What Not To Study For UPSC Prelims Exam

For every IAS/UPSC aspirant the most critical decision is to decide what to study , what to memorise and what can be simply left.

General Studies has no beginning and no end ,but it does have a core area which must be covered and a fringe area which can be covered depending on the time and inclination of the individual.

Core area in GS would include - Current Affairs, Polity, Modern Indian History (since 1857),Geography(essentially map based ,locations are frequently asked) General Mental Ability.These are essentially areas from where questions are most likely to feature in prelims and hence should be first priority.

Fringe areas that should be covered (but in comparatively less time) are General Knowledge, General science(especially biology part), Ancient and medieval history(selective), Economics(very rarely questions are asked,focus on current issues) etc.These areas will figure in exam but the number of questions that would be asked are highly variable.So aspirants should be careful as to how much time they allot to fringe areas and it should be in no case more than the time alloted for core areas.

To illustrate my point, this year (2008 UPSC Prelims) contained lot of questions that are essentially General Knowledge.Now many people might be tempted to go through voluminous books to know everything and will end up remembering nothing .GK cannot be built overnight, it takes time. So those who are not comfortable with GK should not try to mug up each and everything. Rather a more realistic approach would be to target those areas of GK from where questions are most likely. For example knowing inventors of major inventions like plane,submarine,TV etc can be more fruitful than trying to mug up everything not remembering anything when it matters.

I would take the example of History to make my point clear about knowing what not to study. History for non-history background students is tough nut to crack but little bit of smart work can make history a strong area in prelims. I read only class-8 and class-9 NCERT text books for History in my first attempt and was able to answer almost all the history questions while many friends who relied solely on coaching notes were not able to do so. If you are running short of time and don’t have much idea about history then reading the class8-9 history would be much more fruitful than wading through a Bipin Chandra history book.

I would be taking all sections of GS in separate posts and suggesting suitable reading material as well as sharing my way of preparing those areas. And a little bit of information that may be handy for Prelims 2009 in each section. This is to help and guide you in your preparation and should not be the whole of your preparation.


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