Blog for IAS aspirants

Strategy for GS (Advanced- Unit Wise) by Ms. Rukmani Riar

In Uncategorized on June 2, 2012 at 14:03

Vote of Thanks

First, I must thank Ms. Rukmani Riar (Rank-2) for being very kind to spare some time and share her strategy for GS preparation. She will try and reply to any queries you post. She has scored exceedingly well in GS (311 marks) and so I feel she will be able to guide the candidates much better. I thank her on behalf of all the candidates once again.

How to prepare for GS

General Studies is the most crucial paper of CSE. With the news taking rounds thatUPSC is planning to do away with the optionals the importance of GS has increased manifold.

Newspaper the best friend!

First and foremost reading a newspaper (I read Hindu) is the starting point. Now the question is how to read the paper.  Initially one must spend 45 minutes to one hour on the paper. With time the duration can come down to half an hour.  The national news, international news and the economy sections of the paper must not be ignored. One can choose to make notes from the paper daily and keep the editorials which can help immensely to answer essay, bilateral and international sections with ease and efficiency.  As science and technology section of UPSC is very unpredictable therefore newspaper will be most handy means to answer this section.  One more point to be kept in mind is that not to stop reading the paper at any time of the preparation, as this helps the aspirants to write up-to-date answers which will give them that extra edge needed to clear the exam with eminence.  The notes made from the newspaper must be revised at least 2-3 times before the prelims and editorials be read once before the mains. You can separate the editorials subject wise (if they are on topics in optional syllabus) which will make the revision more organised.

Monthly Magazines

After the newspaper, reading of two magazines is a must. I recommend you to pick fromPritiyogitaDarpan (PD), Competition wizard and Civil services times. The special editions of these magazines are very helpful in attempting the CSE. For example the economy edition of PD, Geography and history special of wizard are very comprehensive and detailed.Yojna and Kurukshetra should be selected edition wise, if the topic is very contemporary or useful for the optionals, as the entire magazine is on one topic so magazines like these need not be read in entirety and only two articles can be selected to prepare oneself adequately on the topic of that edition.  Some of the yojna issues last year on rural development, urban migration, Agriculture helped me immensely for my optionals and GS.

When magazines are read it’s advisable to mark on the outset the points for P.T and the sections for Mains (you can use different pens or just write PT, Mains on the side) this will help in quicker revision at a later stage and help you to save very crucial time.

Indian Polity

For Indian Polity I read D.D Basu along with bare act from P.M Bakshi. Each topic must be read along with the articles which makes the preparation more through.  Indian Polity Wizard book (ALS Publication) is available in the market it can be consulted along with the books mentioned. Any news with regard to Indian polity (elections, political and democratic institutions) must be read on the internet to have more factual information for prelims and in depth analysis for the mains. (e.g from the last month news following questions need a clear understanding: should we move towards a presidential form of government?,  what are the advantages of having parliamentary form of democracy, when was lokpal bill first introduced what is its composition as proposed by government at present? Details of Electoral College for Indian President’s elections).

Indian History

For history I recommend NCERT books (6th to 12th) for ancient, medieval and Morden sections.  The modern history is most important from the point of view of CSE hence it requires additional effort.  You can refer to wizard book on Modern History or General Studies manual (Tata McGraw) for the same. Apart from this solving previous year question papers and expected questions must be practiced to give oneself a fair idea about the level of preparation.   For Indian culture any book can be picked up which covers Indian festivals, art and literature forms, Architecture, poetry, literature and drama history of India.


In Indian geography section, physiology, drainage, population, location of all scientific institutions, mineral distribution, industries, environment, ecology and wildlife, energy need special emphasis. Energy chapter in India year book can be consulted to update the information if time permits. Industry must be studied from both geography and economy point of view. Ecology and wildlife is very crucial and hence must be updated regularly from the newspapers. Small maps in the atlas on soil types, scientific institutions, mineral deposits etc can be looked at to memorise easily.

