Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Important General Studies Topics For IAS / UPSC Civil Services Mains Exam 2013 : CS Synopsis

The UPSC Civil Services Mains Exam 2013 is now less than a month away and importantly this years exam would be the first one with changed syllabus and pattern. The UPSC Civil Services Mains Exam is scheduled to start towards starting of December 2013 and will finish in 7-8 days unlike previous years where it used to take almost one month depending on your optional subjects. 

The IAS / UPSC Civil Services Mains Examination is primarily a test of candidate's abilities to analyse a given question and come up with an answer that addresses all the dimensions of the question while sticking to the word limits and arrangement of ideas in an orderly manner. Generally, in UPSC Mains Paper the questions that are asked have some current orientation and I have gone through the newspapers and magazines to come up with few topics that I feel would be relevant and important from UPSC Essay Paper as well as UPSC General Studies paper perspective.

  1. Need for Second State Reorganization Commission ( Telengana Issue and recurring demand for new states)
  2. Ordinance Route for passing important bills and bypassing Parliament 
  3. Panchayati Raj Institutions - Reflecting over 20 years of getting Constitutional Status
  4. Estimating Poverty Line - Away from Reality
  5. Depreciating Rupee and Increasing Current Account Deficit
  6. Govt. Initiatives to Empower Women
  7. Disaster Management ( Uttarakhand Floods / Eco-tourism / Sustainable Development / Climate Change)
  8. Nuclear Energy ( Kudankulam Nuclear  Power Project & INS Arihant )
  9. Corporate Social Responsibility - Corporate or Social ?
  10. Indo-Bangladesh Relations ( Elections in Bangladesh / Growing Influence of Hardline Islamists / Shahbagh Movement / Boundary Issues / Water Sharing )
  11. Arab Spring - Revolutions in Middle East Countries (Tunisia / Egypt / Syria)  - Growing Reach of Muslim Brotherhood
  12. State Sponsored Espionage by USA (Snowden and Manning) - Intimidation of Whistleblowers

We have compiled relevant and useful information on topics for this year's civil services main examination in CS Synopsis Magazine and providing free e-copies of August and September issues to our readers. Please drop us an email at cs.synopsis@gmail.com with your name, address and contact number and you will receive your e-copy of CS Synopsis Magazine.

CS Synopsis Magazine 

All the very best !

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Tips For Success in IAS / UPSC Civil Services Examination - Analyzing the Question Paper

IAS / UPSC Civil Services Examination is an examination like no other examination as it tests not only the knowledge base of the candidate but also the mental make-up of the candidate. The UPSC Civil Services Examination continues for one year and keeps the aspirants on tenterhooks at all times and one is always on the lookout for the best book or the best material for covering various parts of the syllabus.  But quite often, the IAS aspirants miss out on the elementary things that they need to keep in mind for achieving success in UPSC Civil Services Examination and these small mistakes may turn out to be very costly. 

A very common mistake that civil services aspirants make is 'not analysing' the previous years UPSC Question Papers as they are a rich source of information plus they give you an insight into the mindset of IAS/UPSC Examination paper-setter. I will share below some of the strategies that I used and which paid rich dividends especially for General Studies paper in IAS / UPSC Civil Services prelims examination:

1. Attempting the UPSC Question Paper -  To test one's preparation one must attempt previous years UPSC question papers and to get the best output one should try to attempt it in a surrounding which is as close to examination hall. For example one should make sure that one will not be disturbed in those 2 hours by anyone and switch off your cell phones etc. The idea behind this exercise is to stimulate yourself into thinking that this is not just practice but the real exam. This will benefit you in several ways as it will give you a very close idea of how good your preparation is and also improve your responses in actual exam, be it improving the time that you take for eliminating options or for darkening the circles in OMR sheet etc.  

2. Scoring the UPSC Question Paper - Score the question paper you have just attempted honestly and if needed by being little more strict on yourself as giving yourself any false idea about your level of preparation will harm no one but yourself.  

