How To Prepare UPSC Civil Services Mains Paper-II (GS-1)

Read this book before you begin (Review )

How to prepare GS-2 (i.e Paper – III)

How to prepare GS-3 (i.e Paper – IV)

How to prepare GS – 4 (i.e Paper – V)

UPSC has brought changes to the Civil Services Mains examination in both the pattern and the syllabus. We know that now there are 4 General Studies Papers apart from one Essay and Optional paper each.

This article discusses preparation strategy for General Studies -1 (i.e Paper-II, Paper-I is Essay)

Before you start reading further, please remember the following important mantra given by the  Almighty UPSC:

The questions are likely to test the candidate’s basic understanding of all relevant issues, and ability to analyze, and take a view on conflicting socio‐ economic goals, objectives and demands. The candidates must give relevant, meaningful and succinct answers.” 

This sentence is the guiding light for your preparation. You don’t have to master the topics, all you need is BASIC UNDERSTANDING and the ability to analyze.

Basic understanding comes from reading and re-reading. Ability to analyze what you have understood from reading comes from WRITING PRACTICE.

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STRATEGY

GS-1 broadly covers - Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society.

Under this heading  total 12 topics and around 40 sub-topics are given in the syllabus.

Two important things fundamental to your exam preparation:

  • Get familiar with all the topics and sub-topics by writing them many times – they should be  strongly etched in your memory.
  • Keep a copy of the syllabus always near you no matter where you are.

Now, how to deal with GS-1?

Assuming you are now familiar with the syllabus of GS-1, we will discuss a topic by topic what to read, from where to read and what not to read for these topics.

(Download Model Question Paper-cum-Answerbook For This GS Paper, Click this Link)

TOPIC-1

Indian Culture will cover the salient aspects of Art forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

In this topic, the sub-topics are  - Art forms, Literature, Architecture – from ancient to modern times. Before jumping into Big Books, first go through these beautiful books by NCERT – to get a glimpse of the sub-topics – they are

  1. NCERT Class VI – History – Our Past
  2. NCERT Class VII – Our Past -I
  3. NCERT  Class VIII – Our Past II and III
  4. NCERT Class XII – Themes In Indian History I
  5. NCERT Class-XII – Themes in Indian History – II
  6. NCERT Class XII – Themes In Indian History III

Hold on. Four books for one topic? No. You have to read only a few chapters from each book that are related to Sub-Topics. For ex, you have to read only Chapters 2 and 3 from Class-XII -Themes In Indian History-II book.

Apart from these you should have a reference book for getting more information:

  1. Facets of Indian Culture or
  2. Indian Art and Culture
  3. Download Free Material – Complete Set
  4. Graphic Book On Indian Art and Culture – Free Download

TOPIC-2

Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues

 Read this book: Comprehensive History Of Modern India – Spectrum (It covers topics from the Advent of British to India’s Independence – so covers this part of the syllabus completely.

Why this book? Why not Bipan Chandra?

Bipan Chandra is specifically for studying in depth the various dimensions and concepts of the Freedom Struggle. But for the above topic where ‘events, personalities and issues’ have to be read that too between 1750s to 1950s, Spectrum book covers all the topics quite comprehensively.

It is bulky and factual, so it is recommended for beginners both for Prelims and Mains along with Bipan Chandra’s book, but not for aspirants writing Mains this year who are running short of time.

TOPIC-3

[The Freedom Struggle – its various stages and important contributors /contributions from different parts of the country.]

Because this topic demands specific knowledge of Freedom Struggle and its various facets, you must, along with the above mentioned book, read Bipan Chandra’s Struggle For India’s Independence.

TOPIC – 4

Post-independence consolidation and reorganization within the country.

For this you need to study Chapter 6 to 12 of India Since Independence – Bipan Chandra

0r Chapters 8 to 14 from India After Gandhi: The History Of The World’s Largest Democracy (above mentioned chapters cover completely this part of the syllabus)

TOPIC-5

[History of the world will include events from 18th century such as industrial revolution, world wars,redrawal of national boundaries,colonization,decolonization, political philosophies like communismcapitalism,socialism etc.- their forms and effect on the society.]

