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Mrunal [Strategy] UPSC Civil Service Exam (Part 3 of 5): General Stu...

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[Strategy] UPSC Civil Service Exam (Part 3 of 5):

General Studies for CSAT prelims and Mains
Posted BySupport StaffOn 03/11/2012 @ 3:14 pm In Studyplan | 273 Comments

update: this article was written in Dec 2012. But in March 2013, UPSC introduced some new
reforms, While majority of the strategy remains one and same as given in this article. But a
few modifications (especially for mains exam) are added. Ive written a separate article on it
click me

Act III: Waging the War

Loading Doze and Maintenance Doze
Economy : Prelims/ MCQs
Economy : Mains
International relations
History (GS/CSAT)
How to Approach Geography for CSAT-Prelims?
World geography
Indian geography
Geography for GS-Mains
Environment and biodiversity
Yearbook: prelims and mains
What is India Yearbook (2013)?
Why is India Yearbook important?
How to read India yearbook efficiently?
Science for Prelims
How to efficiently use THM GS Manual for Science segment?
Physics Chapter on Science
Science-Tech for prelims and Mains
Public health and first aid
First Aid
Good governance, law and order
Preparation Timetable

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What should you do next?

Your City-District-State
Stress Interview

Act III: Waging the War

Loading Doze and Maintenance Doze
You fall sick and doctor gives you medicine.
The initial doze is high : 2 tablets a day. (this is loading doze)
Take tablets, they kill some bactaria and get eliminated through urine. = symptoms are
But if you stop taking drug, then ultimately bacteria population will rise again.
So doctor doesnt completely stop the medicine but reduces the doze, e.g. just 1 tablet a day.
(this is maintenance doze)
Ya but how is ^this relevant for UPSC exam?

If youre already finished with the loading doze phase (e.g. core syllabus) then all you need is
maintenance doze (revision). It leads to many positive effects

Now your vision expands. You can clearly see connections between topics and how theyre
important for exam or not.
Now you can allot more time for upgrading your notes with current affairs.
Now you can digup Government sites and internet for follow up action on various topics.
Now you can practice mock MCQs (prelims) or answer writing (mains)
Besides, finishing the core syllabus is also important for another reason:= career backup

In case you fail in the IAS exam and If youre not a CA, Doctor or IITian, what will you do?
Well, the backup plans would usually involve Bank PO, State PSC, SSC type jobs or doing
Such exams are conducted throughout the year. Whatever you prepare general studies, will
directly or indirectly help you in those exams.
But Here is the problem: most of them require some specific side preparation as well for
example Bank, SSC, CAT would require Aptitude. Similarly for State PSC, youd have to learn
the history and geography of Punjab, Maharashtra etc.
So, If your core syllabus of UPSC is not complete, then you will always be under stress on
how to manage time between preparation of these exam and it will be like choosing between
devil and the deep sea.
Therefore, sooner you finish loading doze, better itll be for you. First of all complete the
core/basic syllabus of following topics

Topic Why?
Otherwise, you will not be able to fully digest the newspaper columns.

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You will have to spend less time before the mains on this topic. So that many
Statistics days or weeks could be utilized for preparing other topics of general
studies/opt subjects (if opt.subjects are kept)

UPDATE (March-08-2013): statistics no longer relevent as UPSC removed it from 2013.

update Feb 2014: How to approach Economy, has been explained in a separate article- click

following is old information

The core syllabus of economy consists of the following things

Theoretical economy
Basic Concepts and terminologies, GDP,GNP,PPP,IIP, inflation etc.

Indian economy (static portion)

LPG reforms.
Budget making process.
RBI monetary policy: Repo, Reverse Repo, CRR, SLR etc.
Source: Static portion of the economy

NCERT Class 10, 11, 12 (links @bottom of this article)

NOS Study material for Economy (links @bottom of this article)
Indian Economy by Ramesh Singh (Tata Macgrawill Publication)
You have to move to the next level = current affairs related to Indian and world

DTC, GST,WTO, IMF, World bank etc.

Various for committees formed by government and their recommendations: Kelkar,
shunglu, Parekh etc.
Economic Survey and Budget 2013.
Eurozone crisis, American recession, dollar-rupee exchange etc.
Source: Current affairs on economy
Newspaper (The Hindu / Indianexpress / Economic Times)
Anyone competitive magazine.
Investopedia, Wikipedia, internet

What is Economic Survey? And why is it important?

It is a report published on the official website of Finance Ministry (before General budget is
This report contains information on the present situation of Indian economy, various schemes
of Government and future approach required for the next year.
It has lot of boring and unimportant data tables but also contains good fodder material and

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exam-worthy information.
If youre subscribed to any competitive Magazine, you would usually find the highlights of
economic survey in the subsequent issues of the magazine. Yet I would recommend you to go
through the original economic survey report because magazines or newspapers only tend to
cover the dramatic items.
Whatever important details you find, make a note out of it.

Economy : Prelims/ MCQs

You are given a term and 4 explanations for that term. You have to identify the correct
You are given a problem (inflation or low IIP or currency depreciation) and 2-4 possible
solutions, you have identify the correct solution to fix the problem. (This can also be framed
as assertion reasoning type question)
You are given name of a committee and 2-4 recommendations. You to tick the correct
Match the following: you are given name of some organizations on one side and functions
performed by organizations on the other side. You have to match them
Your given name of an organization SEBI/NABARD/CCI/RBI etc and four statements
associated with them you have to find correct statements.
You are given name of some government scheme or policy or act related to economy and four
statements associated with them. You have to find the correct statements
The trivial GK based questions e.g. names of businessmen/company, repo rate in particular
month, establishment of particular organization etc. BUT theyre are generally not appearing
under back breakingTM move
In short, whenever you are preparing anything related to economy, think on those lines and
try to frame the questions by yourself. Also solve the mock questions given in your GS

Economy : Mains
In the 90s era, you could expect direct questions example

Difference between the functions of IMF and World Bank =10 marks
Explain the functions performed by RBI = 12 marks
Explain the budget making process=20 marks.
Such direct questions are very unlikely to appear in future mains. At most they may ask such
things on two markers or five marker question.

