UPSC CSE Prelims 2021 analysis: Paper rated moderately difficult, sports questions surprise aspirants

This year, the GS paper was majorly set on the static syllabus and very few questions were asked from the current events.

Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) on Sunday conducted the preliminary exam for the civil services 2021 recruitment. The exam was held in two shifts with GS I conducted in the forenoon session and CSAT in the afternoon session. As per the experts’ and aspirants’ reviews, the paper was rated moderately difficult this year. 

This year, the GS paper was majorly set on the static syllabus and very few questions were asked from the current events. Despite the Covid-19, government schemes, farmers’ agitation being the hot topics, no questions were asked on these in the current affairs section. Here’s a detailed analysis of the UPSC civil services prelims paper conducted on October 10. 

Questions on sports surprise UPSC aspirants

Unlike in the past years, this time, three questions were asked on sports. While one question was based on the ICC Test championship, the other was based on the 32nd Summer Olympics and one on Laureus World Sports Award.

Sajal Singh, founder of Civilsdaily, said that in the past two decades no questions have ever been asked on games and sports. With this coming as a new addition to the syllabus, aspirants will have to read one additional topic for the exam henceforth. 

History dominates the question paper

History questions dominated the UPSC CSE prelims paper with maximum questions asked from this section. The questions were based on medieval history, modern history, as well as some questions, were asked on art and culture. This section was rated moderately difficult by aspirants. 

“Questions were tough as they were not from the standard sources and required both conceptual clarity and the application of intelligent guessing,” Sajal said.

General Science trouble candidates, tech questions go missing

Unlike the past few years, the prelims paper had no question on defence technology this time. Questions were largely based on general science which troubled the aspirants. Some unconventional questions on working of a pressure cooker, the difference between sodium and LED lamps were asked in the paper. The section was rated moderately difficult.

Arpit Kumar, a UPSC aspirant who appeared for the CSE for the second time, said that the science and technology section troubled him the most in the paper. “I had carefully studied the current affairs of the last two years and given the prevalent Covid-19 and Havana syndrome in news, I was expecting a few questions on a related topic. However, the kind of questions asked from this section was core science-based which needed a basic understanding of concepts,” Kumar said.

Environment continues to be a favourite topic

Ever since the preliminary exam of civil services and forest services were merged, the paper has witnessed a good number of questions asked on forests, environment, and climate. This year, 14-15 questions were asked from this section. 

From Climate-smart Agriculture to New York Declaration on Forests and forest development were some of the areas covered in the paper. A few questions were asked from Geography this year with physical and Indian geography topics dominating the section. 

Paramjit Kaur, a UPSC aspirant, said that the questions from Environment and Ecology are unpredictable. “This section is always troublesome as you cannot predict what would make a question. This year saw few questions on wildlife and more questions on climate. The pattern was opposite last year,” she said.

Polity and Economy saves the day

In the prelims exam held on Sunday, questions on polity and governance bought a sigh of relief for many aspirants. Most questions were from the class 11 and 12 NCERTs and based on the Indian constitution. Questions on Articles, legislature, judicial system were asked in the paper. 

Moreover, the questions on economics were based on a basic understanding with one question repeated from the previous year’s paper. Question on money multiplier with the same options was also asked in the 2019 prelims paper. Apart from this, the other questions were based on banking and working of the RBI. Overall the section was rated easy by the students. 

Sajal Singh said that considering the level of difficulty and questions asked this year, the cut-off might be higher than last year. “The number of seats has reduced this year. In 2020, it was 796 and this year it is 712. Therefore, the number of candidates who will qualify for mains will also decrease this year. This would mean a slightly higher cut-off this year approximately around 95,” Singh said.


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