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UPSC Main: Useful Strategies for General Studies Papers

The UPSC Civil Services Main exam will be start from 18th December, 2015, which means you have approximately 3 months in hand. Results of IAS Prelims are yet to be announced. Probably in the month of October you will get to know. And if you are thinking of starting preparing for the Main exam after getting the CSAT result, you are definitely wasting your time. Civil Services Main syllabus is huge and you need time and the best plan in hand to cover all the topics and stand a good chance of cracking the exam. IAS main is considered as one of the most important part of the entire exam, as the true caliber, depth of knowledge and decision making capacity of an aspirant is evaluated here. If you prepare well in advance, you are sure to stand a better chance of cracking the IAS exam.

There are 9 subjects in the Main exam – 7 (General Studies + Optional) and 2 Compulsory subjects. General Studies consists of Four Papers carrying a total of 1,000 marks (4*250). The Main exam is designed to test a candidate’s ability use his/her knowledge in a meaningful way. To score well in the Civil Services Main, you need to pay great attention to General Studies papers. Here are few tips on how you should go about preparing for the General Studies papers.

General Studies Papers Main


General Studies – Paper I

General Studies Paper I covers topics on Indian Heritage & Culture, History & Geography of the World and Society. There are a total of 12 topics and 40 topics under the GS Paper I which needs to be studied in detail. Read as much as you can from relevant sources for the topics covered under GS Paper I. The paper will test a candidate’s ability to understand all relevant topics and give meaningful answers.

Recommended Books

India After Independence by Bipin Chandra

History of the World by Arjun Dev & Indira Dev

India’s Struggle for Independence by Bipin Chandra

Norman Lowe’s Mastering World History


Social Problems in India by Ram Ahuja

Spectrum’s Facets of Indian Culture

Sample Question Papers

General Studies – Paper II

The UPSC General Studies Paper II is a critical paper which covers topics in International Relations, Governance, Polity and Social Justice. Candidates should be very clear on the basic concepts of each of the topics and sub-topics.

Recommended Books

Indian Polity by Laxmikant

DD Basu’s Constitution of India

From Govt to Governance by Kuldeep Mathur


S Chand’s Select Constitutions

2nd ARC Report on Ethics in Governance, Corruption, Security – Internal & External

Sample Question Papers

General Studies – Paper III

The GS – Paper 3 covers topics Bio-diversity, Disaster Management, Economic Development, Environment, Technology and Security. Aspiring candidates must have great understanding of each of the topics and sub-topics, to be able to establish a view point on their own and express their opinion in a well-structured manner.

Recommended Books


Economic Survey 2012-2013

Indian Economy by TMH (Latest Edition)

Sample Question Papers

General Studies – Paper IV

General Studies – IV questions are basically based on Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude. It evaluates a candidate’s ability to understand the relevant topics, critically think and analyze, and able to come to a personal view point on these conflicting socio-economic demands. Basically, this paper will judge how a candidate can solve dynamic problems of society with integrity. The key to do well in this paper lies in your ability to grasp all important concepts or thoughts and enhance your ability to analyze it.

Recommended Books

An Introduction to Ethical Theory by Wilfrid J. Waluchow

Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude for Civil Services Examination by G Subha Rao & P N Roy Chowdhury

Sample Question Papers

Few Essential Study Tips for IAS Main General Studies Papers:

  • Keep yourself updated with current happenings in India and around the World. Read newspapers and magazines to garner knowledge on current developments
  • Know the syllabus well and prepare prioritizing important topics
  • Study previous question and sample papers, it will give you clear idea on the question patterns.
  • Read few useful books. Reading many books will surely confuse you.
  • Develop the ability to think critically and analyze situations, to arrive at a reasonable solution
  • Prepare a study plan and track yourself where you have reached or improved from where you had started
  • Try to understand basics concepts because memorizing will not help you in the long run
  • Practice mock or previous question papers to get a hang of the exam and how to manage time better
  • Pay attention to your writing style as the quality of your answers will depend on how well you express your thoughts and views. Construct your answers in a logical manner with proper beginning, body and conclusion. Limit your answers as per the specified word limit
  • Take notes while studying, as it will help you to revise quickly
  • Revise what you read at least twice before the exam day
  • Eat healthy, do exercise regularly and maintain a positive attitude

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