For general geography and world geography the same wizard book on geography will be more than sufficient. Special editions on these topics are published in Competition Wizard magazine which can be helpful for quick revision (only for prelims). Any place which is in news should be looked up on the map to understand its exact location and surrounding areas.

Indian Economy

Indian economy needs special emphasis. I recommend reading a basic book for clearing the concepts (for those of non-economic background), it could be 12th level economics book. These concepts need to be regularly updated from the economic sections of newspapers and magazines.  The fundamentals  need to be clear and for that one should make a list of all basic terms of economics that one comes across on daily basis and discuss with teachers or friends e.g what is the difference between FDI and FII or between fiscal deficit and revenue deficit.  I also would recommend the CSE aspirants to read the following chapters in economic survey

  1. Social Security
  2. Agriculture


For the prelims the order of preference must be biology > physics> chemistry. General Studies manual (tatamcgraw) serves the purpose or one can refer to 10thand 12th standard books of these subjects (ncert).


One must focus on statistics as they are sure shot marks in the mains. Statistics must not be ignored as they can make a difference of 50 marks to the final total.

Bilateral and International relations

The reason I have put this under a separate head is because for the mains bilateral and international relations form veryimportant part of GS paper 2, in which candidates tend to have a low score. It is important to keep all updates on this topic from the newspapers and monthly magazines. Towards the mains a special wizard book (mains special) comes out which I referred to update this section. Civil services times (magazine) constantly updates the development on this front which proved very useful.  Also, this section must be prepared with a equal focus on factual information and its analytical part. (e.g. How are regional organisations impacting the geopolitical canvas of South Asia?)

Science and technology

Science and technology section is very vast and unpredictable. I would not advice non science students to spend too much time on this section. Whatever can be covered from newspapers should be done. Defence, environment, nuclear and space science are some important sections which need special emphasis.

Is there a difference between mains and prelims preparation?

Many have their own views on this question, but if you were to ask me, there isn’t much of a difference as one needs factual and analytical information for mains as well as the prelims. Based on my experience one should start GS preparation from the mains point of view at the onset (about 8 months prior to prelims). The detailed and exhaustive preparation for mains helps CSE candidates to become adequately prepared to tackle all kinds of questions in prelims. 2-3 months prior to the prelims ones focus for GS preparation should only be prelims, which includes fast repeated revisions, solving previous year questions or some test series available in the market, going back to the notes from the newspapers, re-reading the marked sections for PT in monthly magazines and practicing mathematics for CSAT .

The last word!

Revision is the key to score well in GS. I made a consistent effort to revise conventional GS at least 4 times before the mains, and also go back to newspaper notes and magazines (marked portions).

When it comes to attempting the GS mains two things are important one, stick to the word limit and second attempt 250 plus in both the papers.


  1. Thanks, Prince jee your blog brings miracle change in my became my ideal person…

  2. dear sir/mam
    i want to know that in the mains, one shud write bold nd tough lang. or simple nd precise that shud be understood by upsc…

  3. First of all congrats for your grand succese sir please tell me good english dictionary

  4. Hello Sir
    I wish to ask that, what is the name of the DD Basu book, Is it constitutional law of India or Introduction to constitution of India? In History, are we expected to remember the literary sources or the places where historical sites have been found.

  5. Mam will u plz tell me from where i should study international organisation

  6. Sir mein GS ke liye NCERT ki 6th to 12th all subjects ki book read karu ya ……jo krni chahiye plz refer me as soon as possible.

  7. I am doing G.S. classes from Vajiram and finding science and tech classes not good,so had a ques,that from where did you studied S&T?
    Is his classes worth attending?
    I guess the teacher(Rahul shanker) was same in your’s time.

  8. dear prince sir
    i m a student of class tenth and my dearest aim is to become youngest IAS of india. plz guide me which stream i should opt in 11th whether arts or science to enhance my chances. answer my query in light of expected changes in mains. i shall be highly obliged.

