How to Analyze Previous Year Question Papers (PYQs)?

Establishing and maintaining a disciplined approach will lead to habits that create consistency and ultimately contribute to the growth and future successes.

It is essential to review the practice questions to become familiar with the exam and better understand the content we are studying. It is recommended to go through the practice questions twice – once at the start of your preparations and the second in the later stages when you are feeling confident in the material. While reviewing, it is important to focus on certain points for both the Prelims and Mains exams. We can discuss those points one by one.


During start of preparation:

It is important to understand the format of the exam and the language used in the questions. Going through the PYQs prior to starting the preparation can provide helpful context and may even trigger recall while studying from the respective books/sources.

During the preparation when most of the syllabus is covered:

It may be beneficial to review the practice questions section-by-section, now that you have a better understanding of the syllabus. This would give us insight into how questions are framed for various topics and the depth of those questions, allowing us to identify which topics have questions that are more detailed than others.

To help us predict future questions, we should focus on studying topics in greater detail, particularly those topics where questions are asked from more intricate details.

It is important to analyze the past years’ questions subject-wise in order to determine which subjects are more important. Many aspirants develop a priority list based on the number of questions asked from each subject in the previous years. Thus, a subject from which more questions are asked will be placed higher on the priority list, and vice versa.



It is important to be familiar with the language and framing of questions as it becomes increasingly important to review practice questions (PYQs) during Mains. Mains exams typically contain two categories of questions – those that are predictable from conventional books and current affairs and those that require on the spot responses.

Reviewing conventional books and questions can help provide structure and understanding of the topics, while being aware of current affairs can help to stay up to date with what is happening in the world. Additionally, using practice questions (PYQs) can help to gain experience in answer writing.

Mock Tests

Aspiring candidates can use PYQs papers as mock test papers. It is suggested that PYQs, CSAT, Ethics, Essay and Optional Subject be practiced as mock tests for a comprehensive preparation. To ensure a higher level of proficiency, General Studies can be done selectively, omitting the current affairs portions. Dedication can be further demonstrated by writing Mains questions even when not taking the exam that year.

“An effective aspirant will not just review practice questions, but also analyze them and incorporate this into their overall exam preparation strategy.”

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