How to Prepare for GS Mains Paper I (All Topics) : Target IAS 2018 and Beyond

Paper I is an extension in terms of scope and coverage of the syllabus of the previous GS Paper I. Please observe the syllabus again carefully to make note of what all things to study (and from where).


The syllabus starts with History, not just Indian, but also a good amount of World History. Since it is ‘History’, it is vast. There is no requirement of in-depth study. Yet, make sure that the full syllabus for History is covered in some way or the other.



Indian Culture should be covered thoroughly; definite questions can be expected from this section. Spectrum books for Indian Culture, Modern India and on Persons (three books in total) would help immensely in covering all these aspects. Culture special edition by Wizard is also a good book to try. Of course NCERT XI and XII (preferably the old ones) are always an asset to rely upon. Revise several times to ensure that the history is digested in terms of its chronological sequence of events and in terms of significance. If you recollect, these are the same set of books recommended for prelims. So if you can prepare well for prelims for history, this section would be more of a revision.


Modern Indian History could be specifically covered from Bipin Chandra (India’s Struggle for Independence). Freedom struggle has been specifically mentioned in the syllabus, so put more attention to this section. Spectrum book on Persons would give a good list of all contributors. Make a list of your own, all the contributors/contributions and try to fill it whenever any information is obtained. (This is the kind of ‘notes’ one must prepare).


For post-independence consolidation, Bipin Chandra’s book on India after Independence, and India after Gandhi by Ramachandra Guha would give a broad perspective. Do not try to mug up anything. Try to understand the sequence of events, why they happened and what the implications are.




For World History, please ensure you do not go too deep into the given areas. Very selective study is required. Since this is newly added, questions can be surely expected. If one observes the topics under World History, they are the most basic events that defined the last 150 years. So a broad understanding is what is expected and not a mugged up order or events and people.


The following resources would be useful:


  Wikipedia: The best resource for each of the topics mentioned in the syllabus.

  World History: Jain and Mathur (selective reading)

  World History: BV Rao

  Indian Culture and Heritage:

  NCERT XII: India after independence.

  NCERT (IX n X): India and Contemporary World.



Salient features of Indian Society and its diversity should be covered in the books above. No special suggestion is required. But ensure that you make some list of points (sort, of notes making) from what you read, for these topics. There is no need to go into Sociology books for such basic concepts. If you still want to specially read them, go for IGNOU notes for sociology.



In fact, each of the topics mentioned are so essential to understand that instead of suggesting books, we recommend you don’t go further until you get a clarity of concepts, and also unless you write a few paragraphs about them in your own words.


We are talking of the following topics:

  Communism, Capitalism and Socialism etc. (other economic models)

  Diversity in India

  Role of Women

  Poverty and Development Issues

  Urbanization, problems and remedies

  Globalization and Indian Society

  Social Empowerment

  Communalism

  Regionalism

  Secularism

Use Internet for browsing on all the topics above. A great amount of material and information is available online.


Preparation on these topics would be extremely useful for Essay paper as well.


The above plan for History looks huge, but the preparation has to be this vast as there are only two subjects covered in this paper (geography being the other), a full coverage of all topics is expected.



For the geography sections of GS Paper I, more stress should be given for understanding the natural phenomenon. Read about the natural calamities and disasters for their theoretical understanding. NCERT XI and XII would give good basic concepts on these topics. Make sure tables, diagrams, boxes etc. are included in your answer writing for geography related questions, they ensure decent marks, more often than not.


Websites would be most useful, including some videos from YouTube where the geographical processes are shown through animations or otherwise.


Follow Indian Meteorological Department’s website and other resources to get an idea of the climate behaviors in the country, especially the Indian Monsoon and other phenomenon.


For World Physical Geography, NCERT should suffice. Don’t go further. It is an endless topic.



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