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    IAS 100
UPSC syllabus for preliminary exam :

The 2011 prelims paper with new syllabus and pattern came out as a big surprise to students; the number of questions, patterns, issues, almost everything has changed. As Prelims has changed to CSAT and the syllabus for the same is out, the very next question is - how to prepare. Large number of students ask - Shall we go for PT first or we need to devise an integrated preparation? Preliminary test (PT) is little bit unpredictable because of its vastness. CSAT confirms it. But understanding of the trend can be of some help in the changing scenario. For that you need to go through previous years' questions again-and-again and try to understand why UPSC asks questions of current development. The aim of prelims is to test candidate's range of information. Configuration of questions have been changed in the last few years.

            However, previous years questions will give you clear idea about the formation of questions. You need to give up traditional approach in order to take fresh challenges. More time should be devoted to current affairs. Vastness of General Studies is like an ocean. It cannot be measured merely on the basis of topics or sections. Anything that exists in the universe can be a part of General Studies, especially if that is in the news. Aspirants for Civil Services Examination must be aware of this fact. Its vastness often leads to directionless preparation. But understanding of the trend helps in carving proper focus. To tame the dreaded Demon of GS, candidates must, first of all, select important areas and then go for extensive study. Reason behind this argument is the vastness of the syllabus and changing configuration of questions. Even CSAT is nothing but a test of general studies. It counts for 600 out of total 2000 marks in the main examination. If you are reasonably good in General Studies, it helps a lot even in the 200 marks essay paper. One can easily score 350 plus in the General Studies in the main examination, provided one is good in current affairs and in presenting the answers.

            General Studies (GS) in the Civil Services Examination has always been a difficult portion to handle for the aspirants - for the Preliminary Test (PT) and the Main Examination, both. Changing landscape of the exam has given more weightage to the GS. The new syllabus has made things even more difficult. Poor performances in the PT and low marks in the Main are the general complaints among the aspirants. An attempt is being made here to pin-point the reasons behind it along with the possible remedies for the same:

1. Syllabus: The basic problem that aspirants face is about the syllabus. The GS syllabus provided by the commission is not in detail as only hints have been given and the devil lies in details. Thus, aspirants need to make out the real syllabus from the previous years' questions; it is the only way out. One caution needs to be taken here - one must not depend hundred per cent on the trends of the questions asked in previous examinations as it might be disastrous; in recent years, the trend of the GS questions at Mains stage has put the aspirants in a position where it is impossible to guess the trend. But, at least one important inference could be drawn out, that is, the examination's current aspects. A typical trend is noticed in the GS mains paper of current year in comparison to the 2009 main paper.
2. Being selective: One very important aspect of GS preparation that every aspirant should know is that the approach to GS is quite different from the approach while preparing for Optionals for mains.
3. Understanding of concepts: The pattern of paper has become quite conceptual, the superficial knowledge of topics or current headings will not work until you more down and understands the basic concept behind that topic. Facts along with concepts can help in IAS paper because for example instead of asking 'who is the head of any committee' they ask about its recommendations. Thus overall knowledge about topic is needed.
4. The Integrated Plan: Integrated approach to prepare GS is highly helpful and effective for CSAT. But what this "integrated approach" is all about? The integrated approach to GS is a way of preparing for GS in such a manner that the same facts and information are used by the aspirants four times - in PT, Main, Essay and the Interview. Usually, aspirants think to prepare for all the above-cited schemes of the examination, separately and finally, they end-up in utter confusion. Two important things every aspirant should know are -
         (i) G.S., though it contains many sections, should not be taken as a fragmented scheme- they are highly inter-connected. GS is all about the fundamentals of life for an aware human being living in any society and who is a Graduate. Relevant aspects of such fundamentals constitute general studies.
          (ii) Same facts and information can be utilized in different manner - when they are used with objective clarity, it is PT; when used with subjective understanding plus writing skill and preciseness, it is Main; if the Main examination is repeated in detail but in a systematic way and on any one topic it becomes the Essay; and if spoken with art of good personality traits they become the Interview.

          This is why an integrated approach to GS should be followed by the aspirants. This does not only save the precious time of the aspirants but also enables them to have the proper understanding of the GS, Essay and Interview besides keeping them away from the confusion that GS usually creates. The recent introduction of negative marking puts premium on precision and originality. Dumped-down information kills your creativity and blunts your preparation and mars your chances of success. Practice as many Multiple Choice Questions as possible. But there are not too many authentic practice papers around and this makes the task tougher.
When it comes to getting through IAS exams, Geography, as a part of General Studies, does play a great role. The reason is that it has high weightage in Mains exam and is also extremely important for Prelims. But furthermore, it can make GS extremely high scoring if prepared according to a judicious plan.
How to study Geography for Prelims?
The new syllabus, as published by the Union Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, to be applied from UPSC Preliminary Exams 2011, states that paper I of the CSAT will comprise of Physical, Social and Economic Geography of India and the World. Emphasis will be on Geography of India. Questions on Geography of India will be including the main features of Indian agricultural and natural resources.
The emphasis, during the studies, should be on strengthening the basic knowledge. As Geography (particularly physical geography) is quite close to being a physical science, students must try to look for proper understanding of different phenomena.
From Indian Geography, there are some key areas to focus upon. These include the Physical Geography of India, Agriculture, Irrigation, Demography, Census, Industries and Mineral Resources of India.
Questions from Indian rivers have become a habit of the UPSC. In past three to four years questions from rivers have been asked without any gap. Here are a few questions from them:
1. Rivers that pass through Himachal Pradesh are:
            (a) Beas and Chenab only.
            (b) Beas and Ravi only.
            (c) Chenab, Ravi and Satluj only.
            (d) Beas, Chenab, Ravi, Satluj and Yamuna.
2. Which one of the following rivers does not originate in India?
            (a) Beas
            (b) Chenab
            (c) Ravi
            (d) Sutlej
3. At which of the following places do two important rivers of India originate; while one of them flows towards north and merges with another important river flowing towards Bay of Bengal, the other one flows towards Arabian Sea?
            (a) Amarkantak
            (b) Badrinath
            (c) Mahabaleshwar
            (d) Nasik
4. Consider the following pairs:
            Tributary River  Main River
            1. Chambal : Narmada
            2. Sone :      Yamuna
            3. Manas :    Brahmaputra
            Which of the pairs given above is/are correctly matched?
            (a) 1, 2 and 3
            (b) 1 and 2 only
            (c) 2 and 3 only
            (d) 3 only
       Students must also be in a habit of looking into the maps/atlas. Whenever you read any news, try to look for the associated place in the atlas. Map study should also include looking for important geographical points pertaining especially to the map of India. A recent example is
Q. The latitudes that pass through Sikkim also pass through
          (a) Rajasthan                (b) Punjab
          (c) Himachal Pradesh    (d) Jammu & Kashmir
       Passage of important geographical lines like tropic of Cancer, Capricorn and equator should be known in both respects- Indian and World. The question about the river crossing the equator twice has been asked but the Indian River crossing the tropic of Cancer twice has not been asked. So these aspects must be kept in mind.
Previous six years questions suggest a few emerging trends:
            1. Number of questions from the demographic and cultural perspective have increased a lot.
            2. There is larger emphasis on the physical geography, Resources (in particular Minerals) and Agricultural Geography of India.
            3. Each year at least two questions are being asked based on Atlas.
Questions from the applied field and the current based questions are on an increase.
Now that the CSAT has been launched, it is most probable that the number of questions pertaining to current affairs would increase further. So, the students must keep their eyes open on the geographical aspects attached to current affairs. It means that if a major event occurs at any place, students should be ready with the knowledge of the geography related to that place. For example, if the world cup football tournament took place in South Africa, then preparation should include knowing about the general/physical geography of South Africa. Also locations of various cities of South Africa should be clear. Similarly, if any place, river, dame etc has been in news, students must be aware of it and he must give special heed to carefully cover the geographical aspects of such news matters. For example, as the Tehri dam was in news so the question asked was:
5. On which one of the following rivers is the Tehri Hydropower Complex located?
            (a) Alaknanda          (b) Bhagirathi
            (c) Dhauliganga       (d) Mandakini
The important books that must be read in order to crack the prelims are those of NCERT (Class 6 to 12) and GC Leong. No third book, in any case, is required for geography. Apart from these an Atlas (Orient/Oxford/TTK) is a must.

