The IES exam which was previously known as the ESE exam is organised by UPSC for the recruitment of engineers for different posts in the Indian Engineering Services. It is one of the most prestigious positions any aspiring engineer can hold in the public sectors of India. The recruited candidates are selected for various departments like the Railways, Telecommunication, Power, Central Engineering Services, defence services of engineers, etc. There are three stages of the exam from 2017- Prelims, Mains, and the Interview. The candidates are recruited for the following categories-
Check UPSC IES 2020 Syllabus
However, the exam is quite tricky and to ace it, one must study the previous year questions for a smarter preparation strategy. Practising the previous year questions shrewdly is easier when you have a thorough understanding of the question pattern and this article aims at making that easier.
The exam pattern of IES has changed after 2016. In present day, the pattern followed for the exam started in 2017.
The IES Prelims pattern is provided in the following table-
|IES Prelims Exam Pattern|
|-||Name of the paper||duration||marks||Number of questions|
|Paper I||General Studies and Engineering Discipline||2 hours||200||100|
|Paper-II||Technical Paper||3 hours||300||150|
The main difference between the IES exam pattern before and after 2017 lies in the marks distribution. The following graph can give you an idea about the changes in a nutshell-
The following are important facts of the new exam pattern that you should take into consideration-
Read About UPSC IES Cutoff
The IES Prelims 2020 has already been conducted in January and the results have been declared on February 20, 2020.
The following are a few highlights of the paper-I that has been noticed in the past five years based on the topic-wise weightage and difficulty level of the questions-
Here’s a topic-wise weightage analysis-
|Current issues of National and International importance relating to Social, Economic and Industrial development||10||4||4||10|
|Engineering aptitude covering Logical reasoning and analytical ability||10||14||13||8|
|Engineering Mathematics and Numerical analysis||12||4||7||8|
|General Principles of Design, Drawing, importance of safety||9||5||1||15|
|Standards and Quality practices in production, construction, maintenance and services||10||9||9||21|
|Basics of Energy and Environment: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, Climate Change, Environmental impact assessment||10||13||13||12|
|Basics of Project Management||12||13||12||4|
|Basics of Material Science and Engineering||11||14||26||9|
|Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) based tools and their applications in Engineering||11||10||8||7|
|Ethics and values in the Engineering profession.||5||14||7||6|
When you go through the topic-wise weightage of the past 4years of IES prelims Paper-1 data, you can easily make an average marks and question distribution that can be expected in the upcoming exams. Making this estimate will help you strategize the study plan better and determine which topics should be given more importance.
The following table depicts the average marks weightage of the ten sub-topics based on the past five years-
|Topics||Average number of questions||Average marks weightage|
|Current issues of National and International importance relating to Social, Economic and Industrial development||7||14|
|Engineering aptitude covering Logical reasoning and analytical ability||11-12||22-24|
|Engineering Mathematics and Numerical analysis||8||16|
|General Principles of Design, Drawing, importance of safety||8||16|
|Standards and Quality practices in production, construction, maintenance and services||12-13||24-26|
|Basics of Energy and Environment: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, Climate Change, Environmental impact assessment||12||24|
|Basics of Project Management||10-11||20-22|
|Basics of Material Science and Engineering||15||30|
|Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) based tools and their applications in Engineering||9||18|
|Ethics and values in the Engineering profession.||8-9||16-18|
A pictorial depiction for better understanding of the topic-wise weightage in average-
Check IES Mains Eligibility
When you smartly tackle the topics, the effort and time spent behind preparing for the prelims will become less and you will have more time to focus on mains as well. Considering the type, pattern and topic of the questions, the sub-topics can be clustered into three broad categories-
If you consider the table of average topic-wise weightage from the past four years you can easily derive the weightage of each cluster.
As depicted by the topic-cluster, the maximum number of questions come from the static subjects which is a major advantage for aspirants. These topics have a fixed syllabus and hence you can prepare for it without any worries regarding the syllabus getting updated every year. The aim should be to secure more than enough marks to be well above the minimum cut-off. When you prepare smartly taking the maximum marks weightage from each topic into consideration, it becomes easier to determine which topics can be safely left out for better preparation of the important topics.
Prioritization is essential for better preparation and can be done better when you are aware of the topic-wise weightage. Moreover, you get ample scope to play according to your strength. For example, candidates who do not follow the current affairs very meticulously or those who are not very confident about their mathematics and reasoning can spare more time on the static subjects so that they can confidently attempt all the questions from this section with minimum mistakes.
While there is negative marking in IES, there is no topic-wise cut-off or paper-wise cut-off for Prelims. This means, even if you are leaving out a few questions in paper-1, if you are able to acquire enough marks through paper-2 and the attempted sections in paper-1, you will have a high chance of qualifying.
