A Comprehensive Strategy For IAS Mains General Studies

A Comprehensive Strategy For IAS Mains General Studies
Dear Aspirants,
The much awaited Preliminary Examination got over on 10th October and after a brief break you will be gearing yourself up for the next level. i.e., Main Exam or you may have begun your preparation for next year i.e. CSE 2022/23. 
If you have appeared in Prelims 2021, we sincerely hope you must have fared well in your exam. 
The purpose of this booklet is to appraise you with the level or standard of the question that is asked in the Civil Services (Main) Examination and the way you should write your answers. 
Although there are numerous ways to present your views, what we have provided here is one of the ways. The ultimate truth is you should be able to present your ideas succinctly and coherently within the stipulated word limit so that you are able to finish your paper well within the time provided.
Let us mention that questions are not picked randomly from here and there. It is the assimilation of questions that have been based on current affairs and some of the important areas of static portion of the syllabus. 
Questions on contemporary issues have been taken from the news articles appearing in different newspapers like the Times of India, The Hindu, The Indian Express or in other relevant and important publications and websites like PIB. Those questions, which are on static areas have also strong relevance to examination or has bearing on current developments.
While going through this booklet you will find that the dynamic approach that UPSC has adopted in recent years requires you to be in touch with the latest and the coverage is not limited to only one newspaper, you need to have knowledge as well as awareness level that helps you tackle the Main Examination requirements. 
Questions listed here are thought provoking and compelling you to think in your own ways and bring forth the things which you have studied in recent past in the course of your preparation.
For long I have been mentioning the role of newspapers and magazines and significance of reading the original source rather than compilation of current affairs that are served from coaching institutes.
The pattern and the approach that UPSC adopt is straightforward and if you understand this, the road to success would be comparatively easier.
You will have less than 3 months’ time for Mains Examination that is scheduled to commence from 7th January 2022. For you, we are sharing certain strategy to be deployed while preparing and practicing for the upcoming mains exam.

About the Examination: 
To do well in any exam, one must develop a plan of study. You must approach each day with a definite plan. The basic prerequisites are understanding the complete syllabus and the previous year’s papers. Once you have understood the syllabus and questions and their significance, the tone of preparation is set. You will be able to know the current trends and accordingly, you can prioritize your study-plan.
Then the next step is finding pertinent sources for study i.e., original text books or the study-material you have at your disposal. Make notes actively during the study. This means much more than copying just what is written in the source material. Try to focus on the connections between ideas. Review your notes once well ahead of your examination. A proper study also means that you should be able to anticipate the questions that will be asked. 
The IAS Main examination holds the key to success of a candidate in the Civil Services. Have a look at what UPSC says about the main examination: 
“More than just memory and information, the main examination is intended to assess the overall intellectual traits and depth of understanding of the candidate” 
Thus, a candidate is expected to display a mature understanding of various topics under the syllabus. The word ‘mature’ takes into account the words like analysis, multi-dimensional approach to understanding and precision of expression. 
A civil servant has to deal with issues covered under General Studies that have a great bearing on public life. The other objective of GS is to test the cognitive, normative and linguistic skills of the candidate in written answer form. This form is not supposed to be a mere flow of information gathered, rather, it should be analytical and must display the depth of understanding of the topic by the candidate. 
Therefore, each one of you must think and make strategy to strengthen your answer writing skills.
 
Elements of Good Answers: 
  1. Extant / boundary/ context (write what is being asked; Don’t write what is not essential)
  2. Proportion / Balance
  3. Authentication of facts
  4. Language
  5. Presentation
  6. Your own opinion and conclusion
Through our sample answers we have tried to show how the above factors are incorporated.

How Test-Series help make perfect Mains Examination?
“Your best tool to manage your time well – during preparation as well as while writing papers in the Examination Hall”
Availing of the opportunity for writing practice or mock version of an exam before you face the real ordeal has huge benefits for all the aspirants. Here are several reasons why including practice tests within your exam-plane can improve your performance.
  • First and foremost, practice tests tell you which topics you have not mastered and encourage you to focus future learning on weak areas.
  • Equally important, practice tests tell you which topics you have already mastered. You can then direct your learning to other areas and spend minimal further time on the topics you already know.
  • You are more likely to retain something if you learn it spaced (separated) over time. Since practice tests stimulate revision and studying, they encourage earlier learning and so space out learning, which is likely to improve retention.
  • The accuracy and fairness of exams can be impacted by some candidate’s fear or anxiety around the exam process. Practice tests reduce test anxiety because “The more you are accustomed to sitting for a period of time, answering test questions, and pacing yourself, the more comfortable you will feel when you actually sit down to take the test.”
  • Accuracy and fairness can also be impacted by if you are not acclimatised with examination conditions. The examination like conducive infrastructure and atmosphere will greatly reduce the chance of problems.
  • Taking a test doesn’t just measure how much you know, it helps reinforce the learning and make it more likely that you can retrieve the same information later. It’s a surprising fact that taking a test can actually be more beneficial to learning than spending the same amount of time studying. 
  • Giving formative or practice tests seems to improve learning as well as final exam results. 
  • Such tests are consistent with good practice and with assessment standards.  
  • By providing practice tests, you remove the mystique from your exams and allow people to see the question styles, to practice the time planning required and to have a fair view of what the exam consists of. It helps level the playing field and promotes the concept of a fair exam, open to and equal for all.
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