General Studies – Mains


The most important aspect of GS (mains) preparation is newspaper-reading. I did read The Times of India earlier, but mere reading is of no use. One has to cut articles and REVISE them before the exam.

I read 3 newspapers this time: The Times of India, The Economic Times and The Hindu.

I spent less than 2 hours reading these newspapers and one should not invest more than that as some other books in GS and also the 2 optionals have to be prepared.

I feel with little practice (10-12 days or so) one can aim at finishing the papers in under 2 hours. If that’s not the case, then certainly articles not relevant for the exam are being read.

Also, do not let the newspapers pile up. It is very difficult to clear a backlog. Instead, try to read newspapers while you are travelling to the class. You need not require a lot of concentration and can use this time to weed out the irrelevant articles and mark the ones to be read. Once back home, you can then read them with better concentration.

I started cutting articles on 18th May, the very next day after the prelims, and classified the articles and placed them in folders titled: National issues, International issues, Economy, Security and Defence, Climate and Misc (S&T, etc). This I continued till 20 days before the mains. In the last 20 days, I REVISED the cuttings in the time I had allotted for newspaper reading earlier.

Times of India: It’s good for current events and the biggest advantage is that more often than not diagrams and figures in tabular form are given. It helps in remembering the facts. There’s no specific page, article, etc to be read. The only criterion is what is relevant for the exam and what is not.

The Economic Times: It has got the best editorial. The articles are mostly written by IAS officers, other Civil Servants, Planning Commission members, NCAER members, etc. The factual knowledge one can gain from reading ET can be used in each and every paper, be it GS, public administration or essay.

The Hindu: I used to read Hindu as it’s the paper of choice of civil services aspirants. I didn’t want to miss out on something which almost every other person taking the exam would know.

Only those articles having factual information should be cut. Articles based on opinion, conjecture, etc have to be avoided.

I used to mark the important lines then and there. Whichever newspaper covered the issue most widely was the one I cut the article from. If some other paper has an extra point, write it on the article you have cut.

If you have to choose between REVISING books and REVISING the newspaper cuttings in the last month before the mains, I would suggest newspaper articles should be your choice. It not only helps you gain knowledge, but also gives you a broad perspective on each issue, helps you in linking events and eventually in improving the quality of your answers.


Polity: DD Basu’s Constitution of India

History: Bipin Chandra’s India’s struggle for independence

Statistics: Spectrum (small one; 300 or so pages)

Economics: Economic survey (only the boxes; do not delve into figures. Focus on the issue as a whole and the steps to be taken by the government)

Just a perfunctory reading of India Yearbook (Min of I & B). I assume one must have read it before the prelims. If you haven’t, leave it.

Magazines: There was only 1 magazine I read- Civil Services Chronicle. Other magazines I have heard about are- partiyogita darpan, wizard, civil service times, kurukshetra, etc. Keep in mind, only 1 magazine is necessary. Whichever you feel is the best or you are used to reading, go with that.

Internet: I did use internet occasionally for GS. If I came across terms like LLP, QIP, etc in ET or bodies such as OPEC, OASIS countries, etc, I looked up on the net and maintained a word document.

Coaching: I don’t think any coaching is required for GS. If you have read the books properly and have been regular with newspapers, coaching is going to be a waste of time and effort. Coaching classes do nothing but guess what might be asked. Your guess is as good as theirs.

I joined Vajiram and Ravi for GS mains in 2007. It was good at that time since a significant number of questions in the exam could be answered from what was taught in the class. But the changing trend of the exam has made self-study necessary as it’s difficult to predict what is going to be asked.

I didn’t go through any class-notes even once during the 2009 exam as I expected this new trend to continue.

But if you feel you need to join a coaching institute, go for the one where personal attention is provided. Every person’s requirement is different.

Test series: In my opinion, test series are not required for GS. Most of the time should be spent in studying and revising rather than travelling and taking tests.

The only exception to this is if you have been having problems with time management.

Get the paper from your friends who have joined test series and just glance over them and find out if you don’t know the answers. No need to panic if you can’t answer; only 5-10% of what is asked in these papers ends up being asked in the exam.

I glanced through Sriram’s test series question-papers in 2009.


  1. I wrote answers in points. I had a lot of content as I read newspapers regularly and revised the few books I read and the cuttings.
  2. Always underline. Do it with the pen as you write.
  3. Write telegraphically when the content is much more than the word limit.
  4. I usually exceeded word limit. If 30 words, 50. If 150 words, 200. If 250 words, 300. But I did this only because I was sure I would still complete the paper.
  5. Use simple language.
  6. Diagrams are not that important for GS. If a diagram comes readily in your mind, e.g. one depicting orographic precipitation, etc then draw it.