The 12, 15, 20 marker economy-questions seems to be reserved for critically examine/
Analysis this and that type of questions.
You have to keep gathering fodder material from newspaper columns. For example
Critically examine the issues involved in implementation of goods and services tax or Direct
Tax code.
These topics will again gain momentum before and after the budget-2013.
Keep an eye on the newspaper columns, TV reports during that time and maintain notes.
Same advice for each and every topic. For example SEBI- e-IPO issue was in news few weeks

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So if you prepare the notes when the issue is still hot= best.
Sometimes issues are very complicated and require you to do research on Internet. If you
cant do It immediately, then note down the title of topic in your To-Do list/diary.
Otherwise after two three weeks youll forget it and get busy with some new important topic.
Then same question would appear in Mains/ Prelims and you will curse yourself damn I
should have done that topic, when I had the time.
You may also visit and download the relevant PDF files from Economics
section for selective study and fodder material.

International relations
Prelims: not part of syllabus. (ofcourse one or two random questions can come on world
geography, Summits, Current Affairs)
But for mains, international relations/ diplomacy =extremely important.
In Mains examination, The General Studies Paper II rests on four pillars

International relations
science tech
If any one pillar is weak, your building will collapse.

How to approach International Relations =Already explained in a separate article. Click ME

You also keep an eye on websites ministry of external affairs and ministry of overseas affairs.

Notes making = extremely important for international relations because usually you will not
find direct answers in any single chapter or article. Youve to keep following news for months.

For example

In Xyz Month, suppose there is big protest / PIL regarding POSCO. Newspapers will cover it
and you get say 3 fodder points. Note it down
After a few months, either S.Korea President comes to India or Mohan makes a trip there
(Mohan usually makes foreign trips when there a new scandal at home, because then he is
saved from answering the media or lets the high command cover up the problem hehehe.)
Anyways back to the topicso when leaders make trip to each others nation, they release a
joint press statement. Youll usually find 5 fodder points in it. Note down.
After some months, China and S.Korea start fighting over some sea/land/island. Again
newspaper columns start covering it and you get 3 more points.
Total youve 3+5+3=11 points.

When they ask you about India-S.Korea relations, you can use those points to write a decent

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Just one book: Laxmikanth

The question is how to effectively use Laxmikanth? For that, dont

study the book in linear fashion (chapter 1,2,3,4) Instead I
suggest you move in following direction

First you read the chapter on President, Vice President and

immediately move to the chapter on governor. Then read on
Emergency provisions.
Read chapter on PM and cabinet, then move to CM and state council
of Ministers.
Chpater on Parliamentary system and then directly to parliament,
but after budget topic is done pause this chapter and move to on
CAG. Then come back and resume the chapter on parliament.
Once parliament is finished, move to State legislative assembly.
Same way Supreme Court and then High court, tribunals.
Attorney Gen =>Advocate General
UPSC =>State PSC
Finance Commission =>Planning Commission=>Nat.Development council
Now Centre State and Interstate relations.
Election Commission=> chapter on election, Anti-defection
All the National Commissions on Women, SC, ST,OBC, CVC, Lokpal and so on.

Polity H
Once ^this is done. Move to

Citizenship, Fundamental rights, DPSP, duties.

Amendment of Constitution=> preamble
Jammu Kashmir => Scheduled and Tribal Areas.
UT, Panchayati Raj, municipalities
After ^this is done. Read whatever chapters are remaining.

Note: the short explanations given in appendix of every chapter=

should be read.

Q. Should I make notes out of Laxmikanth?

M.Laxmikanth has the skill of writing book in a note-format.
So whether it is his book on polity or on Public Administration, there is no need to maintain a
special note out of his books.
Just highlight/underline important lines. Note down keywords on the margin. And keep
revising it as many times as you can.
When youve done enough revision, solve mock questions given at the end of his book
(around 300). Then solve another 400 Mock Qs given in the GS manual. So total 700
questions practiced. Then UPSC MCQs on polity will not give you much trouble.

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Anyways ^this is only the static polity.

What about the current affairs on Polity?

Womens reservation bill = explicitly polity topic.
But at times polity related current affairs and possible questions are subtly hidden in the
current affairs.
So be vigilant. For example, Nuke power plant issue would superficially appear as
environment/yearbook but can be well asked from Centre-State relations point of view.
Supreme courts order on Ganga/Yamuna clearing would appear as environment topic but
can be asked under Centre-States responsibilities in water Management also.
Same goes for 2G scam, mining scams and so on. (Judicial Activism, Seperation of power,
CAG Activism and so on)
Sources for current affairs
So far we have seen how to approach International affairs, Economy and Polity. You should
finish their core syllabus first, in order to fully digest the newspaper items.

Now moving to the other topics of syllabus.

History (GS/CSAT)
update Feb 2014: for History/culture portion, use the Tamilnadu (TN) State education board
books. Theyre better than NCERTs. (Free download @bottom).

following is old information

For prelims (CSAT General Studies Paper I), History is subdivided into three segments

Ancient Harappa, Vedic Age, Buddha, Mahavir, Gupta,Maurya Kingdoms etc.

