An overview has been already discussed, but when it comes to preparing a subject in depth, a little detailed strategy is required.

Before proceeding further, if you still have not gone through the phase wise approach, have a read to connect the dots here (Prelims Strategy link).


Subject-Wise Analysis


Moving forward, the need is to analyze the areas and the contribution they hold in the General Studies Paper 1 of UPSC CSE Prelims.

Knowing this you can make out the high-yielding areas priority list and schedule accordingly, be it core preparation or revision before Prelims.




2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Polity & Governance 11 6 22 11 13 18 16 12
Environment 13 16 13 11 20 18 19 14
Geography 14 3 8 9 8 8 8 11
Science & Tech 6 7 4 6 12 12 9 13
Economy 18 15 6 11 16 18 14 14
Ancient India 0 3 1 0 3 4 4 2
Medieval India 4 4 1 1 5 2 4 4
Art & Culture 3 3 5 6 2 4 3 4
Modern India 8 6 7 14 6 9 7 4
Current Affairs 23 37 33 31 15 7 16 22
Total 100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100


A graphical representation would be-


From the above table and graph, it can be inferred that – Polity, Environment, Geography, Science & Technology, and Economy, alone cover 50% of the questions. Current Affairs forms a significant part of the question paper. Further, these topics form the basis for the Mains GS and essay papers. A good strategy can be to prepare these topics rigorously in a planned and documented manner.




  • Being one of the reliable areas of prelims (as discussed in previous article with analytics), Polity forms the basis of understanding of a part of the Indian System.


  • NCERTs and Laxmikanth are more than enough if you want to clear this exam. More than that will take you towards knowledge-collection and may not be that cost-efficient.


  • Polity comprises 2 things- Conceptual part & Factual Part. If you understand the concept, then mugging facts becomes easy but not the other way round, because PYQs show that UPSC asks questions in such a way that without concept and only with facts, you have high chances of getting your questions wrong.


  • NCERTs have more of a role in conceptual parts like topics of Post consolidation India or theory development and Laxmikanth has a mix of both. Although Laxmikanth is complete in its sense for exam relevance, sometimes concept building requires a different approach.


  • So, you have less resources but keep your revisions maximum because concept still takes less efforts to memorize but topics like articles, amendments, schedules, judgements, acts, differentiating powers, different procedures, requires a good amount of revision.


  • For Prelims Specific Revision, this video may help you. (Complete Polity Revision Video)




  • This is a subject so vast in itself that if you sit to read all available books, you will never be able to compile it for exams, even after a year. Having 3 divisions- Ancient, Medieval and Modern, it is better to limit books and study these sections individually.


  • Cover all 3 NCERTs (Themes in Indian History I, II, III) and for compiling Modern History go for Spectrum. Give Maximum Revisions to it because it has loads of facts.


  • For better understanding Bipin Chandra Books are also good where you will get a storyline of events which eventually helps in question solving.


  • Do not try to read every material available in the market just because it has more historical stories. Don’t run after content but exam-relevant content, if you want to clear the exam. For knowledge collection, you have your whole life left with you.


  • For better understanding some students study history and art & culture together.


  • Have a focus on PYQs and Test Series to cover all important facts.




  • As already discussed in our analysis article, this is one of those subjects that form the core part of the paper. So prepare wisely


  • Being an interesting and a high-yielding topic for UPSC CSE, this is something you cant ignore. Many aspirants skip it if they are weak in this, don’t do that mistake. Instead try to understand the demand and study accordingly from the load of materials available.


  • NCERTs, Government documents like Economic Survey, Union Budget and current issues from magazines form the basic part of the questions. If you do them well you have a major portion prepared.


  • Many questions are asked, from the fundamental concepts of economics to important current events. They are easy and scoring. Make it a point that you don’t lose on easy marks because to compensate, you have to grab on difficult marks which is actually difficult and an unreliable strategy.


  • Analyze Previous year questions and prepare the scoring areas accordingly.




  • Again this subject comes with a pattern to study in sections- Physical, Indian, and World geography.


  • NCERTs are said to be the best source to compile this subject, but if you need you can refer to other materials also. Still, remember not to include multiple resources, keep minimum, revise maximum, choose whatever makes you understand the concept and stick with it.


  • Try to understand this subject more as a visual approach to retain longer.


  • Practicing maps is another important area- locate places on map, important lines, major regions, climatic concepts, Indian River System,etc.




  • After Forest services being merged, this section has gained prominence in recent years and this is why it has become an important aspect to score easy marks.


  • Although some candidates may find it difficult due to the type of questions asked, the catch is you have to go in fundamentals to understand it once and then keeping it along with current becomes easy.


  • The resources are mentioned in the other article which you can refer to, rest some coaching compilations can be of great help to keep with the flow.


  • Again go through the Previous years and work out the topics for revision.


  • Do cover all the important summits, laws, meetings, conferences,etc. because questions are asked from this section.


Science & Technology


  • This is an important subject which becomes challenging because there is no standard material available for it.


  • However the questions asked suggest that UPSC demands its candidates to be aware of some current happenings and major developments.
  • The general science portion can be covered by NCERTs or Lucent. For the dynamic part it’s best to go through the magazines and google search.


  • Topics in news like space researches, cyber security issues, new technologies, their applications , Nobel Prize winners, etc. should be understood with the concept and not just mugging part. Try to take help of videos or illustrations for better understanding.


Current Affairs


  • Though it is being addressed differently, it is a thing which is superimposed on every topic or subject.


  • Ignoring this won’t add the relevant part to your preparation. This is not just for Prelims, but will also help in Mains as well where you could quote the things you studied.


  • Newspaper reading is an exercise that prepares the first level of understanding for you. After that reading compilations or revising issues become easier.


  • But it depends on candidate to candidate, some prefer daily articles, some monthly magazines. Choice is yours.


  • For initial understanding you may also refer to editorial videos to get the way of how newspapers are to be dealt with, because not everything is to be studied.


  • Pick up previous years and go through them to get to the demand of UPSC.


  • After forming a good knowledge base from a static point of view, the latter process of integration becomes easier.


Some General Points


  • Don’t be scared of the long list of books. For a beginner even one year is more than enough to cover the complete syllabus.


  • Don’t refer to more than one material for the same topic


  • Start with NCERTs and move forward methodologically


  • Get a printout of the syllabus along with your books too.


  • Use the internet extensively to get you all prepared.


  • Revision is crucial if you want to perform well in Prelims. Without it recollection becomes hard and thus the performance
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