IES GS & Aptitude paper strategy

Inflation and its Measurement
July 16, 2017
Energy – Generation and Distribution
July 24, 2017


2. New pattern

3. Effect of GS paper at different stages

    3.1 To qualify for the mains exam

    3.2 To qualify for the interview

    3.3 Making into final list

4. Topics in GS paper

5. Division of subjects

    5.1 What is the basis for this categorisation

    5.2 What are advantages of this categorisation?

    5.3 Is it possible to secure around 150 marks in the GS paper?

6. Understanding each topic

    6.1 Dynamic subjects

    6.2 Static subjects

    6.3 Maths and aptitude

7. FAQs

1. Introduction

With the introduction of new general studies and aptitude paper in the prelims stage, cracking Engineering Service Exam has become bit tricky. Engineers may not have good understanding of general studies and current happenings in the society, because of academic curriculum design. In this article we try to understand the importance of GS paper in prelims exam after the changed IES exam pattern.

2. New pattern

In the previous pattern, there were three objective and two descriptive thus total five papers before the interview stage. And all these five exam papers were conducted simultaneously in one go. Whereas in the revised exam pattern, there are two stages. First stage is preliminary and only the candidates who cleared this stage will be allowed to appear for the mains exam.

Main changes:

  • Preliminary stage is included in the new pattern
  • To proceed to the next stage, candidate should clear the prelims stage
  • Two technical objective papers were merged into one which will be conducted along with GS in the prelims stage.

Here the preliminary cut off marks are based on the combined marks obtained in both the papers together.

3. Effect of GS paper at different stages

3.1 To qualify for the mains exam

Candidate should manage to score well, not only in technical paper but also in the GS paper. Let’s assume that last year cutoff was at 260 marks. If the candidate is comfortable in technical paper, then she/he can easily cross the cut off marks even with less score in the GS paper. But if score in the technical is average, then people with good GS marks will definitely get an excellent chance to clear.

3.2 To qualify for the interview

After written exam, total marks will be considered, including preliminary stage for the interview. Scoring in the objective is always much more easier than scoring in the descriptive exam. So higher scores in the GS paper would definitely helps the candidate.

3.3 Making into final list

UPSC generally call the candidates in the 2.5:1 ratio to the number of vacancies.

As shown in the diagram, assuming that interview score is average, a good GS score is vital to enter into final list if the candidate is at the border. And it is also important to get the desired post when you enter in the final list.

4. Topics in GS paper

Below are the ten topics mentioned in the notification.

It is specifically emphasised that the marks distribution from each topic is from 5% to 15%. That means all the topics are having equal weightage and everything should be treated with equal importance

Below table shows segregation of marks for the 2017 paper.

From the diagrams it is evident that minimum and maximum marks asked are in-between the limits as mentioned in the notification.

Below is the segregation of questions for the paper-1, set-A,2017. There may be some overlapping questions between different topics but most of them are correctly placed

5. Division of subjects

By employing smarter ways to tackle each topic, time and efforts can be reduced to a great extent. Syllabus can be broadly divided into three sections to reduce complexity on our brains

  • Static subjects
    • Drawing, design and safety
    • Quality practice in production and maintenance
    • Project management
    • Material science
    • Engineering ethics and values
  • Dynamic subjects
    • Current happenings on social, economic and industrial issues
    • Energy & Environment
    • Information and Communication Technologies
  • Mathematics and reasoning
    • Engineering aptitude and reasoning
    • Engineering maths and numerical analysis

5.1 What is the basis for this categorisation

  • Topics under static subjects don’t vary much from year to year and material for these subjects also same every time.
  • But whereas the topics under dynamic section mainly depends on the current happenings. So, these topics changes from one year to another year and one should have continuous data accumulation. This section has
    • Basic theory and concepts which is a static portion again
    • Current affairs which accumulates every day
  • Aptitude, reasoning and engineering mathematics related topics are placed under the section mathematics and reasoning

5.2 What are advantages of this categorisation?

Preparation prioritisation

  • Preparation can be started with the static portion under both categories, i.e static subjects and static portion under dynamic subjects
  • Either periodic or daily preparation of the current affairs can be done based on one’s preference
  • If one is comfortable with the maths portion, then it’s preparation can be done to end.  Continuous practice, parallel with other topics, would be better if the candidate is not so comfortable with the maths portion.

Balancing each topic

Many times people spend more time on current affairs neglecting other topics. But we need to remember that marks distribution is within the mentioned limit of 5-15%. For the sake of more understanding, last year’s marks distribution according to the categories are plotted as below.

Static subjects with five topics are having around 45% share, dynamic subjects with three topics are having 30% share and remaining from the maths & aptitude. So each subject is equally important and one should spend quality time on individual topic.

5.3 Is it possible to secure around 150 marks in the GS paper?

Yes. It is very much possible. From the analysis of last year paper, maths and aptitude portions were very simple and questions were even below the GATE level.

Dynamic subjects questions were also easy to crack, if the candidate had studied exam oriented and focused materials. But in case of static portion, people got confused, because the topics were new and unknown.

