Good News! IAS Kracker has a new home on the web http://iaskracker.com

Thursday, November 25, 2010

IAS Kracker has a new home!

New Home AnnouncementImage by redstamp.com via FlickrThis was a difficult choice to make for sure. Whether to continue IAS Kracker on the free Blogger platform or host it on an independent domain. What made me finally switch was the fact that the Blogger blog had become very cluttered. As as result I was constantly changing themes which must have caused some inconvenience to you, the blog user.

I've wanted to add many features for a long time like related posts, recent comments, and more which would have enhanced your experience manifold but I couldn't have done this on Blogger without adding to the clutter.

So I decided to shift IAS Kracker to its new home at http://iaskracker.com .  And the initial results are promising. It has a much improved look, far less clutter and I am constantly adding more civil services related resources so you can get an edge in your IAS preparation. Over the next few days and week I will add many new features like useful links to other civil services related sites, good articles on the new IAS syllabus, sample question papers, free study material to download, useful books for IAS and many more.

But most importantly I hope IAS Kracker will develop into a community where we all can share our views, queries, articles on the IAS exam to our mutual benefit. I suggest you subscribe to the IAS Kracker Email updates so that you continue to receive all the latest civil services exam updates as and when they are posted.

And/or you can also subscribe to the IAS Kracker Feed to receive real time updates from the blog. But most importantly, thank you for all your wonderful comments, feedback, and suggestions till now and I hope you stay with IAS Kracker as it continues its journey towards the IAS goal.

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Monday, November 22, 2010

GS Paper 2 of IAS Mains 2010 followed the pattern but Stats was confusing

As you would have realized from my post on the GS Mains 2010 Paper1 analysis how unpredictable the first paper was and how much it had deviated from the usual pattern. But GS Paper 2 of the 2010 Mains followed the usual pattern except for Statistics which I thought was more confusing than difficult and also the Science part was a mixed bag. Unlike Paper 1 where questions from different sections like History and Geography were clubbed together the General Studies Paper 2 contained questions from the same section under one major question.


But even the second GS paper contained its fair amount of surprises. 


Questions were comparative:
If you look at the first question concerning the race for energy resources it asked to compare India's performance vis-a-vis China. The question on Myanmar, Bangladesh, and India regarding the maritime boundary dispute was also comparative in nature. Also, question no. 3.a asked to compare and contrast the World Bank's role with that of the IMF.
So merely factual knowledge is insufficient from now on. You will need to take into account the regional aspects as well as well as develop a comparative understanding of the issue at hand.

Statistics was confusing:
I've noticed this thing about the Stats questions of the GS papers. One year they are quite simple and straightforward and the next year they are quite tough. The trend continues in the 2010 Mains exam. A question on trend values about the murders in an year (9.b) was asked. Now candidates who couldn't understand what trend values are would find the question quite difficult to answer. Similarly, question 10.a on Airlines was also confusing albeit, easy. It merely asked to find the percentage of flights that arrived on time for each city and asked to comment on the trend. But if candidates didn't get this then again 5 valuable marks would be hard to score.


Questions on little known issues were asked:
Usually civil services candidates prepare the major international issues in news but what should one do when  obscure incidents are asked? This was just the case in the IAS mains 2010 paper. Indian peacekeeping role as part of MONUSCO was asked. Now how many IAS candidates expected this question? Also do you know which are the PIGS countries in Europe? Usually coaching classes like Vajiram's, ALS et al provide information on the structure and functioning of International institutions like ICC but they don't cover isuues concerning these institutions. So a question on the Kamapala declaration of the International Criminal Court had many stumped. Another question on the trial chamber of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) (6.d) was on a even more obscure topic. So how do you prepare for such questions?

Science questions were a mixed bag:
Last year's science section of the GS paper resulted in the cut-off falling by more than 50 marks as on an average people couldn't attempt 80 marks of the General Studies Paper 2. This year UPSC has shown some mercy on us but not before extracting its pound of flesh. So there was this perplexing question on computer models used for studying climate change which not many knew. Also many were ignorant of what Phytoremediation meant (5.b). But overall the Science questions were ok.

Now let us come to the all-important question of Cut Off for the IAS Mains 2010:
Last year GS Paper 1 was quite normal but Paper 2 was sizzling tough and so the cut-off fell to 895 (General). This year Paper 2 and 1 were on an even keel difficulty wise and optional papers do not impact the  civil services cut-off that much. So I feel that this year the cut-off should be between 900 and 910 marks. Give or take 5 marks.

Your views?



This post has shifted to my new IAS Exam Blog

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Analysis of General Studies Mains 2010 Paper 1

If there were any doubts remaining about conventional questions or format in the 2010 General Studies paper of IAS mains exam, now is the time to discard them. One good look at the GS paper of 2010 mains and you will realize just how unpredictable the Civil Services exam has become. In fact I struggled to find some common threads in the GS paper! After a lot of analysis this is what I made out of the General Studies paper.


