“I was never serious but I cleared the exam”.
“Truth be told, I didn’t study Laxmikant and still got through”.
“UPSC is just like university exams. All the hype is unnecessary”.
Every once in a while, we have been forwarded topper talks where casual claims like the above are made. Though unintentional, they end up harming the aspirants preparing for the exam right now.
|Year||Number of candidates who applied||Number of candidates who took prelims||Number of candidates who qualified for mains||Number of candidates who took mains exam||Number of candidates who appeared for interview||Final number of candidates who got selected for posts|
There are 2 factors at play – the level of competition and the format of the exam.
1. As you can see from 2012 to 2014, approx 4L new aspirants ( close to 80%) were added. This increased the competition substantially.
2. 2015 saw changes in the exam format. CSAT became a qualifying paper. Meaning its marks were no longer added to the final prelims score. CSAT paper certainly gave an edge to engineering, MBA students who were used to solving such questions with more accuracy and speed.
But with this paper gone, students from all backgrounds stood at an equal footing. No one having an inherent advantage over the other. The GS focused prelims paper made the mains competition very intense.
3. 2017 saw fundamental changes in the way the questions for the prelims paper were designed.
- The number of direct, straightforward questions came down. These questions used to be directly lifted from the base books.
- Many questions were unpredictable and not for conventional materials that you would read.
As a result, a lot of students who were reaching the interview stage started struggling with prelims.
And this format has been continuing till now – 2018, 2019, and will most certainly continue in 2020.
More often than not, our students suggest strategies that they’ve discussed with a distant friend or cousin who cleared the exam before 2015 (at times their uncles who cleared the exam in the 90s).
Very simply put, the competition is intense leaving lesser scope for errors.
From the above analysis, it is clear that aspirants from a different era had altogether different concerns and challenges.
Someone who prepared/cleared the exam before 2015 might not appreciate how difficult and tricky prelims have become. Students who didnt focus their prelims attempt
And they might not have a nuanced understanding of what the exam requires today, the importance of making notes, etc.
We always recommend students to consult people who have appeared for the recent 2-3 prelims. Because they are well aware of the most recent trends.
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