Radical Shift in Pattern
Last two years have seen a drastic change in the nature of questions asked in this paper. The questions nowbeing asked are very conceptual and not factual in nature. Students would do well by keeping last ten years question papers with them while preparing for this paper. A close comparison of the question papers will reveal this difference to the students. The students should always keep this difference in mind while preparing and should not be tempted to memorize too many facts as it used to be the case for prelims preparation earlier. Any disregard for this critical difference will render the preparation futile and counterproductive
General Issues on Environmental ecology, Bio-diversity and Climate ChangeThis is a new section introduced last year with a potential of claiming an increasing share in the number of questions being asked in the coming years. Students would do well by going through the class XI and XII NCERT biology books which has some of the chapters on Environment. Students should also frequently visit the web sites of various international environmental organizations and conventions like UNFCCC(United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), CITES(Convention for International Trade in Endangered Species), WWF, Ramsar Convention, Stockholm Convention, Nairobi Convention for ship breaking, Kyoto Protocol, etc to equip themselves with various terminologies and new treaties being signed and their latest developments. It would also be beneficial to acquaint oneself with the latest technology in making the environment greener and pollution free and with less GHG emissions like CFL (Compact Fluorescent Lamps).
Indian PolityApart from covering the traditional polity area from standard text books like D D Basu special attention should be paid to the polity chapters in the India Year Book like Law and Justice, Social Welfare, Labour etc to score well in this section. Students should also not neglect areas like Panchayati Raj reforms, electoral reforms etc. Special attention should be given to important Constitutional Amendments and landmark judgments by Supreme Court. Students should also go through all the Schedules carefully specially the ones that are often in news like Schedule V, VI and IX. Constitutional and Statutory bodies like Election Commission, CAG, Chief Vigilance Commission etc should also be studied.
General ScienceThis section has also seen a shift in the pattern in the last two three years. Less number of questions are asked form the traditional areas of biology, physics and chemistry. The technology part of Science now predominates and more questions are from the equipment and technology that we use in our day to day life like CD (Compact Disc), Bluetooth, WiFi, Washing Machine, LED and LCD Televisions etc. The students from non science background should keep this in mind while preparing for this section and not waste too much time on traditional Physics, Chemistry and Biology portion of General Science. Newspapers, Magazines and internet are specially useful in preparing for this section.
GeographyA large number of questions approximately 18-22 every year are asked from this section of which majority 80-85% is from Indian Geography and the rest from World Geography, General Geography, and Astronomy. From last couple of years the social and economic geography dominates the Indian Geography part of this section. Students should pay special attention to census data, demographic trends, patterns in various industries, agriculture, etc.
Economic and Social DevelopmentThis section includes area like Sustainable Development, Poverty, Inclusion, Demographics, and Social Sector Initiatives etc. Special emphasis should be given to the conceptual understanding of basic economic terms encountered in the day to day reading of newspapers and magazines. Government programmes, policies and schemes should be covered thoroughly as 5-8 questions are assured from this area in some form or the other. Two very reliable source for this area is India Year Book and Economic Survey.
Current events of national and international importanceThis section is the underlying theme of all the above topics discussed above and questions that do not fall in any of the above categories fall in this one. Aspirants should be up to date with current social, political, economic, developments of national and international importance. Students would also do well by keeping track of the information regarding international organizations and international events specially in the Indian neighborhood or the ones having strategic importance for India.
Overall a successful prelims preparation requires both depth and breadth in coverage of the syllable but the former should always be preferred over the latter in case of crunch of time. A positive frame of mind and ‘can do attitude’ should be followed till the last day of the preparation. Regular discussions with serious students/friends also bear good results provided it is done in a time bound manner.