How UPSC asks current affairs in GS Prelims?


Current Affairs (CA) is an important segment in the prelims exam. Nevertheless, UPSC has it’s own distinct way of asking questions from current affairs.

Combining current affairs with conventional knowledge

UPSC do not ask direct current affairs. It expects a student to combine current affairs with conventional knowledge. This is evident from the questions asked in last four years. This may be for two reasons –

1. UPSC wants to kill the extra advantage that those with coaching have. You might have seen various coaching centers coming up with their weekly current affairs, daily current affairs, monthly current affairs, important issues for prelims in last one year etc. It’s very easy to mug up few such booklets. But this is not what UPSC wants.

2. UPSC wants to check the ability of correlation a candidate has – to correlate current happenings with conventional knowledge. This is what I have always said and reiterating it again – correlating whatever you read in current affairs to conventional book knowledge and vice versa is the essence of UPSC preparation strategy.

Self Study IAS held its first mock test on 15th May. We tried to ask current affairs questions the UPSC way – that it linking it with conventional background knowledge. Here we are giving few examples from the mock test series to illustrate the process. This will help the candidates to better understand the nuances and prepare current affairs accordingly.

First the question from test 1 of GS Prelims Mock Test Series 2015 is given and then it’s explained how it was linked to current affairs. Links from newspapers (mainly The Hindu) is also given to point out exactly when and why the given thing was in news.

Landslides occur when a large mass of soil or rock falls suddenly. Landslides may be caused by
1. rain water
2. rivers
3. earthquakes
4. slope steeping by man
Select the correct answer using the codes given below.
a) 1, 2 and 3 only
b) 1 ,3 and 4 only
c) 2 ,3 and 4 only
d) 1 ,2, 3 and 4 only

Landslides was frequently occurring in last few months. You must have read this in newspapers.

Second generation ethanol are those produced from
1. starch
2. cellulose fibre
3. sugar
Select the correct answer using the codes given below.
a) 1 and 2 only
b) 2 only
c) 2 and 3 only
d) 1, 2 and 3

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-newdelhi/the-green-road-ahead/article5252977.ece

Punjab looks for $1 billion for ethanol production (January 2015)

Deltas of eastern India are shrinking due to
1. huge amount of sediments being deposited.
2. groundwater mining.
3. construction of large dams.
Select the correct answer using the codes given below.
a) 1 and 2 only
b) 1 and 3 only
c) 2 and 3 only
d) 1, 2 and 3
c) 2 and 3 only

Indian deltas are sinking  (April 2014)

There has been a steady decline in the number of olive ridley turtles. This has been due to
1. artificial illumination near beaches.
2. widespread use of diclofenac
3. loss of nesting habitat
Select the correct answer using the codes given below.
a) 1 and 2 only
b) 1 and 3 only
c) 2 and 3 only
d) 1, 2 and 3

High tides destroying Olive Ridley turtles’ nests (April 2015)

Which of the following office have been mentioned in the constitution?
1. Leader of Lok sabha
2. Opposition leader of Lok sabha
3. Office of whip
Select the correct answer using the codes given below.
a) 1 only
b) 2 only
c) 3 only
d) None

New House cannot have Opposition leader (May 2014)

Which of the following is/are example of vegetative propagation?
1. sucker removal
2. tissue culture
3. stem cutting
4. grafting
Select the correct answer using the codes given below.
a) 1, 2 and 3 only
b) 1 ,3 and 4 only
c) 2 ,3 and 4 only
d) 1 ,2, 3 and 4 only

Blossoms of creativity  (Sept 2014)

Participatory Notes (PNs) are issued by
a) RBI
b) SEBI
c) FII
d) None

Participatory notes holders may be taxed: Shome  (April 2014)

Consider the following statements about Indian Depository Receipts (IDRs):
1. They allow foreign investors to invest in Indian companies.
2. They are denominated in Indian Rupees
Which of the statements given above is/are correct ?
a) 1 only
b) 2 only
c) Both 1 and 2
d) Neither 1 nor 2

http://indianexpress.com/article/business/business-others/finmin-panel-proposes-bharat-depository-receipts-with-simple-tax-structure/   (June 2014)

With reference to white label ATMs,  consider the following statements :
1. They do not bear the logo of banks they serve.
2. They help in financial inclusion.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct ?
a) 1 only
b) 2 only
c) Both 1 and 2
d) Neither 1 nor 2

RBI eases rules for white label ATMs   (December 2014)

Which of the followings is/are a part of unorganized money market?
1. Chit funds
2. Call money market
3. Money lenders
Select the correct answer using the codes given below.
a) 1 and 2 only
b) 1 and 3 only
c) 2 and 3 only
d) 1, 2 and 3

Chit funds have been in news since quite some time. E.g Sardha scam

Article 74 and 75 deals with the council of ministers. They mention which of the following?
1. Size of CoMs
2. Rank and classification of CoMs
3. Salary and allowances of CoMs
Select the correct answer using the codes given below.
a) 1 only
b) 1 and 2 only
c) 3 only
d) None

Ministers in Modi cabinet – minimum government, maximum governance; expansion of CoMs – all were in news throughout 2014

Earthworms helps in improving the soil health by
1. stimulating microbial activity
2. mixing up the soil
3. decreasing infiltration
Select the correct answer using the codes given below.
a) 1 and 2 only
b) 1 and 3 only
c) 2 and 3 only
d) 1, 2 and 3

Farmer’s friend   (October 2014)

Moderator is used in which of the following type of nuclear reactor?
1. Pressurized water reactor
2. Fast breeder reactor
3. Bioling water reactor
4. Heavy water reactor
Select the correct answer using the codes given below.
a) 1, 2 and 3 only
b) 1 ,3 and 4 only
c) 2 ,3 and 4 only
d) 1 ,2, and 4 only

Nuclear plant near Chennai all set for milestone    (June 2014)

With reference to agricultural pricing the term `issue price’ is defined as the price at which
a) PDS shop sells food grains to people
b) FCI sells its food grains
c) Government procures from farmers
d) None

This was asked because reforms in FCI has been in news since last few months –
http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/markets/commodities/a-10point-roadmap-for-fci-reform/article6130553.ece

With reference to ` special category state’ status, consider the following statements:
1. It enables a state to receive special assistance from centre.
2. It is a constitutional status.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
a) 1 only
b) 2 only
c) Both 1 and 2
d) Neither 1 nor 2

Assam urges Centre to continue with its ‘special category State’

Sometime back, there was talks of giving Bihar a special category state status.

So, this is what you need to do – integrate your conventional and current affairs preparation. Don’t get fooled by those current affairs booklet of coaching institutes. They will just overburden you with facts, which will hardly be of any use. Unfortunately there is no shortcut. You need to work hard, you need to work regularly.

In the next post of Prelims MCQs we will take up these questions and provide the answers with explanations. The answers and explanation to some of the above questions is given here – Prelims MCQs Quiz 31 : Current Affairs/

Self Study IAS’s GS Prelims Mock Test Series 2015 ( 10 full length mock tests @ RS 500 only). For details, click HERE.

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