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UPSC CSE prelims 2016: Paper-I analysis and unofficial answer key

The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) conducted the Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination 2016 in two phases on Sunday.

education Updated: Aug 10, 2016 19:34 IST
Candidates coming out after appearing in UPSC Preliminary Exam at Government College for Girls in Ludhiana on August 07, 2016.
Candidates coming out after appearing in UPSC Preliminary Exam at Government College for Girls in Ludhiana on August 07, 2016. (Gurminder Singh/Hindustan Times)

The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) conducted the Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination 2016 in two phases on Sunday.

The UPSC conducts the exam to select candidates to fill administrative positions in all-India services and central civil services, including Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Police Service (IPS), Indian Foreign Service (IFS), Indian Revenue Service (IRS) and others.

On a careful analysis of the Paper-I (General Studies) of the prelims this year, following points may be observed:

Moderate level of difficulty and a level-playing field

The commission has brought down the difficulty level of the questions in the last 2 years as compared to previous years. This year too it focused on testing the candidates’ basic understanding of topics, which was expected. As Paper-II or Aptitude is now qualifying, this is an attempt by the UPSC to give a level-playing field even to those attempting for the first time.

Increasing weightage on current affairs on expected lines

The weightage to current affairs increased this year further as the UPSC asked many direct questions from this area as well as from issues indirectly linked to current affairs and those that had a current affairs context.

As Paper-II is qualifying in nature, the real thrust is on Paper-I and so to ensure an equal opportunity to candidates from different backgrounds as well as to new aspirants it was expected that the UPSC would increase the weightage of this section.

No matter how many years a candidate has been preparing for the exam, current affairs section has to be prepared that year itself.

Sectional weightage

If we analyse the pattern from the past few years, environment and economy sections are increasingly getting more focus. Questions from environment section increased from 13 to 19 and those from economy went up to 28 from 18.

History retained its value in traditional parts but other traditional sections like geography and polity lost their weightage. There were only 7 questions from geography this year compared to 12 last year and there were only 6 polity questions this year compared to 12 last.

There were fewer questions from general science but the number increased to 13 compared to 8 last year. In recent years, the questions are increasingly asked from technology portion compared to general science.

Stress on current context in core sections

There was a current context to many questions that were asked from core sections.

Some of the examples are given below:

Q. What is/are unique about ‘Kharai camel’, a breed found in India?

1. It is capable of swimming up to three kilometres in seawater.

2. It survives by grazing on mangroves.

3. It lives in the wild and cannot be domesticated.

Select the correct answer using the code given below.

(a) 1 and 2 only (b) 3 only (c) 1 and 3 only (d) 1, 2 and 3

This is a question from environment, ecology and biodiversity section. But the question was asked because the ‘Kharai camel’ were recently declared an endangered species.

Q. Consider the following statements:

1. New Development Bank has been set up by APEC.

2. The headquarters of New Development Bank is in Shanghai.

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.

This is a question from economy section. But the question was asked because the New Development Bank recently became operational.

Q. With reference to ‘Astrosat’, the astronomical observatory launched by India, which of the following statements is/are correct?

1. Other than USA and Russia, India is the only country to have launched a similar observatory into space.

2. Astrosat is a 2000 kg satellite placed in an orbit at 1650 km above the surface of the Earth.

Select the correct answer using the code given below.

(a) 1 only (b) 2 only (c) Both 1 and 2 (d) Neither 1 nor 2.

This is a question from science and technology section. But the question was asked because India recently launched its first space observatory or telescope “Astrosat”.

Q. With reference to ‘Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana’, consider the following statements:

1. Under this scheme, farmers will have to pay a uniform premium of two percent for any crop they cultivate in any season of the year.

2. This scheme covers post-harvest losses arising out of cyclones and unseasonal rains.

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

This is a question economy section. But the question was asked because India recently launched its new agricultural insurance scheme “Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana”.

Over 37,000 appear for UPSC prelims in Chandigarh

Relevance of NCERT and basic sources

As UPSC is relying more and more on the basics of the subjects, the significance of NCERT books will not only be retained but will also increase. Also, the current affairs portion will remain important as it will remain a marker to ascertain important sections of GS syllabus.

(Gupta is the director of Rau’s IAS Study Circle. The views expressed here are personal)