As there was a widespread anxiety (fear) about the new pattern for Main Examination 2013, a lot of candidates took guidance from coaching institutes and this time most of the big names were trusted the most as candidates felt they have experience and the team of talented teachers/experts who can impart the correct strategies to counter the emerging needs in the General Studies domain.
I don’t want to comment about any coaching institute in particular; but, many candidates from different coaching institutes I have interacted with in recent days/months, have been vocal and mentioned that although the format for Civil Services Examination has changed but, many of the coaching institutes have still not.
Dissatisfaction is more about the big names rendering coaching for Civil Services Examination and most of these candidates were of the opinion that it had not been as per their expectation.
Moreover, majority of these candidates are of the view that the new format for Main Examination gave coaching institutes a chance to hike the fee for General Studies preparation. Coaching Institutes had valid reason that they had to prepare candidates to face 4 (four) papers of General Studies where as in erstwhile pattern there were only 2 (two); but, as a matter of fact, that enhancement did not take reflect in their efforts, claims the discontent lot of candidates.
Ground realities are not credible
In fact, to satisfy students, a bulky study material became the part of the fresh strategy and a lot of books were recommended for most of the newly added topics featuring in the syllabus for each paper of General Studies.
As a practice, still a lot of dictation continued to be a part of coaching-plan whereas candidates feel that the new pattern required a systematic structured study-plan and should have involved explanations to decipher the complete syllabus and to uncover the intricacies involved in inter-discipline flavor among topics in an attempt to equip candidates to face the UPSC’s salvo effectively.
In particular for General Studies Paper IV (Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude) a lot of irrelevant study material has been dispensed and the divergent views from different players were enough to confuse the candidates who were looking for some solid piece of advice from the coaching institutes they depended on.
Since beginning, candidates were shaky about General Studies Paper IV in particularly, as they were suggested to read a lot of jumbled stuff and that too with reference to case studies even from the other countries as well. A lot of teachers were quoted as saying that they have been reading a lot to provide them the best study material which will help them sail through.
What I feel is that candidates would have been benefitted the most if the candidates were taught the correct approach to face General Studies Paper IV rather than satisfying them with theories and principles from diverse disciplines.
Even, at some of the coaching institutes evaluation tests were not conducted for General Studies Paper IV, just on the pretext that as it is going to be staged for the first time. Although, UPSC has come out with sample questions and cleared their intent still, a lot of coaching institutes tried to play safe and didn’t attempt to guess.
Moreover, at many places the Main Examination 2013 batches ended in September/October as the coaching institutes have to accommodate the fresh batches starting in October/November 2013. All of us know it clearly the approach UPSC has been adopting in recent years and as the change in Main Examination schedule (commenced from early December instead of October on previous occasions) and above all a new format required a sympathetic approach from these coaching institutes just to show the concern about their students.
What coaching institutes narrate about Main Examination 2013?
I think after having a look at the Main Examination 2013 question papers, many amongst you will have thought that a fresh strategy is needed and reality is far from the view some of the coaching institutes’ have shared.
As the Main Examination 2013 is over, attention of majority of well-known coaching institutes is on fresh batches going on for CSE 2014.
There are some coaching institutes claiming that it is what they had predicted and a lot of questions came from their study-material and notes they provided.
Even if they are caught on wrong-footing, they cleverly come out clean saying that we had discussed all these topics in class-room.
It is not about questions having come straight from their study-material or class-rooms discussions; it is all about developing insights and correct approach.
Projection for 2014
As the pattern was new, there may be a lot of excuses but, now everything is crystal clear. Main Examination 2013 question papers will be of great help to understand the examiners' expectations and in predicting future trends.
Yes, I agree that coaching institutes cannot cover everything under the sun but, certainly their assistance and direction can make the candidates face this examination boldly.
It is complete paradigm shift; altogether a different exam-plan that requires innovative teaching techniques and complete dedication from the coaching institutes.
Yes, it is a transition phase and a lot of churning has to happen in the coaching institutes’ arena. Even, some new entities are emerging – assimilation of teachers as well as with technology-driven approach promising to offer desired solutions. So, there is a definite added choice out there.
I have nothing to say except one thing that the coaching institutes will have to be more conscientious and need to equip candidates with skills that help them to face the examination confidently.
Candidates also need to take a cogent decision while deciding the coaching institute.
Finally, when it comes to select the coaching institutes, there can be n-number of factors; but, not necessarily “all that glitters is gold.”
So, my suggestion - "be wise; it is your time and money, make the best use by taking correct decision to make your efforts meaningful."