For CSE and IIT aspirants


In Uncategorized on May 28, 2010 at 5:47 am

GS mains paper pattern is becoming unpredictable since the last 2 years. This makes the exam very interesting. Try to cover all the topics mentioned in the syllabus. Read the general guidelines mentioned in the syllabus – “The questions are likely to test the candidate’s basic understanding of all relevant issues, and ability to analyze, and take a view on conflicting socio-economic goals, objectives and demands.”  The understanding part requires wide reading and the analysing part requires thinking and practice. In this article I am giving the topic wise booklist and brief strategy you may follow for this paper.

  1. History of Modern India and Indian Culture. For Modern India part I referred to Class XII-NCERT and Spectrum’s book on History. Questions are opinion based and require general understanding of British rule and national movement. Try to write brief summaries and your understanding of whatever you read. 2 markers were toughest this year. I don’t know any single source or even multiple sources about what to read for them. Still I feel NCERT book is best for 2 markers (only 2 /10 could be attempted by the majority and they were in NCERT- Haileybury College and Gurudwara Reform Movement). For Indian Culture (surprise questions about dances and music) read any coaching or magazine material.
  2. Geography of India. Read NCERT XI and XII. They are good for both long and short answer type questions.
  3. Constitution of India and Indian Polity. There were no significant question on Constitution but still it should be studied in detail. I read DD Basu but many people are shifting to Laxmikant. You can read any of them. Questions on Indian Polity are based on current issues; try to build an opinion on all major issues. Class XII-NCERT (Old) Polity book about Indian Democracy deals with many national issues, read it thoroughly.
  4. Current National Issues and Topics of Social Relevance. This section requires newspaper reading (The Hindu), watching TV debates and news. For economic issues read Economic Survey with focus on the last chapter.
  5. India and the world/International Affairs and Institutions. Here also The Hindu is enough. The International page of the newspaper should be read thoroughly and all the news related to particular affairs (like relation with different countries) can be collected/noted down at one place.
  6. India’s Economic Interaction with the World. Read chapters of Economic Survey related to External Sector. Follow any news related to India’s external sector like role at WTO or any economic platform, any trade agreement. Visit site of Commerce Ministry to follow any development in external sector. Visit sites of WTO, IMF, WIPO, World Bank to know more about them.
  7. Science and Tech. I read Spectrum’s book on S&T but it is not sufficient. Study from Wikipedia about the topics mentioned in the syllabus. Do have a detailed study about latest noble prize winner’s research in field of Physics, Chemistry and Physiology.
  8. Statistics. Its preparation depends on graduation background. I practiced previous year papers in exam like conditions.
  1. Sir what was your attempt in gs in both the attempts & what was your score

    • @lokesh scores are not yet out, i attempted all questions and left many 2 markers.

  2. Topics like graphene , bioinformatics, dna finger printing,nanotech,gsm ,cdma were taught in sriram’s. but sir how is one to track vague items like vegetable gold etc?

    • @swetha: it is not necessary and in fact possible that you know all the answers. there are always some short answers type questions which are very tough, but they will not constitute much marks. focus on important topics first.

  3. pleaseprovide answer writing tips??????/

  4. is there any need to read a book on indian economy like dutt and sunderum??

    • @shashank: i haven’t seen/read any text book on economics relevant to gs mains. the point is that now a days economics is based on the current affairs and that makes books irrelevant. see the sources i have mentioned for economics.

  5. hi prakash 1st of all congratulations!! I am not able 2 decide on mains whether I should take mechanical engineering as a subject( dnt knw abt sucess rate),or take political science or public administration.suggestions plz

    • @sandeep: If you want to know success rates, refer to annual reports given in the upsc website. But it need not be a criterion for selection/rejection of any optional. You need to think on whether you are comfortable with mechanical or not.

  6. Prakash, allow me to take liberties.I am Amit from Delhi IIT. Sriram’s Polity, Economics and Currents. Bahut readable hi. simple bhi. Sab padthe hai. Delete karna ye scrap agar aap ko achha nahin laga tho.


