The Preliminary Examination 2020 General Studies Paper I is held on 4th October 2020 in the first half and candidates taking this examination would have demonstrated their knowledge and with a decent performance some of them would reap the rewards.
This has been exceptional situation as Covid-19 delayed the exam from original 31st May 2020 to 4th October 2020.
It we talk of strategies candidates commonly adopt, majority of the candidates would have commenced their preparation sometime in the middle of 2019 and due to this postponement of the examination, candidates got 4 more months to prepare for Civil Services Examination 2020.
Talking about the Prelims, your success depends upon cut-off based on General Studies Paper 1 as GS Paper 2 is qualifying.
Your success in General Studies Paper 1 depends on the knowledge gained with the effective coverage of the syllabus and how best you utilized your knowledge and awareness while facing the question paper.
Analysis of Prelims General Studies Paper 1
A glance at the question papers gives a feel that it is just the continuation of approach that UPSC has adopted in last few years.
To be honest, it doesn’t look like straightforward question paper; it is not expected as well. When the purpose is to shortlist serious candidates for next-level of evaluation, you need such creative and innovative approach and year after year, UPSC don’t disappoint on this front.
People may say, but I feel it all drills down to the kind of preparation strategies candidates adopt for this level of examination.
Set of candidates who completely rely upon customized stuff churned out from Coaching factories may not find it easy to comprehend.
Yes, I reiterate that those who have a solid foundation with NCERT Books and are a avid readers of newspapers, they would have found it easy to work out the correct answers.
Prelims General Studies Paper 1 – My Take
After analyzing the question paper, I would like to talk a little about the exam requirements and some techniques that would have worked while facing such a stiff competition.
First thing that I discuss many a times is that candidates adopting integrated approach (Mains oriented study-plan) would have found it easy to tackle.
For only Prelims focused candidates, it may have been really challenging.
As usual, it is a lengthy paper as most of the questions have some statements associated with it and on the basis of these, you have to work out the correct answer.
Reading question correct and reading it again carefully would have been the best strategy.
For example, there is a question “If RBI decides to adopt an expansionist monetary policy, which of the following would it not do?
With this question, there are 3 statements and you have to pick the correct answer.
As an UPSC-CSE aspirant, you are clear about RBI monetary policy and try to work out the answer; but if you have not read the question correct you may commit mistake.
Here, the examiner has highlighted and put not in italics and that is to be taken care of.
One thing that I would like to mention is that most of the questions, even the tough ones, had indicators that would have certainly helped a well-prepared candidate.
Is it tough?
If not tough, you cannot say it easy as well.
In my opinion it is moderate to tough. Except a few questions, it is difficult to find an apparent answer for majority of the question.
My observation is keeping in mind an average candidate preparing for Civil Services Examination with help of resources and guidance that are commonly used by majority of the candidates.
For some brilliant and gifted candidates, it may be a cake walk; but that class is not common.
Even for well-read candidates finding the obvious questions would have been difficult and in first go, if someone would have crossed 40 such question; it would have been remarkable.
Working out the next 25-30 questions with skills acquired during preparation and practice would determine your fate.
Rest 30-35 question may be attempted if you are able to make educated guesses in some of them. Risk may be taken only if you feel that you are in safe zone.
As such, answering all the questions does not ensure your success. So, be careful.
With Negative Marking, you always have a situation where blind guesses can be suicidal.
What would have worked?
Looking at the moderate to tough questions, elimination method would have been the best strategy.
In many questions you can spot some statement that does not match with the question and by eliminating the wrong ones, you are able to zero-in on correct answer.
Even, while attempting difficult questions, many talented candidates rely on intuition or spark that is based on partial information or some context. In most of the cases, it works as you are not making a wild guess.
But such reactions should be marked on question paper in first go and dealt with later in second round as you have time constraint and by the time you revisit such questions, your confidence and recall may help you in answering it more accurately.
Decipher it further
If I talk of constituents, current affairs once again dominate the paper. Question from History, Art & Culture and Geography, Environment, Ecology where answers are comparatively easier to identify.
Some of the Polity and Economy related questions are tricky and would have needed understanding and application to find the correct answers.
For those, who would have been expecting some questions relating to pandemic; UPSC has not disappointed and a Vaccine related question is being asked.
Due to Covid-19 delay, some of the candidates were expecting emphasis on traditional part of some of the constituents like Polity, History of Modern India etc.; such candidates would have a little disappointment with this paper.
What should be the cut-off ?
Well, I don’t believe in such activities immediately after attempting such an intense competition; let coaching institutes do that guess work.
I maintain, it is not an easy paper and expecting almost similar set-up that we have seen in last two years.
All I can suggest is that you have got a glimpse of the things to come for Main Examination and after a brief break, you should be back with your study-plan for Mains.
All the best!