Environmental Issues :

Environmental Sciences are not only getting attention by the environmentalists, they are becoming hot in the realm of Civil Services Examinations too. General Studies turn out to be quite a decisive factor for achieving success in IAS exams and the recent inclination of UPSC towards environmental issues in GS questions is quite conspicuous.
            Let us have a look as to what does the syllabus of GS prelims have to say. The new syllabus for CSAT, as stated by the Union Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and, states that the paper I will comprise of General issues on Environmental Ecology, Bio-Diversity and Climate Change.
            The statement issued by the Ministry clearly states that the examination does not require subject specialization; the test is of the awareness of the student about his surroundings. So the main course of action for the preparation of this subject includes reading some journals like that of National Institute of Ecology and State of Environment Report. Apart from this surfing on the internet about recent developments in the field can help a lot. The more inquisitive you are the better you will be placed in the exam.

            Below are some of the questions pertaining to environmental issues asked in recent years:

Q. Consider the following statements:
            1. Biodiversity hotspots are located only in tropical regions.
            2. India has four bio-diversity hotspots i.e. Eastern Himalayas, Western Himalayas, Western Ghats and Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
            Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
            (a) 1 only                (b) 2 only
            (c) Both 1 and 2     (d) Neither 1 nor 2
Q. Consider the following statements:
            1. The Taxus tree naturally found in the Himalayas.
            2. The Taxus tree is listed in the Red Data Book.
            3. A drug called 'taxol' is obtained from Taxus tree is effective against Parkinson's disease.
            Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
            (a) 1 only               (b) 1 and 2 only
            (c) 2 and 3 only     (d) 1, 2 and 3
Q. Consider the following pairs:
             Protected Area          Well Known for
            1. Bhitarkanika, Orissa         - Salt Water Crocodile
            2. Desert National Park        - Great Indian Bustard
            3. Eravikulam, Kerala           - Hoolak Gibbon
            Which of the pairs given above is/are correctly matched?
            (a) 1 only        (b) 1 and 2 only
            (c) 2 only        (d) 1, 2 and 3
Q. India is a party to the Ramsar Convention and has declared many areas as Ramsar Sites.
            Which of the following statements best describes as to how we should maintain these sites in the context of this Convention?
             (a) Keep all the sites completely inaccessible to man so that they will not be exploited.
             (b) Conserve all the sites through ecosystem approach and permit tourism and recreation only.
           (c) Conserve all the sites through ecosystem approach for a period without any exploitation, with specific criteria and specific period for each site, and then allow sustainable use of them by future generations.
            (d) Conserve all the sites through ecosystem approach and allow their simultaneous Sustainable use.
Q. Consider the following statements:
            1. Salt-water crocodile is found in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
            2. Shrew and tapir are found in the Western Ghats of the Malabar region.
            Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
            (a) 1 only                   (b) 2 only
            (c) Both 1 and 2        (d) Neither 1 nor 2
Recent year questions indicate that biodiversity has gained an advantage over the core academic knowledge of ecosystems. With the new CSAT syllabus stating explicitly that the exam doesn't aims at judging the subject knowledge of the examinees, the students must try to assimilate as much knowledge as possible about the species in endangered list with more emphasis on those belonging to the Indian Territory. Also wetlands of India under Ramsar convention should be known to the students. With these simple endeavours, you can score good enough score in GS.

Polity and Governance :

Indian Polity is one of the important topics of the General Studies for Civil Services exam. In the new syllabus it is mentioned as polity and governance. It deals with the day to day administration of the country. The candidate after clearing the Civil Services exam will become a part and parcel of the administration. Thus, it is necessary that one should know how the system works and functions of its various institutions and their contribution to the society. Hence it is imperative that one should have a clear and deeper understanding of the subject as a whole. So candidates have to follow proper strategy to prepare Indian Polity.

            Earlier preparation for the Preliminary and Main Examinations were totally different, the former tested the factual premises and the later checked the analytical premises. But, the new syllabus demands an integrated approach for both Prelims and Mains. According to the new trends of UPSC there is a necessity to study Indian Polity along with overall governance of the country.

             Of course Indian Constitutional topics like Preamble, Nature of Constitution, Fundamental Rights and DPSPs, Union Executive, Union Parliament, State Executive and Legislature, Judiciary, Centre-State Relations etc form the core of Indian Polity. Apart from this several challenges to Indian democracy are also becoming one of the preferred areas of UPSC, for example Communalism, Regionalism, Caste Politics, Internal Security, Criminalisation of politics, Corruption, Population, Poverty, Unemployment etc. In addition to this, contemporary issues like Good Governance, Role of IT in administration, Civil Society, Right to Information, Electoral Reforms, Role of Pressure Groups, Energy and Food Security, Environment and Sustainable development etc., are also important.

            Prelims examination not only requires conceptual clarity but also the applied part of it. Some of the preparation tips for the Prelims exam are:
              (i)One should be thorough in facts and also the conceptual part of it.
              (ii)The conceptual clarity helps to solve the analytical question asked from this section.
           (iii)According to the earlier trends, it was easy to attempt maximum number of questions from this section because generally questions from this section were direct and based on factual information. Almost 90% of the questions are asked from the constitutional provisions and the remaining part usually covers the current affairs. But, now the nature of questions has changed. Along with factual information one should cover the current political developments. Therefore, one should be thorough with the current political developments in the country.
            (iv)Practicing previous year questions will help you to find out the areas where you commit mistakes.

Atleast once read the bare act throughly to understand the small facts & concepts related to topic.

Important areas:
            1. Fundamental Rights.
            2. Directive Principles of State Policy.
            3. President, Governor, Speaker.
            4. Judiciary - Supreme Court, High Court and Judicial Activism
            5. Constitutional Bodies - Election Commission, Comptroller and Auditor General, UPSC.
            6. Centre-State Relations, President's Rule.
            7. Political developments in the Union and State.
            8. Local Self-Government.
        9. All Non- Constitutional bodies - National Human Rights Commission, National Commission for Minorities, National Commission for Women, National Commission for SCs, National Commission for STs, etc.
            10. Recent Constitutional Amendments.
            11. Recent Bills passed in the Parliament.

