Strategy on How to Cover IAS Exam Mains General Studies Paper-I

UPSC Exam Mains General Studies Paper I   After the civil service exam pattern has been changed with UPSC Prelims exam consisting GS Paper and CSAT paper and UPSC Mains Exam with 9 papers, most of the IAS aspirant feel difficult to cover the syllabus though being realistic it is not possible to cover the entire syllabus but the syllabus can be dealt with an effective study plan where one can cover the significant topics in the syllabus.   In an initiative to provide IAS aspirants on how to cover the civil service mains exam General Studies Paper I here are a few steps that can also be taken as tips to follow in order to cover General Studies paper I efficiently and within the dedicated time.   Click here to see General Studies Mains Syllabus   Let us have a look at the UPSC syllabus of mains General Studies paper I:   UPSC Mains General Studies Paper I syllabus with a total of 12 topics and about 40 sub topics broadly covers the below subjects:

  1. Indian Heritage and culture
  2. History
  3. Geography of the World and Society

 So, it is advice to all the IAS aspirants is to follow these two simple basic rules while starting their preparation for UPSC Exam:  

  • Know the syllabus, memorize and get familiar with all the topics and sub-topics.
  • Make a wallpaper of the same and pin it where you can see it every day and also make sure you keep a copy with you irrespective of wherever you are.

  Once you are aware of the syllabus completely, the next step is how to deal with the UPSC General Studies paper I.   Click here to see UPSC MAINS PREVIOUS YEAR GENERAL STUDIES QUESTION PAPERS   Now let’s take a look on how to deal with General Studies Paper I Now that you are familiar with the general studies paper I syllabus, let us look at the topics that covers the general studies paper and see where to start from to read and what to read and what not read in these topics. Usually, general studies paper I covers India Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society. Under this, topics covered are:   Topic 1 – Indian Culture Sub-topics: Art forms, Literature and Architecture Areas to cover: prominent aspects of art forms, literature, and architecture from ancient and modern history. It is always advised to start from the NCERT books, instead beginning straight away with the big books. NCERT books for IAS exam preparation are one of the essential sources to read first in order to get a hint of the sub topics. Let us take a look at what to cover from NCERT books: Start with Class 11 NCERT – An Introduction to India Art. Once you cover this book, start with the other NCERT books as mentioned below:

  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

Be selective and few chapters from each book that are related to the sub-topics like from class 12 – Themes in Indian History II book, if you read chapters 2 and 3 that would be sufficient. Apart from these you should also have to refer other sources to get more information, like:

  • CCRT Website
  • NIOS- Art and Culture

  TOPIC-2: Modern Indian History Sub-Topic:  The middle of the eighteenth century until the present Areas to Cover: significant events, personalities, issues Book to read to cover the sub-topics is Comprehensive History Of Modern India – Spectrum. This book covers all the topics quite comprehensively topics, while the Advent of British to India’s Independence covers this part of the syllabus completely.  This book is recommended for beginners for both UPSC Prelims and Mains along with Bipan Chandra’s book.   TOPIC-3: The Freedom Struggle Sub-Topics: Various facets of freedom struggle Areas to cover: various stages and important contributors/contributions from different parts of the country, various facets of freedom struggle. Since, this topic needs particular knowledge of Freedom Struggle and its different aspects read Spectrum along with Bipan Chandra’s Struggle for India’s Independence.   TOPIC – 4: Post-Independence Sub-Topic: Post-independence consolidation and reorganization within the country. To cover these sub-topics, all you have to read is Bipan Chandra’s India Since Independence and in this book study from chapters 6 to 12.


You can also refer the book India After Gandhi: The History of The World’s Largest Democracy and don’t start from the beginning just concentrate from chapters 8 to 14 as these chapters completely cover all the areas under this topic.   TOPIC-5: History of the world Sub-topics: events from 18th century such as industrial revolution, world wars, redrawal of national boundaries, colonization, decolonization, political philosophies like communism, capitalism, socialism etc. – their forms and effect on the society You can read the book Mastering Modern World History by Norman Lowe it covers all the sub-topics under this topic except for Industrial Revolution. For Industrial Revolution refer, History of the World from the Late Nineteenth to the Early Twenty-First Century, you can also refer this book as an alternative for other sub-topics. If you were unsuccessful in finding these books then no worries, don’t spend too much time in looking for books, you can also refer the Old NCERT World History of Class 10.   TOPIC-6: Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India. Sub-Topics: About salient features of Indian Society To cover this topic you can just read the NCERT – Indian Society Class XII. Other two essential books that you can refer to cover this topic are:

  1. Indian Society – Ram Ahuja
  2. Social Problems in India – Ram Ahuja

  TOPIC-7: Role of women Sub-Topic: women’s organization, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies. These sub-topics are general in nature and IAS aspirants can refer magazines and newspapers that talks about Women’s issues and should be prepared to answer current event questions on these sub-topics.   TOPIC-8: Effects of Globalization on Indian society This is also generic. The basic understanding of Indian Society and Globalization, their mutual relation will make any aspirants to interpret the questions easily. To know more about effect of Globalization on Indian Society, you can also refer:

  • Indian Society – Ram Ahuja
  • Social Problems in India – Ram Ahuja

  TOPIC-9: Social empowermentcommunalismregionalism secularism This is again general in nature. But one must know the basic concept of communalism, regionalism and secularism. It is advised to refer Wikipedia as it comes handy here.   TOPIC-10: World’s Physical Geography Sub-Topics: Salient features of world’s physical geography To cover this topic, all you have to refer are two indispensable books and they are:

  • NCERT Class-XI– Fundamentals of Physical Geography
  • Certificate Physical and Human Geography 1st Edition by Goh Cheng Leong

  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 To cover this topic you can refer to the below mentioned books which would be sufficient:

  • NCERT Class XII – Human Geography
  • NCERT Class-XII – India-People and Economy

You can also refer to Geography of India 4 Edition.   TOPIC-12: Important Geophysical phenomena Sub-topics: such as earthquakes, Tsunami, 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. Areas to cover:  Critical changes in geographical features like 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. You can read Physical Geography book by Goh Cheng Leong which is mentioned above (Certificate Physical and Human Geography 1st Edition) and it is a repetition but you will be happy as you will be covering two different topics in one book. So, every aspirant should mainly focus on such changes, while covering this topic.   So, now you are thorough with how to cover General Studies Mains Paper-I, don’t stop yourself thinking that you can cover this within the set time-frame but make sure that you take approximately 20 days to cover this paper and one more thing to keep in mind is not commit the common mistake what most aspirants tend to do and that is ‘not practicing answer writing’.   As you now know that how to cover the GS paper I for mains then follow this step of practicing answer writing for previous year questions or take a mock test. And, most importantly don’t forget to revise.   CLICK HERE FOR ANSWER WRITING PRACTICE.   If, we totally sum up, all your preparation for IAS exam is about, ‘read, re-read, write, and revise, if you follow these steps then nothing will stop you this UPSC Exam 2016 in touching that milestone which you desire for.   And a final reminder, don’t forget your daily regime in the course of IAS preparation, make sure to take small breaks during your preparation so that you don’t stress your mind and body.