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IAS Exam Trends - 2017
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Analysis: UPSC Civil Services Prelims 2017

The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) conducted the Civil Services preliminary examination(IAS Prelims) on June 18th at various test centres across the nation. UPSC Prelims are the first stage in a brutally competitive and elite Civil Services IAS Exam conducted by UPSC.

The IAS Prelims exam consisted of two papers (Paper I & Paper II) of two hours duration each. For the past few years, there has been a focus on Current Affairs. In this year’s question paper, the number of factual questions was less and more importance was given to conceptual and applied questions. Irrespective of a candidates IAS preparation, The questions did not only test the candidate’s ability to retain information across various dimensions, they also tested their common sense and understanding.

As always, the IAS prelims paper had its share of surprises. The students who were most surprised were the ones who were expecting that the paper will be along the same lines as last year. The UPSC Civil Services (IAS Prelims) 2017 paper may have seemed easy at first because there were many easy questions scattered here and there but it was not so. The options were close and some very specific questions were asked. There were a few tricky questions which combined factual knowledge with conceptual thinking and they were the most difficult to solve

Not so surprisingly, some of the sections which used to be the bread and butter of UPSC (Civil services exam) have lost favour with the IAS examination board and these sections were given a cold shoulder as in the past few years.

A Brief Look at All Sections

History, Art & Culture

This section was geared towards the usual IAS exam pattern. There were six questions from Modern History and six from Ancient History, Art and Culture.

The History portion (both ancient and modern) was largely factual and less conceptual. In comparison to modern history, the ancient portion was less difficult in general since as it was mostly factual. The Arts & Culture section which has always been very diverse, was covered to a large extent.

Also, UPSC has a penchant for picking anything from anywhere in art and culture and that makes this section very difficult for IAS Preparation.


A total of twenty questions were asked from Polity. This section was an easy scoring section because most of the questions were direct.

Some of the questions which were conceptual were not difficult if one understands the basics of polity well and if their exam preparation is thorough.


In Geography, around 70 per cent of the questions revolve around maps. Hence, it was moderately easy for candidates cognisant with the world and India map.

However, some of the questions are tricky and can fool aspirants if their exam preparation had not been fully thought out. A miniscule number of questions in this section are from predictable and traditional geography topics like monsoon and irrigation agriculture. Very little of physical geography was asked this time.


The questions on economy were mostly factual and related to current affairs. In all, there were around 7 to 8 questions from Economy.

The weightage has not changed since last year. Economics questions were not easy. Unlike previous years’ civil service exam questions, this year’s questions were not just conceptual but factual too. As expected, UPSC asked current affairs with respect to 2012-2016 economics.

Science and Technology

There were only four questions from General Science and they were application based.

The questions from Technology were mostly current affairs based and overlapped with Environment and Biodiversity. Overall this section has lost its favour with UPSC and we believe that there is no need to prepare for General Science separately anymore.


The focus on the Environment was seen in the paper as fifteen questions were asked in this category.

Most of the questions revolved around current affairs especially those which have potential public health and environmental impact. Environmental news is going to be a vital information source for aspirants.

Current Affairs

Government schemes, laws and policies have become a section in themselves. There were at least fourteen questions in the paper.

In comparison with last year’s paper in which Current Affairs dominated the whole paper, this paper was more balanced. With this focus on government schemes, the Press Information Bureau (PIB) becomes an important source for IAS Preparation. The question on National Nutrition Mission was lifted straight from a press release of the PIB.

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