Except for Industrial revolution, Mastering Modern World History by Norman Lowe (Buy From Amazon India))covers all topics of this part of the syllabus – it is a very good book. Stick to only this book. Refer above links for a glimpse of those sub-topics in Wikipedia, but don’t dwell deeply on them. (A 30 % discount from Flipkart, or Or This IMPORTED copy provided you are rich- Rs 1700/ – this classic book contains insightful chapters on the 2008 Financial Crisis, and even Arab Spring and its aftermath!)

Above book is not available anywhere these days. Best alternative is a book by Arjun Dev - History of the World from the Late Nineteenth to the Early Twenty First Century

If both books are not available, then read this book - Old NCERT World History Class-X

TOPIC-6

[Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India.]

About salient features of Indian Society – don’t look anywhere else – Just read this NCERT – Indian Society Class 12 (Complete book without watermarks)

Two indispensable books to cover this topic:

(above books are critically acclaimed and are taught in many universities as a text, and is written by an acclaimed scholar)

TOPIC-7

[Role of women and women’s organizationpopulation and associated issues,poverty and developmental issuesurbanization, their problems and their remedies.]

Other sub-topics are general in nature and can be found in Magazines and Newspapers. If one is thorough with current events questions on these sub-topics can be answered very well by consolidating their knowledge.

TOPIC-8

[Effects of Globalization on Indian society]

This is also general in nature. If you have a basic understanding of Indian Society and Globalization, their mutual relation can be elucidated with ease. Here is a good article from a Marxist politician about the topic. (UPSC people love the slightly leftist version of everything)

To know more about effect of Globalization on Indian Society, you need to know better about Indian Society. This book is a must have for broad understanding of the Indian Society.

If you want to learn the impact of Globalization on Indian Economy, here is a book. (Purely optional)

TOPIC-9

[Social empowermentcommunalismregionalism secularism.]

This is again generic. But you must know the basic concept of communalism, regionalism and secularism. Wikipedia comes handy here.

BASICS:

For Regionalism In India.

TOPIC-10

[Salient features of world’s physical geography.

To cover this part two books are necessary:

1. Certificate Physical and Human Geography 1st Edition

2. NCERT Class-XI - Fundamentals of Physical Geography

TOPIC-11

[Distribution of key natural resources across the world (including South Asia and the Indian subcontinent); factors responsible for the location of primary, secondary, and tertiary sector industries in various parts of the world (including India)]

1) NCERT Class XII – Human Geography

2) NCERT Class-XII – India-People and Economy

3) For reference:Geography of India 4 Edition

TOPIC-12

[Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakesTsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc., geographical features and their location- changes in critical geographical features (including water bodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes.]

This is a repetition actually. You can read Physical Geography book by Goh Cheng Leong which is mentioned above (Certificate Physical and Human Geography 1st Edition)

This topic on critical changes in  geographical features is broadly related to climate change and other anthropogenic factors(such as depletion of resources, dumping of wastes etc). Geographical features like rainforests, ice caps, rivers, corals, cyclones all get affected by climate change. Anthropogenic factors are involved in increasing desertification, vanishing forests, biodiversity, pollution of rivers and lakes, etc.

Your focus should be on such changes. Question may be on how monsoon is affected by global climate change? or how a cyclone is affected by global warming? What effect has the melting ice cap on the biodiversity in the polar regions? etc

(Download Model Question Paper-cum-Answerbook For This GS Paper, Click this Link)

Until now we saw what books to read. Now the question is how to remember most of the things we read and how to translate them into better answers.

  • A common mistake most of the aspirants commit is reading so many books for a single topic.This mistake costs both your time and ability to remember things clearly and concisely.
  • Stick to a single source and read it again and again. Remember The Same Source. Avoid the temptation of doing ‘Research’ on a topic.
  • Always Remember – UPSC tests Basic Understanding. Not mastery over a topic.
  • Make short notes on each topic. It is while making notes that readers tend to do RESEARCH and scout various sources. Stick to one book even if you are not 100% satisfied with it.
  • Remember that old saying? – Jack of all trades, master of NONE. If you try to do Research, most probably your name won’t appear in the Final List. I guarantee it.
  • For Paper-II (i.e GS-1) being thorough with Current Events plays a crucial role in enabling you to acquire analytical skills.

