FAQs on Evaluation at ForumIAS | MGP Evaluation Myths

What is the purpose of Evaluation at ForumIAS?

The purpose of evaluation is to get an objective assessment of your performance. Your copy will be examined by an examiner who is assessing and examining hundreds of such copies. The assessment is expected to be relative to how other candidates are performing in the test. You are able to get a third person’s view on the answers you have written.

The purpose if to write good answers that fetch you good marks, irrespective of who the examiner in UPSC is, and what is mood is. Thus, we aim to to objectively improve your answer writing performance in the exam.

How am I expected to improve using MGP?

You are expected to learn and improve using MGP through several ways and means such as

  1. Through the micro and macro comments from copy assessment
  2. Through Mentor Sessions
  3. Through the detailed solutions that are provided after each test
  4. Through post test discussion classes
  5. Through the good copies that are uploaded for every test code

Please note that they are not a substitute for each other.

For instance,

  • Evaluation is NOT a replacement of Mentor Session. Do not expect an examiner will write everything that a mentor may say.
  • Evaluation is NOT a replacement of reading the solutions. Examiners will not write the whole solution in your copy
  • Mentorship is NOT a replacement for Discussion classes. Mentors will not tell you all that is told in discussion classes.

You may have trouble getting the full benefits from the Program if you expect examiners to do what mentors are doing, and mentors to tutor you, what is already being done in discussion classes. Wrong expectations, lead to wrong destinations.

I am getting generic comments on my answer sheet. What does this mean?

It is likely that sometimes you may feel that suggestions given to you are generic in nature. A good way to fully understand what the  term “generic suggestions mean”, is to think from the perspective of the examiner. What made the examiner write that in the copy, given that it is probably the 100th copy he has seen. Before you draw any conclusions, here are some questions to ponder over.

  1. Are the generic suggestions valid in your case?
  2. Are the comments generic and not-true? Or are they generic, but true? In such a case we have to fix our house.
  3. Are you having the basic problems in Answer writing?

Why does an evaluator write comments like “good intro” , “decent conclusion” etc in the copy.?

Examiners are encouraged to comment on the Intro, Body and Conclusion. A remark on each part is a standard practice that we use so that you “objectively” work on each part and improve your answers.

How close is ForumIAS Evaluation compared to UPSC?

There are two aspects to it.

One, you can expect to score about 20+ marks  more in the CSE examination compared to the scores that yo get in MGP. Over the years, we have seen hundreds of students , if not thousands of them get a %tile we had expected. ( but not the score ) . For instance , out of the 100+ MGP students whom we expected to do well, we saw 20+ in Top 50, 30+ in Top 200 and another 25+ in the list. Also some 25+ did not make it to the list. This is because of the subjective nature of the paper. Also our performance on the day of the examination matters as well. We can never say with surety if your performance in the exam was close to what it was in the Test Series.

Two, UPSC decides every year the range of good scores. It may have lenient marking in some papers in some years and strict marking in some papers, in some years. So for example, take a look at GS 4 and GS 3 score of Rank 1, 2, and 3 of CSE 2017

Rank / NameGS 4 ScoreGS 3 Score
1/ Anudeep95136
2/ Anu101134
3/ Sachin92131

 

Now take a look at GS 3 score of Rank 1,2,3 of CSE 2022 and 2021 ( as well as GS 4 marks ).

Rank/NameGS 4 ScoreGS 3 Score
1/ Ishita11288
2/ Garima14194
3/ Uma132100
1/ Shruti139108

If you observe closely, GS 4 scores in CSE 2017 were on the lower side, as there was either strict marking or scaling down of the score that year. However, if you see GS 4 scores of CSE 2021/2022, they have been either lenient or scaled up.

While a score of 90-100 marks in UPSC in GS Paper 4 in CSE 2017  is top notch, the same marks 3-4 years later were very poor.

Similarly, while a score 90-100 in Paper 3 in CSE 2021 and 2022 is top score, the same score 3-4 years earlier were considered poor.

In fact within the year CSE 2022 itself, a score of 125-135 is top notch, but for GS 3, score around 95-100 is top notch.

Therefore, for scoring purpose, a good score in MGP is anywhere between 90-100 and any score above 100-110 is brilliant.

 

 

What is the second aspect of difference between UPSC marking pattern and MGP Marking Pattern?

The second aspect of marking in UPSC is that there are two factors on the basis of which you can get unusually high marks. Like we mean marks as high as a 6-8 marks in a 10 marker and a 9-13 marks in a 15 marker. The two factors are

  1. Novelty or newness of ideas – This means that you have fresh ideas which are not conventional. This is often the reason that sometimes in 1st attempt, people get unusually high marks, even if they have not completed the syllabus well. The issue however with novelty is that it is very subjective, and examiner may award very high or very low marks for the same content.
  2. Effort by way of content density or diagrams  – This means that you have put so much effort in writing answers, your ease of read is so high that examiner is bound to give your marks. There is less subjectivity here, and if your extraordinary effort shows in your paper, across all examiners, you are likely to get marks. It is this approach that we have focused on for our rank improvement students.

While in UPSC, examiners have discretion to award very high marks, in MGP, we limit this scope to a maximum of 5.5 – 6 in a 10 marker and 7-7.5 in a 15 marker. In short, the highest marks awarded in MGP is between 50-60% for every question.

 

I have been given 3.5 marks in a 10 marker, but examiner has not made any suggestions how to improve.

