The IAS Mains Pattern is Changing – Are You Prepared?

Posted: March 2, 2013 in CIVIL SERVICE

Ok, so the Mains pattern is changing sooner than anticipated. While we knew the change in the Mains pattern was a foregone conclusion after the changes in the Prelims pattern what is surprising is the short time within which the IAS Mains pattern will change. According to this report from The Hindu, the mains syllabus could change as early as 2012 Mains itself!

The IAS mains pattern change is based on Yoginder Alagh committee’s recommendationsmade in 2002 that as civil services aspirants have already been tested in their graduation subjects in University examination it’s not useful to re-test them again in the same subjects in the IAS Mains.

So What Do the Changes in Mains Pattern Mean for You

  • Optionals subjects will be done away with just like in the Prelims
  • Except for Indian language paper all other papers will be common to all candidates
  • All papers will be GS based i.e. focus on General Studies exclusively
  • Papers will test your ability to take decisions quickly and correctly, deal with pressing issues like environment, political pressures, international trade and treaties etc.
  • Focus will shift away from rote-based approach to sound reasoning and analysis
  • Reliance and role of coaching classes will reduce drastically

Possible Syllabus of IAS Mains from 2012

Remember UPSC has still not made any official announcement regarding changes in the Mains pattern or published the new pattern. So the syllabus mentioned below is strictly an assumption based on the YK Alagh committee’s recommendations.

Papers of 200 marks each common to all candidates

For instance instead of combining History, Geography, Science etc in one paper, from 2012 IAS mains exam there could be separate paper for Indian History of 200 marks common to all candidates.

Indian History -200 marks

General Science and Statistics- 200 marks

Geography – 200 marks

International Relations – 200 marks

Indian Economy – 200 marks

Current Events and National Issues – 200 marks

Indian Polity – 200 marks

International Trade and Finance – 200 marks

It is difficult to guess the exact papers or marks so I will not go so far as to estimate the total number of marks in the Mains from 2012 onwards. But the above pattern should give you some idea about the impending changes and the possible pattern so you can prepare accordingly.

So How Should You Prepare for IAS Mains From Now On?

Before we dwelve on this further let me state that if the Mains exam pattern were certain to change from 2012 Mains UPSC will announce the new syllabus by December 2011 at most so that candidates get enough time to plan ahead. If the announcement is not made by December you can safely go ahead with your preparation of IAS Mains optionals like you are doing presently.

  • Expand Your Horizons

This is the sanest advice I can give you. Stop mugging GS coaching notes 45 days prior to the Mains. This approach is no longer relevant and will pay ever diminishing returns given the fact that GS paper is becoming more and more dynamic and coaching institutes are unable to anticipate the latest trends any longer.

Develop a habit of reading the newspaper, especially the editorial. Read good magazines like Frontline and Pratiyogita Darpan along with development magazines like Yojana.

Make an effort to understand important national and international issues in detail like the Economic crisis, persistent high inflation, Middle East unrest etc. Doing so you can develop your own perspective and frame unique answers accordingly. Remember, this is just what UPSC wants from you before it showers marks upon you. Copied lines from coaching notes, no matter how well reproduced, get a penalty from the examiners.

One of the main recommendations of the YK Alagh committee was that the civil services exam should test the individual thinking and ability of candidates with respect to the challenges and new job responsibilities of the 21st Century. Accordingly, you need to develop you own perspective and not a borrowed one from photocopied notes.

  • Practice Answer Writing

Once you have prepared a topic ensure you test your writing skills. The answers should be relevant to the question asked, concise, written in a logical sequence, cover all the important points and finally have a conclusion if the question so requires. Where the questions asks you to provide your own perspective or take on the matter don’t hesitate to do so but neither should your answers sound emotional or taking sides without presenting both sides of the issue at hand.

Practicing answer writing is what will fetch you the high scores to qualify for the interview. So don’t neglect this important aspect of the new Mains pattern.

I will update this post once the news about changes in the IAS mains pattern from 2012 is confirmed by UPSC. Also you can expect more suggestions and tips to tackle the changes on this blog in the coming days.


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