Very Important Part In The Preparation

  • Writing. Writing. Writing.
  • But what? – One must practice answer writing to Previous year questions, or take a Mock Test. Whatever, before you enter examination hall, you must have spent lot of time on answer writing.

Most Important Part In The Preparation

  • Revision. Revision. Re-Revision.
  • You do this and you appear for the Personality Test.
  • If you don’t Revise what you read all these months – you slightly miss the Personality Test, or You narrowly miss appearing in the Final List.

Well, to sum up. To get the interview call all you need to do is: Read, Re-read the same source, Write and Revise.

Preparation for this  paper can be finished in 20 days provided you are focused and determined.

Of course. Eat well, Sleep well and Keep a good health. If you get a running nose on the day of the exam, 2 hours out of 3 hours goes in draining it and drying it.

HOW TO PREPARE FOR GENERAL STUDIES PAPER-III

upsc mains reference books new pattern 20013

267 Responses

  1. is it necessary to read all chapters from mastering world history,as this book is very vast and sometimes deviates from upsc syllabus.

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  2. UPSC Aspirant says:

    Sir i am confusing about ” TOPIC Number 2 ” – modern indian history book. Which Bipin chandra book are you talking about ? there are many books available in market under the name of bipin chandra :-
    1) OLD NCERT – Modern Indian History.
    2) Orient Blackswan Pubs.- History of Modern India.
    3) Penquin Pubs. – India’s Struggle for Independence.
    4) Penquin Pubs. – India Since Independence.

    and last you mentioned in prelims test series,
    5) Orient Blackswan Pubs.- From Plassey To Partition: A History Of Modern India by SEKHAR BANDYOPADHYAY.
    6) Spectrum – History .( this webpage )

    which one book is most recommended ?

    Thanks in advance

    View Comment
  3. UPSC Aspirant says:

    Sir i am confusing about ” TOPIC Number 2 ” – modern indian history book. Which Bipin chandra book are you talking about ? there are many books available in market under the name of bipin chandra :-
    1) OLD NCERT – Modern Indian History.
    2) Orient Blackswan Pubs.- History of Modern India.
    3) Penquin Pubs. – India’s Struggle for Independence.
    4) Penquin Pubs. – India Since Independence.

    and last you mentioned in prelims test series,
    5) Orient Blackswan Pubs.- From Plassey To Partition: A History Of Modern India by SEKHAR BANDYOPADHYAY.
    6) Spectrum – History .( this webpage )

    which one book is most recommended ?

    Thanks in advance

    View Comment
  4. Rahul says:

    Sir, can you tell the chapters to be covered from “India After Gandhi” for topic 4……..i know that u already told 8-14 chapters from “India After Gandhi” or 6-12 chapters from “India Since Independence”. But later in reply of a comment ,u told the chapters 4, 5, 7, 8, 9 , 18, 27, 29, 30, 33, 34, 35 and 38 are to be covered from “India Since Independence”. So what about “India After Gandhi”????

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  5. Rahul says:

    Sir, can you tell the chapters to be covered from “India After Gandhi” for topic 4……..i know that u already told 8-14 chapters from “India After Gandhi” or 6-12 chapters from “India Since Independence”. But later in reply of a comment ,u told the chapters 4, 5, 7, 8, 9 , 18, 27, 29, 30, 33, 34, 35 and 38 are to be covered from “India Since Independence”. So what about “India After Gandhi”????

    THANK U

    View Comment
  6. Jyoti says:

    NCERT_Geography 12th Class “India- People and Economy”…… downloaded from NCERT Site, but all the maps are blurred. Searched google for recent and Clear maps but couldn’t find all relevant maps!
    Can Someone Help, Please!

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  7. ABHISHEK KUMAR MISHRA says:

    Thanks Sir for your valuable suggestions, I request you to please tell the chapters to read from FACETS OF INDIAN CULTURE. I finished reading NCERT portion for indian culture told by you.

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  8. Raju says:

    I liked to read your articles on IAS preparations however I am in 1st year of engineering this worth lot to me,so I want to say you heartily thank you.