History :

Indian history comprises of Ancient, Medieval and Modern India. It forms one of the important sections in the General Studies Preliminary Paper-1. If one scans through the last few years' papers, one will see that out of 150 questions asked in GS till 2010, almost 15 questions were from Indian History. However there has been shift towards Modern India, i.e., now more questions are being asked from Modern India. Almost 12 questions out of 15 questions are from Modern India. So, going by the trend, one needs to pay special attention on Modern India especially on the events after 1885, i.e., after the formation of the Congress.
            There has been change in the pattern of the Civil Services Pre Exam from 2011 onwards. Though, the nature of the questions being asked in the 2011 Pre exam were significantly different from previous year papers, yet the number of questions asked from Indian History has not got reduced and trend also remains the same. Out of 100 questions in the GS Paper 1st , 13 were from Indian History and out of 13 questions, 10 were from Modern India.
            Seeing the number of questions, an aspirant may think of skipping the History questions, but then this will be at high cost. It is because, firstly, an aspirant can be very selective. That is one can solely focus on Modern India. Secondly, the number of books to be read are less. An aspirant can just solve the History questions by referring NCERT of 12th Class and Spectrum's Modern India. Thirdly, the nature of the questions asked are more direct compared to other sections of GS Paper 1st . For instance
1. During the Indian Freedom Struggle, who of the following raised an army called 'Free Indian Legion'? (2008)
            (a) Lala Hardayal
            (b) Rashbehari Bose
            (c) Subhas Chandra Bose
            (d) V.D.Savarkar
2. With reference to Indian freedom struggle, Usha Mehta is well-known for (2011)
            (a) Running the secret Congress Radio in the wake of Quit India Movement.
            (b) Participating in the Second Round Table Conference.
            (c) Leading a contingent of Indian National Army.
            (d) Assisting in the formation of Interim Government under Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.

However, the nature of questions asked from Indian History in 2011 Prelims has undergone a significant change. Compared to previous year questions, 2011 questions were not so direct or factual. They were more comprehensive in coverage, more logical and more analytical. For instance

1. With reference to the period of colonial rule in India, "Home -Charges" formed an important part of drain of wealth from India.
            Which of the following funds constituted "Home Charges"?

            1. Funds used to support the India Office in London.
            2. Funds used to pay salaries and pensions of British personnel engaged in India.
            3. Funds used for waging wars outside India by the British.
            Select the correct answer using the codes given below:
            (a) 1 only
            (b) 1 and 2 only
            (c) 2 and 3 only
            (d) 1, 2 and 3
The change is even more welcome as factual questions are either 'yes' or 'no'. Whereas logical questions requires from an aspirant to logically conclude the answer. But then this requires a comprehensive coverage of the events of Modern India. So one need not focus on factual data, rather the focus should be more on understanding the why and how of events.

Eco & Social-Development

In the PT examination of 2010, there were more than 35 questions from Economy and Socio-economic development and so was the case with GS paper-1 of 2011 prelims. You being an aspirant must understand the importance of it. If you analyze last year's question paper you will find that about half of the questions came from the conventional side like inflation and the other half came from the latest development. But here it is also important to know that conventional topics also arose as it had some concurrent value. Sure, last year's paper was a precursor to the coming implementation of CSAT as it was formally announced last year itself that from the coming year the pattern of exam will move to an aptitude test. In this context subject like Economics will become more important from the examination point of view.

             Economics is such an inter-disciplinary faculty that to master this art you will have to know "something" of "everything". And this "something" cannot be taken trivially as it denotes the most important and latest development in the area of finance, world economy and how all that goes on to affect India. Economics is vast and there are similar other subjects that you have to be master-of.

          Now, comes the logical question on how you can utilize your time in a most optimum manner so that the Return on Investment could be optimized (RoI, using economical lingo) i.e. here investment denotes the scarce commodity that you have and that being time?

             As we move further into the question, the answer will also be as logical as the query itself. And the answer will come from a fair analysis of the question paper of CS (P) 2010, considering this fact that last year PT examination was the "precursor" to the implementation of CSAT from this year. Frankly speaking this was the reason that faculties like Economics that are inter-disciplinary and is always reinvented with latest happening occupied the maximum weight-age in the distribution of questions in the exam. What was mentioned in the official statement of the Chairman of UPSC Sri D P Agarwal describing CSAT that it will be a format to check the logical and ethical dimension of decision making. Nothing captures it more intuitively than a test of Economy that inspects from the student his/her fair understanding of the latest happening in Economy.

            This points to the importance of a Career magazine that caters to this preparation when you are considering to perform nicely in this area. The concurrent and latest knowledge can only be gained from a magazine that brings to you 'filtrate' of all that is happening in this field in a manner that builds up your knowledge by enlightening it with the latest development. Since, with the implementation of CSAT from this year, now you do not have to know Economics as a plain subject but you also are expected to know the practical "impacts" that it brings to society. "Economics and Social Development" as written in the formal notification of CSAT that came out from UPSC, means that the former is the subject and latter is the application part of it.

            As all of you being well-read persons know that India on the surge of a buoyant economic growth does not want to miss the opportunity to "hitchhike" on this growth to take itself away from the curse called poverty. As said by Nobel laureate Amartya Sen that poverty is never an independent issue by itself rather it is the failure of the sound implementation of the structure of economy. Logically it means that poverty is due to failure to use economical acumen nicely and this requires creative application of this domain. This also underlines the importance of this subject.

            India's growth motto in this five year is "inclusive growth" and if you analyse these two words you can get the answer to your question regarding the contours of syllabus. "Inclusive growth" means that you can expect questions from the entire important positive intervention programme that has been undertaken by this government. Surely it does not only include government terms that have become clich's like MNREGA, SSA, MMS but you should also be familiar to the same extent when you listen to terms like Social audit, Outcome Budgeting, Zero Budgeting, Midterm survey, Baseline survey, etc.

            In a nutshell now the domain of this faculty has become all the more interesting, post the application of CSAT. Now rather than expecting 'evergreen' questions based on the definition of inflation (which will always be 'evergreen') you can expect questions like inflation affecting the real rate of return on "aam aadmi" asset. Certainly all that is related to sustainable development and carbon trading will gain ground as far as this year's question is concerned seeing the amount of coverage it is getting in the national and international media. Thus question will become more practically inclined which requires you to be up-to date with the latest happening in the area of national development.

            Further all that is mentioned above also points towards a logical conclusion that in this examination, like the other faculty, the required thing is a general approach towards the knowledge of Economics. Always remember that this is the General Studies paper which essentially demands that "you are a well read person" and conversant and comfortable with the latest development in this subject. In the aforesaid the matter in the inverted commas has been put intentionally to emphasis the essence of it and you will also find the same in the official notification of CS (P) examination that comes in the Employment News.

            Simplistically and speaking in a more lucid manner it simply means that the UPSC wants a person who feels comfortable with an Economist as well as with a person who is Historian or an Engineer or a Doctor and the list goes on. In a nutshell you should have a "fair" idea about everything under the sun. Most important is that you must have a general approach to any specific faculty, as it is said that a Generalist will only have an inter-disciplinary acumen that goes on to holistically solve problems and create space for development.

            Conclusively, we can say that a general approach of the subject is required and more important is the conceptual clarity as the questions particularly of economics are seldom straightforward. It is also important to know that some of the topics like inflation, WPI , Doha, GATT , questions related to budget (as budget is passed just two months prior to exam) and banking questions are evergreen topics for the question setters. And it will remain 'evergreen' without doubt.