Medieval Delhi Sultanate, Vijaynagar, Mughals etc.
Modern British Raj. 1857 Mutiny onwards. Freedom struggle.
In the 90s, questions used to be based on

Timelines: wars, kings,

Locations: of Harappa Sites where xyz type of pottery was found, or Asokas pillars
Match the following
Maps: theyd give you a blank map, you had to locate xyz state or kingdom.
In last three years, questions are mostly based on religion, culture, art and features/cause
/reason type.
Although UPSC hasnot asked map based question lately but if youve time, it doesnt hurt
preparing the maps (because UPSC is the baddest thug in this part of South East Asia.) youll
find the Ancient/Medieval maps in NCERTs and in GS Manual.

Essential Booklist for History (GS/CSAT)

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NCERT class 7 to 10 Social Science

NCERT class 11, 12 on History
NOS Studymaterial on Indian Culture and Heritage.
^all of these free, download links @bottom of this article

Selective Study of History portion in Tata Macgrawill General Studies Manual (to fill up vacuum
of whatever details are missing in the NCERTs). But again skip very tiny details such as
Middle Palaeolithic tools were found at Nevasa, Maharashtra by HD Sankalia. Because it
wont go in long term memory. Your time and energy can be better utilized in other topics.
Once this is done, solve all the Mock MCQs given in the General Studies Manual.

In The NCERT Class 9 and 10, youll also find information on World History (WW1, WW2,
French Revolution, Russian Revolution etc) While theyre not specifically mentioned in the
syllabus, you should read it because indirectly important for Essay and interview.

History (Mains/GS)
In the 90s, the General Studies paper used to have following structure, in History section

3-5 descriptive question (60 marks)

Freedom fighter 2 markers (10 marks)
Culture related 2 markers (10 marks)
Ofcourse there would be fluctuation each year, but this was the usual makeup.

Success formula in 90s era= basically mugup Spectrums three books + Bipin Chandra.
That doesnt hold true anymore, as we saw in GS Mains-2012 Analysis (click ME if you didnt)
Nowadays weightage given to History in GS mains paper = declined and emphasis has been
shifted to Culture.
So how to proceed in this new era?

Indias Struggle for Independence by Bipin Chandra

Selective Study of IGNOU BA/MA History (only related to freedom Struggle) Click ME
Selective Study of IGNOU Tourism Course (for culture) CLICK ME
NOS material on Indian culture CLICK ME
Spectrum Book on Indian Culture
Optional reference
Because of the backbreakingTM move of UPSC, following books have lost their former glory. So
Im putting them under Secondary. If youve time, read else dont bother. There are many
other areas where you can utilize your energy.

Spectrum Book on Brief History of Modern India

Spectrum Book on Freedom Fighters
However, for State PSC exams, whore still in the 90s mood, these books would come handy.
In that case, mug them up


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classified into three parts

Physical geography
World geography
Indian Geography
the first two topics come in prelims syllabus. but they are not included in the main syllabus.

for Mains syllabus of General Studies, youve to prepare Indian Geography only.

How to Approach Geography for CSAT-

First of all complete

NCERT class 7 to 10 social science

NCERT class 11, 12: Geography (except that practical book on mapping and survey methods)
NOS Studymaterial on Geography (if the time and eyes permit you!)
Free download links for above PDF files, have been given in previous Act II. Click ME
When this is done, move to general studies manual to fill up the missing gaps if any.

Now lets check how to effectively utilise Tata McGraw-Hill General studies manual for
Geography portion.

branches of geography= important

origin of Earth= important
ignore the geological history of Earth
ignore the facts about earth (weight, volumne and stuff like that)
understand the concepts related to longitudes, latitudes, meridians, inclination of Earths axis
and its effect, standard time, cycles of the moon, atmosphere, Aurora -magnetism,
insulation and heat budget, templated,
mecanism of winds, monsoon
ignore table of Beufort Scale
ignore types of clouds
understand the difference between dew, frost, fog, smog, mist and haze.
types of climate, water table = important, also from environment and biodiversity Angle
Understand the mechanism of cold and warm currents = because they are also related with
climate change
From lakes, only important and famous ones : Caspian Sea, Lake Superior, Superior, Victoria,
Baikal, Aral Sea, Wulur, Vostock
Same for rivers
Marine resources= important for environment topic also
Classification of rocks: prepare a small note on features and example of each type
Theories of Plate tectonics, continental drift etc just get overview
Volcanos, Earthquakes important but no need to get in minute stuff. Just supplement NCERT
Weathering, Erosion, landforms = important from environment topic angle.
ignore table on major water falls, except famous ones : Angel, Victoria, Niagara,

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Soil is important but from agriculture point of view only.

ignore the table containing classification of soil
ignore US Taxonomy classification

World geography
Go through entire human geography but ignore trivial details like Lapps= people of Eurasian
trunda. (But famous tribes are important e.g.Bushman=Kalahari Desert.)
Migration, resource classification, farming system, types of cultivation, agricultural
typology= extremely important
Chief agro products (tea, wheat etc) : the land/climate conditions required = important.
Forest products= important from environment and biodiversity angle.
Mineral producers= only the major ones (coal, iron ore, gold, nuclear, oil etc). Otherwies
Mercury producers = Spain and Italy= ignore.
industrial products= just get an overview
important boundary lines= as the name suggests, it is important
important cities= not that important for UPSC , but may help you in GK based questions in
old name and new name for various countries and cities= indirectly important for the

Indian geography
In last two years, very few questions are coming from world geography. but at the same
time, it is not a good idea to completely ignore world geography especially when you have
time. because a something really straightforward asked Tropical Savannah climate, then you
should not miss the opportunity.