    • Please note that you should never put all your eggs in one basket. I would suggest that presently you focus on what interests you. Do not worry about IAS right now. You are only in class-10. Follow your passions. Don’t look at everything in life with IAS in mind. Have a broad outlook- that is very very important.
      So choose whatever you like studying. You have a very long time before you appear for the exam (at least another 5-6 years), and when the time comes, if you have done your studies properly, you would be able to crack the exam. Just do whatever stream you like. It has got nothing to do with your chances of success in the IAS exam. All the best.

  9. Badhai ho 4 ias selction

  10. Hello Prince ! Congratulations for your success and thanks for maintaining such a nice blog! Often I feel that reading newspaper and then making its notes is in itself so much time taking that I have no time left for my optional subjects. Though I understand the necessity of this exercise, I look for your advice keeping in view that I am in a job and leaving it is not an option for me as of now. Thanks !

    • Initially everyone feels like that but slowly when you start wrapping up your newspaper within 2 hours, you will find more time for Optionals. Optionals are very important for exam so please do not neglect them.

  11. Its rare that a blog so informative could be so interesting to read. Every part has been holistically discussed. However, as a beginner I have a few questions. My optional subjects are Geography and Public Administration. I would be able to complete my GS till November from Mains perspective. How many times do I need to revise GS before Prelims (I am still in my fourth year of BE so I don’t have more than 6 hours at my disposal)? Also, do I need to read Dutt an Sundaram for Indian Economy after having read India’s economic interaction with the world from coaching booklet? Also, I am going to start my optionals preparation from beginning of November. Is my preparation going properly as I want to give it a serious try?
    Last but not least, I would like to thank you for being so helpful to IAS aspirants.

    • Thank you for your compliments. They are very encouraging. As regards your queries-
      1. You should keep revising your GS as much as you can till your Prelims. Make sure you don’t forget important details.
      2. No need to read Dutt and Sundaram if you have read from coaching booklet.
      3. Yes your preparation is timed well.

  12. sir, can you tell me about best coaching in delhi for g.s, public adm and geography

    • There is no such thing as best coaching. Please choose your coaching institute based on feedback from seniors and other people who have already attended classes.

  13. which ministry websites are important ? also please request rukmani to write on political science for those who have opted for it,it would b of great help

    • I have already mentioned about the important websites. Please read other comments. Also, it may not be possible to get the write-up on pol sc now as their training has already begun.

  14. Hello Mr. Dhawan,

    Along with being highly informative, your blog is also extremely inspiring. Keep up the good work! Blogs like these act as great support systems for people like me who are preparing from home and do not have access to great coaching classes or great notes.

    My optionals for CSE 2013 are Political Science & International relations and Psychology. The blog entry by Ms. Sehna Agarwal made it easier for me to chart out a strategy for my preparation. In the future, if you could manage to post a similar entry for Political Science & International Relations, it would be of great help.

    Hoping to see an entry for Political Sci on the blog.


  15. hello prince,
    another question from my side..
    what are your views about kurukshetra magazine.. i mean none of the successful aspirants have mentioned it. :O but i think as india is basically a rural economy more than 70% of population belongs to rural sector.. so y not to read this magazine.. or if yes then how to read to get fruitful knowledge..

  16. Sir those aspirants of long term(cse14/15) are baffled as speculations of change in mains hovering around. In light of that, hw 1 sud go? Which area to focus till upsc come up with a change. Plz guide us sir

  17. Hello Rukmani Ma’am,
    i want to give CSE 2014 and my medium will be Hindi… plz guide me that…..
    1. Is ALS good for GS (hindi) bcoz u had attained ALS for GS(english)?
    2. Is ALS right place for Hindi Medium aspirants?
    3. Have you any idea of a Coaching/Institute for History as one of my optional?

    plz rply me MA’AM as soon as possible……..