            In the era of CSAT we may see more conceptual questions on topics like monetary and fiscal policy. Coupled with this you can surely expect questions from the new regulatory bodies formed by government to prevent recession type scenario in India like the Financial Services Development Council (FSDC), Financial Sector Legislative Reforms Commission (FSLRC) to give few examples. In this situation it becomes our natural obligation that we must make our utmost effort to make it a point that you must feel comfortable with all that is asked from economics.

General Science

General Science, just by the virtue of being science, can enable anyone to get the extra margin required for being comfortable after the preliminary examination. General Science, in general, has more to do with the clarity of concepts and their understanding than with the rote memorization of the facts.

Under the realm of the newly announced CSAT syllabus, General Science has remained more or less untouched. Questions under General Science would, like previous year trends, include Physics, Chemistry and Biology. Emphasis would be given on Biology especially on Human physiology, Nutrition and Diseases. The only change that seems to be at hand is that the number of the questions from the field of science might increase as the new pattern is more inclined towards the application of knowledge.

Questions on General Science will cover general appreciation and understanding of science including matters of everyday observation and experience, as may be expected of a well educated person who has not made a special study of any particular scientific discipline. Among the branches of General Science, Chemistry gets least importance and Biology gets maximum importance. This trend is most likely to continue even in the new era of CSAT.

In Physics, almost all the questions might be application oriented. Thus, understanding the basic principles is very important, since UPSC has a habit of asking questions which are backed by some basic principles. Areas like Newton's laws, Laws of thermodynamics, Heat, Sound, Law of Optics, and Nuclear Physics etc are important areas. One must be keen to know about the practical application of anything that one reads in the syllabus.
For example, in 2010 the questions asked from Physics were:

Q. What is the principle by which a cooling system (Radiator) in a motor car works?
            (a) Conduction only
            (b) Convection
            (c) Radiation only
            (d) Both Conduction and Radiation
Q. If a potato is placed on a pure paper plate which is white and unprinted and put in a microwave oven, the potato heats up but the paper plate does not. This is because:
            (a) Potato is mainly made up of starch whereas paper is mainly made up of cellulose.
            (b) Potato transmits microwaves whereas paper reflects microwaves.
            (c) Potato contains water whereas paper does not contain water.
            (d) Potato is a fresh organic material whereas paper is a dead organic material.
Q. Consider the following:
            1. Bluetooth device
            2. Cordless phone
            3. Microwave oven
            4. Wi-Fi device
Which of the above can operate between 2.4 and 2.5 GHz range of radio frequency band?
            (a) 1 and 2 only
            (b) 3 and 4 only
            (c) 1, 2 and 4 only
            (d) 1, 2, 3 and 4
All the above questions are based upon the scientific principles which are applied to the phenomena of daily use.

Many questions are asked from the field of space science, robotics and other fields of applied sciences especially related to current affairs. For example,
Q. Consider the following statements:
            The satellite Oceansat - 2 launched by India helps in
            1. Estimating the water vapour content in the atmosphere.
            2. Predicting the onset of monsoons.
            3. Monitoring the pollution of coastal waters.
            Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
            (a) 1 and 2 only
            (b) 2 only
            (c) 1 and 3 only
            (d) 1, 2 and 3
Q. Which among the following do/does not belong/belongs to the GSM family of wireless technologies?
            (a) EDGE
            (b) LTE
            (c) DSL
            (d) Both EDGE and LTE
Q. With reference to the treatment of cancerous tumors, a tool called cyber knife has been making the news. In this context, which one of the following statements is not correct?
            (a) It is a robotic image guided system.
            (b) It delivers an extremely precise dose of radiation.
            (c) It has the capability of achieving sub - millimeter accuracy.
            (d) It can map the spread of tumour in the body.
Hence it is important that the student not only goes through the basic principles but also keeps a track of whatever is happening around him. The inquisitive nature of student is bound to give him an edge over others.
In Chemistry, Periodic tables, important minerals and their ores, etc. are important from prelims point of view. Maximum questions will be pertaining to chemicals which are of economic significance. Thus characteristics of different compounds like plaster of paris, bleaching powder, etc. are of quite importance. Also the characteristics of the organic families must be kept in mind.

Let us take a look at the question asked in 2010 which is completely based on the characteristic and usage of chlorine.

Q. Chlorination is a process used for water purification. The disinfecting action of chlorine is mainly due to
            (a) The formation of hydrochloric acid when chlorine is added to water.
            (b) The formation of hypochlorous acid when chlorine is added to water.
            (c) The formation of nascent oxygen when chlorine is added to water.
            (d) The formation of hydrogen when chlorine is added to water.
Biology, in general, will be the most important section in science. In Botany plant physiology, plant tissues, plants with economic significance and genetic model of Mendel are important. In Zoology, human physiology (especially digestive system, circulatory system and reproductive system), genetics, various diseases and their control measures occupy the most important place. For this too, students have to be quite update with the current affairs.
The questions asked in recent years include:

Q. Consider the following statements:
            1. Every individual in the population is equally susceptible host for Swine Flu.
            2. Antibiotics have no role in the primary treatment of Swine Flu.
            3. To prevent the future spread of Swine Flu in the epidemic area, the swine (pigs) must all be culled.
            Which of the statement given above is/are correct?
            (a) 1 and 2 only
            (b) 2 only
            (c) 2 and 3 only
            (d) 1, 2 and 3
Q. Which one of the following processes in the bodies of living organisms is a digestive process?
            (a) Breakdown of proteins into amino acids.
            (b) Breakdown of glucose into CO2 and H2O.
            (c) Conversion of glucose into glycogen.
            (d) Conversion of amino acids into proteins.
Q. Consider the following statements:
            1. Hepatitis B is several times more infectious than HIV/AIDS.
            2. Hepatitis B can cause liver cancer.
            Which of the statement given above is/are correct?
            (a) 1 only
            (b) 2 only
            (c) Both 1 and 2
            (d) Neither 1 nor 2
Q. Excessive release of the pollutant carbon monoxide (CO), into the air may produce a condition in which oxygen supply in the human body decreases. What causes this condition?
            (a) When inhaled into the human body, CO is converted into CO2.
            (b) The inhaled CO has much higher affinity for haemoglobin as compared to oxygen.
            (c) The inhaled CO destroys the chemical structure of haemoglobin.
            (d) The inhaled CO adversely affects the respiratory centre in the brain.
Q. With regard to the transmission of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus, which one of the following statements is not correct?
            (a) The chances of transmission from female to male are twice as likely as from male to female.
            (b) The chances of transmission are more if a person suffers from other sexually transmitted infections.
            (c) An infected mother can transmit the pregnancy, at childbirth and by breast feeding.
            (d) The risk of contracting infection from transfusion of infected blood is much higher than an exposure to contaminated needle.
            The questions indicate three trends.
            1. More questions are being asked from the current developments.
            2. Human physiology has a major say in the questions from biology.
            3. The questions seek to judge the curiosity level of the students and whether or not they are updated with respect to their surroundings.
            4. Questions from both theory as well as its application are important.

Thus all these aspects must be kept in mind while studying. This is the only way how even a mediocre student can perform wonders in UPSC. One thing must always be remembered that it is not the hardwork but intelligent hardwork which creates a difference between success and failure.

