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.
- 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.
- Geography of India. Read NCERT XI and XII. They are good for both long and short answer type questions.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Statistics. Its preparation depends on graduation background. I practiced previous year papers in exam like conditions.