In the 90s, they would give you some map based questions. ( location of rivers, mountains,
nations etc). but they have not asked map-based questions in last two years.
but it does not hurt much preparing the Atlas because it indirectly helps you understand the
international-relations and diplomacy topics in better manner.
More emphasis should be given on the Indian geography because it is common for both
prelims and mains.
While Indian geography is important for prelims, the nature of question has changed.
earlier it used to be mapped based or location-based Indian geography but nowadays it is
mostly related with agriculture, environment angles.

first start with NCERTs and them move to TMH GS Manual.

keep an Atlas Ready while reading everyline, otherwise things will not go long-term memory.
for the lakes, rivers, waterfalls, irrigation projects, wildlife parks and sanctuaries etc. only
prepare the famous ones and those related with odd animals such as Wild Ass. and prepare
the trivial ones only if they are from your home state (for profile based interview questions
and for State PSC)
Indias industrial towns/tourist places: famous ones + those from your home state and
surrounding neighbour states. No need to go in trivial. These things are for indirectly
understanding the issues of socio-economic Development and for profile based interview

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questions. Otherwise direct MCQs are very unlikely.

seasons, soil types, wildlife= important.
ignore places connected by national highways. 90s era is over.
sex ratio, literacy rate :top 3, bottom 3, and your home state.
Tribal groups = important from culture angle.
India maps on political, physical, wildlife and biosphere, seaports, soil-vegetation, =
important for indirect MCQs.
Once this is done. (Physical, World and Indian Geography.) Again restart process and then
solve MCQs from GS Manual.

Geography for GS-Mains

The way things have started taking shape, the conventional and clichd questions are unlikely
to appear anymore (for example monsoon mechanism.)

But still prepare Indian Geography from Economic, sustainable Development, Disaster and
Environment angles.


NCERTs, NOS, GS Manual.

India Yearbook (Wastelands, Drough Management etc) and follow up on respective
Government websites.
2nd ARC report on Disaster Management.
Traditional books on Indian Geography are not likely to help directly like they used to in 90s
(for example Spectrum/ Majid Hussain/ Khullar) But still you may go through any one of
them, if youve the time.
That concluded talk on Geography. Moving to next topic of syllabus.

Environment and biodiversity

When we talk of history or polity, there are already decent standard books available because
those topics have been in syllabus since the beginning of UPSC exams.
But this Biodiversity is newly introduced syllabus topic since CSAT 2011. Most of the ready-
made books (and magazines special issues) on this topic provide you too much data, above
what is necessary.
For example in case of biodiversity, theyd give you a huge list of endangered species and
their Latin names and how many animals are left.
The establishment year of every wildlife park and their surface area with accuracy upto two
decimal points like 48.25 kms!
Environment biodiversity is not about becoming master of trivial GK, UPSC MCQs are not
same like Kaun Bangegaa Crorepati.
Like every other topic in UPSC (except History and Statistics), we can classify EnB under two

Static Current Based

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basic theoretical and static stuff such as biomes, Issues involving various protocols or world
bios, in-situ, ex-situ modes of wildlife conventions. IPCC reports, Kyoto
conservation, keystone species, umbrella species, etc.Supreme court orders on xyz issue:
project tiger, elephant, biosphere reserves and Clearing of Yamuna, Ban on Mining, Tiger
things like that. tourism etc.
Booklist/Preparation sources for Environment and
Static (theory) Current based
Website of Ministry of Environment and Forest
Yojana, Kurukshetra magazine issues involving those
particular themes
NCERT Social science (7-10):
The Hindu: Energy and Environment segment
because Geography, Forest etc
given in it.
Climate Change section of IndianExpress:
NCERT Geography Class 11, 12
NOS Study material on
Economic Times section on Environment
Biodiversity. Free download link
India Yearbook, chapter on
Magazine (just to make sure we did not miss anything!)
Google: incase follow up action is necessary for a particular
^Prelims questions: mostly theory based= multiple revision must. (+ a few on current affairs)
^Mains questions: mostly current based. You must maintain notes.
The source list may look intimidating but it is not!
Because environment news doesnt happen everyday (unlike Economy), so every week
there will be no more than 2-3 news items.
Moving to the next topic

Yearbook: prelims and mains

[Yearbook] is the collective term used to describe following

Organization of various ministry and offices and their functions

Various schemes and projects of Government
Issues of socio-economic Development, five year plans
In a way, Yearbook is a mixture of Economy + Polity.

What is India Yearbook (2013)?

A book released by Publication division under Ministry of Information
and Broadcasting.
In common parlance we refer this as Yearbook but otherwise
technically name of the book is India 2011, India 2012, and India
2013 and so on (according to year of publication).

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Earlier, government used to provide free PDF file of this book. But
they started doing it since 2012.
This book also helps in rights issue, environment, public health
My advice: if you dont have this book then wait and watch, buy the
new edition 2013, when it comes in the market.
If you already have a India 2012, no need to buy new, just update any new Government
schemes using Government websites/newspaper/magazines.
If you have a very old edition (something like India 2007) then dump it and buy the latest
edition, because many schemes are consolidated / their salient features have been changed.

Why is India Yearbook important?

Many publication houses, provide their own version of yearbooks for example Chronicle,
They have the same content of India yearbook, but in bulleted form, some details are
omitted, some side current affairs GK is added.
While superficially, they may feel more easier to read and prepare but my advice go directly
to the original source because many times 4TF type MCQs are directly lifted from the
statements and paragraphs given in India yearbook (i.e. India 2013)
From Yearbook topic, usually following type questions appear in the exam

Prelims (CSAT) Mains

Basically Two types of questions can appear

The give you two for four statements related to a

you are given name of a government
particular scheme or Government organization
scheme or project and you have to write its
(e.g. Haj Committee). You have to find out the
salient features (12-15 marks)
correct/incorrect statements
you are given some socio-economic problem
Name of some schemes are given, youve to
and you have to analyze it, list the steps
match them with their objectives.
taken by government, or suggest about the
future steps that should be taken.
Therefore You should have strong command over the salient features of every scheme,
otherwise you will get confused in the MCQs. Besides the same salient features will also help
you in descriptive answers during the mains exam. So prepare the topic on that line without
wasting energy in useless stuff.


Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya Scheme provides for setting up of residential upper primary
schools for girls of SC, ST, OBC and Muslim communities. = important.
In 11th five year plan, government of India allotted 8,000 crores under Kasturba Gandhi
Balika Vidyalaya Scheme= NOT IMPortant.

How to read India yearbook efficiently?

Already explained in previous article. Click ME

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But this is only the static (theory/basic) part. What about the current affairs?

Because India yearbook 2013 is printed in Dec 2012, but many new events will take
place between December 2012 to May 2013 (Prelims) and November 2013 (mains).
How to prepare them?

Sources for Yearbook Current affairs:

The Hindu
Press releases from (subscribe to them via Google reader)
Economic Survey (will be uploaded on Finance Ministrys website)
Yojana and Kurukshetra
Competitive Magazine (just to make sure we did not miss anything.)
Prepare a keywords note and revise it often else, youll mixup with salient features of various
schemes and projects.

Moving to the next topic

Science can be classified into following parts

Theory (Static) Current Affairs

biology-subtopics: It is known as science-tech.
plant and animals

Science for Prelims

The static (theory based) science has declined in importance. In the 90s you could expect
10-10-10 questions on physics, chemistry, biology each (theory based).

Nowadays barely 8-10 question and that too mixture of both theory + current affairs.

But it doesnt mean you should skip the static (theory based) science because

competition is damn high

UPSC =unpredictable.
Therefore certain minimum level preparation is necessary for every topic. Beside there is lot
of time still left before the exam.

Start with NCERT Science textbooks class 7 to 10.

Even if youre already an M.Sc, engineer or Doctor, still you should read these textbooks.
because even if you have good command over your field, still you would have forgotten
many important basic concepts from the school. So always start with NCERTs.
And please dont read NCERTS lightly or just for namesake formality because UPSC will usually

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give you four statements and all of them would sound equally plausible. You should be
thoroughly clear on principles/concepts.
Once you have finished reading these textbooks, it is time for selective study of GS manual.

How to efficiently use GS Manual for

Science segment?
Physics Chapter on Science
difference between scaler and vector quantity=important
Newtons laws and their practical application=important
the working principles behind artificial satellites, geostationary satellites etc. =important, but
no need to mugup equations.
The concept of densities important but you dont need to mugup absolute density value of
various substances. Same goes for surface tension, viscosity etc.
Concepts and principles behind heat, electronic thermometer, refrigeration, radiation, solar
cooker, thermos flask, carengine radiator, air-conditioners, pressure cookers, DTH TV,
nightvision goggles, radar, oven, CAT Scan etc.
Optics: convex and concave glasses: differences applications, refractions,
Principle behind rainbow, LCD, camera microscope, LASER, compact disc etc. but no need to
get bored with those complex diagrams.
Sound: echo, resonsnace, doplar effect, sonic boom, dolby etc. : again you need to have idea
on basics. No need for going into minute details.
Same for Magnetism and electricity, Nuclear physics.
In short, you should be aware of the concepts and principles but You dont need to mugup
equations of Velocity, acceleration, pendulum, sound etc.

Branches of biology important
difference between prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells is important
Parts of typical cell, and their functions= important
Basics of cell division mitosis and meiosis =important but no need to do Ph.D from GS
Classification of living organism= you should have overall idea but no need to go in minute
details like the difference between Deuteromycetes and Basiondiomycetes.
Tissue system : same as above
Nutrition and digestion system important but no need to go in details like 8 hours of work =
972 calories.
respiration and photosynthesis: no need for Ph.D or chemical reaction
Heart, kidney: just functions, no need to go diagram
ignore diagram of conduction of nerve impulse
Basic functions of Endocrine glands and diseases asscociated with them = important. But
Cacitonin raises blood calcium level =not important.
skeletal system: simply ignore. THM has given Ph.D on this.
reproduction : concepts important. diagrams are not important.
artificial methods of vegatative reproduction =extremely important.
Plant hormor diagram= ignore

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sex determination in humans, birds and bees= important

Table and Diagram on ABO blood group, Rh factor = very important.
List of genetic disease = important but no need to mugup all, only big dieases like Sickle cell,
Basics of Gene Expression, m-RNA, t-RNA important else other topics stem cell, cancer,
genetic engineering, cloning etc will be hard to understand.
Tables for Disease, types, mode of transmission and symptoms= important (including for
mains). But no need to mugup Latin names of those bactaria etc.
Table on Vitamin function and disease = important
monoclonal antibodies=important for mains also.
Basics of antigen-antibody=important because vaccination works on that principle
^This is the basic biology. Now in the TMH GS Manual, theyve given environment related
stuff= important. Well discuss what to do with that, in separate topic environment and
Biodiversity: for the moment skip it move on to the topic of drug abuse and alcoholism. No
need to mugup tables but you should have idea the origin of various narcotic drugs .

e.g. LSD from fungi,

Marijuana from hemp,

Morphine, heroine = opium derivaties.
Cocaine from coca leaves.
+Basic idea on alcoholism e.g.

Hooch / Zehrili Sharaab is basically methanol and it causes blindness.

Alcohol is not stimulant but depressant.
Alcohol causes cirrhosis of liver
Animal Husbandry
Now comes the topic of Animal husbandary. Very brief overview,
no need to mugup Latin names,
Ignore animal disease table.
Artificial insemination important
Youd already have covered this topic through NCERTs, so use GS manual only to fill up any
missing details such as ideal soil type, harvesting season, states
because usually 4TF MCQs are prepared from that.
No need to mugup every hybrid variety or latin name
Type of plants = important
Masticatory, medicinal plants and bio insecticides: only use/function.
From TMH GS manual.

