Strategy for General Studies-1


There are four General Studies Papers + Essay paper + Optional paper in UPSC mains Examinations.

The UPSC provides a basic instruction on which you should focus:

“The questions are likely to test the candidate’s basic understanding of all relevant issues, and ability to analyze, and take a view on conflicting socio‐ economic goals, objectives and demands. The candidates must give relevant, meaningful and succinct answers.”


Let’s discuss about strategy for General Studies-1 


GS-1 mainly covers – Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World (including India) and Society.


There are many topics and subtopics in the GS-1 syllabus. You should study these topics and sub topics many times. Take a printout of the syllabus and paste it where you study. Reading the syllabus is the most important thing.


Previous year trends


As we can see in the bar diagram below, the proportion of History has gone down in the past five years. Reason behind it is the increased focus on current affairs related questions. So static syllabus related questions have lessened. But still the importance of History cannot be overlooked, especially Modern History.



Indian culture


Reference sources:


  • NCERT Books
  • NIOS Books
  • Class XI NCERT an Introduction to Indian Art
  • NCERT History- Class VI, VII, VIII, XII, 
  • CCRT Website


  • When you read History of India, also look for art and culture points and note them down.
  • Read relevant chapters from the NCERTs that are connected to the Sub-Topics.

Previous year trends: Art and Culture has also seen a decline trend aggregating 10 marks in year 2019.



Modern Indian History and Freedom Struggle


Topic: Modern Indian History (1750s to present)


  • It consists of Freedom Struggle + Important Events + Contributions of personalities impacting the nation
  • Study the questions asked in the previous year.
  • Focus on [Basic events + Current affairs]


Topic: The Freedom Struggle


Reference sources:


  • Bipan Chandra’s Struggle for Independence
  • Spectrum’s Modern History Book.

Pre-independence history’s importance has shown an increasing trend. It mainly consists of events related to India’s freedom struggle.


Topic: Post-independence consolidation and reorganization within the country


  • Cover the topic from Chapter 6 to 12 of Bipan Chandra’s India since Independence.


World History


Topic: History of the world (18th century events like industrial revolution, world wars, redrawal of national boundaries, colonization, decolonization, political philosophies like communism, capitalism, socialism etc.- their forms and effect on society)


Reference sources:


  • ‘Mastering Modern World history by Norman Lowe) + NCERT class IX, X and XI (Look for World History portion)
  • Old NCERT World History Class X


Social Issues


Topic: Salient Features of Indian Society, Diversity of India


Cover the topics from:


  • NCERT Indian Society Class XII
  • Indian Society: Ram Ahuja

Topic: Role of women and women’s organization, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies


  • The topic is current affairs based. So newspapers and magazines are important. Notice the current events related to the topics.
  • Read about women’s role in freedom struggle, art and culture etc. You should be able to interlink different parts of the syllabus.
  • For Communalism and Regionalism you can refer to IGNOU Notes.


Topic: Effect of Globalization on Indian Society


  • Mutual relationship between Indian Society and Globalization should be studied. You can read the following:
    • Indian Society – Ram Ahuja
    • Social Problems in India- Ram Ahuja


Topic: Social empowerment, communalism, regionalism & secularism


  • Read and note the basic concepts from the internet, Wikipedia.




Topic: 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 industries in various parts of the world (including India)



  • NCERT Class XII-Human Geography
  • NCERT Class XII- India-People and Economy
  • Geography of India- Majid Hussain


Topic: Important Geophysical phenomena 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



  • Certificate Physical and Human Geography by Goh Cheng Leong.
  • For critical changes in geographical features the focus should be on changes like climate change


Important points:


  • Do not read many books. Keep one source and read it many times.
  • Make brief notes on the subtopics. Keep revising and updating them.
  • Current affairs develop your analytical skills.
  • Devote fixed time to answer writing.


Topic- ‘Distribution of Natural Resources across the globe’ 


It has seen a decreasing trend in the past few years.This year we had a question on ‘Location of industries’. It is of less significance if we look at past year trends.




  • It is a very important topic. Though in 2019 it accounted for just 15 marks, it was assigned 45 marks in 2018.
  • Important issues: urbanization, rurbanization, cities, smart cities, urban reforms, sustainable development, local administration, congestion of cities, Amrut, Swatchh Bharat Mission (SBM), Rurban Mission