If you have been given less marks, and you are looking for how to improve, perhaps you should carefully read the micro and macro comments. If you are not able to make sense of it, you must by all means take a mentor session.

Note that beyond the structure and presentation, the surest way to improve your score is to work on your content. Refer to the detailed solutions, and the best copies. Make a note of the points you have not written.

In short, you probably need to work on

  • increasing the content quality
  • increasing the content quantity in the answers.

Remember that in absence of content, no matter how well you structure your answer, you cannot score beyond a point.

What is the role of content and structure/presentation in Answer Writing?

To put it simply,

“Content is the king. Presentation, Queen.”

Content is what you get awarded marks for. Presentation is what has a multiplier effect on your score. If you have wonderful content , a good presentation , helps you score much better.

If you have poor content, no amount of presentation can make up for it, though it may help you fetch that extra marks.

In short if the content is zero, and we multiply it by infinity, the product will be zero.

 

Examiner has suggested content which is already there is the detailed solution.

If you are new to Mains, and lack experience, this is a common problem you my have. The detailed solutions are much more comprehensive and are sourced from basic NCERTs, newspaper and books. It is often neither correct, nor desirable for the examiners to suggest core dimensions beyond what is given in the detailed solution. Note that even if the examiner had no access to detailed solutions ( Some examiners who are working with us for more than 7-8 years , do not ask for a solution ), they may end up pointing out content which may be there in detailed solution.

Do Examiner’s have discretion in UPSC vs ForumIAS MGP Evaluation?

The examiners in UPSC have a fair amount of discretion. This is explains the subjectivity in the score. It is often seen that a student may score very high marks in a paper in one year , and in the next year he does not score good at all, despite him having studied hard the second time.

This is the subjective nature of evaluation that is sometimes natural to humanities, and is typical of UPSC. This means that your score may depend on who is checking your copy, and probably his mood that day.

At ForumIAS, we focus on the objective parameters of assessment such as ease of read, valid content, innovation, content density and effort in writing the paper. The discretion of examiner is limited. For example, in ForumIAS, while an examiner may award low marks if he is not satisfied, we do not encourage MGP examiners to award 80% or 90% marks in an answer. This is because such scores are not likely to be replicated in the examination if checked by a different examiner with a different mood.

In short, the examination of copies is done in an objective manner such that if you are doing well in MGP consistently, you will do well in the examination by all means – irrespective of who is checking your copy.

Examiner has unnecessarily pointed out grammatical errors in my answers

We encourage examiners to point out any issues of grammar in your answer. You are not penalized for grammar mistakes unless it breaches a certain level. Examiners, however are given the final discretion to point or not point small errors in grammar, but will point out if there are major lapses. If the examiner feels that the student has poor grammar which cannot be fixed or changed in a short or medium term, the examiner may ignore all such grammatical mistakes, and accept it as a fact of the student. A fact is something that cannot be changed easily. Examiners are encouraged to assess copies overlooking such errors except when it affects the meaning of the content.

Examiner has not pointed so many errors in grammar in my copy

We encourage examiners to point out any issues of grammar in your answer. You are not penalized for grammar mistakes unless it breaches a certain level. Examiners, however are given the final discretion to point or not point small errors in grammar, but will point out if there are major lapses. If the examiner feels that the student has poor grammar which cannot be fixed or changed in a short or medium term, the examiner may ignore all such grammatical mistakes, and accept it as a fact of the student. A fact is something that cannot be changed easily. Examiners are encouraged to assess copies overlooking such errors except when it affects the meaning of the content.

 

Examiner knows nothing. His intellectual level is less than mine.

Initial knowledge kind of reduces our humility. Deeper knowledge brings it. If the examiner is less intellectual than us, chances of which are not likely, it is expected that

  1. We pick up what his opinion is on your copy, given that he has seen many such copies.
  2. We learn whatever we can from him.

Note that in the Commission, the examiners of different subjects may check the copies. For example, there is no department of ethics in colleges. So teachers from Psychology, Public Administration, Philosophy and even Political Science may check your copies. Many of them, do no read the newspaper. Our goal should be to write such that

  1. Our answer and language is so simple that is understood by a 10th class pass-out.
  2. Examiner, who is not so updated is able to relate to your paper.

If for any purpose, our intellect level is so high that it breaches boundaries, and our answers can only be understood by a small fraction of people on the planet, chances are it is unlikely that we will score well in the CS Mains Examination.

What is the dark secret of MGP?

The dark secret of MGP is that most students who write the test – even 8-12 tests, with sincerity, and trying to learn only one new thing from the copy assessment, and incorporate the ideas from solutions/ classes will automatically make improvements and get us a rank. Writing and practising remains the key.

What is a red flag in my preparation?

We often see red flags in the preparation of some students. These are usually the perfectionists. They wait forever to write the test until they are “perfect”. And when they write and do not do well, they get demotivated, and do not write the test. This is a red flag student for us. They want to get Rank 1 on day 1 and lack the patience to improve gradually.

This may happen to you for two reasons.

  • One, if you have been a winner in academic all throughout and expect to conquer the 1st test itself ( and wont write tests if you dont! )
  • Two, if you have not studied all your life, and with for the first time that you study, you feel that this entitles you to top in MGP without realizing that these tests are being written by people who already have a rank in the exam.

The sum total is – Seek progress not perfection.

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