Other points:

I attempted around 580-585 marks in the GS papers. First write the answers you are sure about. Thereafter, always try to guess the answers to questions you have some idea about. One can’t be expected to know each and every thing. Just 3-4 marks here and there after intelligent guessing can lead to getting 20 marks more in each paper.

I have been asked on how to prepare for science and tech. I didn’t do anything specific. Just the newspapers. I suggest in addition to newspapers, one should also look up on the net (wikipedia) the nobel prize winners of last 3 years in physics, chemistry and physiology and their researches.

For geography, again nothing specific is required. Questions asked this year such as the one on importance of coastal regions,etc is not geography. It’s current affairs. My answer included points such as india having coastal length of 7516.6 kms, so security vis-a-vis terrorism, china’s string of pearls, diego garcia as economic development is dependent on peaceful and stable by value and 90% by volume through sea. EEZ and minerals. Fisheries. Sustenance of population living along the coastline.marine biosphere reserves. offshore oil fields such as the bombay high. import of LPG from countries such as Qatar through the sea route. Running of underwater fibre optic cables for connectivity, etc…

eg:china’s peaceful rise doctrine: first say wht it means, china says
its rise is peaceful and not confrontational…china 1/6th world
population, shud be heard at multilateral forums such as WTO, G8, UN,
climate talks,etc…also, building economic power for welfare of its citizens,and military power
only as a deterrent,etc but then in reality its not because
1. building military power, star wars(shooting down satellites)
2. border disputes: india, japan, russia
3. dalai lama; any country supports, china goes all out against, eg us, france, germany, eg during olympics
4. WTO; dumping and currency undervaluation
5. proliferation of missile technology,etc to pakistan; string of pearls
6. internal problems: tibet, uighars and problem with chinese taipei
7. cyber-terrorism: hacking by chinese state institutes; google problem,etc
8. ambiguous stand at int’l bodies: india@nsg, india,japan@unsc,etc

There is no need to know about the source of a statement (as in History questions and China’s peaceful rise doctrine, etc). What is required is a holistic answer linking all the related incidents/issues.

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85 Responses to General Studies – Mains

  1. prakash says:

    wonderful tips.. wish i had taken them from you a year back.

  2. Puneet says:

    Excellent blog Anay! I’m sure future aspirants, if they follow your advice, will benefit immensely. In fact, had I read your blog last year, I would have scored much better in the written. Cheers! Keep up the fantastic work. Pub Ad people must be waiting for some really cool answers. :-).
    Oh btw, I can contribute some insights/advice for the essay if you want. Let me know and I can do a write-up for you on how to perform decently in the essay.

    • anaydwivedi says:

      thanks a lot puneet..yup, pub ad will come up needs a lot of convincing to do..
      yup, regarding the essay, definitely we can do that..just send me the write-up..i will put it up and is it ok if i direct the queries to ur account? on orkut/email etc. coz i really didnt do nething @ the essay…130 110 and now 102…so m not the right person to advise…haha

  3. Santanu Chakraborty says:

    Hi Anay,

    Great Blog..Plss continue to put your ideas here…As the trends of the paper is changing what do you think for GS History..will a overall idea be enough to answer..what about the 2 markers??

    • anaydwivedi says:

      hi santanu, thanks…
      I read only bipin chandra..i guess its enough for the 15 markers. Didnt study nething for 2 markers as there wasnt enough time. Also, it’s very unpredictable. i m glad i left it this year as the questions asked were damn tough.

  4. sarvesh says:

    great…….it will be very much useful to all aspirants.thanks a lot

  5. Sangita Goswami says:

    Hey Anay!

    You mentioned about reading TOI,ET and Hindu from 17th May and cutting the articles accordingly based on factual infos.Did you follow the same for the PT as well?I mean,I find it a little time consuming to read all 3.The problem with me is I hardly like the preaching style of The Hindu,after reading it I hardly ever feel like introspecting though I love some articles my eminent personalities viz. Swaminathan,Sainath etc.I love ET the most followed by TOI.Will it be wise on my part to leave Hindu completely?
    It would be great on your part if you could throw some light on PT GS orientation.Regards…

    • anaydwivedi says:

      hi sangita,
      didnt follow it for the prelims as i adopted this strategy after the prelims…but i used to read the papers as i appeared for interview in 2007 and 2008 as well…
      i cant agree with u more about hindu, et and toi…et is also my fav paper when in comes to the civil services exam…toi next and hindu last…i read hindu only because its the paper of choice of civil services aspirants…so i felt i shudnt miss out on sth…but if u think its time consuming and u r not able to do other things…u may leave it out…
      for pt gs…i m coming up with a post in 1-2 days…working on it right now…

  6. raja says:

    Hi anay sir.w.r.t to your answer writing,for example the way u have presented china peaceful doctrine answer,how do we know which all questions need positive and negative points.and also please provide an insight how to answer the critically analyse type of questions(more negative points?).

