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HindustanTimes Fri,19 Sep 2014
Ready for the Civil Services exam?
Gauri Kohli , Hindustan Times
New Delhi, November 27, 2013
First Published: 11:15 IST(27/11/2013)
Last Updated: 17:36 IST(15/12/2013)

Civil servants are much respected and have to shoulder great responsibilities. A huge number of applicants across the country every year write the Civil Services preliminary exam, which is the first step to joining the services. It includes the Indian Administrative Service, the Indian Police Service and the Indian Foreign Service and other central services such as the Indian Audits and Accounts Service. The Civil Services exam is conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). On clearing the prelims, the successful candidates then have to appear for the Main exam, which, this year, will be held from December 1 to December 5, 2013.


Changes in mains 2013

This year’s Main exam will be different in more ways than one with some major changes being introduced. One such change is that there will be four general studies papers, which will carry 250 marks each. There will be two optional papers carrying 250 marks each and candidates can choose any one optional subject from the subjects list. In addition, there will be one paper on essay, English comprehension and English precis of 300 marks. Candidates for the exams welcome the changes. “To stay in tune with the day-to-day needs of administration, candidates should know a little more than academics. The four papers on general studies - with sections on Indian heritage, ethics, integrity  and aptitude, to name a few - reflect that idea. This will prepare civil servants to have a better grasp of events inside and outside the country. This will help attain homogeneity among the selected candidates who have a similar worldview,” says VP Gupta, director, Rau’s IAS Study Circle. The new exam, says Gupta, will also give the examiners more freedom to evaluate a candidate.

According to AK Mishra, director, Chanakya Academy, “Earlier, two-thirds weightage was given for two optional subjects with 600 marks each. There were 1200 marks for optional subjects against 600 marks for general studies (GS). Therefore, selection of a candidate depended a lot on marks in the optional subjects. This did not create a level-playing field as some optionals helped students secure more marks than the others.”

Now, under the new pattern, there are four papers for GS with 250 marks each against one optional subject with two papers each with 250 marks each. “The syllabus is better defined now. It is more contextual and the paper on ethics is the best addition as it will help selectors find the right kind of civil servants we need in today’s time. The case study method in this paper will aim at evaluating mental alertness, analytical and decision-making powers and the administrative ability of a candidate,” he adds.

Aspirants also feel the changes will help them prepare better. “Earlier, we had to focus a lot on the optional, but with general studies covering most of the major topics which are relevant to students from all streams, this will help candidates,” says Nitin Gangwar, a Civil Services aspirant.

Scoring subjects
Public administration, sociology, geography, history, political science and philosophy are the popular choices among candidates. “Political science, geography, and social science overlap with general studies and that is the reason why most candidates opt for these subjects — public administration being their most popular choice. More than 80% of the test-takers opt for these subjects,” adds Gupta.

Getting an edge
With just a few days left for the exam, candidates should consolidate what they have already prepared. As this will be the first exam in the new pattern, candidates must read questions carefully and strictly follow the word limit. They must read and understand what the question hints at.

Numbers game
About 16,000 candidates cleared the Civil Services (prelims) this year
13,092 candidates qualified for the Civil Services Main exam in 2012, out of which 2,674 candidates were selected for the personality test conducted earlier this year. Finally, 998 candidates were recommended for appointment to the IAS, IFS, IPS and other Central services
About 5,36,506 ­candidates applied for the prelims in 2012, out of which 2,71,422 candidates actually wrote the test


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