Before discussing the strategy, it is important to know the break-up of the previous year questions asked for a sub-topic of different subjects. Accordingly the resources and planning should be and would be organized for a better strategy for Mains. If you have not gone through the analysis of GS-1, visit here (LINK)


The core subjects of GS-1 are-


  • History
  • Indian Society
  • Art & Culture
  • Geography


Starting with Art & Culture-


Booklist/Resources suggested by toppers


  • An Introduction to Indian Art- Class XI
  • Fine Arts NCERT Class XII
  • Centre for Cultural Resource and Training (CCRT) material.
  • Nitin Singhania – Selective reading for topics not covered fully in earlier books like Bhakti and Sufi saints (table), Literature, etc.
  • Chapters related to culture in Ancient and Medieval India NCERTs
  • A Complete Solution to Art & Culture (LINK)




  • In this section, questions asked by UPSC in recent years are more of analytical type so it requires both the factual content and good analysis to answer the question. And for this you have to have an understanding of the historical background of related arts. For example, Sangam Literature- Do not just be limited to its features but study about the social, political, religious and economic context to form an analysis part.


  • For a beginner, it is suggested not to start with this topic but come only after getting acquainted with other GS Topics.


  • Make good use of the Internet to understand both visual and performing arts for real-life experience because this way recollection becomes easier and vague answers have high chances to become decent ones.


  • Try to illustrate your answers with diagrams, some broad sketches like Temple Architecture, caves, stupas, wherever relevant. (You don’t need to be an artist, just try to on similar lines but fast)


  • You can also refer to literature work, in case question is asked on poets/ writers like Guru Granth for Sikhism, Bijak (Kabir das), works of Kalidasa, etc.


  • You can also mention GI tags in your answers, number of World heritage sites in India, schemes for art and culture, etc. For a specific site, you can mention in conclusion that it’s a World heritage site and protected as per our FD in Article 51A.


  • For introductions, if the question is on a specific site like Bhimbetka, mention its time period and make a map to mark its location. If it’s a general question, you can begin the answer by showing the evolution of that art form.


  • Last but never the least do not forget to cover Previous Year Questions.


  • Remember Art & Culture requires a ton of memorization and there is honestly no shortcut to master this except multiple revisions of your compiled resources.


Indian Society


Booklist/Resources suggested by toppers


  • NCERT Sociology – Class XI & XII


  • Indian Society/Social Problems in India – Ram Ahuja (This is a suggestion if you wish to consolidate your notes or understand some topics/concepts)


  • A Complete Solution to Indian Society (LINK)
  • Prahaar (Indian Society) (LINK)




  • This is a topic or rather a subject with topics very generic in nature, that we are acquainted with somehow, but still lacks a structure when it comes to answer writing. The challenge here lies not in lack of Content but lack of style to present it concisely in asked words because sometimes questions are vague, philosophical .


  • A better suggestion to handle this section would be to make concise notes on each topic with a pattern like- a definition, related government schemes, their criticism, recent Statistics, causes of issues like urbanization, communalism; historical and current examples, their impact on our society, respective suggestions/way ahead (Suggestions from 2nd ARC or some committee report adds credibility)


  • Any well-compiled coaching material for these topics with almost the same structure will also serve the purpose because for this, a generic answer with proper structure, subheadings with multiple dimensions can fetch good marks.




For Mains this section involves –


  • Modern Indian History,
  • India’s Post Independence History and
  • World History


Booklist/Resources suggested by toppers


  • A Brief History of Modern India- Spectrum
  • India’s Struggle for Independence- Bipan Chandra (Read Selective topics not covered in Spectrum)
  • India Since Independence- Bipan Chandra (For Post Independence History)
  • World History: Patterns of Interaction by McDougal Littell (Chapter 22-36)
  • A Complete Solution to Ancient History
  • Prahaar History
  • A Complete Solution to Medieval Indian History
  • A Complete Solution to Modern India Mains
  • A Complete Solution to Modern Indian History
  • A Complete Solution to World History




  • Revising the last mentioned book for World History can become difficult, so it is advisable to prepare concise notes from it according to the relevance of the exam.


  • Major world historical events can be demonstrated by practicing maps.


  • For questions on Modern History, you need to remember that every serious aspirant will be well prepared to answer it, so you are left with no window to miss out on these questions. If prepared well for prelims, just revise it well and practice answer writing.


  • Though ancient and medieval aren’t mentioned in Mains syllabus, some aspects are still important for the exam, so it is advisable to make a list of such topics after analyzing PYQs and prepare their notes for revision later. These topics include –


  • Vijayanagar empire
  • Travellers in ancient and medieval history
  • Numismatics of Gupta times or Mughal times
  • Indus Valley civilisation
  • Buddhism and Jainism development


  • While writing answers for Modern History,


  • You may name the session’s place/year/President in answers when asked about some popular sessions like Surat split.
  • For reforms related answer, you may prepare a list of bodies to mention in answer.
  • You may mention some important years to mention as introduction
  • You may use name of viceroys in your answers
  • You may use a map to indicate some details for topics like 1857, Non-cooperation Movement.




Booklist/Resources suggested by toppers


  • Fundamentals of Physical Geography XI NCERT
  • India: Physical Environment XI NCERT
  • Fundamentals of Human Geography XII NCERT
  • India: People and Economy XII NCERT
  • Certificate Physical and Human Geography: GC Leong (Selected Topics)
  • Google & YouTube ( For visual understanding of exam relevant phenomenons or locating places)
  • A Complete Solution to Human & Economic Geography
  • A Complete Solution to Indian Geography
  • A Complete Solution to World Geography
  • A Complete Solution to Physical Geography
  • Prahaar (Geography)




  • Geography has the highest weightage in GS1 mains examination so please don’t ignore it at any cost.


  • Starting with a very important aspect- Map making, which should be done as much as possible. This will help you in prelims and mains both. Add a new river or pass to the map whenever you find a new one in the prelims test.


  • Practice Previous Year Questions because it will cover those parts which will be left out from your syllabus.


  • Try to mention the human geography aspect to show the connection with Physical Geography. You may mention SDGs in conclusion.


  • Draw diagrams wherever possible and relevant for topics like plate tectonics, soil layers, some phenomena, wind movements and keep these prepared beforehand for last minute revision.


  • Try to draw as many maps as possible in geography like world maps on world geography questions or map of India on some India related questions.


  • You may begin your answers with a definition or some current issue related to the asked topic. Further you can furnish it with some facts and figures like areas affected or some percentages of reports.


  • Prepare a list of best practices or solutions related to some prominent issues and add those case studies in your answers. For instance, Israel for irrigation.







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