How to Prepare For General Studies in UPSC Exam?

By | 06/01/2018

The Union Public Service Commission exam is a three-tier system of preliminary examinations, main examinations and personality test (interview). You are required to clear the UPSC Prelims initially and only then are you eligible for UPSC mains.

To achieve qualifying marks in Prelims, a good base in general studies is essential. UPSC Prelims consist of two general studies paper: Part I and Part II. General studies, or Part I, is divided into conventional topics like Indian polity, history, geography, economics, scientific technology and secondly, General Knowledge regarding current affairs. Part II mainly comprises of interpersonal communication skills, logical reasoning and aptitude problems.

Before appearing in any examination, especially competitive tests, you need to obtain detailed information regarding the syllabus and question paper pattern. We bring for your convenience subject-wise strategies for General Studies. The names of recommended books are also mentioned.

Indian Geography

Indian Geography holds most mark weightage. Indian Geography includes Indian physiography, river systems, climate, mineral wealth, soil types, agriculture, forests, wildlife and its conservation and lastly human geography. NCERT books are best for your preparation. After covering these, you can learn about World Geography from the Oxford School Atlas book.

Indian History

You need to gain a better understanding of Indian history, and several books highlight the importance of the national history. Some suggested books are History of Modern India and India’s Struggle for Independence by Bipan Chandra, Satish Chandra’s History of Medieval India and R.S. Sharma’s India’s Ancient Past. Art and Culture of Buddhism, Jainism and the Indus valley civilisation are also to be covered. Modern Indian history is given more weightage than ancient and medieval history, but you should not leave out any topics because UPSC loves to surprise its aspirants with some uniqueness in their exam papers every year.

Indian Polity and Governance

Introduction to the Constitution of India by D.D. Basu is sufficient for enriching your knowledge of the Indian Constitution, but it will be beneficial for you if you follow Indian Polity for Civil Service Examination by M. Laxmikanth to know about the political system, panchayat system, public policies and human rights.

Indian Economy

Before you feature deeper into economics studies, you need to apprise yourself of some basic terms of economics like repo rate, reverse repo, CRR, SLR and so on to carry on your further studies. You can start by reading one acclaimed book on Indian economy thoroughly. You can opt for Indian Economy by Dutt & Sundaram or by Ramesh Singh. The most important topics are poverty, inclusion, demography and social service initiatives.

Science and Technology

Science and Technology in India – TMH is the best guide to provide you with a detailed idea of all the emerging technologies. For scoring well in this section, you have to be aware of the latest trending science-related topics and developments. You must follow the activities of ISRO, DRDO, Ministry of Science and Technology. Be focused on the current happenings in India.


Indian Forest Services (IFS) exam has been associated with Civil Service Prelims, so naturally, the importance of this subject has increased. You need to follow Rajagopalan’s Environmental Studies and NCERT and ICSE books for learning about different environmental issues.

General Knowledge and Current Affairs

Books like Manorama Yearbook, Concise General Knowledge Manual by Barry O’Brien and respective year publications of Indian Year Book are beneficial. But you need to read newspapers and even have to surf the internet to update yourself about current upbringings of Indian affairs. You can google the newer topics to get more information. Make it a habit to note down all the latest information you learn in a separate copy and remember to revise those on a daily basis.

So, coming back to the question – “How can you prepare for general studies in UPSC exam?”. The most concise answer to that would be to follow the syllabus thoroughly and read tactically. You need to follow the motto Study-Revise-Improve to succeed in the exam with flying colours. Form your daily routine strategically so that you can study the new topics, revise the older lessons and practise some test papers. Be focused and motivated. Do not lose your hope. Tell yourself “I can” when you get demotivated. All the best for your preparation!