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HomeGuidanceCivil 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.