UPSC Civil Services Prelims 2024: A Subtle Shift in the Pattern

In the highly anticipated UPSC Civil Services Preliminary Examination of 2023, a tide of transformation swept through the aspirations of budding civil servants. Let us plunge into the very core of these alterations as we navigate the intricacies that unravel before us.

On the 28th of May in the year 2023, the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) conducted the UPSC Civil Services Examination (CSE). This examination consisted of two distinct papers, Paper 1 and Paper 2, which unfolded in two separate shifts. The morning session saw the commencement of the General Studies paper, commencing at 9:30 a.m. and concluding at 11:30 a.m. In the afternoon, from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., the Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT) was conducted.

Initial feedback from experts affiliated with IAS coaching centers unveiled a transformation in this year's examination. Many hopeful and resolute candidates found themselves taken aback by the heightened level of complexity during the Prelims, deeming it to be more formidable than their initial expectations.


 The format of UPSC CSE GS question paper, structurally akin to preceding years, featured a roster of 100 Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs). Each question carried a value of 2 marks, accompanied by a penalty of -0.66 for any erroneous response. Yet, the marked shift lay in the art of question framing itself, presenting a fresh intellectual challenge for the aspirants.

In the past, UPSC would ask, "Which of the following sentences are correct?" Now, the approach is subtly different, posing questions like, "How many of the following sentences are correct?" This shift may appear minor, but it took many candidates by surprise within the exam hall, emphasizing the importance of adaptability and critical thinking.

This alteration sheds light on the dependence on coaching institutes for spoon-feeding and the need for candidates to adjust to evolving trends.

Paper-II (CSAT):

For the qualifying paper, the CSAT, aspirants with creative and logical thinking were poised for success. The CSAT question paper primarily focused on comprehension and reasoning. Understanding the essence of the Comprehension section proved time-consuming, but not insurmountable.

Deconstructing the GS Question Paper:

In the realm of Constitution-related questions, most items directly adhered to the textbooks, requiring minimal analytical depth. Only 1-2 questions demanded a deeper level of insight.

Economics posed a few initial challenges, but applying common sense and logical reasoning made them relatively comprehensible‚ÄĒfor example, one question centred on Infrastructure Investment Trusts (InvITs) and their tax exemptions. Candidates could tackle it with a dose of practical thinking.

Geography and environment questions drew from both textbooks and current events, introducing a slight shift in the question pattern. Notably, instead of asking which options were correct, multiple-choice questions required candidates to determine the correct options. A touch of common sense guided some general questions.

The Role of Coaching:

Amidst the winds of transformation that sweep across the realm of UPSC CSE Prelims, it becomes glaringly apparent that the role played by coaching institutions warrants a profound re-evaluation. While some entities found themselves ill-prepared to cope with the ever-evolving nature of the examination, the journey was decidedly more arduous for individuals who embarked upon the path of preparation sans professional guidance.

In the realm of competitive examinations, triumph often gravitates towards those who avail themselves of structured coaching and sagacious counsel. Admittedly, there may exist the occasional exception; however, autodidacts, those who navigate the preparatory phase sans coaching, undoubtedly constitute a numerical minority. Notwithstanding, the attainment of success sans the scaffold of coaching remains within the bounds of possibility.

The quest for triumph in UPSC CSE Prelims 2024 without the crutch of coaching hinges upon the efficient exploitation of online resources. These resources encompass a wealth of gratis study materials and erudite counsel proffered by platforms such as UPSC Network. It is through the acquisition of the right materials, scholarly provisions, and judicious guidance that one can experience a substantial augmentation of their intellectual repository.

Central to this undertaking is conscientious engagement in periodic self-assessment, facilitated through mock examinations and practice papers. These evaluative assessments artfully mirror the authentic examination milieu, affording candidates a dual benefit - the aptitude to efficiently manage their time and the illumination of areas warranting enhancement.

The Shifting Topography:

The challenging terrain of UPSC CSE appears to be following an ever-ascending trajectory. The examination continues to undergo metamorphosis, a testament to this year's question paper which underscored the examination's ever-changing nature.

The content and form of questions underwent changes. Memorization and techniques alone were insufficient for this year's UPSC paper. The elimination method was less effective, and the General Studies question paper was notably lengthy.

Candidates with a strong grasp of current affairs had an advantage in Paper 1. This year's paper reinforced that UPSC can pose questions from any section, with fewer questions on modern history compared to previous years.


In the UPSC Civil Services Prelims Exam 2023 question paper, we witnessed a subtle change in the way questions are framed. Success in UPSC prelims 2024 now hinges on fundamental understanding, up-to-date knowledge, and the ability to apply logical reasoning and common sense. Adaptation and evolution are the keys to triumph in this ever-changing landscape.