3. Categorizing the Questions -  The next step would be to categorize all the questions into the following:
  • Number of Questions for which you knew the correct answer ( do not include those question you managed to get right by guessing or stroke of luck etc)
  • Number of Questions for which you knew the correct answer but still marked it incorrectly due to some or the other reason viz. not reading the question stem properly etc
  • Number of Questions about which you had read but did not remember the exact point or had missed reading a critical information that had been asked 
  • Number of Questions for which you could eliminate two wrong options (50-50 chance) and further sub-divide this into questions you ultimately got right or wrong from the 50-50 point.
  • Number of Questions about which you simply had no idea ( all four options did not make any sense)
This categorization of questions will give you a very good idea about your preparation for this exam and which are the areas where you need to improve and how to direct your effort towards specific areas which can improve your overall score.

4.  Collecting and Collating Information - Nobody can predict UPSC questions as well as UPSC itself, so the idea should be to note down all the facts and other useful information contained in the questions that you have just now attempted. For instance if there was a question which had asked about 'Tenth Schedule of the Constitution' and what does it deal with - one should note down not only what does this particular schedule deals with but also what the other schedules in the constitution deal with and maybe also the articles, so that when one is revising all the information is at one place. These notes will be very handy from examination point of view and will also help you in discriminating what information is relevant and what is not from UPSC examination point of view.

5. Reading the Instructions Carefully -  This may seem very obvious but so many times one fails to read the instruction carefully and ends up committing blunders in examination hall. Please do invest the 2-3 minutes that are required to read through all the instructions as you never know when UPSC might decide to spring a surprise on the candidates. Also read the question stem very carefully and do not try to aim only for speed in the exam as speed with accuracy is required in this exam and only speed without a sense of direction will be counterproductive.

So here is wishing all the readers happy reading and as civil services mains (2013) is approaching I will be discussing few important GS topics in my subsequent posts. All the very best ! 

Friday, October 18, 2013

Magazine for IAS / UPSC Civil Services Examination : Civil Services Synopsis September Issue

The second issue of Civil Services Synopsis is going to be out soon in the market. This issue of the magazine covers a wide gamut of issues ranging from "Need for Second State Re-organization Commission", "Ordinance Route - Use or Abuse", "Twenty Years of PRIs", "Rising Current Account Deficit", "CSR- Less Corporate, More Social", "Govt. Initiatives to Empower Women", and so on. The topics have been carefully selected based on their relevance from civil services examination point of view and background information has been included wherever we felt the news item is not doing full justice to the topic under discussion. For instance in the article "Suspension of a Civil Servant" - the issue of Ms.Durga Shakti Nagpal's suspension has been covered along-with background information on the Constitutional Provisions available to civil servants for protection from arbitrary executive action. The idea is to give all the required relevant information at one place for easier reading and better retention and ultimately reproduction of the same in exam for higher scores.  

The idea behind this issue of CS Synopsis remains the same  - to provide the most relevant content  from IAS / UPSC civil services examination point of view at one place and not stopping at that   but also providing background information wherever needed for complete understanding of any issue.  

The Content for September 2013 issue is as follows:

1. Need for Second State Reorganization Commission
2. Ordinance Route - Use or Abuse?
3. Suspension of a Civil Servant
4. This is no child's play - Juvenile Justice Act
5. A task only half finished - Criminal Law Amendment Act 2013 
and more ....

Economics page1image1216

1. Estimating Poverty - Away from reality
2. Rising Current Account Deficit - Impact and Factors Responsible 
3. Rupee's Slide
4. Less Corporate, More Social - CSR
and more ...

National/ Social
1. Govt. Initiatives to Empower Women
2. National Food Security Ordinance
3. Farm Mechanization
and more ...

1. Disaster Management
2. Saving Tiger

Science & Technology
1.Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project 
2. INS Arihant - A strategic Milestone
3. GSLV - Turning out to be rocket science

International Relations 
1. Elections in Bangladesh and Indo-Bangladesh Relations
2. International Criminal Court vis-a-vis International Court of Justice
3. Indo-Myanmar Relations
4. Syria Crisis 
and more ...

