[TEST SERIES] How effective are Test series for prelims? I find the questions unnecessarily complicated and out of context in most of them just to appear tough. - ForumIAS

[TEST SERIES] How effective are Test series for prelims? I find the questions unnecessarily complicated and out of context in most of them just to appear tough.

Aren't they are mostly a market strategy to induce inferiority complex so the products will be sold more, just like the rest of the market appears to do so?

Mettle
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8 comments

I am answering this in a personal capacity.
When any course or test series is created, generally there is a vision for it. This vision could be based on
  • how will this help in preparation of the exam
  • how relevant it is from the examination perspective
  • does it add enough value that someone will pay for it?
What you are talking of is having
  • (a) a test series experience, where you find difficult questions, and often complicated. This makes you wonder,
  • (b) is the objective of this test series to create a inferiority complex or fear of missing out such that you end up
  • (c) subscribing to the product? 
I do not think that any person of institution ( Let us call him / it "X" )  would begin with the assumption that let me create a course or a test series so tough that people will subscribe to it by way of fear of missing out. 
However, "X" may still produce (a) because of several reasons
  1. "Obvious Reason" to scare students for subscriptions.
  2. X may run out of new questions, or of of imagination to produce new questions.
  3. Students may be clamouring for solving new questions and there could be "market" for something like this. 
  4. "X" feels that the paper must be tougher than the actual examination.
X may run out of new questions, or of of imagination to produce new questions.
This may be a genuine  case where teams that do this work have small number of members - say 1 or 2 members. So they may start asking hard questions. This is possible.



"X" feels that the paper must be tougher than the actual examination.
Note that this is a common feeling among most people who were to professionally set a paper. But then UPSC in past few years has increasingly been creating tough papers, so the upper limit for setting a tough paper is kinda in a flux.



Students may be clamouring for solving new questions and there could be "market" for something like this. 
Given that the Internet is flooded with so many questions already, and the exam has increasing competition, a large number of students have already solved the "first level" questions and are looking for something tougher - even if a little irrelevant.
Secondly, some students may feel that because they are "paying" for something, therefore what they need is not "selection grade" questions but "questions that they have paid for." When this feelings are transmitted to "X" they respond accordingly.
What is the way out?
I personally believe that there are only three things to do as far as prelims is concerned
  1. Read Basic Books as Many times as possible - and Revise them - Priority #1
  2. Solve previous Years Papers - and Revise them till you know them - Priority #2
  3. Take anyone Test Series and do it religiously and an additional one from the market - And at least know those questions 100% - Priority #3
If you have time left, you do 1,2,3 again.
I have been writing articles since 2012, ( you can check them here and here, and these basic things are what I would have stuck to in most of my posts ) 
As someone who designed the SFG program of forumias, this is what I had in mind, and this method has fairly delivered results. Having said this, I would also point out that since there is a tremendous load on the teams, that create test papers etc, they are always afraid of what you call "market feedback".
I will give you an instance.
Few weeks back while goring through a feedback Isaw this posted.
Obviously, the candidate was googling while writing the test ( not recommended ) or during post test analysis ( recommended ) .
When investigated , it tuned out that all the questions which were "copied from other websites" were upsc questions which are available in public domain.