s complete range of Civil Services books here which are read and recommended by toppers: Buy 2023 Civil Service Exam Preparation Books– Disha Publication

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