Prelims Corner - contains current affairs facts and information 

For subscription related queries please write to us at cs.synopsis@gmail.com

Friday, September 13, 2013

Important General Studies Topics For IAS / UPSC Civil Services Mains 2013 Examination - 1

The countdown for UPSC Civil Services Mains Examination 2013 is well and truly underway. The UPSC Civil Services Mains Examination is a different ball game compared to UPSC Prelims. In Civil Services Mains Examination one requires extensive study of select topics as compared to exhaustive study of diverse topics for prelims examination. For scoring well in general studies papers in civil services mains examination, one requires to be well prepared on topics likely to be asked in exam. I have listed down few topics which I think might be important from this years Mains point of view and preparing well on each of these topics would be very handy for Mains General Studies Paper :
  1. Climate Change - This topic is important in the backdrop of extreme weather events like the Uttarakhand Flash Floods. Climate Change and/or Global Warming is always in news and popular with IAS/UPSC Examination paper setters. One should basically have a good idea about climate change and factors leading to it plus the diversity of opinion where one section believes that it is all natural phenomena whereas the other school of thought believes that man-made activities have exacerbated the climate change process. Please refer a good article which appeared in The Hindu on extreme weather events ... Extreme Weather Events - The Hindu
  2. Violence Against Women - This is important as it has been in news throughout the year with  extensive media coverage and public discourse on safety of women. Women Empowerment is a staple topic for UPSC Essay and needs to be prepared well. Recently there has been a spurt in cases of crime against women and there is demand for stringent punishment for perpetrators of such crimes but the problem is not only of legislation but also of changing societal mindset where birth of a girl child is still not received well by family elders. Please refer a good article which appeared in The Hindu on Acid Attacks on Women ... Acid Attacks - The Hindu
  3. Supreme Court Verdicts on Reforming Indian Political Scene - The Supreme Court has come out with some landmark verdicts to reform the Indian Politics which has been going downhill and democratic process becoming a mockery. The judiciary has stepped in to curtail the political classes from giving away freebies in election without any thought, barring of jail-birds from contesting elections, banning caste based rallies etc. While the merit of these decisions is open to debate but common man feels certain amount of relief with Judiciary stepping in to stem the rot. Please refer a good article which appeared in The Hindu on Court Verdicts ... Of politicians and some verdicts - THe Hindu
I will cover some other important topics relevant for UPSC Civil Services Mains Examination with relevant sources of information to save time and effort of candidates appearing in this years examination.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

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Sunday, September 8, 2013

Magazine For IAS/UPSC Civil Services Exam Preparation : Civil Services Synopsis

A very common query of civil services examination aspirants is which magazine should be read for comprehensive preparation. The answer to this question is not easy as every individual is unique and what may work for one individual may not work for another. Also, since there is a wide range of choice available in terms of magazines aimed at civil services aspirants, it becomes a case of following the herd. I used to read CSR while in school and college, especially the interviews of IAS toppers and it used to be quite inspiring. While giving this exam, I subscribed to Competition Wizard and I found its special supplements quite useful from exam point of view. But still during all the preparation years I always felt the need of a magazine that could capture the most relevant editorials of The Hindu and news items from examination point of view. Also while reading a news item or editorial, sometimes one felt the need for background information on the subject, for example an editorial on Israel-Palestine Peace Process might not be understood in its full sense by a newcomer unless he or she is aware of the genesis of the conflict. Also, many a times one used to read the editorials and keep newspaper cuttings as well but they just gathered dust and could not be made use of in exam situation. To overcome all these handicaps in preparation of UPSC Civil Services Examination few like-minded friends with hands-on experience of mentoring IAS aspirants have joined hands to bring out a student friendly magazine that captures all the important news items and happenings across the world with background information wherever needed and present it in a form that is easier to read, retain and reproduce in exam  for getting maximum results under the name of Civil Services Synopsis. The first issue of this monthly magazine Civil Services Synopsis is now in stands and should be a good source of brushing up national and international current affairs for UPSC Civil services Examination. The entire UPSC preparation boils down to effective time management and this magazine should enable aspirants to use their time judiciously and get the maximum returns. For readers who would like to subscribe to the print or online version of this magazine please drop an email at 'cs.synopsis@gmail.com' and also share your feedback so that it can be made better with every subsequent issue.  

