GuidanceCivil ServicesHow to Prepare General Studies for Preliminary Exam?

How to Prepare General Studies for Preliminary Exam?


Most of the aspirants think that Preliminary examination is a tough nut to crack and they feel that it is the traditional General Studies paper which makes their attempts miserable. This perception can’t be 100% right. The truth is that General Studies is easy to score when it is prepared smartly. So work smart instead of making it hard.

To master General Studies for UPSC Prelims one needs to get down to basics and understand the concepts rather than mugging up facts or data. Best strategy for preparation of General Studies is by going through previous years question paper pattern. If you follow this idea you can expect the questions that are going to come in the examination.

Also Read: UPSC Civil Services Mains Examination and Syllabus of General Studies

If you are serious enough to devote 3 hours every day for seven months before Prelims you must be able to clear Prelims assuming you are good with paper II (i.e. CSAT). The maximum marks allotted for General studies for UPSC Prelims is 200 where a candidate has to answer 100 questions within a span of 2 hours.

General Studies is the first paper for 200 marks in Civil Services Exam Prelims. This paper include questions from History, Geography, General Science, Economics, Polity, Environment, Art & Culture, Current Affairs etc.


Study about the expansion and the decline of the Europeans, the expansion of British empire and the administrative development in India during the British period ( 1650-1857). One need to have a good understanding of the Indian National movement(1800-1947). Focus more on post 1919 part of the Freedom movement. Especially focus on the period after 1900, specifically 1919-1947 because questions are always asked frequently. For Modern History, go through ‘India’s struggle for Independence’ by Bipan Chandra. It covers all aspects of India’s freedom struggle – required for both prelims as well as mains.

Also Read: How to Prepare for UPSC Exams While Doing a Job?

Art and Culture

Art & Culture is another promising and ‘difficult’ aspect in the syllabus. Few areas like Buddhism & Jainism, Schools of philosophy like Sankhya, Charvaka, Vedanta etc. as well as Indus Valley Civilization, from culture point of view and not from Ancient History point of view. These topics are always important for Civil Services Preliminary Exam. Sangam period from South is again important for UPSC Prelims as well as Mains. From medieval India, the Cultural aspects of Bhakti & Sufi Movement are important.

Indian Polity

To begin, start with Indian Polity and prepare notes from M. Laxmikanth – which is a standard book one needs to follow to clear General Studies for UPSC. The most important area to focus will be The Union (the Union Executive, the Parliament [especially the most important], Center State Relations)

The second area of focus would be System of Government i.e.; Constitutional Framework (Historical Background, Preamble, Salient Features, Fundamental Rights & Duties and Directive Principles of State Policy.)

A third area of focus for Prelims Examination is Constitutional & Statutory bodies. Constitutional bodies (includes Election Commission, CAG, Finance Commission, etc. ) For statutory bodies (the Planning Commission, National Development Council and Human Rights Commission etc.)

Don’t Miss: GS Quiz – Previous History Questions of IAS Exam

Economy and Social Development

Refer to Indian Economic Development of Class XI NCERT & Macroeconomics of Class XII NCERT. Students must focus on chapters like Inflation, Economic Planning & Reforms, Indian Agriculture, Banking in India, Public Finance and Human Development. Also cover topics on International Financial Institutions like World Bank, IMF and WTO which you will need this heavily in your Mains Examination. Also cover the important topics on Sustainable Development, Poverty, Inclusion, Demographics, Social Sector initiatives, etc.

Download the latest Economic Survey of India and update the stats as you make notes. Make notes when you read. It’s impossible to come back to the text books during revision. Notes should be so comprehensive that once you are done, you would not have to take the text-book again.It should be noted, however, that your entire preparation process must be aligned with the newspapers which is actually a bible for General Studies for UPSC Prelims.

Geography and Environment

Geography is another important aspect of reading and understanding NCERT books from 6th – 12th is a must and sure shot way to success. World Geography would include Principles of Geography, Map work, and Climatic and Vegetation zones. This topic would also include climatic phenomena, Earthquakes and Volcanism.

Second is Indian Geography which include questions on physical geography of India, including relief features, mineral resources distribution, vegetation and cropping patterns. And the last one is Environment section which deals with issues like biodiversity, ecology, human geography, climate change and pollution.

