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How To Prepare Mains Exam

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Main Examination

General Studies in Main Examination

The Main Examination has a total of 1750 marks. Out of these 1000 marks are for General Studies, so it would not be an exaggeration to say that the success of the main examination depends on the strong hold and performance of any candidate on General Studies. Following is the level of cut-off for various categories in the Main Examinations of the year 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 -

Category 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
General 678 676 787 809 774
OBC 631 630 745 770 732
SC 631 622 739 756 719
ST 619 617 730 749 719
PH-1 609 580 713 734 711
PH-2 575 627 740 745 696
PH-3 449 504 545 578 520

Candidates preparing for the Civil Services Examination through English medium have an edge during the preparation because of easy availability of quality study material especially in online mode.

Fulfilling a much awaited demand of the UPSC aspirants of English medium, Sanskriti IAS has come up with its English version in web mode. It offers a new age learning experience that goes beyond replicating a physical classroom into an e-learning platform. Sanskriti IAS is a blended learning platform that combines the best of online and offline learning experiences. Students can have an erudite experience of a plethora of current affairs articles related with all the four General Studies papers. This will add dynamism to students’ GS preparation and they can learn newer approaches of preparation by updating their own notes with the help of the daily articles uploaded in the Sanskriti IAS website https://www.sanskritiias.com/current-affairs . Students can do answer-writing practice of the questions given in the last section of each article.

Even in the examination and evaluation stages, English medium candidates in General Studies are at an advantage compared to Hindi medium. However, it is not the case that UPSC deliberately conspires against the Hindi medium. Actually, this advantage to the English medium candidates is due to the intrinsic nature of the examination system. Some of the reasons for this are as follows:

  • First, that the level of study material available in English, such study material is not available in Hindi. This problem becomes more serious in those sections which are related to current affairs. These segments mainly include Science and Technology, International Events and Economy. It is worth noting that not only books, journals and magazines for these sections, but also on the internet, the study material in English is more and easily available.
  • The second reason is that most examiners who check the copy of General Studies are not able to fully comprehend the expression of Hindi medium candidates because they are more comfortable in English (and less in Hindi). This problem is seen more in those sections in which there is more use of technical terminology because Hindi translations of these words are not that much easy to understand for examiners. Such segments can include Geography, Economics, Environment & Ecology, Science and Technology mainly.
  • It is important to note that the question paper for the Civil Services Examination is originally prepared in English and translated into Hindi. So sometimes the Hindi medium candidates have to suffer due to the mistakes or ambiguity of translation in the question paper, when the translator translates a technical word in a different way from the textbook translation or does not convey an idiomatic expression. If the meaning of an expression is destroyed due to lack of comprehension, its penalty has to be borne by the candidates of Hindi medium.

Apart from all the above reasons, we should also not forget that even in the interview, English medium candidates often have an edge over others.

Essay: an introduction

The essay paper is divided into two sections. Each section has 4 topics, the examinees have to write an essay on each of these two sections. A word-limit of 1000 to 1200 words has been set for each essay and 125 marks have been set for each of these essays. Thus, the essay paper carries a total of 250 marks. The main dilemma between the candidates preparing for the Civil Service Examination is that what is an essay and what does it try to know from us? Therefore, it is necessary that the candidates first understand what an essay is and how to get maximum marks in the Essay paper.

If we say in simple language, an essay is a mirror of our personality. The purpose of the UPSC behind this question paper is to test our personality more than our knowledge. During essay writing our word selection expresses our sensitivity, our integrity as a civil servant and our tenacity and ethics towards the noble purpose.

Essay question paper consists of two sections, one of these sections asks essays on abstract and philosophical topics, while the second section asks essays on information -based topics. In the topics of abstract and philosophical nature, where deep analysis of the subject, our understanding of the subject and approach of presentation is important, in information-based topics we have to present a mixed form of facts and analysis.

A major challenge in the essay paper is to present all the dimensions of the topic asked in the prescribed word-limit (1000 to 1200 words). For this, it is necessary that we recognize the root-soul of the given topic and present the required subject matter within the prescribed time and word-limit. However, in topics of intangible nature, we have the freedom to define the topic accordingly, as asked by UPSC in the 2019 Main Exam 'Wisdom finds truth'. On this topic, we can explain the definitions of ‘wisdom’ and ‘truth’ and their various aspects according to our understanding. But when the topic of the essay is of a different nature, such as - 'Biased media is a real threat to India's Democracy'; then, such topics expect both facts and analysis. However, one thing must be clearly understood here that the essay is not just a collection of facts, but is a combination of information, language, expression, analysis and knowledge.

After all, how to prepare for the Essay paper? This is an important question for the candidates preparing for the Main Examination. A good essay can be written not by reading one or two books or knowing any formula, but only by serious understanding and constant practice of the subject. We should also understand that along with passing the Main Examination, a good essay can play a decisive role in your final selection, because this is the only subject in the entire exam where you can show your creativity and originality; and can overtake the rest of the candidates.

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