Monday, September 2, 2013

Essay Writing Tips For IAS / UPSC Civil Services Mains Examination

The UPSC Civil Services Mains Examination has an important paper on Essay writing for 250 marks from 2013 Main Exam onwards, earlier the paper was of 200 marks. The essay paper has a choice of at least 5-6 topics covering all the broad areas that a UPSC aspirant is expected to know.
The UPSC demands the following from the candidates in its essay paper:
  • Candidates are required to write an essay on a specific topic out of the choice of topics given
  • Candidates are expected to keep closely to the subject of the essay
  • Candidates are expected to arrange their ideas in orderly fashion
  • Candidates are expected to write concisely
  • Credit will be given for effective and exact expression

While the above mentioned guidelines given by UPSC may seem very innocuous, but understanding it and adhering to these guiding principles can easily fetch one a good score of 150+ in essay paper. 

Choice of Topic - First and foremost thing while writing an essay is to select the topic you are most comfortable with as otherwise you will invariably run out of ideas while writing your essay. The topic about which you know the most would be your best bet for getting a decent score.

Brainstorming - Once you have zeroed down on the topic, the next and most crucial step is to ideate, i.e., to brainstorm for at least a good 30-45 minutes and jot down all the ideas that come to your mind about the topic in question.

Orderly Arrangement of Ideas - Once one has jotted down all the points, one should arrange them in coherent, logical sequence. One should then think of an introduction and conclusion of the essay from the points jotted down.

Length of Essay - The length of the essay should be around 1000-1200 words and any essay much shorter or much longer would be a waste of time and effort. The heading of the essay should be written in a neat fashion and underlined. Also important statements within the body of the essay should also be underlined for the desired impact but underlining should not be overdone.

Sticking to the Essay Topic - One idea or point should ideally be covered in one paragraph and paragraphs should follow in a logical manner without much abruptness. A common pitfall while writing essay for UPSC Civil Services Mains Examination is that candidates tend to get carried away from the topic of the essay and this is counterproductive and goes against the UPSC guideline of keeping closely to the subject of the essay. Not keeping this important tenet in mind would lead you to digress from the topic of the essay and lessen your chances of getting a decent score.

Quoting Facts and Figures – One can and should quote statistics in the essay if it helps in emphasising one's point of view but there is no harm in not quoting any figures if one is not sure or does not remember any particular statistic. Avoid bluffing and making up any kind of statistic in the essay paper as it will be a big negative and can lead to very poor scores.

Effective and Exact Expression - While UPSC does not expect candidates to write an essay using flowery language but it does expect the candidates to write essay using simple but grammatically correct sentences. A good vocabulary helps the candidate to use the right expression and convey the exact meaning without writing too much. For this, a candidate should focus on improving one's vocabulary and rely on constructing simple sentences rather than using a difficult word out of context just for the sake of using it.

Practice is the Key - For getting a good score in essay paper, one should practice writing down points for at least 8-10 probable essay topics and 2-4 full length essays and get them evaluated from a subject expert. Few topics that can be prepared for essay writing are – Democracy and its Challenges, Women Empowerment and Violence Against Women, Climate Change and Disaster Management, Curbing Corruption in Public Life, Growing Role of Social Media in Forming public Opinion etc.

In case of any queries please post in the comments section of this blog http://upsc-prelims.blogspot.in

All the best !

Abhishek ( http://upsc-prelims.blogspot.in)