12 Nov 2018

Concept to Questions or Questions to Concepts?

Which comes first? Concepts or Questions? It is not as mind-boggling as Chicken-egg question. Chicken-egg is naturally muddling. But the Concept-Question imbroglio has been muddled artificially.Aspirants have been misguided, misled and their precious time and Career has been ruined with such an incorrect strategy. Leave complex pondering on the issue aside! Just observe the statement below.

“Questions for practice ‘on’ the above chapter”

In the above sentence the word ‘on’ is of prime importance. Questions are ‘on’ the chapter and not vice-versa. This means that the chapter forms the base and questions are built on them. And that is the reason questions for practice  given at the end of the chapter. Why are we writing about such silly things? Because too many advises from different sides and people has taken aspirants away from simple strategies which they have learnt in school days.

It is concepts first, questions next! As simple as that! But we do not want you to believe it unless proved because MANIFEST PEDAGOGY is based on rationality, logic and proof!

If the issue is this simple, then why this complex strategy of learning concepts through questions got popularity?

1)Because it made aspirants job easy by giving them shortcuts.

2)It suited the demands of examination for a year or two as they were current based and getting command over current content was easy through questions.

3)Market played a huge role in pushing the agenda through test series.

4)It was given further push by the virtual market through online test series.

It worked for a year or two or so and only for people who had finished their static portions. What about beginners? And the most pathetic part is even experienced candidates today are also facing problems due to excessive focus on answer writing and not able to cover minute dimensions of the syllabus which are neither focused in questions nor are the aspirants able to discover on their own. This explains why recent year exams are focusing on the dimensions. It is simple! Where the market goes, you don’t find UPSC there.

Now let’s prove why learning Concepts through Questions is a wrong strategy?

1)It is a wrong strategy because it is ILLOGICAL. If you directly jump to answer writing in mains, you will be just focusing on the structure of the answer and not the content. The content you have written will be very general. The content needs academic rigour substantiated by facts. If not however good the structure is you will end up getting poor marks! And learning to structure the answers is a matter of month!

2)It is NOT an EFFICIENT method of preparation,for both prelims and mains.

Let’s prove this with an example!

Let us choose one dimension from President chapter of Polity. An ordinance making as a dimension, following could be the aspect:

Aspect 1- Constitutional provisions

Aspect 2- NATURE of Ordinance

Aspect 3-RATIONALE behind Ordinance making power

Aspect 4- LIMITATIONS on Ordinances

Aspect 5- MISUSE of Ordinance making power

Aspect 6-SC judgements on the misuse

Aspect 7-Current Affairs-Recent judgements

Aspect 8- Best practices around the world

Aspect 9- Inter-linkages like connecting it with issues like Separations of Powers etc

Now,if we go by the method of Concepts through Questions. Let’s see what happens!

1)On every aspect the examiner or an expert can frame atleast 10 questions, which is atleast! There is always a scope for generation of new questions from the same concept.So in order ,do 9 aspects of just 1 dimension in a chapter you need to solve at the least 90 questions .If we have to finish the entire syllabus this way,we will need super computing to configure the number of questions!

2)Even after solving the above 90 questions for that small topic your preparation will not be complete,as test series won’t be able to give you all questions.

3)When you read explanations for each question independently, you will not have inter-linkages and there will be blind spots!And UPSC always focuses on these blind spots.Because where market goes, UPSC does not go there!

Hence going to question after Concepts are done is a fool-proof method.This method will actually test your concepts.And that is why they are called tests!

4)Most important drawback is that,it makes your answers boring,monotonous and bot like examples for these? These days you are finding “Way forward” as a part in every answer.Imagine how an examiner feels when he looks at same thousands of answers with the same “Way Forward” as a heading! This is happening because aspirants are discovering Concepts through questions.In this process with no strong content, aspirants are focusing on structuring the answer!And also the market has standardized the format which aspirants are following.

In short,discovery of Concepts through questions is illogical,inefficient and mechanical method of preparation.This needs a change! IAS learning should be a joy! And this is the reason why we chose “Concept based learning and then testing” as one of our missions.