  7. Sir, i heard that Mishra and Puri and Uma Kapila are equally good for economics.I believe Prelims(2010) has 39 questions in economics and Mains over 100 marks. Fundamentals are important. Sir please clarify.

    • @be.a.rebel. See i haven’t seen any text book on economics. So i cant comment whether any book is good/bad. Seeing the general nature of questions i did not feel the need of knowing the fundamentals of economics. I was able to write the good answers for all the question in mains with the sources i have mentioned. And regarding prelims 2010, i havent seen the paper. Its not necessary that my strategy will apply to everybody.

  8. hello sir…
    congratulations for u success in cse-2009
    can u please list the important chapters(sub-chapters) of dd basu (polity).u can number it if u find difficult to type texts.
    pls its request.if u list them then will refer only those chapter u specified

    • @shilpa: you should try to read all of them.. in 2008 i left fundamental duties and upsc’s composition and there were questions on both.
      still topics like fundamental rights, dpsp, union executive and legislature, supreme court, centre-state relations are important.

  9. sir,, you read only one news paper hindu
    or what you said about economic times or times of india?

    • @shashank: it is always better if you read 2-3 newspapers. but time is a constraint here.

  10. Sir,as GS is the integral part of the CS and the nature of questions asked in the mains and preliminary exam are totally different.Since one has to keep abreast of the topics from Day 1 of preparation ,so how did you maintained the balance between the subjective and objective approach ??

    • @prashant: i studied from mains point of view. it was only during revision for prelims i switched to objective approach.

  11. how many months before the prelims one should switch to revision /objective approach and how much time for each section IN gs is sufficient keeping in mind the rotation of topics to be in touch with syllabus all time as the method suggested by you for optionals.

  12. hi Prakash,u have listed “economic survey” in GS books.could u please tell us what is it?is it a book published by govt or a private publisher.please tell me from where we can get it?
    and please tell us about ur answer writing tips such as underlining,hilighting,points etc.

  13. it would be beneficial if u write a separate article on answer writing tips….

  14. Hello Sir,any magazine if u cud recommend?R the newspapers really necessary?Can’t we read only the magazines for current affairs?

    • @amogh: yes newspapers are necessary. read any 1 magazine of your choice.

  15. hello prakash
    if possible please list some topics for gs mains-2010, essay topics on current issues.

  16. Sir,

    Thanks for sharing the information.

    I find it difficult to put all information needed in the GS answer within the given word limit.

    For Example , in 1994 mains there was a Question

    “How did the outbreak of the Second World War affect India’s political scene? Did the Cripps Mission resolve the political crisis in India? ”

    The Wordlimit was 250 but I answered in about 350 words.

    I don’t think it is advisable to answer in partial sentences for long answer type question

    In my answer I mentioned about the following:

    1. Briefly described German Invasion of Poland and Briain’s entry into the war.

    2. Increasing Domination of sections within Congress which demanded more aggressive policy against British Rule and a mention of Victory of Netaji Subhash in 1939 Congress Presidential Elections against Pittabhi Sitarammya , a candidate blessed by Gandhiji ( I mentioned this point as this indicated increase in strength of those forces within Congress which demanded an aggressive approach for Complete Independence)

    3. Viceroy’s decision to put India into the war scene without consulting Congress leaders and resignation of Congress Ministries.

    4. Britain’s initial setbacks in the war front forcing them to seek support of popular leaders.

    5. Mention of August Proposal and Cripp’s Mission.

    6. Cripp’s Mission Proposal and how they were short of the demands of Indian Leaderships leading to the failure of the Mission

    Please let me know what extraneous points I stated in my answer and which important points I missed.

    I think guidance regarding answer writing approach in GS is needed by most of the candidates , especially those who don’t have access to coaching.

    So please provide some guidelines in this regards.

