GS I Paper Strategy

GS – Paper 1, which is of 250 marks, is one of the best scoring papers in the written examination. It has the most static portion of all the four GS papers – once you read the standard books and understand the content, answering questions from this paper becomes easier.

Even though there is a static portion in this paper, it does not mean factual questions, nor does it mean repeated questions from previous years. Although some exceptions are always there and don’t consider exceptions as examples. It only means that the syllabus won’t change with the current on-going events. Many opinion-based questions are a part of GS-1 as well, which are based on the static portion.

Decoding the syllabus of General Studies- 1, we find that it can be broadly divided into:

  • Modern History
  • Indian culture
  • Post-independence consolidation
  • World history
  • Indian Society
  • Geography

Indian Culture: Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from Ancient to Modern times

This section is a bit tricky as well as there are 1000’s of dance, art, architecture forms are there so it is wise to focus on the concept rather than just reading, so it is mostly on opinion based not the factual part is asked in the examination. Better to have an overall understanding of the subtopics and then you have to focus on commonalities and differences between the dances, songs, literature and art forms for better presentation.

Sources/books for Indian Art and Culture

  • CCRT Website (Preview)
  • Nitin Singhania’s Art and Culture book (Preview)
  • Tamil Nadu book- Class 11th (Preview)
  • New NCERTs (Class 7th-12th)
  • NCERT (Art Class 11th)
  • The Hindu, Friday Review

Modern Indian History from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present significant events, personalities, issues and The Freedom Struggle its various stages and important contributors or contributions from different parts of the country.

Sources/books for Modern Indian History

  • “Spectrum” – Comprehensive History of Modern India
  • India s Struggle for Independence by Bipan Chandra
  • New NCERTs (7th-12th)

Questions on Indian history are something that every serious aspirant will answer well, so you really cannot afford to let go of these questions. If you had done your prelims preparation for this topic well, that is good enough. You just need to practise answer writing.

India’s Post Independence History:

  1. India Since Independence by Bipan Chandra
  2. Pradhan mantra ABP tv series

World History:

Before reading such dry and static topics, always try to watch videos on that, to have a basic ground-level understanding. These topics consist of a bunch of sub-topics like World Wars, American Revolution, French Revolution, Russian Revolution, Industrial Revolution etc. Most of them are stand-alone topics and can be understood within 10-15 minutes if you watch the right videos.

  1. Mastering Modern World History- Norman Lowe (Preview)
  2. History of the World from the Late Nineteenth to the Early Twenty-First Century (Preview)
  3. One very good book to refer is Contemporary World History by J.S.Rajput published by NCERT. (Preview)

Indian Society:

  • This is a generic, nebulous topic with no style or structure. Questions are sometimes vague, philosophical and the challenge we face is not so much in lack of content as in presenting it concisely in 200 odd words.
  • To understand the basics, read NCERT Sociology Std XI and XII. Make concise notes on each topic that includes: a crisp definition, latest statistics, govt schemes, criticism of these schemes; causes of issues such as communalism and regionalism, historical and current examples, their impact on our society, and your suggestions as for the way ahead.
  • You can get these suggestions from the internet or ARC 2 report or some committee report. In case if you find good coaching material for these topics, that’ll do as well.
  • For this topic, a generic answer with proper structure and subheadings that cover multiple dimensions is good enough to fetch you marks. You can find my notes at the end of the article.


It has following subtopics

  1. Salient features of the world’s physical geography.
  2. Distribution of key natural resources across the world; factors responsible for the location of primary, secondary, and tertiary sector industries in various parts of the world (including India).
  3. Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc., geographical features and their location – changes in critical geographical features (including waterbodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes.

Sources for these topics:

  1. NCERT- Class 11th, Physical Geography
  2. Goh Cheng Leong– Physical Geography
  3. Newspapers- The Hindu and Business Line
  4. Modern physical geography by Alan H. Strahler, Arthur Strahler.
  5. Videos on Youtube
  6. Old NCERT Geography- Land and People
  7. New Geography- Class 12th– Human Geography and India-People and Economy

Download material for GS I