Let’s consider possible scores(in percentage ) in each section

  • In maths and aptitude it is possible to score up to 20% (even though they form only 24% of total questions because of the easy level)
  • In the Dynamic section, take upto 20%(owing to lack of exam oriented materials for the students, even though this portion have  30% of total questions)
  • In the static subjects, even if one is able to score only 30%, that will be a decent score

Thus total percentage = 20%+20%+30%=70% of 200 marks=140 marks

The above calculation is based on average assumptions. For sure, with more efforts, it is very easy to break this score.

6. Understanding each topic

6.1 Dynamic subjects

1.Current affairs of national and international importance

There are three subtopics under this topic – social, economic and industrial related issues.

Different issues under each subtopics are as below


  • Basic theory includes education, health, inclusive development, poverty alleviation, disadvantaged classes (minorities, dalits, women, disabled, transgenders etc.), reservation policies, different government acts and schemes related to above, important reports etc. 
  • Under current happenings section, all recent news related to above mentioned issues shall be covered.

Economic development

  • Basic theory briefly covers budget and economic survey, taxation, economic growth, fiscal and monetary policies, different economic sectors (agriculture, industrial and service), banking sector, trade, globalisation and liberalization, international economic treaties and groups
  • Current news related to above issues come under dynamic portion

Industrial development

  • Basic theory covers different industries like manufacturing, services, agro processing, labour related issues, employment generation, policies and acts and finally the process of technological transition with evolution of industries
  • All current issues related to above topics

2. Energy & Environment


Basic theory covers below topics

Different types of energy generation are

  • Conventional way of energy productions
    • Thermal power plants, hydropower, biogas etc
  • Unconventional energy generation through
    • Solar power, tidal power, wind power etc..
  • Non renewable energy sources
    • Based on fossil fuels which depletes once used
  • Renewable energy sources
    • Which is not depleted when used
    • Eg: solar energy, wind energy, tidal power etc..
  • Renewable fuels for energy generation and government policy to encourage their usage


Recent issues in news from the above topics come under correct happenings


  • Basic theory covers  concepts(environment, ecology, biodiversity) environmental pollution and degradation(air, water, noise, solid waste,e-waste etc.), climate change(global warming, effects, treaties), conservation(sustainable development, environment education, global efforts, national efforts, local efforts), environmental impact assessment etc.
  • Recent news related to all above topics

3. Information and Communication Technologies

Can be dealt as given below


Different technologies related to mobiles, internet, communications and new developments etc. 


Different topics under this section are both global and national developments in

  • Communication
    • Telecommunications
    • Internet of things 
    • Social media
  • e-governance
    • Implementation and advantages
    • Government schemes
    • Different case studies

ICT’s impact in different fields in India

ICT in other countries

  • Different case studies
  • How India can gain from those experiences

6.2 Static subjects

4. Material science

Below topics will be covered

Introduction to atoms and different chemical bonds, crystallography, electronic materials, magnetic, mechanical and optical properties of materials, ferrous, ceramics, polymers, composites

5. Design, drawing and safety


Basis design criteria in mechanical, electrical and electronics systems will be covered under this. If we analyze last year paper, concepts like stresses and resistance variation with temperature were asked.


Basics of engineering drawing will be covered


Industrial safety protocols, standard safety procedures in different types of industries, constructions etc will be covered

6. Quality practice in production and maintenance

Different concepts like total quality control, ISO, six sigma etc will be covered

7.Project management

Concepts like project life cycle,formulation,project planning and scheduling, project organisation,appraisal,monitoring and control,project evaluation and control etc, will be covered

8. Ethics and values in engineering profession

This will be dealt in two parts


Concepts like values and morals, laws, code of conduct, ethical dilemma, probity in profession

Engineering professional ethics

Personal ethics vs professional ethics, corporate ethics, regulations, decision making, quality and standards, professional competencies, public relations etc. will be covered

6.3 Maths and aptitude

Basic concepts with practice questions is enough to score good marks in this section.


7. FAQs

How to spend time on different topics?

It is better to spend daily 2-3 hrs on GS paper. In the first reading, try to complete all static (including those in dynamics subjects)and maths portion. Read current affairs periodically, like every week end, and revise then again at the end of every month. Periodic revision of static subjects also important.

How to filter useful current affairs from the very vast materials available?

Syllabus for the static subjects and maths portion is relatively known and constant. So this is a one time exercise to collect good material. But in case of dynamic subjects, basic theory is same everywhere but only confusion arises with current happenings. Instead of reading all redundant material, concentrate on the topics those are mentioned in the syllabus. In our website, we try to provide precise and exam oriented current affairs by avoiding unnecessary data.






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  2. shnaya says:

    what was the cutoff for only GS paper for all categories in IES 2017?

    • IES GS says:

      Cutoff is determined for both papers together, ie out of 500. But one should score minimum 15% in each papers to qualify.

  3. pulkit says:

    If payment is done b4 october, can’t i get all 300 lectures b4hand, three months duration is only from oct- dec. ?

  4. Shubham yadav says:

    Sir,study material will also be provided along with videos?

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