    • anaydwivedi says:

      hi raja, a very good question. Do not even think of missing out on any point you know. It doesnt matter whether it’s positive or negative. Write all positive ones together and the negative ones together. It’s only the order which is dependent on the question. So in the china’s peaceful rise doctrine question, the +ve ones certainly come first. Since i know many -ves ones, write however…and then those points.
      Conclusion is most often futuristic. So suggest something practical rather than lofty.

  7. karunya says:

    it is an eye opener.tnx.

  8. Ali says:

    Thank you for this. Hope more people access this site.
    Very very helpful. And most importantly, encouraging. Gives people who haven’t cleared Mains because of low GS marks a feeling that higher marks are possible with a change in approach.

    For the effort you’ve taken in writing everything down,
    Thanks 🙂

  9. arunkumar says:

    Hi Anay, insightful articles. all of them. thanks a million for the great work you are doing. you talked about Pavan sir at Sri ram’s. Does he conduct test series or you knew him personally?

    • anaydwivedi says:

      hi arun, thanks…
      i went to pavan sir for answer-writing and eventually realised the wrong approach and orientation i had for pub ad. i didnt know him earlier.

      • arunkumar says:

        hi anay, you mean to say you attended the test series conducted by pavan sir/sri ram’s or you personally took guidance from him without joining there? would he be kind enough to help others also just like he did to you? i am planning to join sunil gupta’s for PA test series as there is nobody apart from him offering test series in PA. i am just going by popular perception. any suggestions? should i rethink about joining sunil gupta’s?

      • anaydwivedi says:

        hi arun,
        i took guidance from him thru the tests he conducted every week…i relied heavily on his assessment and advice…he conducts regular classes as well…to cover the syllabus…it depends on wht ur requirements r…
        cant comment on sunil gupta as i havent been there…i have heard ms shubhra saxena (air 1,2008) has given her feedback on sunil gupta on her blog…kindly go thru tht if u want…

  10. arunkumar says:

    hi anay, i saw the website of sri ram’s and even your video. but i could not find pavan sir’s name in the faculty list. is there a way i can get in touch with him? i am sorry i am troubling you with a beeline of questions. 😦

  11. MAHENDRA PANDE says:

    SIR, may I get some help regarding sociology as its one of my optional..if thr kindly post it…

  12. MAHENDRA PANDE says:

    sir what exactly “Write telegraphically when the content is much more than the word limit” means…

    • anaydwivedi says:

      writing telegraphically means tht instead of writing the whole sentence you write only the important words. it is to be adopted most often for the 2/3 markers…
      eg 1. Abhinav Bindra won the Gold medal at the olympics in the 10 m air rifle category.
      so write: abhinav bindra- olympic gold- 10 m air rifle.

      it saves time and word limit is taken care of. therefore, more and more points can be written in the answer.

  13. smriti says:

    thanks sir for sharing ur experience,its great to see aspirants doubt r entertained,i m more than happy to find all my doubt solvepls do share ur interview experience this year and also previous years,also give some insight into csat-2011 and law preparation.

    • anaydwivedi says:

      hi smriti, thanks…
      i will share my interview experience of all the 3 yrs… kindly give me some time.. since it’s june, every1’s focussed on the mains…
      i do not know much about csat 2011…even the upsc has not declared anything till there’s no option but to wait and see…
      about law, i m very sorry to say i dnt have any idea abt it as it wasnt an optional for me..

  14. Girish says:

    Awesome marks and thanks a ton for such elaborate blog on your strategy !

    You had mentioned that you prepared newspaper notings only after Prelims.
    How did you cover pre-Prelims current affairs ?
    Was it only this time that you made current affairs notes, which eventually made the difference ?

    Thanks again.

    • anaydwivedi says:

      hi girish, thanks…
      yup, i did it frm the next day itself as i said…
      before the pre, i used to read civil services chronicle and i did read the times of india but never kept any cuttings…
      for pre, since it was a recognition exam…just selecting one of the choices..i always remembered more or less wht i had read before…
      so for pre my gs net scores for the 3 attempts were approx 70, 97 and 87 respectively… because maths and logic used to be easy, questions frm india yr book were a straight giveaway and basic knowledge like polity, etc was decent enough…but yup, i do agree the pre this yr was quite different except the maths part…

      for mains paper cutting is vital as quality of answers is of essence and paper-reading gives u a broad perspective as u r able to relate various events…eg the china’s peaceful doctrine i have already explained in the gs mains post…

  15. arunkumar says:

    thank you very much anay. i will call pawan sir right away. if doubt persists i will come back and bother you again. 🙂

  16. akhi says:

    grt blog sir…i have few queries…1stly u said we shud avoid opinion based articles in newspapers..m quite confused bout it…i think in changed pattern we r asked for our opinion in most of the cant we use these opinion based articles and build and present our opinion on similar lines….2ndly studies or research evidences in psycho have no role to play..?? shud we avoid them ??

