Concept Application and Fact Strategy

Hello IAS aspirants.

As you all know the CSE Prelims 2019 is on 2nd June and most of you started preparing for the same intensively. The CSE prelims exam is one of the toughest exams in India and UPSC has been called as Unexpected Civil Service Commission by many of the aspirants because of the way it sets the prelims question paper.

Most of you by now practicing the various institutions prelims test series. And many veterans who are preparing from last 2 to 5 years are not able to clear the prelims due to many reasons even though they are preparing very hard and attempting many test series. The reasons are specific to individuals and can be generalised for all the aspirants. StudyVillae here generalised these reasons and providing the solution for the mistakes that you might commit in the prelim exam.

Here we have conceptualised the new strategy/approach for prelims and providing the same in our Revision Plan for Prelims. The program is titled as Concept Application and Facts (CAF) for Prelims. The objective of this program is to enable the aspirants to clear the prelims exam.

The title itself reveals the what the program offers to the aspirants. As the name of title suggests, in this program, we are providing a strategy by analysing the past year question papers. The detailed strategy fulfils the need of the UPSC prelims. We breakdown the various aspects of the prelims where the aspirants commit mistakes and grouped them into three dimensions viz. Concept, Application and Facts.

We also suggesting a methodology for each of these dimensions on how to overcome committing the mistakes. In the subsequent discussion we will explain these each of the dimensions taking the Prelims 2016, 2017 and 2018 questions.

Concept (C)

Understanding a concept clearly and completely and you can be able to understand the same concepts easily and without much effort when there are multiple choices which try to be of the similar meaning but not. Sometimes the concept related to a theory might be twisted, but if you have conceptual clarity then you can easily find the right answer.

If you misunderstood the concepts, ideas theories etc then you will not be able to find out the exact answer and will end up making the mistakes.


Q. In India, Judicial Review implies (2017)

  1. the power of the Judiciary to pronounce upon the constitutionality of laws and executive orders.
  2. the power of the Judiciary to question the wisdom of the laws enacted by the Legislatures.
  3. the power of the Judiciary to review all the legislative enactments before they are assented to by the President.
  4. the power of the Judiciary to review its own judgements given earlier in similar or different cases

The above question is based on the concept of judicial review. Its simple if you understood the article 13, 32 and 226. It is the authority of the court to pronounce continuality of any law or executive order.

Q. Out of the following statements, choose the one that brings out the principle underlying the Cabinet form of Government: (2017)

  1. An arrangement for minimizing the criticism against the Government whose responsibilities are complex and hard to carry out to the satisfaction of all.
  2. A mechanism for speeding up the activities of the Government whose responsibilities are increasing day by day.
  3. A mechanism of parliamentary democracy for ensuring collective responsibility of the Government to the people.
  4. A device for strengthening the hands of the head of the Government whose hold over the people is in a state of decline.

The question is based on the concept of cabinet form of government. If you know the features of cabinet form of government, it is easy to answer.

Q. Which of the following are regarded as the main features of the “Rule of Law”? (2018)

  1. Limitation of powers
  2. Equality before law
  3. People’s responsibility to the Government
  4. Liberty and civil rights

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

  1. 1 and 3 only
  2. 2 and 4 only
  3. 1, 2 and 4 only
  4. 1, 2, 3 and 4

The above question is purely conceptual, and it is bout Rule of Law. If you would have understood this concept well enough then for sure you will tick option (c) as your answer. The answer to the question can be found in Indian Polity by Laxmikanth. The excerpt from Laxmikanth shown below.

(i) Absence of arbitrary power, that is, no man can be punished except for a breach of law. (option 1)

(ii) Equality before the law, that is, equal subjection of all citizens (rich or poor, high or low, official or non-official) to the ordinary law of the land administered by the ordinary law courts. (option 2)

Option -3 cannot be explained by the concept of rule of law and hence is wrong.

The primacy of the rights of the individual, that is, the constitution is the result of the rights of the individual as defined and enforced by the courts of law rather than the constitution being the source of the individual rights. (option-4).

Q. Which one of the following statements correctly describes the meaning of legal tender money? (2018)

  1. The money which is tendered in courts of law to defray the fee of legal cases
  2. The money which a creditor is under compulsion to accept in settlement of his claims
  3. The bank money in the form of cheques, drafts, bills of exchange, etc.
  4. The metallic money in circulation in a country

The question is about legal tender money. This is well explained in NCERT 12th standard Macroeconomics. The right answer is option (b).

Currency notes and coins are therefore called fiat money. They do not have intrinsic value like a gold or silver coin. They are also called legal tenders as they cannot be refused by any citizen of the country for settlement of any kind of transaction. (twisted option)

Application (A)

This is by far the toughest dimension. It requires the application or analytical part of the concept (C) and the Fact (F). If you are not well in the concepts, then there for sure you will commit mistake in application part. So, the application or knowledge comes from the clear understanding of the concepts. In addition, it also requires aspirants to think multi-dimensionally.


Q. With reference to the circumstances in Indian agriculture, the concept of “Conservation Agriculture” assumes significance. Which of the following fall under the Conservation Agriculture?

  1. Avoiding the monoculture practices
  2. Adopting minimum tillage
  3. Avoiding the cultivation of plantation crops
  4. Using crop residues to cover soil surface
  5. Adopting spatial and temporal crop sequencing/crop rotations.

