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Preliminary Examination

The First Step towards Success

As we know, preliminary examination is the first step towards achieving the success in the Civil Services Examination and the State Public Service Commission Examinations. You can appear in the Mains examination after clearing the Preliminary examination only. Therefore, clearing the prelims exam is the basic condition to progress ahead in this prestigious examination.

As per my experience, this phase of the examination is the most unpredictable and difficult phase. It is extremely difficult to predict the pattern of examination in this phase, i.e., you cannot guess the number of questions from a particular section or topic of General Studies. You cannot guess the safe cut-off score. You cannot even assess, whether you will come around that cut-off or not. It is difficult, not because you cannot prepare, but because you have to face the maximum competition in this phase.

An interesting fact about the preliminary examination is that, though many toppers have cleared this stage by a minimum margin, i.e., secured just a few marks more than the cut-off, but in the final score, they secured good ranks. In this regard, you need to keep one thing in mind that, though your fate will play a considerable role in this examination as well as in all the examinations of your life, but taking this phase lightly can be detrimental to your prospects in it.

Do not take Risk in this Phase

In this phase, about eight to nine lakhs aspirants apply per year; about four to five lakhs aspirants appear in the examination; while only a few thousands aspirants (generally 12-13 times against the total vacancy) get selected for appearing in the Mains exam. Therefore, carelessness in this stage can prove to be harmful for you. Hence, the better and the safer option is that, you should make such a strategy for the preparations of the Prelims examination, so that you may clear this phase with a comfortable margin.

Preliminary Examination : Scheme and Syllabus

We know that the Preliminary examination is an objective type exam. It is conducted in two shifts on a single day. These is a provision of 1/3 negative marking in this phase.

The General Studies consisting of 100 questions of 200 marks, is the first question paper; and the C-SAT, consisting of 80 questions of 200 marks is the second paper. After the year 2015, the marks obtained in the second paper, are not included for the merit of the prelims exam. Second paper is a qualifying paper. The syllabus of the prelims exam is as follows:

General Studies: Paper-I

1. Current events of national and international importance.

2. History of India and Indian National movement.

3. Indian and World Geography: the physical/ social and economic geography of India and the world.

4. Indian polity and governance, constitution, political system, Panchayati Raj, public policy, Right issues etc.

5. Economic and social development, Sustainable development, poverty,    inclusion, demographics and social sector initiatives etc.

6. General issues on environmental ecology, biodiversity and climate change (that do not require subject specialization).

7. General science.

General Studies: Paper-II (C-SAT)

l. Comprehensions

2. Inter-personal skills, including communication skills.

3. Logical Reasoning and Analytical ability.

  1. Decision making and problem solving.
  2. General mental ability.

6. Basic numeracy (numbers and its relation order of magnitude etc.-class 10th level), Date interpretation (charts, graphs, tables, date sufficiency etc.-class 10th level).

  1. Dimensions of the Overall Preparations for Preliminary Examination

How to Prepare for General Studies - Paper-Il

( C-SAT)

The General Studies Paper-Il is popularly known as C-SAT (Civil Services Aptitude Test). Though, it has become just a qualifying paper, but you can clear the prelims exam only after scoring the passing marks in this paper.

In fact, this paper is a test of the aptitude of an aspirant, in which the various skills and qualities of an aspirant are tested. It also tests the applicant's comprehension ability, communication skill, logical ability, analytical ability, mental ability and statistical aptitude etc. In order to clear this test, you need to have a fundamental clarity in the mathematics, statistics, reasoning and comprehension.

In the examination, many questions are asked from the comprehension. In order to solve these questions correctly, you must have the ability to read and comprehend quickly and give the apt answers. Hence at the preparation level, you should do the maximum reading, and improve the speed of your reading and comprehending. Besides, you need not be afraid of the Mathematics and the Reasoning sections, because only the basic level questions are asked in the examination.

For the preparations of the General Studies Paper-Il, you should devote the major portion of your preparation in practice. Do not take this paper lightly. Rather, you should increase your capability level, so that you can score the cutoff marks with a fair margin.

Practice will Make Your Path Easier

You should give the utmost importance to the practice to improve the reading speed in both the papers of General studies, as it increases not only your reading and writing speed but also your alertness. It also helps in minimizing the negative marking. Therefore, do practice, after doing your basic preparations.

While doing this, practise the papers of previous years (especially the papers of last five years). These papers can be quite helpful to you, as going through these papers, you can get an idea of the examination trend, and thus, can boost up your confidence.

Besides this, you can participate in a test series, or practise it at home with the help of the objective - type paper, available online or in the market. There is no other substitute for the practice; therefore, keep practising. After solving a paper, find their correct answers; and include these answers in your preparation materials, so that you can revise these answers, while studying the materials. In this way, you can cover important aspects of the exam.

How to Tackle the Negative Marking?

It is important to handle the negative marking in the prelims exam; and it can be done only through the practice. You should never think that you have to solve all the questions being asked in the paper, as it is practically not possible to know the correct answers of all the questions in the paper.

I advise you that, in the first round, try to solve those questions, which you are confident about. You should keep in mind that there may be many questions in the paper which you will not feel confident about; or in some questions, there will be a situation of 50-50. The most effective way of solving such questions is the 'Elimination Method', i.e., cross the options which are definitely incorrect. If after doing so two options are still remaining, then you can take the risk of ticking one option as correct.

Some aspirants are so scared of the negative marking, that they attempt very less questions. This is not a wise choice. Therefore, try to attempt reasonably good number of questions.

There is no thumb rule for the number of questions to be attempted in the prelims exam. It depends upon the level of that question paper and your preparation and knowledge. In short, handling of the negative marking in the examination is an art, which can be perfected through a continuous practice of solving the test papers.

Just before the Preliminary Examination

We have already discussed the importance of qualifying the preliminary examination. Let us discuss the ways to handle the tough tie just before the examination and to succeed in it:

In the Examination Hall

comprehending that word or sentence and writing the correct answer.

Any Question?