How to prepare for GS paper-1

How to prepare for GS paper-1

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The strategy for General Studies paper 1 should be more inclined towards the General Studies mains syllabus provided by UPSC. Because most of the topics given in the General Studies Paper 1 is static in nature, UPSC asks questions based on the current events based. If you score above average marks in all the papers you can get a very decent rank.

The content we are going to learn are:

  • Paper trends in the past years
  • History
  • Geography
  • Social issues

In these history, geography, social issues there are three different segments that you have to study. You know that there is no fixed routine of study  hours, you should just fixed that you have to study for 10 hours per day. So divide those 10 hours into 5 different segments. Prepare one subject for 1 segment.

 Paper trends in past years

There is no particular trend we don’t know that can come in the exam so you have to give equal weightage for all. Social issues is important because you can use social issues in essay also.


   Here are the reference books for history syllabus. They are;

  1. Indian Culture:- NCERT Introduction to Fine Arts,      other NCERT History books.
  2. Modern History struggle:- Old NCERT, Coaching material.
  3. The Freedom struggle:- Coaching Material (where take the coaching).
  4. Post-Independence India:-Booklets.
  5. World History:-Old NCERT by Arjun Dev.

            In this syllabus Modern History struggle and The Freedom struggle are the advents of English. While preparing you have to learn some particular definitions. While writing exam you have to represent the answer by starting with introduction and explain the question about why and how. At last give the conclusion for the question. In this you have to learn most about all the movements in the syllabus for example; Bhakthi movement, and suphi movement., etc. and their will be chance of  asking more questions on Gandhiji. And you have to be aware of syllabus for the exam.

Indian Culture:

For this chapter you have to focus on NCRET books. Read NCERT and revise the “Introduction to Fine Arts”. Be thorough about booklets  or coaching materials or other reference books which are given by where you taking the coaching. While reading the other parts of history books, focus on culture parts also. And must avoid rote learning and analyze the content. Analyze previous years question papers try to discuss about the questions.

Modern Indian History and Freedom Struggle:

While listening to the classes try to write the notes and use that notes for preparation and mostly should focus on topics which are related to Gandhi ji. The Timeline, important events, movements, acts etc; have to be focused more. You have to make the short notes while reading the reference books so that it can be useful before the exam instead of reading the entire chapter. This can be used for writing essay also and remember the definitions also. After this go through the previous question papers and analyze it. 

Post-Independent India:

One this topic do crisp reading from any material you would like to prepare. Focus on consolidation and re-organisation. Administrative advancements, political developments have to be focused more about it. From this topic zero questions coming from past 2-3 years. The questions on this have been asked in the year 2013, go through those previous papers.

World History:

Important events with timeline to be noted for example you have learn about American Revolution, french Revolution, Industrial Revolution. It seems to be boring but you have to still read it again and again. Try to connect all dimensions and learn important topics like Anti colonial movements, Revolutions etc. From this questions have been asked in the year 2014, 2018. Go through it.

Prelims related syllabus:

  • Ancient Indian and medieval India: NCERT
  • Read and revise old/new NCERT books several times
  • Focus on key words
  • Take a lot of tests to revise the topics
  • Make use of this portion in essay examination


There are some reference books for syllabus:

  1. Worlds Physical Geography:- Old NCERT, G C Leong
  2. Distribution of key natural resources etc:- New NCERT 11th and 12th standard, Coaching material.
  3. Geophysical Phenomena, geographical features:- New NCERT 11th and 12th standard, Coaching material.

World’s Physical Geography (including India):

NCERT books of 11th and 12th and class notes are the primary references for this topic that have to learn. You have to memories those books and try to remember those points that you have noted down in your notes. Other references are obviously the coaching materials. Go through the answer scripts of topper’s and check the answer how they have represented them which are available in the internet. While preparing make a notes by using charts, diagrams and graphs. Graphs must be drawn from for every questions from this topic and must aware of drawing Indian and World map. And do practice from previous question papers. NCERT is highly important. In the year 2016, 2013 most of the questions are given.

Key Natural Resources, Industries etc:

You have to refer NCERT videos from the YouTube which given by Lectures. You have to read Newspapers and current affairs for topics like conservation efforts, technological advancements etc. It is some dynamic type, and must be aware on current affairs. You have read which are related to Economics part and specially focus on India’s natural resources and industries. Analyze Previous year papers. Refer 2014, 2018 papers.

Geophysical phenomena, Climate change impact etc:

Firstly you have to refer the NCERT and Newspapers and Current affairs. Important report findings to be incorporated in answer and make short notes because of vast syllabus so that it can be useful before the exam. Prepare from 2017, 2018 previous question papers.

Social Issues

Here are the syllabus that you have be aware of and the reference books you must follow are:

  1. Indian Society, Diversity of India:- Follow NCERT book, read “Indian Society”, “Social Changes and Development in India” topics which clearly explained in the book. It will be useful during preparation. This topic is highly important for exam.
  2. Women Organization, Population, Poverty, Urbanization etc:-To be aware of this topic you have to do Current Affairs on it.
  3. Effects of Globalization:- The chapters “Social Change and Development in India” from NCERT book you this topics clearly, it is useful for you. And the chapter-6 of NCERT that is “Current Affairs”. Clearly given.
  4. Social Empowerment, Communication etc:- For this chapter you can browse from the internet for more information and current affairs.

Salient Features of Indian Society, Diversity of India:

Mostly you must follow from NCERT books and follow from coaching materials that where you are going for. When you are learning on this topic take help of your friends having sociology optional and discuss with them. Give various dimensions in your answers. Analyze the previous papers.

Women Organization, Population, Poverty, Urbanization etc:

    It is very important topic  in the GS paper.

  • Pick all the parts of syllabus and prepare separately; definition of keywords
  • Ram Anuja’s –If you have sufficient time just go through the this book once and know what happens and get a basic idea of what are the problems of India and go through the syllabus.
  • Give more important to the women’s related issues and latest news on these issues. Read newspaper and this can be useful for not only the GS paper it is useful for the other exam papers also. For example; status of women in health, education, employment etc.
  • You must follow the previous question papers of the years 2014, 2015, 2018.

Effects of Globalization on Indian Society:

For any topic you must have to refer the NCERT book. Go through the chapter-6 “Social change and Development in India”. Read Incorporate current affairs e.g; changing trends in family, employment, religion, bureaucracy etc. Separately read from the newspapers. And prepare from last year papers.

Social Empowerment, Communalism, Regionalism, Secularism:

For this you can also prepare from Ram Ahuja’s book, go through the “Social Problems in Indian”. Once you refer from newspapers or you can browse from internet you can get a relevant examples from those. And try to learn the definitions by maintaining a dictionary of your choice. Analyze from past year papers.

If you what more information about how to prepare for GS paper 1. You can also follow the videos from our website;

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In this video you get more information about strategy and approach for GS paper-1. Sameer Saurabh AIR-32, CSE 2018 have explained very well about this GS paper 1 and clarified all the doubts which are give by the students who were preparing for this particular exam. This video tells you the interlinking different topics while preparing GS paper. It helps you how to be well Develop your writing skills for better score in this exam. And the Sameer Saurabh have told how to manage the preparation time for the subjects when to read what to read. And also explained all the questions that have come from past previous papers and discussed the answers for those questions.


Written by: Kattupalli Amulya (Rishi M.S.Institute of Engineering & Technology For Women)

*This blog was selected as one of the best blogs in the blog competition held by NEXT IAS for Campus Ambassador Programme.

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