    Thanks and Regards

    • @tigerindia: you need to write only what is asked. there is no need of giving background if you are exceeding word limit. you can avoid point 1 and 5. also mention about Muslim League and Left parties reactions(question is about political scene, dont just focus on congress).

  17. Sir,

    Thanks for your prompt reply and pointing out my blunder of not mentioning the attitude of Muslim League and Left Parties.

    1. The thing which is bothering me is new version of NCERT books which I believe are not as good as NCERT books of my school days.

    Is it fine to go ahead with the new version of NCERT books ( I am unable to locate things like “Policy of Non Interference” in new version , which I remember were a part of old version NCERT history texts during our school days ).

    Were you able to arrange old NCERT Books or relied on new version.
    Though the new version has better analysis but lacks desirable information.

    2. Is there any long term Test Series available for CSE GS like IIT-JEE mock test series which were conducted in phases continuously for over 2 yrs?
    How did you practised the mock test , were those some sample paper books or coaching institutes mock tests.

    3. There were statements in 2009 mains regarding critical analysis of given statements regarding “Distance of Congress from masses ” and one was perhaps inspired by Gandhiji’s Concept of Hind Swaraj. I don’t know who exactly said those statements but was able to figure out their thoughts and the philosophy which inspired them.
    Did you mentioned the persons who exactly said those statements or just gave analysis of their ideology and the context in which they said?

    Thanks for your time and apologies if I wasted your time asking any trivial questions but I wanted to clear some doubts in the initial phases of preparations itself.


    • @tigerindia: 1. i havent gone through new NCERT history book. so i cant compare the two.
      2. i dont know if there is any long term test series. there are test series which spans 2-3 months from july-sept(after prelims exam). i attended the test series conducted by CST magazine.
      3. i did not mention the person name in those questions.

  18. hello prakash
    please throw light,
    if asked about india’s strategic interest in south asia (cse-09), what to include?
    what does the term ‘strategic’ envisage?

  19. I think many candidates have doubts regarding style of writing answers in GS.

    Can you please provide some Model Answers when you get some free time or point us to some book for this, it will be of immense benefit to all aspirants.

  20. Sir, please help me in guiding for chemistry optional by putting with someone with this optional.
    Sorry for causing u inconvinience in this regard.

    • @vivek: currently i am not in contact with anybody with chemistry. but i will try to help as soon as i find someone with chemistry.

  21. Sir,
    For GS and ur optional did u take any coaching test series OR everything u did on ur own.
    my optional are chemistry and pub admin.I m preparing without any coaching help but sometime become skeptic about my preparation level.I am far way fm delhi but visit it for collection of material.
    Suggest how to keep myself motivated and abreast with the study material and relevant information of CSE.

  22. hi sir,u have listed books for mains,i will b very grateful to u if u please tell us about the strategy for the prelims(GS)

    thank u

  23. first of all thank u for your wonderful effort
    your blog is of great help as i am thinking of taking maths as an optional
    but i have a query i recently joined rau’s for gs coaching but since then i have been reading reviews about changed exam patterns and all
    is it really true that coaching institutes are of no help for gs now
    has my money gone in vain???
    please do reply…..

    • @jatin: dont worry about that. just get the best out of your coaching institute by asking relevant doubts, asking them to go according to changing trends.

  24. I am in the final year of my (i.t.)
    but since no optional is relevant to IT & CS and you might have interacted with many students with diff. optionals
    can you suggest any optional that would require less time for prep. and is more analytical than mugging
    i have decided to take maths as an optional

  25. which optional is the easiest

  26. sir,
    from the mains point of view from when should we follow the news paper religiously for current events ..since the mains is in october

    • @vishu: there is no cutoff date from which news paper should be read. but generally last 1 year current affairs are asked.

  27. Hi Mr.Prakash,
    It will be of immense help for us if you provide any GS Mains Answer sheet(from any mock test/answers to previous year question papers that you would have tried writing during your prepration both GS-I,GS-II),so that we can get an idea on how to write the answers for the Mains.Also the same for Essay Mains.

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