UPSC Preparation: Every year, more or less 5 lakh students apply for the IAS preliminary examination and only around 15000 among them succeed. Those who succeed reach the second level of the examination. Therefore, when the successful candidates are asked about the best way to crack the prelims, there primary suggestion comes as studying the questions of previous years. Some of the topics are covered every year in the exam and studying thoroughly through the question papers of the previous years’, one would gain a fair idea about how to clear the prelim. This is not exactly a shortcut to clear the exam; rather, this is a smart approach that would help one to do better and enhance their chances of becoming an IAS officer.
Some topics are repeated in every year of the IAS examinations. Knowing about these topics would help the aspirants to do better in the preliminary examination of IAS. Therefore, here is a list of ten topics that are generally repeated in the exam. Having an in-depth knowledge of these topics would certainly help to increase the scores of the examinees. Cracking the preliminary examination of IAS should be the primary goal of any IAS aspirant as then only then will be able to proceed further in their dream of becoming IAS officers. Let us take a quick look at those 10 topics that are absolutely important to clear the prelims.
UPSC Preparation: Environmental conventions and agreements:
Environmental conventions and agreements have made an important place in the field of international politics and it also shows the constantly evolving dynamics of the position of India in the field. The questions that are asked from this field are generally from the famous conventions or protocols like, Kyoto Protocol, Ramsar convention, UNFCCC cop meeting and the main implications that these have on the politics of India.
Birdlife Internationals, 360 Degrees, WWF like conversational organization have now become a part of the preliminary question paper of the IAS examination. One should also have some knowledge on events like climate change or Paris summit or the international conference held on wetlands as these topics are also covered in the examination.
International groupings, treaties and conventions:
UPSC Preparation: This particular section has come to be important in the IAS prelims because of the role of India growing in the field of international politics. Questions are more likely to be formed involving the groupings that include India and other prominent Asian countries, such as, SCO, ASEAN, SAARC, BIMSTEC to name a few.
The questions from this section focus on the objective of these kinds of organizations, their decisions and the protocols that are signed by the members of these groups. There are certain institutional questions as well that are asked from global groupings including WTO, UNSC, World Bank etc.
Scientific achievements of India in Defense and Space:
Science and technology is a mandatory part of the IAS prelims examinations and the questions from this section turn out to be somewhat difficult. Questions from this section are mostly based on the country’s development in this sector. An aspirant should have knowledge on the achievements of DRDO, ISRO and Defense ministry as the main questions in this section are based on the Agni missiles, the new PSLV Satellites, Guided Missile system, Brahmos and so on.
An aspirant should make sure to follow the newspaper daily in order to score good marks in this section as the prelim question in the science and technology field are based on current events in most of the cases.
Newly passed acts by the Parliament, recommended reports and pending important bills:
Every year in the IAS prelim examinations questions are asked related to the provisions of popular acts, namely, the Land Acquisition bill, the GST bill or a pending bill related to women reservation and so on. In order to successfully face the questions in this section, one should follow the updates of the major bills of the parliament in the PRS website annual report.
The new social welfare scheme of the government:
UPSC Preparation: It is important to be aware of the new schemes of the government related to the welfare of the society for both the prelims and the main examination of IAS. Given the fact that government schemes have a huge impact on the everyday lives of people, they are extensively focused on in the IAS examination. For instance, questions related to Namami Ganga, Jan Dhan Yojana and Swatch Bharat Mission have already been asked in the prelims of IAS.
Every year, new programs and schemes are launched with the annual financial statement. An analysis of these schemes is conducted by economic survey. In order to study the government schemes, one should follow the economic survey as well as the budget.
Important monuments and cultural sites in India (UNESCO):
It is a well-known fact that India is a country of rich cultural heritage. Therefore, a lot of culturally significant issues are discussed in the current affairs and a number of monuments make their place successfully in the list of UNESCO heritage sites. This list can be found online easily. It is important for an IAS aspirant to read the entire list and remember as much as possible. One should focus on the major points of the mentioned sites like the Harappa, Ajanta Caves, Cholas temples, Himalayan institute, Ellora caves and so on.
Geographical indications, trademarks, IPRs, agricultural implications and patents:
UPSC Preparation: It is important for the IAS aspirants to have a thorough knowledge in the fields of genetically modified crops, biotechnology, details on GI and IPRs as separate questions might be asked specifically from these sections. The questions remain mostly fact based but one needs to have some in depth knowledge as well to ensure that one can answer if questions like how the new technology works and how it impacts the agricultural field are asked. For instance, questions related to neem coating was asked in the preliminary examination of the IAS in the year 2016.
Important conservation sites including both in-situ and ex-situ like wetlands and national parks:
The IAS aspirants should make sure to memorize all the primary conservation sites in association with their vegetation and wildlife. Every year, at least two to three questions are asked that are directly taken from the list. These questions are mostly factual in nature and can therefore be prepared before the examination and revised as well.
Also, it is important that an aspirant pays proper attention to the wetland sites and the reason for them being so important for the conservation of the environment. There are instances where questions have been asked related to the role of wetlands and mangroves in a particular region.
Freedom movement from the year 1930 to 1947:
Among all the topics mentioned in the article, this one is the most static. This part can be mastered quite easily by studying books like the Indian Freedom Struggle by Bipin Chandra and the NCERT books. Question from this section is based on movements like the Quit India movement, Non-cooperation movement and the personalities who were associated with these movements.
The examination also focuses on the constitutional advances during the struggle of freedom like the act of 1935, the Mountbatten plan, Wavell plan, Cabinet mission plan and so on.
Indian geographical mapping like mountains, rivers, passes and so on:
UPSC Preparation: This section requires academic knowledge that can be gained easily from the NCERT books along with the atlas. One should focus primarily on the main rivers and their tributaries while keeping an eye on the ones that influence the agriculture of a region.
Major trade routes passing through mountains and industrial hubs are also necessary to learn. An IAS aspirant should also give attention to the climatic pattern of the country that influences the economy.
This list of topics can prove to be extremely helpful if a student learns all of them meticulously. More than 50% of the topics dealt with in the IAS prelims are repeated and only the types of the questions differ. One should focus mainly on current affairs in all the segments, including culture and arts as questions are asked about the sites and monuments are that are doing rounds on the news.
Though the prelims question paper of the IAS happens to be quite unpredictable and surprising, if one has a fair idea of the questions that are being repeated every year, they would have a better chance at succeeding in the examination. It would give them more confidence and be prepared properly before sitting for them exam.
The bottom line is that when one is aspiring to be an IAS officer, they should be ready to study vigorously through every topic. Despite certain topics being repeated every year, one should be prepared for anything when they are sitting for the IAS prelims. It would only make them a better candidate and help them to secure a better rank and go to the next level of the exam and a step closer to their dream job.