A Strategy for Mains: GS Paper- I

Civil Services aspirants around the country search the web for notes and books related to Civil Service Examinations. In the process, they refer to far too many sources without giving adequate time for revision. This is true for all subjects, and those covered under GS Paper-I are no exception.

With the syllabus for the Civil Service Examination clearly defined by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), it is important to keep that as a firm structure and gather complete knowledge around the topics covered under the syllabus.

Nature of the subjects

The subjects in GS Paper- I, i.e. ‘History’, ‘Indian Heritage and Culture’, ‘Geography of the world’, and ‘Society’, are comparatively less influenced by developments in current affairs in comparison with some of the other GS Papers. Preparing for this paper well involves a thorough reading of standard texts, and revision.

Conquering GS Paper-I

GS Paper-I is a scoring paper, as questions asked are generally on expected lines. Thus it is important to extract maximum marks from this paper.  Below are sources which are very helpful for preparation,


Subjects Sources
1)     History  ● For Modern India: BYJU’s Tablet + ‘History of Modern India’ by Bipan Chandra ·For World History, in addition to the tablet, students can refer to ‘The Story of Civilization’ Part 1 and ‘The Story of Civilization’ Part 2 both written by Arjun Dev ( These are old NCERT books which are available online for download). Alternatively, students can refer to selected topics from the syllabus from ‘A History Of The Modern World’ by Jain & Mathur. 
2)     Geography of the World ● BYJU’s Tablet + All NCERT’s from 6th to 12th Std·         ‎’Certificate Physical and Human Geography’ by Goh Cheng Leong·’Fundamentals of Human Geography’ Class 12 NCERT along with ‘India- People and Economy’ which is also a Class 12 NCERT book. 
3)     Indian Heritage and Culture ● BYJU’s Tablet + Centre for Cultural Resources and Training (CCRT) website (for further references) 
4)     Society ● BYJU’s Tablet + Select articles from ‘The Hindu’


It is important for students to have a good knowledge of the nature and scope of the syllabus under this paper. ‘History’ and ‘Indian Heritage and Culture’ form the dominant part of the syllabus. These topics need to be covered well. The sources outlined for these topics in the table above needs to be prepared and studied carefully.

Quick Tips:

  • Students should ideally begin their preparation for GS Paper-I with ‘Modern Indian History’. A majority of the topics from this section is asked in the question paper. Making a good start with the tablet will give you a momentum and energy to complete all the topics well.
  • Make notes on blank sheets of paper, or alternatively, on an unruled notebook. Draw margins on both sides of the paper, as this familiarizes you with the format of the answer booklet given to candidates appearing for the Mains Examination.
  • Use illustrations while making notes for Geography. You can use sticky notes for drawing brief diagrams, flowcharts, which you can paste on the textbook pages you are referring to, or onto  the pages of the notebook you are maintaining for jotting down points from the tablet. This will help during revision.
  • Use Mnemonics wherever possible. You can create mnemonics that work for you. For Example, the schemes under, ‘Bharat Nirman’ can be memorized using the mnemonic ‘WRITE H’- wherein each alphabet denotes one component, i.e. W: Water, R: Roads, I: Irrigation, E: Electricity, T: Telephone, and H: Housing.

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