Greetings, dear friend!
Drake would say ‘If you’re reading this, it’s too late,’ but Kurt would say Nevermind, we’ll go by the age old saying we were taught in school- ‘better late than never.’
You must have already made up your mind regarding what the UPSC Civil Services Exam is all about. You must be thinking it’s an exam for the bookworms or perhaps an exam for the alien nerds who just happen to know ‘everything.’ Some think it’s an epitome of Indian Parents’ aspirations imposed on their wards. Your friends might think it’s an exam which can be cracked by just the ‘good/bright/topper students from topnotch schools/colleges.’
The opinions are wide-ranging and based on mere personal perceptions. They are also abstract and not-quite based on concrete information. At the end of the day- minus all the hype- it’s just an examination (a long one, yes). And the anatomy of this examination must be known before we jump to any conclusions. So in this post, we’ll just try to view the exam with an ‘objective eye’.
We’ll try to observe things in a matter-of-fact way and be as non-judgemental as possible. F Scott Fitzgerald did say ‘reserving judgement is a matter of infinite hope,’ however, we’ll ignore the first part of that quote and focus on ‘infinite hope.’
The Anatomy of the examination is simple. UPSC tests each candidate on the basis of three things: “Introduction-Body-Conclusion.” It’s a quite famous format for Mains answers but we’ll see that the entire ‘marathon’ of the whole examination is based on repetition of these three. They are the ‘Holy Trinity’ of the whole process.
For example: Prelims is an “Introduction”- a preliminary screening test which needs to be ‘qualified’. Mains is the “Body” which counts. It’s the longest and most comprehensive part of the exam as well as the distribution of marks. Interview is the “Conclusion”- it is the last stage of testing and is the ‘make-or-break’/ ‘rank-determiner’ with respect to the final merit list.
Moving on, Prelims itself is composed of the Holy Trinity. The question is the “Intro”, the options are the “Body” and the darkened bubble on your OMR sheet is the “Conclusion”. Keep that in mind when you attempt mock tests.
Mains, as we all know, is rife with the same format. To fetch optimal marks, our answers are written in the “Intro-Body-Conclusion” format, regardless of the paper- whether it be GS, Optional or Essay.
Interview, again, is an application of the same format. Your DAF is your “introduction” to the Board; their questions and your answers are the “body” and the image you leave behind in the form of the marks you get is the “conclusion”.
This Holy Trinity also corresponds to a three-fold development of a candidate’s perspective towards the exam: Awareness, Curiosity and Common Sense. Any new factoid that is introduced to a person gives rise to “awareness”, which leads to a much deeper exploration of the topic due to one’s “curiosity” and both of these fuel a better understanding such that the issue at hand seems like “common knowledge”.
For example, the issue of “Assam Floods” will be raising awareness about the situation in the state- among Candidates presently. The candidates who hone their curiosity and go on to explore the issue through several dimensions (eg. rivers flowing in the state, watershed of the rivers, disaster management, features of NDMA, mandate of NDRF, wildlife sanctuaries in the region etc.) are bound to score well. And after repeated revision, some of the prelims questions pertaining to the issue will seem like elements of common sense to them.
So keep it simple. If you can adopt an approach of viewing issues, problems and their solutions in a pattern of “Intro-Body-Conclusion”, the examination will be a much simpler and fulfilling journey rather than a complicated uphill task that it is generally declared to be.
P.s. You can find some useful links on my blog:
- The UPSC Book of Anything and Everything (mostly):
2. The complete Mains Notes Omnibus:
3. Newspaper note-making:
4. Essay writing: