Changing Trends in the UPSC Exam

“Progress is impossible without change.” – George Bernard Shaw

There has been a paradigm shift in the UPSC civil services exam in recent years reflecting both the pattern and the nature of questions asked. In the past, the questions used to be more direct and consisted more number of factual ones. There were current affairs questions too. In recent years, the focus of the UPSC has shifted entirely. Read on for more.

Changing Trend of Questions in IAS Exam

Shift in focus

The UPSC has displayed a shift in focus from ‘what’ to ‘why’. Instead of asking direct questions, it is asking indirect and analytical questions. Direct questions required the candidate to write in a straightforward manner. But the analytical questions are not so easy. You not only have to know the fact, you also have to go behind the scenes. You must understand the ‘why’ aspect of it also.

These days, there is no clear distinction between static and dynamic questions. They can mix both and surprise you.

Why the change?

The reason behind the change in the questions is that the UPSC wants to recruit ‘thinking’ people into service. It does not want only people who can cram things and perform well in exams. It wants officers who can analyse and think and make tough decisions in trying times. That is why, the UPSC civil services exam, today is a test of many things, knowledge being only one of them. It tests analytical ability, decision-making skills, logical thinking and pressure-handling abilities of a candidate.

The idea is to recruit a ‘thinking human’ instead of a ‘one-dimensional machine’.

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What is required from you?

A change in the nature of the questions would mean that a change in the exam preparation strategy is required to tackle it effectively. The traditional methods of learning are no longer enough. You must do the following if you want to clear the UPSC exam:

  • Open your eyes and ears. Learn from all the directions. If you are watching news, absorb and filter information and opinion from it.
  • Try to read between the lines when you read the newspapers and journals.
  • Inculcate common sense in yourself more than bookish knowledge.
  • Give more importance to current affairs affecting the country. Focus on topics like social development, economics, international relations, polity and latest government schemes and policies, etc.
  • Understand how to write answers. For this, you have to give mock tests and get them evaluated by experts.
  • Have a multi-dimensional approach. This is true especially for topics like environment and ecology where you have to read material encompassing biology, geography and chemistry.
  • Avoid cramming. Understand and study all the topics.


Also Read | How to Study More in Less Time for Your IAS Exam

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