Analysis of GS Mains 2010 Paper I


Long answers, less marks:

  • That’s right. The 250 word questions carried just 20 marks instead of the usual 30, and the 150 word questions came for just 12 marks instead of 15. So this means candidates had to rely on the 5 mark questions to score decently.
  • Implications of this:Now the GS Mains paper has become more balanced. Previously candidates would score heavily in the 30 and 20 mark questions and could take the 2-markers lightly, which were usually a lottery ticket. But from last year the 2-markers have been reduced considerably, UPSC has also reduced the marks for 250 and 150 word answers as mentioned above, and introduced 5-mark questions. So now candidates will have to prepare for all types of questions equally well and cannot rely solely on the big ones to score well in the General Studies paper.

Topic marks gone for a toss:
  • One of the primary reasons why coaching classes like Vajirams predicted the IAS Mains paper so well previously is that various topics were assigned fixed marks by UPSC. For instance, History came for 90 marks, Polity 90, Geography 30, and so on. So it was easy to students to cover the syllabus strategically. But again UPSC has shown that it is two steps ahead of the coaching institutes. Now it might not only vary the marks for different topics drastically but may even omit a section completely! This year History came for just 16 marks, whereas Geography for 42 marks, Polity for 48 marks, Indian Economy for 56 marks, Current Affairs for 62 marks, Environment for 39, Personalities for 16, Arts and Culture for 26, and an unexpected question on Decision Making for 5 marks. Of course you can’t add up these marks as they include all the questions and some questions do not fit into any clear category.
  • Implications: Now no section can be taken lightly. Previously we used to only give Geography a passing glance as it came for not more than 30 marks but now it may even come for 50 marks, no one can say. Also History related questions have been drastically reduced for the past 2 years in a row and this year just one 150 word answer was asked! Current affairs related questions are on the rise, so are environment related ones. So prepare all topics well and leave nothing to chance.
Mix of different topics in one major question:
  • Earlier questions from the same topics were clubbed together so selecting questions to attempt was easy. But in IAS Mains 2010 questions from different topics were clubbed together. So one had to possess knowledge of all topics in order to attempt the required number of questions. For instance, the question No. 2 on Dalhousie and annexations (History) was combined with question on Constitutional amendment bill (polity), and another question on Indian agriculture. What a mix!
Questions were far more analytical:
  • The reason why candidates earlier used to score 350 plus in the civil services GS paper was because questions were largely factual and so answers could be easily memorized. Not any longer. In the 2010 General Studies paper not only questions were unpredictable but were very analytical where one had to think logically to answer them correctly. A question on Bus accident was asked (8.e) to test the decision making ability. Candidates should expect similar questions in the 2011 UPSC prelims as well. Similarly question 1.a and 1.b were very analytical pertaining to river water disputes and poverty figure estimates.
  • Implications: Civil services aspirants now cannot solely rely on coaching classes notes of Vajirams and other fancied IAS coaching institutes but will need to prepare their own notes, think independently, take balanced view of the issue to be able to answer such analytical GS questions with confidence. Candidates preparing for the 2011 IAS Prelims should go through the syllabus thoroughly and refer the right IAS books, magazines, and newspapers along with coaching notes, where needed to score well in the 2011 Prelims as well as mains.
This is all for now. I will shortly analyze the IAS GS Paper 2 as well and post it on this blog of course! Meanwhile I’d love to read you comments and feedback on this post as well as the GS Mains 2010. So start commenting Smile


Update: I've managed to analyze the GS Mains 2010 Paper 2 on my New Blog for Civil Services!

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    Sunday, November 14, 2010

    Civil Services IAS Exam 2011 schedule announced by UPSC

    As the IAS prelims pattern has been changed from 2011 onwards, UPSC will be issuing the notification for Civil Services Preliminary Examination 2011 on 19th February 2011 and the civil services prelims will be held on 12th June 2011, while the civil services mains examination will commence from 29th October 2011.


    How should you approach 2011 prelims:


    As there will be no more optional subjects in the Pre, you will have to gain a sufficient degree of mastery over the changed GS pattern to score well in the 2011 prelims. But there's a dilemma involved here. As the IAS 2011 Prelims will be held a full one month later than usual you will get only 4.5 months to prepare for the IAS mains than the usual 5.5 months. 

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    Thursday, October 28, 2010

    New IAS Prelims Syllabus for 2011 CSAT

    After months of anticipation the syllabus for the changed Prelims from 2011 IAS Exams also called the CSAT 2011 is finally out. Following is the draft of the page on UPSC where the syllabus is available.

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    Thursday, September 16, 2010

    Did you receive the mains form in time?

    Long time no post as usual so I thought I should finally update. Well, results were out on 19th (right?) of August but the mains form didn't reach my address even after the last date (9th September). Luckily UPSC has allowed downloading the form from their site and submitting it in the usual way. Of course, another option was to just go to Dholpur House and get the IAS mains 2010 form from their itself, fill it and submit it. All in a day's work.

    So more than 15,000 fortunate candidates will be appearing for the mains in October. BTW the timetable has been posted on the UPSC site. Given that vacancies are in excess of 950 there's a good chance of making it but of course the competition will be as tough as in any year. I just hope UPSC spares us the GS main paper and it's not a horror like the 2009 IAS mains when most candidates couldn't attempt 100 marks on average. Keep your fingers crossed.

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