How to master Polity for Prelims in a changed pattern

Prime Prelims Program starting from 19th June 2021: First Test Polity Basic

Dear Aspirants,

In the great Trojan war between ancient Greek and the city of Troy, Achilles fought from the Greek side. He ravaged the areas around Troy and destroyed 12 cities in the first 9 years of war. In the 10th year, he was shot dead by arrows into the heel by the Trojan prince Paris. As the story goes, his mother Thetis dipped Achilles as a child in the waters of the River Styx, by which means he became invulnerable, except for the part of his heel by which she held him—the proverbial “Achilles’ heel.” Polity is becoming  Acheilies heel to aspirants in UPSC prelims in the changed pattern. 

India polity is a subject, which mostly all of us start preparing very early in our preparation journey towards UPSC. This is also the subject where we spend comparably more time yet commit mistakes. Let’s understand how we can rectify it?

Number of questions in Polity in recent years are: 

Till 2017, reading Laxmikant for Polity seemed enough to attempt questions in Prelims. In 2020, out of 15 questions from Polity, there are 6-7 questions that could be directly solved after reading Laxmikant. However, for the rest, a conceptual understanding of Polity fundamentals and Current Affairs is required. 

Studying the questions from the last 7 years, three distinct patterns emerge. Let’s understand how we can tackle them.

  1. Constitution related: These are static parts of the syllabus and most can be covered after serious readings of standard books like Laxmikant. However, solving questions need a conceptual understanding of parts of the syllabus such as questions on the Right to constitutional remedies or on sessions of parliament (2020). You can find the link to prepare and optimally utilise Laxmikant here.
  2. Polity fundamentals related: As seen from the chart above, each year certain questions try to test aspirants on their most basic understanding of polity. In recent years, There have been 4-5 questions based on polity fundamentals such as Democracy, liberty, equality, constitutionalism, the concept of rights, federalism etc. It required conceptual clarity over most basics such as Democracy vs republic, parliamentary system vs presidential system, Concept of rights etc. 

Let’s take a few questions from the past to understand this pattern. 

A constitutional government by definition is a _ _ _ _ .(2020)

a) government by the legislature

b) popular government

c) Multi party government

d) Limited government

Even in this question, which is very simple yet requires an understanding of fundamental concepts, Many aspirants marked answers such as (a) a government by the legislature or (b) Popular government confusing constitutionalism with a democratic system. A constitution is a check against absolutism i.e government bound by constitutional limitations and does not have absolute power, hence a constitutional government is by definition limited government (option d). Relying on elimination can be a risky game, which you must not play. 

Let’s take another question: 

In the context of polity, which one of the following would you accept as the most appropriate definition of liberty? (2019)

(a) Protection against the tyranny of political rulers

(b) Absence of restraint

(c) Opportunity to do whatever one likes

(d) Opportunity to develop oneself fully.

In the above question, some aspirants marked option (b) absence of restraint which in any society can lead to anarchy or option (c) Opportunity to do whatever one likes, which will also lead to chaos. Hence the most appropriate answer is d i.e. Opportunity to develop oneself fully. This is a positive definition of liberty, while applying reasonable restrictions is a negative concept of liberty. The concept of liberty comes from the theory of social contract and 3 natural rights- life, liberty and property with origin in French Revolution in the late 18th century.  

Even In the 2018 prelims, there was a similar question asking relation between Laws and liberty  and 2017 prelims had questions on concepts of equality and Democracy. Hence to score good marks in polity, it is necessary that we are able to answer these most fundamental questions.
As far as sources are concerned, NCERT- 9 and 10 books like Democratic politics-1 and Democratic politics-2  along with 11 and 12 Political science books- Political theory-1 and 2 provide good reference. One may also refer to NIOS political science book. So the most important element in our prep is to be  able to link these fundamental concepts with the static syllabus. 

  1. Current Affairs or Dynamic Polity : No of questions directly from current affairs have declined and also the question quality has improved, it is no more merely factual stuff. Any issue needs to be understood holistically to answer.  For ex; questions on Aadhaar Act or Legal services authorities (2020) or questions on Forest related Acts (2019) need to be read in context to answer them in exam.  Merely memorising facts or compilations when the exam is near wouldn’t help. Civilsdaily monthly magazine can be of great help in this in addition to Samachar Manthan. 