Preparation Plan for General Studies for UPSC Prelims

  • Make notes while you read. It’s impossible to come back to the text books during revision period. Notes should be so comprehensive that once you are done, you would not have to take the text-book again.
  • The basic approach should be STUDY-REVISE-IMPROVE.
  • One needs to follow any leading National newspaper.
  • It should be kept in mind that motive of the Prelims examination is to test an aspirants’ recalling and memorizing power. Therefore, one needs to invest a significant amount of time in taking Mock Tests that’ll help immensely. Taking Prelims-based Test series should be an integral part of the entire preparation process.

Also Read: Everything about UPSC – IAS Exam – Preparation Strategy, Syllabus, Eligibility, Optional Subjects, Previous Paper, Books, Schedule, Cut off, Resources.

Articles are written and edited by the Syskool Staffs.


  1. hello sir ….This is kishan kumar from bihar. …dear sir plz suggest books for UPSC PT ..plz…..thanks

    • I CAN
      SUGGEAST….. indian geography by majid husain
      physical geography by savinder singh
      english– wren n martin
      history–of inidia by laxmikanth

  2. No need to leave home, Don’t be stupid, leaving home would not make you ias, study at home and talk to your parents as they have immense and valuable experience which would help you to become mature. Did you left home in 10th and 12 th board exams. Parents are pillars of achievement. Stay in front of them and study in a positive environment because parents are the only positive friends of you.

  3. Hello.sir after read this …my confidence level has been more strong ….plz can u suggest me some books for upsc. .I’m also doing teaching in private field…must reply

  4. Gud evening sir…. plz suggest me books & newspapers or magagens for civil service pre & mains…. also suggest me books of geography as a optional paper….thank u

  5. I am student with mechanical branch …. My favourite subject is thermal and mathematics….. Suggest me …to study better result for upsc .. The main optional subject for me

  6. Kya paper taiyari or interview English m hi compulsory hai kya ? Kripya margdarshan kijiye

  7. Hello sir, I m a B.Tech mechanical engg. 1st yr student
    and I want to prepare for IAS exam so plz suggest me what to do?

  8. I m a BA student studying in ist yrr…How i can prepare for UPSC from still now…My fav..sub is Historyy…Also suggest me some books, Newspapet , magzine etc

  9. hello sir, i have done my btch wid electronic nd communication 2014 .. i don’t know how to prepare for civil services .. pls suggest me how i can prepare syllabus??

  10. sir , I want to know which subject I can choose for prelims . I HV done graduation with commerce n now I m preparing for competitive exams for one n half yr ..

  11. If ur looking fr current affairs notes, thn go for magazines lik kurukshetra nd yojana they r perfect fr it. Best of luck

  12. Sir” mei ias k prepation kr rhe h bt mjhe koi support n mil rha h kaise prepation krni chaiye kya study krni h plzz ap suggest kr dijiye…..

  13. hello sir
    I m a student of M.A ,
    sir, plz suggest me batter optional subject for upsc exam .

  14. sir,what should be sequence of subject for preparation of prelims exam. firstly which subject should we choose…

  15. Sir, i wnt help in preparing of indian polity and economy as i hav a lot of problm in it . So kindly sugst prprtion material and tips to improve it.

  16. Hello sir thanku for the giving information but plz suggest me the best economic and geography book of best writer.and history book of before medival india.

    • Fa geography reading 11 12 ncert books is enough..
      Fa history …Rajeev ahir book of modern India.
      Fa polity as sir told lakshmikant.
      Current affairs ..the Hindu…selective page reading …no need to study regional news.

  17. will electrical will b wise option to choose as optional for upsc for an ece btech student ? if not den plz suggest which will b gd?

  18. Sir ! I have epathshala app books to read.
    I had soft copy material. Only..
    Fa history I had Rajeev ahir book.
    What is sucees ratio of person who had basic concepts only of all the ncert books ..and tell me also epathshala app for ncert is relevant or not?

  19. Hello sir I am student of second year . I want to start preparation of upsc and how start preparation. Sir me some advise.

  20. Respected sir, im completed Btect and now im starting preparation for upsc exam. Pls suggest books and how to start preparation for main and prelim exam. Also suggest optional subject for me (history or public administration)

  21. Hi sir I’m completed B.E Computer science and I want to start preparing for preliminary and main please suggest me book

Comments are closed.

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