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

  1. 1, 3 and 4
  2. 2, 3, 4 and 5
  3. 2, 4 and 5
  4. 1, 2, 3 and 5

To answer this question, you should have thorough knowledge about conservation agriculture, the problems faced by Indian agriculture and about different cropping systems and agriculture practices.

Q. Which of the following is/are the possible consequence/s of heavy sand mining in riverbeds?

  1. Decreased salinity in the river
  2. Pollution of groundwater
  3. Lowering of the water-table

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 and 3 only
  3. 1 and 3 only
  4. 1, 2 and 3

This is also not the direct and conceptual oriented, its more of analytical and application related question. To answer this, you should have clear conceptual clarity. You cannot just assume something to answer the question, if that is the case then your answer will be 100% chance of going to be wrong.

Q. With reference to the governance of public sector banking in India, consider the following statements (2018)

  1. Capital infusion into public sector banks by the Government of India has steadily increased in the last decade.
  2. To put the public sector banks in order, the merger of associate banks with the parent State Bank of India has been affected.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

In the above question the optiona-1 is a general statement. This statement cannot be found in any of the books. First to answer this question you should have an idea what the capital infusion is all about. Then apply your analytical ability and skills to answer this question.

The newspapers report about capital infusion in PSBs. Capital infusion is in news often. So in news they report like this

The government is likely to infuse Rs 28,615 crore into seven public sector banks (PSBs) through recapitalisation bonds by the end of this month, sources said on Thursday.

The government had earlier announced an infusion of Rs 65,000 crore in PSBs in 2018-19.

So from above news report one can conclude that capital infusion is not steadily increased but it is fluctuating. This can also be answered if one came across this graph in newspapers.

Capital infusion to PSBs

Q. There has been a persistent deficit budget year after year. Which action/actions of the following can be taken by the Government to reduce the deficit? (2016)

  1. Reducing revenue expenditure
  2. Introducing new welfare schemes
  3. Rationalizing subsidies
  4. Reducing import duty

Select the correct answer using the code given below.

(a) 1 only         (b) 2 and 3 only           (c) 1 and 3 only           (d) 1, 2, 3 and 4

Few economics questions are simple and direct, and few are highly analytical as one above. Just by having knowledge about budget deficit you cannot answer this question, you should also know about what measures causes budget deficit and what decreases budget deficit.

Fact (F)

The third dimension is fact. It is neither difficult nor easy. A fact is a fact, which requires you to remember it, or you must do wild guess which should be correct based on your analytical skills. History is full of facts (F) and application (A) of facts


Q. In the federation established by The Government on India Act of 1935. Residuary Power were given to the (2018)

  1. Federal Legislature
  2. Governor General
  3. Provincial Legislature
  4. Provincial Governors

The answer to the above question is option (b). since it is a factual question, you don’t have any other option but to remember it by repeated revisions.

Q. Which one of the following statements does not apply to the system of Subsidiary Alliance introduced by Lord Wellesley? (2018)

  1. To maintain a large standing army at other’s expense
  2. To keep India safe from Napoleonic danger
  3. To secure a fixed income for the Company
  4. To establish British paramountcy over the Indian States

In the above question the factual and its application part have been asked. So, the aspirant should analyse the options and should identify the wrong option. If you know the rights ones you can eliminate the wrong option. Here the answer is option (c).


Now we will look into the methodology or approaches for how to study each of the dimensions. As we all know repeated revision is the key to clear the prelims. Even though doing repeated revisions we are failing in prelims. Why? The reason lies in the following discussion.

I) How to avoid committing mistakes in Conceptual part?

Conceptual part is mainly the theory or idea or some abstract concept. The understanding of this part is very important and vital. If you don’t understand this part thoroughly, then there are chances that you might commit mistakes.

In order to have strong hold on this part, we should do the following

  • In the very first attempt (class or while self-studying) we should understand concepts thoroughly.
  • If we are unable to do that in first attempt, then we should take the help of YouTube channels which has many videos on wide range of topics.
  • Discussing with fellow aspirants.
  • Last and the most important is repeated revision.
  • Attempt as many questions as possible and revise the toughest questions.

II) How to avoid committing mistakes in Analytical part?

In order to have strength in this area one should have additional skills other than what have been mentioned in the previous conceptual discussion. To have good command over this area you should try to link the current affairs to the static portion of the syllabus. The strategy to over come mistakes is to – Attempt questions and if you do mistakes in analysis or application part then

  • Think and ponder upon the subject for a while and can discuss with fellow aspirants having good command over the concept.
  • Go through the strategy mentioned in step (I).
  • Attempt many such questions.
  • Try to link the concepts with current affairs. Inculcate good observation skills.
  • Analyse and interpret in multiple angles.
  • Attempt as many questions as possible and revise the toughest questions.

III) How to avoid committing mistakes in Factual part?

  • This part is fact/data/statistic oriented, so you should memorize the things. For this can use various tricks and cheat codes.
  • The repeated revision also helps to remember vital facts.
  • Innovating tricks, shortcuts, etc can be helpful for some of the important Facts.
  • Attempt as many questions as possible and revise the toughest questions.