  18. Hi Dhawan.. You are doing wonderful job. I have a very small question.. Which Atlas need to refer for Geography and similarly which book should be refer for History’s map questions ? Thanks in Advance ..:):)

    • As far as GS is concerned, for Geography, Oxford’s Atlas is good. There is no need to do any map work specially for History as far as GS is concerned. For Optional subjects, I am not aware.

  19. hello sir,
    your contributions to this blog are invaluable and your efforts still after getting into the service indicates your committed nature and I feel very much enlightened by following your blog. To confess I cannot restrain myself feeling jealous on your success in very first attempt but I’m nowhere when I compared myself with you. I hope you will have your own scratches on our bureaucracy with your dedication and innovative skills.
    I have cleared this year prelims and going to take mains with Public Administration and Anthropology as my optionals. I just started my preparation in july last year and my coaching lasted till march of this year. consequently I could not find any time to read all the important books which names are chanted by all the rankers all the time like NCERT books, IYB, Economic Survey or any other books. Due to paucity of time I cannot even spend adequate time for GS preparation. I just started my mains preparation after taking prelims only and for that reason I’m concentrating much on my optionals. I’m taking tests on them also.
    With just one month ahead what strategy would you suggest me that can yield good out of the situation if not best, because I just want write this year mains seriously as if it is my last attempt.
    I born and brought up in a small village in Andhrapradesh, I studied in Govt. schools till my 10th std and small towns till my graduation that too in Telugu medium, all that I have positive is that I got 97.1% in 10+2. I took coaching frm R.C.Reddy instt, Hyd.
    As a brother I request with awe your invaluable suggestions.
    I ever thankful to you…and eagerly await your reply…

    • Thank you so much for your kind words of appreciation.
      As you have a time constraint, in your case, I would suggest that you concentrate on your optionals as you have been doing and try and master them. For GS, do as much as you can in the remaining time. At least read newspapers and frontline/yojana magazine. You may skip the magazines and read NCERTs instead. If you really do want to give your best then this is the bare minimum which you must somehow manage.
      It may be tough but not impossible.

  20. Dear sir,

    I will be starting my preparation from oct, according to you will it be wise to appear in prelims in may 2013 since i have limited no. of attempts i.e 4 and also there is news that subjects would be done away with and only gs would be there in mains. or should i appear in 2014.
    Also people say work smartly not hardly in ics exams can u please elaborate on this

    • I think the decision whether or not to appear in 2013 is your individual decision and I really can’t comment on that.
      As regards the strategy for exam- intelligent hardwork is the key to success.

  21. hi prince,,

    you have repeatedly told to visit to min websites, but what info we have to look in them ?

  22. First of all accept my great congratulations to u for ur splendid success,sir my query is that from a non economics background of mine i just want u to guide me about how will i be able to build base as many of the acronyms like economic terms is not comingmy plz if u submit any goodstrategy regarding economics.

  23. first f all ,thank you so very much for sharing ur ideas and strategy. . . .prince , you hav done a gud job. . Keep it going!

  24. Hello Prince sir!!
    Thank you for maintaining such an updated blog.Apart from the blogs the regular replies of yours to all the queries are also helpful as these issues are encountered by almost all CSE students.

    I hurried through my attempt last year and could not clear the exam this time around.I will be finishing my coaching for an optional and Vajiram’s (Main) course in a month’s time.What should be my strategy from now onwards ?

    I could not cover Economic survey and IYB fully and had gone through the abridged version available in market for my attempt.Should i read them cover-to-cover now?
    Please advise me on the strategy for optionals as i plan to cover them till December and later start concentrating on prilims.

    Thank you.

    • Your strategy should be to write as many tests as possible and consolidate your knowledge in all the subjects. Join test series if you can and practice answer writing. For GS, keep yourself updated. Vajiram will bring out monthly current affairs booklets- read them. Also read Yojana, Frontline and The Hindu. Keep revising your notes so that they are on your finger-tips.

      Read Economic Survey in detail. Abridged version of IYB is enough.

  25. madam,
    can u please share ur strategy on pol science in which u got phenomenal results

  26. current affairs from which month

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