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According to the latest changes published in 2017 by UPSC,the candidates in the main examination will have to appear in essay and language papers (like earlier). And also in four papers of general studies (earlier two) and two papers of an optional subject (earlier four papers in two subjects ).This change has reduced the importance of optional subjects while the importance of general studies has increased.The aim of this is also to reduce the undue advantage that a candidate could have due to the so called highly scoring subjects being taken as optional papers.In the new scheme,the main examination and personality test will have a total of 2075 marks essay 200 marks;comprehension 100 marks;general studies 1000 marks;papers in optional subject marks 500 marks;and personality test 275 marks.The general studies,thus,has about 50% weighting and optional subject about 25%.

Scoring well in the general studies papers is now imperative to finally qualify and get a high rank in this examination.The syllabus of the four general studies papers indicates that the commission expects a civil services aspirant to be a widely-read person and studying by rote and memorizing facts as was the case with optional subjects to some extent will not be sufficient.

A broad reading of history,geography,culture,resources of India and world,administrative structure of the country,development policies,international relations,environment,ecology,biodiversity and latest technology is necessary for this examination.One should have empirical knowledge about the Indian system,economic activities,the life of people and the problems being faced in different parts of the country.However,the level of knowledge required in most of these areas is not that is expected from a specialist,but from a well-informed and educated person.One must develop an understanding of the social,cultural and economic fabric of India besides general knowledge about the world in terms of resource base of various areas.One should read the basic texts such as NCERT books for students up to class XII.More important than factual information would be understanding and the capability to inter-relate the knowledge.

One should be a regular reader of newspapers and magazines that deal with latest development in the field of technology and development planning.An aspirant to these services is expected to be aware of the problems being faced in different parts of the country and action being taken and that can possibly be taken to resolve these issues.One should develop an analytical aptitude.Reading or listening to views of people/experts on various issues and making an unbiased logical opinion is required to score well in general studies papers.This also helps one to develop skills at essay writing.As far as the optional papers are concerned,a broad reading of the subject selected is necessary to score well in the optional paper.

Although some candidates with degrees in sciences and engineering have always been appearing in civil services examinations,their number has shown a rising trend during the last few years.It is primarily a result of the churning that has taken place in the employment area due to changing world economic conditions.It is often said that candidates opting for science and engineering subjects score better and many of them qualify this examination.However whether it is only due to the scoring nature of their subjects or due to some other factors has been debatable.

Before the economic crisis of the last decade,private companies sometimes hired people from the candidates selected for civil services by offering them higher salaries.However,the economic slump in recent years has resulted in job losses especially in the industrial and manufacturing sector.The civil services with its security of service and good salaries and perks,besides the social prestige,emerged as the best option for candidates who feel they can qualify this examination.Hence,the number of such aspirants has been on a rise during the last few years.

For scoring well in general studies papers,one will have to be conversant with the history and culture of the country,geography of the country and the world,international economics and political relations,developments in the field of technology and the implications thereof in diverse fields ranging from agriculture and animal husbandry to industry.One should be aware of the environmental issues,environmental impact assessment,the concepts and means of attaining sustainable development and natural hazards.One is also expected to have understanding of ethics,which implicitly requires an understanding of social issues and legal implications.Most importantly,mere information about all these areas is not sufficient.One should have analytical skills and be able to take a position on controversial issues.More than academic reading,it needs a mature outlook.

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