In the UPSC CSE examination, the two language papers are among the compulsory ones and make up for about 25 percent of the total marks.
Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Anupam Sharma, who secured AIR 2 in the 2017-18 IFS examination, shared a Tweet detailing his strategy to crack language papers easily.
Attempt the questions in an order: The IFS officer advises aspirants to attempt the questions in an order — grammar, passage, précis, and essay.
He says that under the grammar sections, ‘error correction’, ‘fill in the blanks’, ‘antonyms’, and ‘word meanings’ do not require too much of the candidate’s time, while ‘homophones’, ‘verbs’, and ‘idioms/phrases’ may take more time.
How to attempt passage: Anupam says that for the passage, aspirants should first glance through the content quickly and underline keywords in less than a minute.
“Take 10 minutes to read the passage again and find the answers. In another 25 minutes, write down the answers,” he says.
Keep the word limit in mind: The IFS officer advises aspirants to remember to adhere to the word limit when attempting précis. “Do not give titles and write in your own words,” he suggests.
Attempt the essay at the end: There will be four choices in the essay section. The word limit is 600 and it takes approximately one hour to complete it. Attempt it towards the end, he opines.
Anupam also shared tips for regional language papers. Even though the total marks for this paper are the same as English, he says it takes 4-5 hours to complete this section.
The sequencing is vital: “The order of attempting questions during the exam should be — grammar, passage, Hindi to English, précis, essay, and English to Hindi,” he suggests.
Allot time to each question: The IFS officer advises aspirants to allot 40 minutes for essay, 30 minutes for passage, 40 minutes for précis, 50 minutes for both translations, and 30 minutes for grammar.
When to attempt translations: Of all the sections, the translation from English to Hindi is the most time-consuming and one needs to take extra care here, he says. Thus, attempt this part towards the end, he adds.