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How to Score Well in ESE - General Studies and Engineering Aptitude (Paper I)

Chithrakala Babu

When it comes to ESE preparation, students give far less attention to Paper-I compared to the subject papers. It is a mistake that you should not commit if you are hoping for a good rank in the ESE. Lot of students who get high score in the technical paper fail to pass the prelims due to the low score in the Paper I. Scoring a minimum of 100 out of 200 marks somewhat guarantees your prelims success. Simply spending time for General Studies is not enough; make sure you utilize the time effectively so that you can score well in Paper I.

According to UPSC, Paper I covers the subjects that every engineering/science graduate is expected to know without any special preparation. Most of the topics prescribes in this paper are covered in your engineering curriculum. Here is the detailed syllabus for your reference.

Paper I - General Studies and Engineering Aptitude (Preliminary Examination/Stage‐I, Objective Type, Common to all Candidates)

1. Current Issues of  national and international importance: Social, Economic and Industrial Development.

2.  Engineering Aptitude covering Logical  Reasoning and Analytical Ability.

3. Engineering Mathematics and Numerical Analysis.

4.  General Principles of Design, Drawing, Importance of Safety

5.  Standards and Quality practices in production, construction, maintenance and services.

6.  Basics of Energy and Environment: Conservation, Environmental Pollution  and Degradation, Climate Change, Environmental Impact Assessment.

7.  Basics of Project Management.

8.  Basics of Material Science and Engineering.

9. Information and  Communication Technologies  (ICT) based tools and their applications in Engineering such as networking, e‐governance and technology-based education.

10. Ethics and values in the Engineering profession.  

Understand the syllabus

We always stress the importance of understanding the syllabus of any competitive exam you are going to write. This is the first and the most essential step of your exam preparation. If you master the syllabus, you can make a flawless study plan that is worth your time and effort. You must download the ESE syllabus from the official website and keep it handy so that you can refer to it whenever you need. As per the official notification, the mark distribution for each topic in the General Studies & Engineering Aptitude can range from 5% to 15%.

Categorize the syllabus

Categorize the syllabus into some convenient categories to efficiently utilize your time and effort. For instance, you can divide the topics into semi-technical and non-technical categories. The first category has a fixed syllabus, and you can easily find the study materials or resources for them. Engineering Aptitude, Mathematics, Project Management, Design, Material Science etc., belong to this category. You need to develop an analytical approach to score well for this category. This requires more practice. Regularly solving tests can bring you good marks for these topics.

The second category is dynamic in nature, which means their contents keep on changing. Current Affairs, ICT, Energy & Environment, Ethics, Quality & Standards etc. belong to this category. You need to observe the new trends in the field of engineering and IT and keep yourself updated about the day to day happenings. You might need to number a lot of facts and figures for this category. So, try to develop some memorization techniques for better retention of the information.

Read 13 Effective Memorization Techniques for GATE/ ESE Candidates.

Make a study plan and strategy

Remember that your General Studies paper is just as important as the subject paper. It is essential that you allot a reasonable amount of time for the preparation of GS. Make sure you spend at least 2 hours for GS every day.  You have to carefully plan out what you are going to study in that 2 hours. Either you can study two subjects per day or you can study just one. But ultimately, make sure you spend equal amount of time for each subject.

After categorizing the topics as above, you will get a clearer picture of how to approach Paper I topics. For the semi-technical topics, you need to have a conceptual understanding and analytical skills. For the non-technical subjects, you need to learn and remember some facts and figures. So, work on your memorization skills.
Check out 5 Common (but Serious) Mistakes Made by Students While Preparing for ESE/IES before you make your study plan.

Find the Study Materials

It is always better to follow just one study material for General Studies rather than buying different materials for different topics. For example, browse a little before fixing any material for your GS preparation. Listen to previous year candidates to know their feedback about the study material provided by your preferred institute. It is unnecessary to buy more study materials if the institute-provided ones are good enough.

Do not choose a course or study material just because your best friend joined the same course. Your learning style and preferences matter while you select a course or a study material. Get the maximum information from the institute about the study materials and make sure it is suitable to you.

Spend Adequate Time

This means that you need to spend just enough time on Paper I, not too much. Students who lack a proper preparation strategy spend more than enough time for General studies preparation. They read newspapers, magazines and all kinds of materials and take notes from them. Strategically, this is not an effective way for Paper I. Once you thoroughly understand the syllabus and previous year trends, you will be able to allot time accordingly.

Utilize Online Resources

For dynamic subjects like Current Affairs and ICT, you may need to read Newspapers or magazines on a daily basis. This is beneficial only if you start your preparation at least 8-9 months before the exam date or if you have a habit of doing it. It is not a good idea to spend so much time reading newspapers and making notes if you start your preparation late. It wouldn’t help you. You can find some reliable online resources to keep yourself updated about current affairs and other General knowledge. GK Today is one such website you can use.

Practise Tests

Practising online tests and solving previous year questions will give you an edge for the Paper I exam. In order to get an idea of what to be expected in this exam, it is always advisable to practise tests. Take an online test series and ensure regular practise. Include weekly and monthly slots for tests in your study plan.

Solving the previous years’ questions helps you understand the trends and pattern followed in the General Studies. You will also get an idea about the thrust areas in each topic. In Current Affairs, students must have an understanding of new initiatives and schemes related to education, health, agriculture, skill development, minority upliftment etc.

Maintain a broad-brush approach when in comes to Current Affairs. For instance, in the context of Covid-19, students may expect some kind of questions related to that. But the key is to look at the broader aspect here – which is health sector. You must look at the the healthcare system of our country as a whole rather than learning about Covid-19 virus specifically.

You will be able to understand these nuances if you work out the previous questions and practice online tests regularly.

Revise Regularly

Whatever you learn for your Paper I, you need to revise them on a regular basis. In the weekend, revise all the major points you have learned in that week. If you systematically study and revise, it will be easier for you to recollect the information during the exam.

ACE Engineering Academy provides exam-focused study materials for General Studies and Engineering paper and they are developed by the most experienced faculty at ACE. On Deep Learn, you can find exclusive courses for Paper I.  Finding the best material is just the first part. If you are serious about ESE, you need to utilize these resources to the fullest. Keep these points in mind when you prepare for the Paper I subjects. Happy learning!

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