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How was your UPSC Prelims 2019? by Bhavesh Mishra

How was your UPSC Prelims 2019? by Bhavesh Mishra

How was your UPSC Prelims 2019

Even though I am no longer an aspirant, still, I follow CSE papers keenly.

I would analyse the CSE 2019 Prelim Question paper keeping following conditions in mind:

  1. You have been preparing for the exam for last 1 year and have been devoting 5–6 hours on weekdays and 8–10 hours on weekends.
  2. You have been reading news paper intensively and have a habit of not just merely reading the paper but also going one step further with the analysis part.
  3. You are thorough with books like Lakshmikanth, Ancient & Medieval History, NCERT Geography, Basic Maps etc.

I am sharing a Google Sheet CSE 2019 – Question Paper Analysis where I have given rating for all 100 questions based on their difficulty level 1–2–3 (SET C has been taken as reference)

Based on my analysis, I came up with the following numbers:

Difficulty Laval analysis by Bhavesh Mishra

Some Other Images by Rohit Dagar

  1. Level 1 (Easy): ~40 Questions. If you fulfil the 3 conditions of an ideal aspirant mentioned above, then you should not have difficulty in answering these questions in one go.
  2. Level 2 (Moderate/Doubtful): ~40 Questions. These questions can be answered only if you have good conceptual clarity and have studied the topic in depth. Some of these would also require intelligent guessing.
  3. Level 3 (Tough / Out of Syllabus / Vague): I would recommend not attempting these questions at all.

So if I were to attempt this exam I would expect my marks to be on the following lines (total attempt of ~80 questions)

  1. Level 1: 34–35 correct, 5–6 wrong: 66 Marks
  2. Level 2: 26–28 correct, 12–14 wrong: 44–48 Marks
  3. Level 3: 0 correct.

Total : 66 + 44 – 48 = 110 – 114 marks.

I have deliberately treaded a cautious path and have assumed high percentage of incorrect attempt (which might be not be the case if you are prepared well).

Key Observations

  1. High percentage of Current Affairs questions. But if you have read The Hindu / Indian Express carefully then you could answer them very well.
  2. History was tough. It was the surprise element. Many questions from Medieval History and vague questions from Modern India as well.
  3. Ignore Science & Tech at your own peril. But most of the questions were picked up from topics that we regularly come across in the newspapers.
  4. Environment & Geography follow the same old pattern. Knowledge of important acts, convention etc. in case of environment and full command over rivers, glaciers, map in case of Geography is very essential. You can not get away with superfluous knowledge.

Was the paper tough?

Not really. In cricket parlance:

CSE 2019 paper was like a cricket pitch where 270–280 would be considered a healthy and competitive score. However, having a strategy of scoring 320+ would be disastrous.

CSE 2019 was a balanced paper. UPSC has the habit of testing nerves by setting 10–15 very tough and vague questions. Falling for these questions in the beginning and wasting time over them would ruin your exam.

What should be the strategy?

As the last 2 years exams have shown, it’s a good strategy to attempt in the range of 80- 85 questions and try aiming for getting 60+ correct giving you a cushion of 20–25 questions for intelligent guessing and smart elimination.

  • Analyse previous year question paper religiously. You have a question bank of 700 questions (2013 – 19). You will keep finding same type of questions being repeated every year (Buddhism, Lakes, Rivers, National Park, Ecology etc.)
  • HIPEG: Books on History, Polity, Economy and Geography should be read, revised and re-revised. There can’t be any scope for error here. If you fumble or get confused answering basic questions about zamindari system or amendment to the constitution then you must reconsider starting your preparation altogether again.
  • Having half-baked knowledge is dangerous: As far as Prelim exam is concerned, you must try to get over the habit of acquiring superficial knowledge for a topic. Having incomplete knowledge is the root cause for missing the cutoff despite having put in good amount of effort.
  • Standard Textbooks > Newspapers > Internet > Coaching Material. Please follow this order during your preparation. Don’t start with coaching material first for you will curse yourself for not studying Ancient, Medieval India or The Hindu after the exam


No analysis is unbiased and my analysis is no exception. I am very poor at remembering things, therefore, memory based questions in Geography Section have been put in Level – 3 difficulty. Similarly, being comfortable with Economics has led to more Level – 1 questions in the Economy Section.

To read more about CSE preparation refer: 71 to 51: My new book by Bhavesh Mishra on 71 to 51: My book for complete preparation strategy

Source : Quora

UPSCPDF.com does not own this book, neither created nor scanned. we just providing the links already available on Internet. if any way it violates the law or has any issues then kindly contact us. Thank you.


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