Science & Technology

We are living in the age of technological revolution. Communication technology has been revolutionized through satellite-based information highways and other computerized information processing systems. Computers are now an integral part of our work processing technology. Such awe-inspiring high technology developments have enhanced the capacity and transformed the working of governments to e-governance which is in present context is central to every governmental organisation.

            Under such scenario, it is obvious that government requires such bureaucrats (or technocrats) who have first hand knowledge of present gadgets and information in the field of science and technology as well as aptitude to understand future developments. All this has brought about change in the recruitment strategy of personnel agencies which can also be seen in the recent change of nature and syllabus by UPSC in the preliminary stage of civil services examination. Similar changes have been seen in mains stage where questions regarding science and technology have increased a lot in the past few years.

            Present changes in syllabus highlights the increased weightage of science and technology in Paper-1(general studies) of preliminary stage. Earlier, there was no clear cut mention of science and technology in the syllabus for PT stage. The only thing which was given was:

            "General science i.e. questions on general science which will cover general appreciation and understanding of science including matters of everyday observation and experience, as may be expected of a well educated person who has not made a special study of any particular scientific discipline."

            Questions in the PT were asked relating to general application of principles of physics and chemistry and knowledge of biology. Major part was covered by biology questions. Very few or none of the questions were asked from S and T which were also more related to current affairs.

But now many topics related to science and technology have been added in paper -1 of preliminary stage as declared by Ministry of Personnel in October 2010 for 2011 examinations.

These topics are:

            1. General science (as earlier)
            2. General issues on Environmental Ecology
            3. Bio-Diversity
            4. Climate Change
            5. Sustainable Development
Thus, around 30 % of paper-1 is directly related to science and technology which perhaps is enough to decide success or failure of any student. Candidates who earlier used to cover this part in mains stage only now have to include it in their plans right from the initial stages. Thus a comprehensive strategy has to be followed by the students.

Each component of S and T has multiple dimensions which have to be dealt with by the aspirants. This requires a broad level of reading and understanding of each part. No boundaries or mindsets (presumptions) should be made and one should always be ready to take up new things. Science and technology is an ever changing, most dynamic part of this exam which makes it necessary for the students to always remain updated. Any topic, for example nuclear technology has two parts, that is, theory and application. Theory is the static part which should be conquered in the initial period and application which is dynamic in nature must be a regular part of the preparations.

            Dealing with this section has always been a tough nut to crack for civil service candidates, majority of whom are from arts and commerce background. But interviews and discussions with successful candidates have shown that a proper strategy with correct attitude can lead to very high marks fetched from this segment of examination.

            Level of toughness of anything in life depends upon the way we perceive it and the attitude we have about it. The first most important thing is to have the correct positive attitude towards science and technology which is often seen missing in candidates especially from arts and commerce background.

            Nothing can stand in front of patience, hard work and determination and one thing that should be clear in the mind of students is that there is no shortcut to the success. Science and technology has become a major chunk in the syllabus of civil services exam and just like history or polity, one has to include it in his or her planning right from the initial stages. With the kind of changes made in the preliminary stage for 2011 exams, its knowledge has become an irreplaceable part of civil services examination. Science and technology infact has become an important factor for success in any endeavour of the field of career and development.

Interpersonal Skills Including Communication Skills

Interpersonal skills are the skills that a person uses to interact with other people. It is also sometimes called communication skills. Positive interpersonal skills increase the productivity of the organization since the number of conflicts are reduced. It also allows communication to be easy and comfortable.

Some ways to improve interpersonal skills are:
            1. Think positive and maintain good relationship.
            2. Do not criticize others or yourself and be patient.
            3. Develop the practice of listening; 80% listening and 20% talking is excellent.
            4. Be sensitive to others and treat others and their experience with respect.
            5. Praise and compliment the people and subordinates when they deserve it.
            6. Be cheerful and make the people smile.
            7. Do not complain and look for solutions.
            8. Treat your team members and colleagues as friends and not as strangers or subordinates.

Communication: Communication is the transfer of information from a sender to a receiver. Communication is generally understood as spoken or written words. But in reality, it is more than that. It is the sum total of directly or indirectly, unconsciously or consciously transmitted words, attitudes, feelings, actions, gestures and tones. A slight lift in the brow is often more expressive disapproval than hundreds of words put together.

The importance of communication in administration can be judged from the following points:
            1. Communication is required to disseminate the goals and the objectives of the organization.
            2. It helps the administration in arriving at vital decisions.
            3. Communication helps in planning and coordination.
            4. It is a tool of supervision and control.
            5. It is a basic tool for motivation and an increase in the morale of the employees.
            6. It bolsters the maintenance of good human relations in the organization.

Sample Questons :

1.Communication is commonly cited as being at the root of practically all the problems in administration. Which among the following is the most important after-effects of poor communication.
            (a) Wrong decisions
            (b) Poor policy formulation
            (c) Isolation of the people at top
            (d) Goals of the organization not properly served.
2. Communication in administration can be improved by:
            (a) Compulsory training of personnel.
            (b) Motivation of the work force.
            (c) Asking for the feedback.
            (d) Simplification of the language of communication.
3.Important factor for communication is:
            (a) Communication should be in bold and assertive manner.
            (b) It should be authenticated.
            (c) It should be drafted by Senior officer himself.
            (d) Communication should have all the details.

Decision Making:

It can be regarded as the mental processes resulting in the relation of a course of action among several alternative scenarios.

Decision making Process

In 2011 paper UPSC has not applied negative marking to the questions of decision making because decision making is based on individual logical & verbal ability and can vary from person to person. Thus attempting them is the safest part in paper but proper understanding of the question is must.
            (a) Objectives must be established first and placed in order of preference.
            (b) Alternative actions must be developed.
            (c) The alternative that is able to achieve all the objectives is the tentative decision.
            (d) The tentative decision is evaluated for more possible consequences.

Decision making steps:

            1st Step : Outline your goal and outcome.
            2nd Step : Gather data. This will help the decision makers having actual evidence to help them come up with a solution.
            3rd Step : Brainstorm to develop alternatives. Coming up with more than one solution enables you to see which one can actually work.
            4th Step : List pros and cons of each alternative, with the help of which, you can eliminate the solutions that have more cons than pros, making your decision easier.
            5th Step : Make the decision by picking the one that has many pros, and the one that everyone can agree with.
            6th Step : Immediately take action. Once the decision is picked, you should implement it right away.
            7th Step : Learn from and reflect on the decision making. This step allows you to gauge where you were right or wrong while implementing the decision.

Sample Questions

1. You have been asked to give an explanation for not attending an important official meeting. Your immediate boss who has not informed you about the meeing is noe putting pressure on you not top place an allegation against him/her. You would...
            (a) Send a written reply explaning the fact.
            (b) Seek an appointment with the top boss to explain the situation.
            (c) Admit your fault to save the situation.
            (d) Put the responsibility on the coordinator of the meting for not informing.
2.A local thug (bad element) has started illegal construction on your vacant plot. He has refused your request to vacate and threatened you of dire consequences in case you do not sell the property at a cheap price to him. You would...
            (a) Sell the property at a cheap price to him.
            (b) Go to the police for necessary action.
            (c) Ask for help from your neighbours.
            (d) Negotiate with the goon to get a higher price.
3. You have to accomplish a very important task for your Headquarters within the next two days. Suddenly you meet with an accident. Your office insists that you complete the task. You would....
            (1) Ask for an extension of deadline.
            (2) Inform Headquarters of your inability to finish on time.
            (3) Suggest alternate person to Headquarters who may to the needful.
            (4) Stay away till you recover.
General Mental Ability

The other day, someone was asking me how IAS exam is changing from previous years. And how is this new version different from the previous versions. Most importantly, how should we prepare for this new avatar. I personally believe that this time, UPSC is forcing all its applicants for doing something which was always important but no one cared about it i.e. General Mental Abilities, Reasoning and command over English Language. If we look at last 5-6 years papers then we can easily realize that number of questions on these topics was always increasing but even then students never focused on these areas. And probably now, they have done something to ensure that each and every one start working on them.