Also Read About IES 2020 Exam Analysis
The difficulty level of the IES Prelims paper-1 varies from one year to another. By thoroughly studying the difficulty level of the paper in the past few years, you can estimate the pattern of questions and the complexity you can expect in the upcoming exam. Irrespective of the difficulty, the best way to ace the prelims is taking the preparation well so that you are confident about your concepts and hence can attempt without any hesitation.
The IES prelims 2020 was deemed to be easy to moderate considering its overall difficulty level. The following are in-depth analysis of the questions’ complexity from different sections-
The IES 2019 Prelims paper-1 was of moderate difficulty and definitely more difficult than the paper of IES 2020. The trend of the GS paper keeps shifting as the topic-wise weightage for several sub-topics drastically changes every year, making it very risky to draw a pattern and entirely skip any particular topic. The following is the detailed analysis of the IES 2019 GS paper and the difficulty level of each topic this year-
The IES prelims paper-1 for 2018 was moderately difficult considering all the sub-categories. The detailed analysis is as follows-
To ace the paper through smart and strategic preparation, having a clear idea about the past cut-off trend is helpful. The cut-off marks vary depending on the stream you have chosen and it is variable every year. The cut-off is determined by UPSC based on several key factors like the number of candidates appearing for the exam, the difficulty level of the prelims, past year cut-off trends, and the available vacancies.
When you are hard-pressed for time and need to prepare very strategically, keeping the cut-off in mind and focusing on topics with maximum marks weightage so that you can score more than enough to cross the cut-off is a strategy followed by many aspirants. This is where understanding this trend can help you immensely.
The following graph depicts the cut-off of trends for the general category in the past three years.
As depicted by the bar graph above, the cut-off for the general category can be anywhere between 188 and 256. This entirely depends on the difficulty level of the paper. The harder and more difficult the paper, the cut-off marks go lower accordingly. The cut-off for the reserved category is much lesser than that for the general category and can go down up to 90-100 depending on the cut-off for the general category in a particular year.
The IES prelims preparation can be planned well when you are familiar with the question pattern and the complete analysis of the question papers in the past few years. The candidates for 2020 and 2021 are at an advantage since the syllabus and the question pattern changed after 2016 and hence they will have to pay more attention to questions from the past three years. However, the cut-off trends and specific topics are important even from the times prior to 2016 and the preparation should be done accordingly. Here are a few important factors that you must remember when you are preparing for IES prelims in the upcoming years, based on the analysis done so far-
Keeping all these factors in mind, you can determine the time and effort needed for the preparation of the IES 2020 exam. The mains are upcoming and given the syllabus for prelims and mains is identical now, your preparation already has the head-start it needed. We hope you make the most of the time and the detailed analysis shared above to derive the best course of preparation that must be followed.
Ques. How much time should you spend preparing each sub-topics?
Ans. For the entire GS syllabus, spare at least 2-3 hours daily for preparation. The amount of time you give to a specific sub-topic entirely depends on the importance it has in terms of topic-wise weightage. If we go according to the past four years’ IES prelims paper analysis, basics of material science, engineering aptitude and product quality-related topics should be given the maximum time.
Ques. How to filter and study the current affairs that are relevant for IES?
Ans. Studying current affairs for IES mainly involves having a thorough knowledge of Indian polity, governance, different government committees, and major economic developments in a national and international level. Follow a national level newspaper and read the Indian polity and economics thoroughly to ace the questions from current affairs.
Ques. Are questions repeated from the previous years?
Ans. Yes, questions are often repeated from the previous years or at least have similar patterns. Hence you can practice them for better understanding. However, if you are following questions papers prior to 2016, you can safely skip practicing the general English related questions as the topics have been excluded.
Ques. Have there been any changes in the syllabus of IES Prelims paper-2?
Ans. After 2016, there have been several changes in the IES prelims syllabus as well. Significant changes have been noted in paper-2 of the prelims. The following are some of those changes which you must be aware of:
Ques. Is there any minimum cut-off for paper-1 and paper-2?
Ans. The combined marks of paper-1 and paper-2 of IES prelims is considered to determine the prelims cut-off which is out of 500. Usually, the cut-off is approximately 45-50% of 500. It can be hence determined that scoring 80-120 out of 200 in paper-1 and 2 individually should be sufficient enough to cross the minimum cut-off.
Ques. Since the syllabus has changed after 2016- can I skip practising the question papers before 2016?
Ans. You can skip questions that are no longer relevant according to the new syllabus but it is best not to skip practising the entire question paper as topics which are constant even after the change are often repeated from these papers.
*The article might have information for the previous academic years, please refer the official website of the exam.