Symbols of elements= ignore.

Chemical equations =ignore. because youve already ignored the symbols hahaha
Use of chemical compound = important but their chemical formula is not important

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Mrunal [Strategy] UPSC Civil Service Exam (Part 3 of 5): General Stu...

Ignore Thomsons atomic model

Ignore Rutherfords Atomic model
Ignore theories of chemical bonding
Ignore periodic table
Ignore molality, mole fraction and their equations
Concept of solubility =important
Oxidation reduction mechanism and examples = important
Carbon, its compounds and allotropes, carbon cycle=important
Ignore Acid-base, hydrocarbon. Whatever you prepared in NCERT is sufficient. THM is going
into Ph.D mode
Table on natural occurrence of selected metals=important for big elements only. E.g.Dolomite
=Magnesium and Magnetite= iron.
Location of mineral wealth= important. You should idea on overall which mineral is found in
which state.
Basics of metal extraction, petroleum, steel, rusting, cement, glass =important
Colloids= only basic definition and table of types of colloidal system, emulsion and gels
Ignore Micelles topic.
Biotech Nanotech and their applications =important both for prelims and mains
Polysaccharides = use and sources =important. But chem formula=ignore, same for proteins
and glycosides
Ignore the equations govering gases, liquids and solutions.
Understand the three laws of thermodynamics
Ignore themodynamic potentials.
The readymade Question answers given on important concents and topics= important to
understand principle.
Once youre done (physics, chemistry and biology) from GS Manual.

Restart the whole process one more time (once again read NCERTs and once again read GS
Manual) and then solve the Mock MCQs given at the end of each chapter.

This finishes the theory portion of Science. Now coming to the current affairs portion =Sci-

Science-Tech for prelims and Mains


The Hindu (particularly Thursday edition) Ive uploaded some ready revision notes from The Hindus article. That should
give you the hints on how to approach a science related news articles from exam point of
view, what to skip and what to note down.
Magazine (any one CST or PD): just to make sure we did not miss anything from Hindu /
current affairs.
Internet, incase you need to do follow up question for a particular topic e.g. Human Genome

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Mrunal [Strategy] UPSC Civil Service Exam (Part 3 of 5): General Stu...

project because such things can also come under 10 marks in Mains. But dont do Ph.D on it.
Like I said in previous Act- Application of Nanotechnology. This is meant for 12-15 marks,
theyre not going to ask a 30 marks or 200 marks essay on it. So keep the size of notes
And dont too much sci-tech. If you start digging google, there is so much Science-tech going
on around the world throughout the year. But Beyond a level, this has diminishing rate of
For the Science-Tech, Frequent revision is essential. Otherwise, itd remain in your notes but
you wont be able to recall it in the exam hall.

Public health and first aid

This topic is gaining quite some importance since last two mains (2011 and 2012)
it is a mixture of Yearbook+Sci-Tech
For prelims, this topic is not directly mentioned in the CSAT (Preliminary) syllabus yet 4TF
MCQ questions based on diseases can come under the General Science.
For Mains, the syllabus explicitly mentions Public Health.
Preparation sources/booklist for Public Health
Basics of nutrition, disease, vaccination = NCERTs, GS Manual
Government schemes and projects related to public health= India Yearbook Chapter on health
and family welfare + and Government websites for new updates
Press release of

First Aid
Since last two years they have been asking role-playing question on First Aid treatment in the
mains examination.
Now that Doesnt necessarily mean that they will definitely ask a question on first aid, in the
next exam but you should be prepared. Go through the following PDF file (taken from
IGNOU): Click ME.

Good governance, law and order

These are given in General Studies Mains syllabus

Law enforcement, internal security and related issues such as the preservation of communal
Issues relating to good governance and accountability to the citizens including the
maintenance of human rights, and of pro-bity in public life
Best source:

2nd ARC reports.

Yojana issues related to the themes
Besides itll also help you in essay and interview.
+ any current affairs (Lokpal, Citizen carter, Whistleblower, SC judgements etc) but youd be
preparing that already under [Polity]
You can also dig for good governance and law and order, but if Public

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Mrunal [Strategy] UPSC Civil Service Exam (Part 3 of 5): General Stu...

Administration is not your optional then then itll give you diminishing rate of returns.

I think ^this should be sufficient for General Studies.

Yes there are some small time topics left. For example prelims syllabus has

Public Policy,
Rights issue,
Panchayati Raj
But given the way UPSC conducted last two prelims, whatever you prepare under yearbook,
polity (static + current), will help you in these questions. There is no need to prepare them
separately using a book/coaching material. At most go for Governance in India by
M.Laxmikanth, if youve time- otherwise no need. You can also use the Sociology and Political
Science textbooks of NCERT (Class 11,12).

Preparation Timetable
These are no rock-solid time frames. Just suggestions

Finish core syllabus of Economy, Polity and International relations. (to digest
newspapers better)Prepare topics that are present in mains but absent in
prelims viz

Nov-December First Aid

Good governance, Accountability and Law n order (2nd ARC)

Go through the Yojana, Kurukshetra from Jan 2012 (incase you missed them)

Finish Bipin Chandra right here if you can.

History + Culture
Jan/Feb Environment + Biodiversity
onwardsMarch Science and Science TechEconomy (current affairs)
+ lots of revision+ MCQ practice+ daily newspaper

+Aptitude paper.