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  9. karan says:

    Sir you told me not to join coaching institutes before my graduation but can i read all those books which you have mentioned for gs 1,2,3,4. And secondly i want to know that as upsc has changed the exam pattern whether upsc also changes the syllabus contents annually . Sir i have one more problem. I have made my mind about choosing public administration for my future optional subject and naturally i would give more importance to it in my graduation but if at that time upsc announces that know there will be 2 optionals to choose. How one can tackle that problem. Sir i am really really inspired from your hard work which you are doing for the upsc aspirants. I am very enthusiastic about becoming an ias and i hope you help me clear all my answers as soon as possible.

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  10. Mourya Bicham Singh says:

    SIR,
    I will write my degree final year exams in march 2016…now I am in degree 1st year….my age now is 20…..will I be eligible to appear for prelims 2016…
    waiting for your kind reply..
    thanks

    View Comment
  11. anilyadav says:

    sir,
    iam an engineering student from andhra pradesh can i take telugu litreatrue as my optional subject plz anyone respond to me

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  12. Hello sir,
    For world history i am going through Bv Rao. As i felt that books is lucid and easy to understand Please tell me is it okay for gs or do you want me to shift to norman lowe . Waiting for your reply
    Thanks in advance

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  13. karan says:

    Sir pleaseeeeeeee reply my queries of feb 14 waiting for your reply.

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  14. karan says:

    Sir pleaseeeeeee reply feb 14 queries

    View Comment
  15. yogesh patil says:

    Sir please suggest me books for “Sociology” mains optinal paper

    View Comment
  16. Look for vegetarian items at: The Vegetarian Resource Group web-site:.
    Fruits – three every day: apples, peaches, all all types of berries, pears, oranges,
    grapefruits, tangerines, cantaloupes, nectarines, (limes and
    lemons are free). It’s easy to make, there are tons
    of ways to mix and match flavor combinations, and it is
    almost always delicious.

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  17. sir,how about spectrum book for geography…with this any other book is also reqd or is it sufficient with ncerts?

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  18. vikas chaturvedi says:

    Hello sir,
    firstly thanks a lot for ur support. :)
    and, i m strictly going on ur sight as books recommend by you…

    Thanks :-)

    View Comment
  19. vikas chaturvedi says:

    And i want say to my friends more searching of books means more confusion, so select concise nd completly focus on it :)

    View Comment
  20. ankit says:

    i am very confused,please tell me, for gs preparation in paper 2 . as i am reading india struggle for independence from bipan chandra. but i am founding it as deep study. is that only bipan chandra modern history is not sufficient along with any other good book for these 2 topics ( Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues and India’s Struggle for Independence )
    please revert as earliest.

    View Comment
  21. Ray Abhishek says:

    Respected sir/mm ,
    I have doubt which always hinders me that,if a candidate has passed prelims,,,,,,, and has also cleared mains writing answers in English only but he have less fluency in speaking English…….

    Can he speak hindi in an interview?????

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  22. Hi, could you please share the pdf files of old ncert world history books. You have given the class X link, could you share all the others as well?

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  23. Kirthi says:

    Vow. What a site! It is as refreshing as it was an year ago :-)

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  24. That ‘pathfinder; book is not available anywhere. So I wanted to know if the strategies given above is taken from that book??

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  25. Renga says:

    Thank you a lot for info and resources

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  26. payal says:

    its really helpful thank you

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  27. Venkatesh Nayak says:

    Worth to follow

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  28. Rahul Kumar says:

    Hello, sir I have decided to take psychology as my optional..and most of the suggestion on net are inclined to m ukul pathak sir notes….I have just start preparation and going to take part in 2015 exam .and I HV no intention of coaching for psychology. Plz sir guide me .

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  29. sumit says:

    Dear Sir,
    Thank you for your unconditional support no words to express about this excellent initiative by you & your team. Thanks a lot & god bless you.

    View Comment
  30. sumit says:

    Sir,
    Please tell us which chapters have to be read from ncert in history. As in your article you have mentioned chapter 2&3 of themes of history part 2 , likewise if you tell us for others. I shall be very thankful to you
    Thanks in advance.

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