Different ways to ace prestigious examination
The civil services examination, which offers the widest range
of jobs in our country, is the most important and prestigious examination
amongst various examinations conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC).
It attracts the largest number of candidates from the entire length and breadth
of the country and the selected candidates are appointed to the All India
Services as well as to the other higher Indian civil services.
Some of the top services offered by this examination are: IAS
(Indian Administrative Service), IPS (Indian Police Service), IFS (Indian
Foreign Service), IRS (Indian Revenue Service), Indian Customs and Central
Excise Service among others. There are, in all, about 24 services offered
through this single examination.
Considering the importance and the nature of the jobs, UPSC
takes utmost care in selecting the right people. A three-level examination is
conducted to achieve this purpose. It tests general awareness, analytical
ability and content retention capacity; and a cheerful mental disposition even
under stressful conditions and some other officers like qualities.
Each one of these requirements is tested respectively through
a preliminary examination (objective-type questions), main examination
(descriptive-type questions), and interview.
Changes in Preliminary
The Union Public Service Commission, convinced of the need
for important changes in the method of recruitment to the Civil Services,
introduced a new pattern in the preliminary examination from year 2011 onwards.
The change was brought only in the preliminary examination whereas the second
and third stages-main examination and interview, respectively- remained the
As per the new pattern, at the preliminary level, there are
two objectivetype question papers common for all candidates. Both these papers
have equal weightage. These include Paper I (General Studies) - 200 marks and,
Paper II (aptitude for civil services) - 200 marks.
Changes in the Main Exam
Consistent with the need for selecting the right kind of
persons from the huge pool consisting of multiple languages, creeds, culture and
communities, UPSC has constituted a high power committee to suggest possible
changes in the pattern of the Civil Services Main Examination.
The new format may replace the optional subjects with a set
of compulsory papers designed to test a broad spectrum of knowledge, skills and
attitudes which would be more relevant to the requirements of entrants to the
higher civil services.
However, neither the changes nor the date of implementation
of these changes has been formally announced by UPSC. So, I suggest to the civil
services aspirants they should not worry about the changes and the time of
changes, instead they should focus on preparing for the exam on the basis of
Tips for the final examination
The UPSC, vide examination notice no. 04/2012, has recently
notified about the Civil Services (P) Examination 2012. The examination will be
conducted on May 20, 2012, and will comprise of Paper I- including current
events of national and international importance. history of India and Indian
national movement, Indian and world geography, Indian polity and governance,
economic and social development, general issues on environmental ecology,
bio-diversity and climate Change - that do not require subject specialisation
and general science.
While Paper II comprises of seven areas including
comprehension, interpersonal skills including communication skills, logical
reasoning and analytical ability, decision making and problem solving, general
mental ability (GMA), basic numeracy and English language comprehension skills
(Class X level).
Comprehension questions based on given text test how good a
candidate is at fact-finding, sifting through information, interpreting text,
concluding from given information and discerning between stated and implied
meaning of the given information.
Understanding of vocabulary, rhetorical tools, hunting for
the required information while keeping the holistic picture in mind, etc are
essential comprehension skills at play in this area. This topic has a lot of
scope for testing of the moral and ethical dimension of decision making.
Interpersonal skills including communication skills:
Questions reflecting the ability to understand and manage the dynamics of social
interaction can be tested such as Fill in the Blanks, Analogy, Synonyms,
Antonyms, Jumbled Paragraphs, Single word substitutions, Meaning Equivalence of