The first and foremost thing to understand about UPSC current affairs is, ‘it is not as unpredictable as people say. And actually, a large portion of current affairs is NOT current.
The next important thing is that you don’t need 100% to pass the prelims. 120-140 is a reasonable target. So don’t try to be comprehensive, try to prioritize.
To begin with, let us understand the structure of UPSC Prelims.
There are two papers in the exam.
1] Paper 1 – General Studies. 200 marks, 100 questions.
2] Paper 2 – CSAT. (Aptitude test). 200 marks, 80 questions.
This is a snapshot from the 2020 UPSC prelims admit card
In these two papers, students are usually worried about GS. So in this discussion, we will try to clear up things about 1st paper, and reduce, if not remove, fear for current affairs.
Various subjects of GS are:
1] Indian History
A) Ancient Indian History
B) Medieval Indian History
c) Modern Indian History (till 1947)
2] Physical and Indian Geography.
3] Indian Polity
4] Indian Economy
6] Current Affairs & related topics.
The First 5 topics are largely static and should be done thoroughly. The accuracy in this part should be at least 95%, if not 100.
For current affairs, it is also not as dynamic as the general assumption. Rather, it is largely static, there are ways and materials to cover this static portion. and once you do that, things are quite easy.
Various components of Current Affairs include.
1] Polity related – new acts, bills, schemes, imp events etc.
2] Economy related –
3] International organizations – a lot of static background.
4] Regional organizations – a lot of static background.
5] Nuclear organizations and treaties – almost static.
6] Environment-related – lost of static background – Int. National organizations, treaties etc. Current developments of the same.
7] Reports and Rankings – a lot of static background.
8] S&T – almost static
9] ISRO – almost static
10] Nuclear Programme of India and basics of nuclear physics.
11] Defence sector
12] Nobel prizes
13] Cyber related
14] Other important events in the country.
15] 100/50/25/10th year of something. e.g. Rajya Sabha recently completed the 250th session.
So we suggest you acquire study material for all these ‘static current affairs’. Study it well, revise it, and things will be easier.
Here is an analysis of the Prelims paper of the last 9 years.
As the table suggests, the weightage of current affairs has increased recently. To add to it, a portion of S&T, Environment, Economy & Polity is also inspired by current affairs. So including everything, you can expect 40-50 questions from current affairs.
But as discussed above, a lot of these 40-50 questions have a static background. And many times although a question may be related to current affairs, it can be answered by taking help of the static part of the subject.
1] Do not neglect static parts of GS i.e. Polity, Economy, History, etc. This should not be compromised for current affairs.
2] Even a lot of current affairs is static. Give it a second priority, next only to the static subjects mentioned in the 1st point.
3] With points 1 & 2, you’ve actually covered around 75% of the questions. And you don’t need 100% to pass the prelims. The last priority should be to the dynamic current affairs. The part which anyway remains unpredictable. It will be foolish if you sacrifice static subjects or current affairs for this.