General studies tips

General Studies is an important subject for anyone preparing for civil services examinations. Dr Iqbal Hussain Mir, who secured third rank in the KAS 2011 merit list, shares some tips for good performance in the General Studies (Mains) paper.

General Studies (GS) is a common paper for all the aspirants. Everyone prepares it according to his perception and liking towards a particular portion. But few things are essential while preparing for GS.

The First thing to be kept in mind is that it is a multi-component subject. Every component needs special attention and no component should be left untouched.

Second important thing with GS is that unlike the other subjects for which the syllabus is available in detail, no such thing is available for GS. Therefore one feels confused where to start and what to study.

Answer writing is also very important in GS. Unlike the optional where the students may have a hold on themes and vocabulary, some questions in GS may make even well prepared students nervous. Therefore, answer writing should be practiced and every topic should be looked from different angles.

Let us deal with each component in detail Modern history of India: Develop interest in history and devote some time everyday in reading this component of GS. Ideally one should begin with the establishment of British rule in India.

Important events that shaped the era and situations should be learnt in detail. Any book that covers the topics in detail may be consulted. NCERT publications on modern history explain thing in a detailed yet simple manner. Particular emphasis should be laid on freedom struggle and various events that were related with it. Besides events, due emphasis on important personalities should be given.

Geography: Many questions are asked from this component and generally cover some basic themes. Again NCERT publication may be consulted. Topics on physical geography like relief features of India are important. Likewise social and economic geography should be dealt nicely.

One important thing that most of the students forget is the relevance of this component in relation to J&K particularly the economic geography and natural resources. Topics on wild life of J&K should be studied. Demography should be included this time as the 15th Census has been concluded.

Economy: Indian economy is an important component of GS. One should start with the very basics of Indian economy. Topics like national income, planning, inflation should be studied. Importance should be give to Indian agriculture. Recent important topics in economy like budget and imposition of taxes should be stressed. Spectrum’s Indian economy is sufficient. If clarification is needed one may consult any text for explanation.

Polity: From the making of the Indian Constitution till recent amendments, everything needs to be remembered. However, one should not go article by article. Important topics which are always highlighted in any book should be dealt with.

Spectrum’s Indian Polity may be considered for this component. While writing the answers, unnecessary details should always be avoided. Stick close to the theme and try to be as specific as possible. Answers in this portion look attractive if technical terms are inserted. But make sure that you use appropriate terms at appropriate place.

Statistics: It is a scoring and an easy component of GS. Candidates should not be worried even if they are not good in statistics/ mathematics. The questions asked in the section check some basic knowledge of statistics. One should start from the basic definitions like statistics, raw data, primary data, secondary data etc and learn to tabulate data from diverse sources.

Diagrammatic and graphical representation of data should be practiced. Simple data and those requiring complex diagrams (sub divided bar graphs) need to be taken care off. This year UPSC asked two questions on ‘ogive’ so it should be practiced well. Carry a simple twelve digit calculator, a pair of compasses and a protector with you.

Science and technology: This remains a tricky component. Questions from this section demand a diverse knowledge of contemporary happenings in science and technology. This year India’s focus was on space technology, so candidates should stress on satellites launched by India this year.

Besides in health care centre diseases like malaria, Japanese encephalitis etc are in news, so questions on these topics are expected. For the science technology component, Thursday issue of the Hindu may be helpful. Besides special issues of magazines having topics on science and technology may be consulted.

Current events: This is the most diverse section of GS. Anything pertaining to an event people, place or any organisation can be asked.
One should be a regular reader of newspapers and magazines to cover this section fully. Usually questions on recent development in the world relevant to India are asked. Try to include some acronyms like (BRIC, NIRDESH) in your studies.



Although one should try to score in GS as much as one can to maximise ones gain but don’t worry even if you are not able to attempt all questions. Try to explain answers to questions logically and clearly. Avoid unnecessary details to stay in word limit.


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