Readymade garbage will start flooding the streets (from Delhi). Ignore it.
Have faith in your books and notes revise them as much as you can.
April-May Reduce/stop digging internet for more current affairs!
Read newspaper till last day but If editorials are taking too much time, just
cut and file them but finish them once the prelims are over.
Assuming that from 20th May to 1st June youd be in vacation/relief mood.
June-July- Dont raise your blood pressure with cutoffs debate on orkut, better watch
August some movies or just go rob a bank.

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Mrunal [Strategy] UPSC Civil Service Exam (Part 3 of 5): General Stu...

Once your mind is clear, fresh and relaxed (and pockets are full-if you robbed
a bank), Make a list of national and international events/topics that are
important from mains point of view.
Review your notes, upgrade them in the light of above events via internet/
frontline whatever necessary.
Prelims result is announced.A) If you fail= Dont become Devdas. Review your
mistakes and fix them in next attempt. But daily newspaper reading =
essential till you retire from this field. Use your energy as per this article Click
ME.B) If youve passed, thank the almighty God and proceed ahead.After
UPSCs #epic BackbreakingTM Moves shown in Mains-2012, there are hardly
Aug/Sept/Oct any Standard Reference books left to revise for mains, but still do it!Otherwise

Daily reading of newspaper- notes making. (+follow up action, google digging

for whatever new events are taking place)

Yojana, Kurukshetra/ any Committee reports etc- notes making.

Most important: Take care of health. Dont eat street-food.
Nov Give mains.
Vacation,Again dont raise blood pressure in cut-offs debates, either watch
Dec some movies or rob a few more banks. (but do read newspapers daily and
make notes out of it.)
Fill up form for next prelims.
Continue the maintenance doze for next prelims.
Jan-Feb-March Prepare for interview (profile based questions (location, graduation..), national
and international events, including background, historic details, pros, cons
etc.) More explained later
Result of Mains + interviews starts.

If you pass, thank the almighty God once again. (and return the money you
had robbed from those banks)

March-April If you fail, dont become Devdas just prepare for next prelims.
If you fail and it was your last attempt still dont become Devdas, dont regret
anything, dont feel guilty about anything, dont let anyone else make you feel
guilty about anything. Execute backup plans and move on in your life and
career- money, power and status will come, with time.

The interview preparation approach remains one and same for all Government and private
sector jobs.

But the type and depth of questions differ.

Interviews usually start with You and end with World,

Questions from your profile


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Mrunal [Strategy] UPSC Civil Service Exam (Part 3 of 5): General Stu...

Your graduation
Your hobbies
Extra-curricular activities (if any)
From Your work experience (if any)
Your city and State: Socio-economic-political-cultural-geography
Role playing questions (your Collector/Senior Executive and xyz problem happens what
will you do?)
Why do you want to join IAS/MBA/Bank?
Everything else that doesnt involve you.National and international issues, your
understanding and opinion on them.
Throughout the Year, you should maintain a note related to current affairs of your city, state,
graduation and hobbies (wherever applicable). Because you cant gather such information in a
month- even with all google searching.
And youre already preparing current affairs part of GS.
When mains examination is over, You may also consult books from library Kalam, Nilekani,
Guha etc gain more understanding of socio-economic-developmental issues related with India.
(and or truckload of IGNOU material on their website).

What should you do next?

Your semester/year end marksheets contain the list of subjects you studied in college.
When he browses through your file, suddenly asks What is this subject xyz?
You should have the answer ready.
Just the basics, you dont have to prepare minute details as if it is a GATE or PMT exam.

In every interview (IAS and career backups-State PSC, Bank, MBA etc), youll have to prepare
questions on graduation. But It is very tiresome to go through the same thick books over and
over again every time for interviews. So, Ideally make a very short note on the basics. Save
you the trouble forever.

Then second portion is current affairs related to your graduation

Doctor, Public health, AIDS,Cancer research etc. (already discussed under GS

pharma preparation)
IT: outsourcing, hacking, privacy and social networking, online shopping, IT act,
amendments etc.EC :2G, 3G etc.
Commerce Company act and amendments, DTC, GST etc.
Booker prize, any other famous books, litt and freedom of speech, controversies
Arts (litt.)
of Tasleema Nasrin / Salman Rushdie etc.
^list is not exhaustive. You cant come up with this in one day or one week. So keep following
newspaper and dig google.

Your City-District-State
After mains examination is over, dig up more about Your graduation, city and State: Socio-
Look beyond the obvious. E.g. Youre from Ahmedabad so you already know Sabarmati river

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Mrunal [Strategy] UPSC Civil Service Exam (Part 3 of 5): General Stu...

flows through your city. And interviewer also knows that you know about this obvious fact. So
instead, hell ask you Where does Sabarmati originate from? or why is it dry during some
months? And where does it meet the sea, is It gulf of Cambay or is it gulf of Kutch?
Usually youre not aware of places of cultural/historic/tourist importance in your own city
while people elsewhere are. So dig all information. Ofcourse this also doesnt mean digging up
extremely trivial GK.
The name of MP, MLA of your Constituency, JNNURM projects in your city, BRTS and so on..
Same for the district.
Then your State: for example Maharashtra you should be well versed in Leopard menace,
nuclear powerplant, Vidarbha issues etc.
Every State has its issues (both good and bad) and it is not necessary theyll be in current
affairs : for example Cyclone of Orissa, happened long time ago but if youre from that state
you must have idea on it. Again doesnt mean you do Ph.D on it from some library book.
Following can happen during interview

You give good answer- He asks followup questions to probe you further. Then he leaves the
topic and next board member asks you on a different topic.
You give no answer e.g. Sorry sir Im not well versed in that topic. Or you give wrong
answer. He either corrects you or usually leaves topics, or ask a new question from same
You give bad answer- he throws a counter question /argument (that usually doesnt have an
answer) the more you debate, it increases the chances of getting low marks and the interview
turning into a Stress-interview.
Some examples of bad answers