In recent years, questions related to governance are also being asked. Like questions on the role of bureaucracy (2020) etc.  

In conclusion, Preparation of polity required holistic integration of Static syllabus from standard book, conceptual understanding of Polity fundamentals along with intelligent preparation of current Dynamics. When you read current affairs, you must link it with the fundamental aspects for example; new IT rules related to social media have bearing on liberty, freedom of speech and expression. 

What CD’ s Prime test series offers?

Starting from 19th june, 2021 , it consists of 40 Tests (8 Basic, 8 Advanced, 10 Current Affairs, 10 Full Length, 4 CSAT). Polity includes two tests of basic nature along with one advanced test. It covers the polity static syllabus along with Polity fundamentals and current issues holistically. 

Let’s take a few questions from the upcoming test (Polity-1 scheduled on 19-06-2021 and polity-2 scheduled on 03-07-2021) to illustrate our Evidence based Question making pattern exactly on the lines of UPSC prelims taking changing times and pattern into account. Also keeping in mind the fundamentals for those who are in the starting phase of preparation. 

Let’s compare: CD test’s  questions Vs UPSC Prelims Questions: 

# CD’s question-1 :

Consider the following statements 

1. The Preamble is a source of power to legislature or a prohibition upon the powers of legislature.

2. It is non-justiciable, that is, its provisions are not enforceable in courts of law.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a)1 only

(b) 2 only 

(c ) both 1 and 2

(d) none of them

UPSC question (2020)

The Preamble to the Constitution of India is

[a) A part of the Constitution but has no legal effect

[b) Not a part of the Constitution and has no legal effect either

[c) A part of the Constitution and has the same legal effect as any other part

[d) A part of the Constitution but has no legal effect independently of other parts

#CD questions-2

Consider the following statements

1. Parliament under Article 368 can amend any part of the Constitution excluding the Fundamental Rights.

2. The constitution has defined what constitutes the basic structure of the constitution.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

  1. 1 only 
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. None of them

UPSC question (2020)

Consider the following statements:

  1. The Constitution of India defines its ‘basic structure’ in terms of federalism, secularism, fundamental rights and democracy.
  2. The Constitution of India provides for ‘judicial review’ to safeguard the ‘citizens’ liberties and to preserve the ideals on which the constitution is based.

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

#CD question-3

Consider the following statements

1. A minister cannot participate in the proceedings of a House, of which he is not a member.

2. A minister, who is not a member of either House, can participate in the proceedings of both the Houses.

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

UPSC question (2018)

Consider the following statements:

  1. The Speaker of the Legislative Assembly Shall vacate his/her office if he/she ceases to be a member of the Assembly.
  2. Whenever the Legislative Assembly is dissolved, the Speaker shall vacate his/her immediately.

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

CD question -4

Which of the statements given below about the Fundamental Rights is/are correct?

1. They are meant for promoting the ideal of political democracy.

2. They protect the liberties and freedoms of the people against the invasion by the State.

3. They aim at establishing a government of men and not of laws.

a)1 and 2 only

b) 1 and 3 only

c)2 and 3 only

d) 1, 2 and 3

#UPSC question (2018)

Which of the following are regarded as the main features of the “Rule of Law”?

  1. Limitation of powers
  2. Equality before law
  3. People’s responsibility to the Government
  4. Liberty and civil rights

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

(a) 1 and 3 only

(b) 2 and 4 only

(c) 1, 2 and 4 only

(d) 1, 2, 3 and 4

#CD question -5

Consider the following statements

1. Under Article 32 Supreme Court can issue writs for enforcement of both the Fundamental Rights guaranteed by the Constitution and any other right

2. Under Article 226 High courts can issue writs only for Fundamental rights
3.Parliament can empower any other court to issue directions, orders and writs of all kinds.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

a)1 &2only

b)2 &3 only

c)1, 2& 3

d)only 3

#UPSC question (2014)

The power of the Supreme Court of India to decide disputes between the Centre and the States falls under its

(a) advisory jurisdiction

(b) appellate jurisdiction.

(c) original jurisdiction

(d) writ jurisdiction

As you can see, our aim here is to make you ready for the great prelims Day exam by putting you in the similar paper in every test. Let the Polity with you.

Looking forward to listening to you after you attempt the first test. You can find the detailed schedule here of tests: 


Santosh Gupta

Prelims Coordinator


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