            Talking particularly about General Mental Ability, it is something which is feared by all the IAS aspirants. But, in the current scenario, one needs to master the art of General Mental Ability for cracking any good competition. We get good number of questions on Mental Ability in exams of Public Sector, Bank PO, big B-School entrance and now in IAS as well.

            For mastering General Mental Ability, firstly we should know that what are the types of questions and what are the basics of the same. In mental ability, the prime thing which is being tested is your familiarity with the numbers. The commonly asked questions are the basics of Number Theory, basic Arithmetic, basic Algebraic formulas, Permutation and Combination and Probability. Now, if we look at these topics, all of us have read and practiced these topics in good length at high school level. But because of our habit and obligations of using calculator after that has forced us to forget all those basic concepts of arithmetic and has deviated us from the basics of mathematics. I am pretty sure that many of us who used to solve the same questions at tenth level will not be able to solve the same set of questions now.

            Regarding how to improve this, there is a very basic thing that we were taught by our parents was "practice makes a man perfect". This is very true about the Mental Ability at this stage. We just need to practice these basic concepts religiously to master these concepts. And believe me, there is no other way to success. In this article, we will discuss all the areas which are tested by General Mental Ability.

            Primarily, we will discuss about Number Theory. The concepts of Number Theory are the basics which we have studied in class 3rd to class 7th. This includes different types of number and most importantly prime-composite numbers and even-odd numbers. Other topic of number theory is LCM and HCF and their applications which mean one should not only know what is HCF-LCM but should also know how to use and in what type of questions, we should calculate them. Last but not the least; it includes divisibility rules, which means how can we identify that which number is divisible by 2, 3, 5, 8 and so on. These are the basics which are taught to everyone in our initial classes. But with time, we have forgotten all those basics.

            Next thing to discuss is Arithmetic which includes basics of percentages, profit-loss and discount, ratio proportion, time speed and distance and time and work. These topics form most of the class tenth syllabus. And if I am not wrong, many of us used to cherish these topics and used to solve these topics with a good amount of ease. The reason for our success in solving these questions at that point of time was our practice to do these questions at that time.

            Talking about Algebra, it includes some basic formulas, different types of progressions, quadratic equations and simultaneous equations. Again, we have studied these topics again and again from class 6th to class 10th. And we all know the basics of these topics. It is just that we need to practice these topics a bit more and need to revise all these topics once again. But if we can practice these questions then Algebra can easily be solved.

            And most important topic of General Mental Ability is Permutation and Combination and Probability. Talking about this particular topic, this is very interesting and conceptual where in most of the questions talk about the number of ways of doing some particular job or arranging certain number of things. And if we think about this topic, it can even check your ability to identify the different options and evaluation of the same. But again, it also requires some good clarity of the topic which can be earned only and only through practice and understanding of the basics.

            To sum up all, if we want to ensure a good score in mental ability and a better second paper of IAS this year then probably, we need to start practicing today and we need to clear all our basics and concepts. NCERT class sixth to tenth are the best books suited for these preparation. Last but not the least, practice as many sample papers as you can along with a proper feedback and doubt clearing of each and every paper.

Sample Questions for General Mental Ability:

1. There are four routes to travel from city A to city B and and six routes from city B to city C. How many routes are possible to travel from the city A to C?
            (a) 24        (b) 12
            (c) 10        (d) 8
2. A contract on construction job specifies a penalty for delay in completion of the work beyond a certain date is as follows: Rs. 200 for the first day, Rs. 250 for the second day, Rs. 300 for the third day etc., the penalty for each succeding day being Rs. 50 more than that of the proceeding day. How much penalty should the contractor pay if he delays the work by 10 days?
            (a) Rs. 4950        (b) Rs. 4250
            (c) Rs. 3600        (d) Rs. 650
3. Consider the following figure and answer the item that follows:
In figure shown above, OP1 and OP2 are two plane mirrors kept perpendicular to each other, S is the direction of a beam of light falling on the morror OP1. The direction of the reflected beam of light from the mirror OP2 will be...
            (a) 0.6        (b) 0.7
            (c) 0.9        (d) 1/3

Basic Numeracy & Data Interpretation

One definition of numeracy is 'to use mathematics effectively to meet the general demands of life at home, in paid work, and for participation in community and civic life'. Basic numeracy could be defined as being able to count and to calculate with numbers.

            Mathematics is the science that deals with numbers, quantities, shapes, patterns, measurements, concepts related to them and their numerous relationships. It includes arithmetic, algebra, geometry, trigonometry, etc., where as quantitative techniques section in CSAT would be more of an application of the fundamental rules of mathematics in real life situations. The following illustration can help us understand the real facet of Quantitative techniques.

            Suppose you watch a light flashing every 2 seconds, and another light flashing every 3 seconds, how would you calculate when the two lights would flash together? For someone devoid of the basic weapons of mathematics, this would be a labyrinth. But is it really? To unravel this enigma all we need to do is use simple logic. Let's see how - the first light flashes after an interval of every 2 seconds, this implies that it would flash at the interval of 2, i.e., after 2 seconds, 4 seconds, 6 seconds, 8 seconds, and so on... Likewise, the second light will flash after 3 seconds, 6 seconds, 9 seconds, and so on... We, thus, observe that the two flash together after every 6 seconds. Now this is a direct application of a very simple concept the LCM, i.e., Least Common Multiple (LCM of 2 & 3 is 6), a concept which all of us have studied in our junior school. Obviously, as a CSAT aspirant you shouldn't expect a direct question to calculate the LCM of 2 & 3. The questions would be application based, and therefore, be asked in a disguised manner. The real test is of one's analytical skills to fathom what is being asked. There are similar illustrations of most basic concepts, which we have studied till our Xth grade and these questions check our ability to apply the concepts, which we have learnt to real life situations.

            Preparation for CSAT will be an eye-opener for oneself. So many myths and prejudices about oneself just whisk away after a year-long preparation. One gets clarity about one self as to what he/she actually wants in life. So all it requires is smartness and aptitude.

Most of us tend to forget the concepts we have studied till Xth. So the real preparation starts with concept building. Once thorough with the concepts or the accuracy part; start practicing different type of questions on these topics.

Questions in this section can be from the following topics:

            Arithmetic: Ratio & Proportion, Percentages, Profit & Loss, averages, Time Speed & Distance, HCF - LCM, Simple Interest, etc.
            Algebra: Quadratic Equation, Functions, Mensuration
            Geometry: Triangles, Circles and Co - ordinate Geometry
            Other topics of maths like - permutation & combination, binomial equation, etc.