Wrong Choice of words that hints arrogance/lack of humility. For example saying I dont
agree with that instead of saying I beg to differ.
I donot know xyz topic because it was not in my graduation syllabus or because I was
preparing for UPSC during college so I dont know about that xyz topic.
I want to do IAS because there is no opportunity in my graduation field or because I dont like
that field or because there is no career growth in my private sector job.
For me IAS is not an end but a means for further personal growth in life or some other
mumbo-jumbo. (Repeated 5 thousand times in topper interviews. So even if your intention is
genuine, for them it is too phony and clichd answer.)
I know xyz thing, because it is given in Hindu/Laxmikanth/******s notes. (never cite
references unless specifically asked to.)
Book should not be judged by its cover, therefore Im not wearing a tie.or any answer which
you think is smart but he thinks is, oversmart.
Lopsided diagnosis and solution of a problem/issue. (Public policymaking should be left in the
hands of bureaucrats onlyWe must stop all trade relations with Pakistan until they shut
down terror campsPanchayati Raj serves no real purpose, instead recruit more
Government staff to look into Development issues at Tehsil or village level.)

Stress Interview

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Mrunal [Strategy] UPSC Civil Service Exam (Part 3 of 5): General Stu...

If he asks 90% of the questions from one subject only (for example International relations),
Then from his side it is a normal interview, but from your side it may feel like a stress
But stress interview, in its original form, means he intentionally counters your every answer
or argument or asks uncomfortable questions.
This is done, not to humiliate you but to test how you perform under stress. (Or because you
annoyed him and he wants to get even with you.)
By and large, UPSC interviews are not stress interviews but theyre not completely absent
either (many cases on orkut.)
An interview may turn into Stress interview because of following reasons

Youre plain unlucky.

Youre underprepared and your Body language shows it.
Giving Bad answer(s) or bad choice of words.
At home, in your head-run imaginary interviews. Ask your self questions, give yourself
answers and from those answers, pickup keywords and ask follow up questions.
When youve run enough imaginary interviews in your head, youll realize that certain
keywords or answers lead to followup questions from uncomfortable zone or underprepared
areas where you end up giving bad answers. So consciously avoid them and rephrase or
upgrade answers accordingly.
This concludes Act III. In next Act IV, Well see the doubts related to should I join coaching
or not?, will UPSC remove optionals or not?, how to manage time and mood? etc.

Remaining Part of the UPSC Strategy

(Part 1 of 5): Exam Trends and Changes
(Part 2 of 5): Notes, Newspapers and Books
(Part 4 of 5): Time Management, Coaching etc.
(Part 5 of 5): Career Backup Plans: How to prepare for State PSC etc

Appendix1: Download Links

Foxit PDF reader (necessary prerequisite for using Mrunals autonotemaker) click me to
Almost all of these PDF files provides direct copying of text. => That means you can use
Mrunals autonotemaker to quickly make notes and mindmaps out of it, just use mouse cursor
to highlight a particular line /phrase and my software will copy its text in a separate file. for
more instructions click me

NCERT and NIOS (Essential/Core)

TN State edu Books (for History)
NIOS (for Culture)
NCERT files: topicwise:

Youll find the material organized in various folders. Click on individual folder and download zip
files. Here is the description about the contents of individual folder:

Folder Comment

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Mrunal [Strategy] UPSC Civil Service Exam (Part 3 of 5): General Stu...

Contains NCERT history chapters from class 7 to 12, in three zip files:
History ancient, medieval and Modern
+NIOS Culture material
Contains class 7 to 10 NCERT Science in three zips: physics, chemistry,
Science +NIOS Science material. (although there will be lot of overlapping)
Class 11, 12 Science books given in the peripheral section below.
Contains selective chapters from class 6 to 12 from science and geography
EnB textbooks that are relevant for Environment and biodiversity.
+NIOS material for environment and biodiversity EnB.
Contains NCERT class 11 + NCERT 12 Macro economics
+NIOS economy material.
Economy Class 12 Micro-economics not included because not worth the time for CDS.
although download link in the peripheral section below.
Contains NCERT class 6 to 12 in five zip folders: physical, India, World,
Geography Agro and glossary.
+NIOS material on geography (although lot of overlapping)

NCERT and NIOS (Peripheral)

read these if depending on your time and mood.

Single folder contains many courses from NIOS: sociology, political science
NIOS Download
etc. download as per your time, mood and requirement.
Biology 12Biology Download
Chemistry 12Chemistry 1 Download
Chemistry 12Chemistry 2 Download
Economics 12Introductory Microeconomics Download
Economics 10Understanding Economic Development Class X Social ScienceDownload
Economics 9 Economics for Class 9 Download
Physics 12Physics 1 Download
Physics 12Physics 2 Download
Political Science 12Contemporary World Politics Political Science Class 12 Download
Political Science 12Political Science 2 for Class 12 Download
Political Science 11Political Theory Political Science Class 11 Download
Political Science 11Indian Constitution at Work Political Science Class 11 Download
Political Science 7 Social and Political Life Part 2 Class 7 Download
Political Science 8 Social and Political Life Class 8 Download
Social sci. 10Democratic Politics Part 2 for Class X Social Science Download
Sociology 12Sociology Indian Society Download
Sociology 12Sociology Social Change and Development in India for Download
Sociology 11Introducing Sociology Class 11 Download

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Mrunal [Strategy] UPSC Civil Service Exam (Part 3 of 5): General Stu...

Sociology 11Understanding Society Sociology Class 11 Download

World history 9 India and Contemporary World 1 for Class 9 Download
World history 10India and the Contemporary World 2 Class X Social Science Download
Blank Answersheets
For practicing mock questions @homeclick ME

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