GS Paper 1 was a mix of regular stuff alongwith few surprise questions (hallmark of UPSC). Here is my take on this years papers. I won’t go into the nitty gritties of what should have been written for each question, rather, it would be more a bird’s eye view of the paper. The article is divided section wise with number of questions mentioned in the bracket.
Art & Culture (1)
Those who skipped this portion altogehter must be thanking their stars !
There was just 1 question from this highly unpredictable portion. The question on Gupta Numismatic Art was difficult and only few points could have been written if someone has read NCERT diligently.
Medieval India (1)
The question on fragmented polity was easy and NCERT was sufficient to answer this question.
Freedom Struggle (4)
- The question on Moderates and their strategies has been asked repeatedly by UPSC in the past. It was an easy question and NCERT / Bipan Chandra was sufficient.
- Decline of traditional artisan industry is straightaway lifted from NCERT. It’s a no-brainer.
- New objectives since 20th century can be easily answered from NCERT.
- Women’s question in social reform movement is an age old question that UPSC has been asking for last 50+ years.
World History (1)
The question on decolonization of Malay Peninsula is quite an offbeat question and therefore it would have been hard to recollect the exact points in the exam hall.
Post Independence India (1)
Religiousness and communalism question falls into the traditional categories of question. A general reading of Bipan Chandra’s book is sufficient.
- The question on JUNO Mission is current affairs based and made major headlines few months back.
- Adverse effect of coal mining is a regular question and is usually discussed in newspapers / Down To Earth.
- Pulses question is a question for which you can frame answers on the spot in the exam hall without having much prior knowledge.
- With all the hype around Climate Change, the question on Cryosphere is a cakewalk.
- Oceanic Salinity is what everyone studies during initial days of preparation. If you fail to answer this question then there is a high probability that those books are gathering dust in your study room.
- Petroleum refinery stuff can be found on Mrunal’s website.
- The flood question was interesting and requires good application of mind. This year we had unprecedented floods in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Bihar and Assam and there were many news articles that covered this issue.
- Characteristic of monsoon is taken from NCERT.
Social Issues (4)
- Whether regions form cultural units than states is an interesting one and therefore of medium difficulty.
- The spirit of tolerance is what Mrunal calls a bol bacchan question. You can utilise all the wisdom that you have gained in your life so far to answer this.
- Major legal initiatives for STs is a GS 2 paper question. Those who have read Lakshmikant can answer this question instantly.
- The growth of cities as I.T hubs is a new question and innovation can be shown while answering this.
Out of 20 questions, 5 questions can be called uncoventional and were of moderate to high difficulty level. Rest other 15 questions were quite traditional (easy to moderate) and anyone who has read the standard textbooks multiple times can easily answer these questions.
For those writing mains exam in 2018 or later, here are few tips I would like to share:
- There is no substitute for NCERTs, G.C.Leong, Bipan Chandra. Read them multiple times till they register in your memory. Unless you have practiced writing similar questions, even the simple traditional questions will be difficult to answer in the exam hall.
- Keep a tab on geography related events in newspapers especially pay special attention to climate change, disaster related events.
- Spending too much time on Art & Culture is counter productive. Just go through NCERTs and at max 1 other source. There is no point devoting hundreds of hours for 1-2 questions.
- Never leave a topic considering it to be less important. If the topic is covered in NCERT then it is important. Period.