            Numerical ability tests can be divided into tests of simple numeracy, where you are told which arithmetic operations to apply, and numerical reasoning tests where you are presented with some data and questions but the methods required to answer the questions are not specified. In all cases you need to prepare by practicing your mental arithmetic until you are both quick and confident. Your score in the simple speed tests will be very much influenced by your ability to add, subtract, multiply and divide quickly and accurately.

            Even though you will need to do fewer arithmetic operations in the reasoning tests, there is no point in working out how to arrive at the answer if you make a simple mistake when calculating it. You should make a habit of mentally estimating your answers as a way of checking them.
            Numerical Reasoning questions assess your ability to use numbers in a logical and rational way. The questions require a basic level of education in order to successfully compete and are therefore measuring numerical ability rather than educational achievement. The questions measure your understanding of such things as number series, numerical transformations, the relationships between numbers and your ability to perform numerical calculation.

Data Interpretation: In these questions data is presented either in the form of a table or a bar chart or a pie chart or a line graph or as a combination of one of these formats. Following each of these data presentations, there will be 4 to 6 questions. You are expected to answer the questions by interpreting the data given in the table or graph.

            The Data Interpretation section of C-SAT is probably closest in resemblance to the kind of problems one will be dealing in real life situations. It tests one's decision-making ability and speed using limited input. Start off with topical tests in the initial stage of preparation.

            This is the calculation intensive portion of the section. It consists of a myriad of graphs, charts and tables from which you will have to glean and analyse data. The key to cracking this area is to quickly identify the key pieces of data that you will require to work on the questions asked. Sometimes questions are formed to try and bewilder students with a large amount of data, most of it unnecessary. As a rule, the more the data presented, the easier the questions that follow, so don't lose heart if you see a table with 10 columns occupying one whole page. On the other hand, several seemingly innocuous questions may trip you up.

            Another interesting feature of DI that you as a student can use to your advantage is that, usually, not all questions in a set are of equal difficulty. Specifically, most sets have a 'counting' type of question (How many companies have profits more than x%, how many people have incomes less than Rs. Y etc.). Most of these questions can be solved without calculation but by close inspection of the data presented. These I would categorize as 'gift' questions designed to test a student's presence of mind, and should never be missed out on. There are other similarly easy questions in most sets, and you should practice identifying the level of difficulty of questions so you know immediately which ones to attempt and which to avoid.

            Information is provided that requires you to interpret it and then apply the appropriate logic to answer the questions. Sometimes the questions are designed to approximate the type of reasoning required in the workplace. These data interpretation questions will often use very specific illustrations, for example the question may present financial data or use information technology jargon. However, an understanding of these areas is not required to answer the question.

Data Sufficiency: Data Sufficiency problems usually take the form of a logical puzzle, and are in the form of a question followed by two statements. You need to answer whether you can solve the problem using the statements individually, or using both, or whether you cannot solve the problem using the information provided. The key to answering such problems is to pretend like one statement does not exist, try solving the problem, and then pretend like the other statement does not exist and try solving the problem again. These problems are generally tricky, and need lots of practice.

Example: What was John's average driving speed in miles per hour during a 15-minute interval?
            (1) He drove 10 miles during this interval.
            (2) His maximum speed was 50 miles per hour and his minimum speed was 35 miles per hour during this interval.
            (a) Statement (1) ALONE is sufficient, but statement (2) alone is not sufficient.
            (b) Statement (2) ALONE is sufficient, but statement (1) alone is not sufficient.
            (c) BOTH statements TOGETHER are sufficient, but NEITHER statement ALONE is sufficient.
            (d) EACH statement ALONE is sufficient.
            (e) Statement (1) and (2) TOGETHER are NOT sufficient.

English Language Comprehension Skills :

Here the candidates knowledge of English language related to Grammer & Vocabulary will be tested.
1. When the night fell, he kept....
            (a) In the open field
            (b) Under a pile of dry grass
            (c) In a farmer's cottage
            (d) Under a tree
2. He soon fell asleep because
            (a) He was exhausted
            (b) He was all alone
            (c) He had not slept for days
            (d) He was very frightened
3. With reference to the passage, consider the following statements:
            (1) He was walking through the countryside.
            (2) The cottages and farmers gave him enough food so that he could sleep at night without feeling hundry.
            Which of statedments given above is/are correct?
            (a) 1 Only                  (b) 2 Only
            (c) Both 1 and 2        (b) Neither 1 nor 2
The Vocabulary has been checked by highlighting words in the paragraph. The paragraphs can be related to any topic, an be of any length. It will check the grasping power of student in their understanding of the paragraph & finding the solutions of related questions.

Comprehension & English Language Comprehension are two different things.
Comprehension will check candidates assumilation power of contents whereas English Language Comprehension will check the basic knowledge of English of candidate in terms of vocabulary & grammer.
Comprehension skills are the ability to use context and prior knowledge to aid reading and to make sense of what one reads and hears. To enhance one's comprehension skills, one needs to follow certain strategies, as follows:
            1. Being an Avid Reader: Comprehension is a process in which we obtain meaning after reading a given text and we actually relate the words/ phrases mentioned in the text to the ideas that are already there in our mind. Because connecting two ideas and understanding them is far easier than reading the text, analyzing it and then understanding it. For acquiring ample knowledge and understanding, one has to read from an eclectic mix of high-quality and information-rich texts and be a voracious reader.
           2. Background Knowledge: Knowledge is a prerequisite for comprehension. This clearly depicts that if we have some background knowledge, our chances of decoding the text and understanding it becomes all the more easy and saves on time also.
           3. Sound Vocabulary: Good vocabulary forms the cornerstone of understanding any text and it is a well-established fact that good readers tend to have good vocabularies. Focusing on the key words in the text and recognizing the contextual usage of the words supports one's reading development and content-area learning.
           4. Purpose of Reading: Good readers read actively and are aware of why they are reading a text, they read selectively, associate ideas in text to what they already know, evaluate its quality, review important points. Good readers know where, in the text, they need to exert more efforts to extract the implicit meaning from the given lines. In brief, good readers labour hard and practice constantly to exhibit these skills.
          5. Summarize: Make a flow chart of all the ideas assembled from a given text, which will help you finding the main idea and the crux of the overall text.

Let's take a few examples:
Try to memorize the following series:
            1. Abcv, sndf, bvcx, sedf, nmjk, lkmu, ...
            2. Abcd, efgh, ijkl, mnop, ...

Which one is easy for you to remember and go ahead with?

Obviously, the 2nd one. because the second series is somewhat already there in your mind and you are just connecting it with the text you are reading on a piece of paper, which is not true of the first one.

Comprehension :

Comprehension is the classic entry in CSAT syllabus as it is not to test your language skill, but to test your moral and ethical aptitude, understanding of government programmes and policies, social problems, ability to comprehend boring reports etc. However, language will play a bigger role in deciphering the hidden message of the text. Language is a very complex blend of nature. We have been brought up with a language usually our mother tongue and then we come across other languages, dialects and versions of language as we grow in age, stature and maturity. A word can have innumerable connotations with respect to tone, context and reference, which impinge on comprehension and understanding infinitely.

            Comprehension is an element of your exposure to different types of usage the kind of books you read or whether reading even features in your scheme of things on a regular day. As an IAS aspirant you are expected to read, assimilate reason, draw inferences and apply your learning to different situations. As administrator you will have to read reports, infer, make strategies and plan. As the time you spend on these documents impacts the efficiency and productivity of your division, you must find a way to work speedily and clear the tasks as per requirements and not be the bottleneck where work comes to a standstill.

           You wonder how you can enhance your competence and reduce time spent, whether on deciphering reports, documents etc. the way to improve your reading comprehension is evidently making a habit of reading at least a few pages of editorials in daily newspapers such as the Hindu, the Economist or any other daily. Sift through them every day and watch your efficiency with paperwork improve exponentially.

         In oral communication, individuals face one another, through which they can perceive the communication better due to: Facial expression, Context, Body language, Physical tone, pitch and voice variation, Verbal emphasis, etc.

            Comprehension, however, lacks the above aids and do not assist and the reader for an understanding has to go beyond the superficial aspect of mere words. Therefore, the reader has to learn to decipher the unspoken aspects such as the ideas, inferences, assumptions, opinions, etc. to comprehend the passage's real intent. The length and complexity of the passage also varies depending on the tests.

Logical Reasoning & Analytical Ability :

            Logical Reasoning candidates ability to analyze the logical foundation of a given argument. Where as Analytical ability is the ability to visualize, artiulate & solve problems & make decisions that make some based on availaible information.

Directions for the following 3 (three) items :

Read the passage given below, study the graph that follows and answer the three items given below the figure.
During a party, a person was exposed to contamina few days later, he developed fever and loose motions. He suffered for some days before going to a doctor for treatment. On starting the treatment, he soon became better and recovered completely a few days later. The following graph shows different phases of the person's disease condition as regions A, B, C, D and E of the curve.

1. Which region/regions of the curve correspond/corresponds to incubation phase of the infection ?
            (a) A only
            (b) B only
            (c) B and C
            (d) No part of the curve indicates the incubation phase
2. Which region of the curve indicates that the person began showing the symptoms of infection?
            (a) A          (b) B
            (c) C          (d) D
3. Which region of the curve indicates that the treatment yielded effective relief ?
            (a) C
            (b) D
            (c) E
            (d) The curve does not indicate the treatment
In the above question a figure has been given. Candidate has to analyze the figure and has to give answer to the questions.
Regular practice of questions can help the student in analyzing & depicting the data in the figure. Mostly Students think that these questions has to be solved on the spot based on situations but practice is must to score a good marks in these types of questions. Once the information has been depicted questions related to it can be solved easily.

            questions having application based orientations on real issues, and which try to test a candidate's ability to analyze an issue under different shades or perspectives and suggest mature alternative conclusions, both from a long term strategic perspective and a short term tactical perspective.

            All this has resulted in a situation where a student is hardly left with any breathing space within the fold of his discipline and beating about the bush has become not only impractical but also counterproductive, given the time limitations and the length of paper. In some cases candidates are found to be complaining that despite completing the entire paper, and writing all the answers, they have not obtained the expected score. In other cases candidates are whining that despite working so hard over the syllabus, they just could not get under the skin of the paper. All in all there are plenty of doubts, apprehensions, misunderstandings and other similar feelings related to the paper and the students are desperately seeking solutions.

            The answer lies in keeping pace with the trends and expectations of the UPSC. Foremost, there is a need to bring some changes in the way books are studied. For example, while we study DD Basu for polity, we have to be particularly careful about studying how the articles of the constitution are manifested and applied in particular cases and how the spirit of the constitution has evolved and implemented in the various laws over the period of time. Further, we should also study how the same could be applied to contemporary issues and what alternative consequences could unfold out of diverse interpretations arising in an effort to strike a balance between several conflicting areas in the constitution. Ultimately we should also be ready with valid conclusions on burning topics, so as to save time in the examination hall.

            Similar trends are also visible in most of the popular optional papers. Be it public administration, geography, psychology, sociology, political science and international relations or any other. The pattern of questions in the mains exam is gravitating towards application orientation with a demand for deep subjective as well as interdisciplinary insights. Further similar to GS we are more and more observing the introduction of newer areas from which questions are being asked. The UPSC seems to be looking for innovative solutions to the problems confronting the country by exploring the hitherto unchartered vistas. So we must be prepared to give the UPSC what it wants. When it comes to optionals, it seems to be testing the holistic knowledge of the candidate. It wants to ascertain as to whether a candidate has risen above what is simple or difficult or what is conventional or unconventional. So we must possess the knack of making simple things difficult and difficult things simple. That is to say that we leave no space to chance and prepare each area with a genuine approach of really trying to solve the problem.

            Therefore what is recommended is that the candidates, no matter what book or study material they read must always read it keeping in mind the importance of the content in the contemporary times and their relationship with the current issues. Further at the same time they should not be wary of using inputs even beyond their own disciplines as long as they find them attributing positively to their explanation. Having said all this, it is equally important to mention that the candidates should not only go on for improving their knowledge base in the interdisciplinary domain but also learn the art of using that knowledge in proper amounts and in proper areas, so much so to keep refraining from trespassing the unsaid boundaries prescribed while writing answers in the optional papers.

            Apart from the content of the answers which should be more and more integrative and holistic, a candidate must also be concerned about the language and the presentation offered in their answer scripts. The presentation should be methodical, systematic, consequential and understandable. That is to say that the applications should look related to the contexts and evolve out methodically from the concepts. Further the language should be strictly apolitical and reflect neutrality and unbiased treatment.

            Very few are able to score in the range of 300+ marks. 2nd paper is proving to be the more difficult one. In the previous year a large number of those who appeared in interview have scored less than 100 in 2nd paper.

In 2010 only a 12 marks question was asked from history and it was not a compulsory question; it could be left easily. What it means is that conventional topics have not remained so important. In IES(PT)-2011 also history portion has almost been removed. But we can't accept it as a rule. In coming years history portion may become important. But one thing is sure - questions shall not be of conventional type.

            In polity we should not expect straight questions based on the provisions of the constitution. Procedural aspects of polity have become more important. We need to go beyond traditional books such as D.D Basu or Subhash Kashyap. Books of NCERT on Political science should be studied. Grasp on polity is a precondition for good marks in General Studies for we can't be very sure with what we write in other parts of first paper.

            Social issues are being asked more frequently nowadays. India year book and magazines such as Yojana can be helpful. In current affairs we find very less difference between PT and mains questions, so even minute information should be given importance otherwise 2 markers cann't be answered.

            In second paper - India and The World, can prove to be our foundation. Science and technology questions seem to be intriguing nowadays. Even experts are never sure on these topics. In this scenario 'India and The World' and 'Statistics' can help you reach to a safer score. Some student think that Statistics takes away lots of time hence should be attempted in the end; but when 100 marks seem to be deluding, it is safer to answer statistics question carefully. By practicing at our home we can reduce the time we take to solve these questions. With CSAT in PT we hope everybody should be able to solve those questions.

            Economy should be prepared carefully. Economic Survey should be read carefully. Students normally study Economic Survey for PT and leave it for mains but the programmes and policies announced by government in budget and survey are asked regularly in mains. Of late, Economy has also become same as current affairs, so traditional questions can rarely be expected from this section.

We hope 'India and The World' and 'Statistics' alone can help a student cross 100 marks in second paper. Economy can help you achieve better marks and if you are good at science and tech., it can prove to be a bonus.