    • anaydwivedi says:

      hi akhi…thanks
      by asking u to avoid opinion based articles, i meant articles such as those based on political ideology, whether CWG r on track or not, banning vuvuzela or not, etc…time is of essence and i feel if u have enough factual info, u can easily form an opinion about the issues…yes, with the changing trend, opinion is being sought…but even in the WTO question this yr for example…it is the factual info which mattered…
      but if u r able to finish reading newspapers in the time u have allotted for it…u can surely read other things u like…
      studies and research evidences r important but not to the extent tht they form 80% of ur answer. do go thru these but then no need to remember each and every name u have come across…i do not think tht is possible…instead u shud know wht all new findings,etc r on a particular subject to add more and more points and present different dimensions…eg in the sleep question this year, they explicitly asked about findings…i knew 10-11 findings but didnt remember a single name…
      it was beyond my abilities to remember each and every finding and the i wrote…recent study, latest finding, it has been also reported…etc

  17. Vinay Dwivedi says:

    Revered Sir,
    Strategy is very simple ‘Selective But Intensive ‘, answers which UPSC expect from aspirants should be concise , conceptual , updated and very formated But whence constraint of word limit is put on the questions how the answer should be formatted? eg Non cooperation movement gave new direction and energy to the national movement . This question was asked for 150 word in 2008 but if it was asked for 250 words how both the answer would differed from one another .

    • anaydwivedi says:

      hi vinay…
      as i said earlier…word limit shud hardly matter…if u knw more than the world limit…simple strategy shud be to write in points and tht too telegraphically as i have explained…but if a question is asked for 250 words or so and where u do not have so much content..try to break down the question into parts…
      so if this question was asked for 250 words…i wud explain wht exactly was the non-coop mvmt and the events which led to its launch and also how the natl mvmt was affected by the non coop mvmt and then relate it to the civil disobedience mvmt and quit india mvmt…
      whereas if asked only for 150 words..i wud have simply concentrated on explaining tht non-coop mvmt was the 1st all india mvmt, gandhiji emerged as THE leader of independence mvmt, women took part on a large scale and so did people frm all different classes as earlier mvmts were more or less restricted to the middle class tht too mostly in bengal,etc…
      thts y when u study and more importantly when u think of an answer, try to be broad-based…m sure u will have enough content for any type of answer…

  18. Syam says:

    Hi, Anay, I was totally impressed by your blog. I started my preparation in October and gave prelims (85plus Psy, 60 plus GS). Now, I’ve joined coaching for public administration at Kaizer, O.P.Minocha teaches there (didn’t get admission at other institutes as I had to be there at sister’s marriage). A chill of shock went down my spine after reading your blog. So, how should I go about my preparation now, Anay?

    Your insights into UPSC examination were really amazing. I’m really glad that someone of your capability got selected for IAS cadre. My heart-felt congratulations!!!

    • anaydwivedi says:

      hi syam…thanks
      ur prelims scores r very good…so u need to fully concentrate on mains now which i m sure u r…
      op minocha was teaching at vajiram and its not difficult to guess y he is not teaching there anymore…
      i wud say time is of essence…for pub ad, answer-writing is very important and for tht mr minocha isnt the right person to show ur answers to…
      i suggest u go to sriram’s across the road and meet pavan sir and explain to him ur situation..i m sure he will come up with something…
      remember tht the content and knowledge is all gng to be urs…std books and newspapers r to be read…but for the right orientation definitely pavan sir…

      • Syam says:

        Sure, Anay. Will definitely do so. Regarding paper -2 of Psychology, I’ve been trying to search material over the net for the past 3-5 months. But, I’ve always found some junk instead of some good material. How did you go about searching the net? I mean what kind of key words have you used?

        For documents like pdf, ppt and word doc, I’ve used search engine ( it uses google and filters documents there after I suppose) and even there I couldn’t find the right content.

      • anaydwivedi says:

        for psych paper 2…wikipedia was the 1st source of info on the net…thereafter, usual google and yahoo search…but for most of the topics, i tried to think of as many points i cud by myself and discussed with a friend…so just prepared the points and thought of some examples…for terrorism, IT, mass media, disadvantaged grps…intro is there on wikipedia and other sites..but sit with some1 and try to make a list of at least 25-30 points…

    • Amit Gupta says:

      Hey Syam,
      I am looking to join Prof. Minocha’s Classes for Pub Ad. in Mukherjee Nagar (Kaizer Academy). Can you please let me know the strengths and weaknesses of Prof. Minocha. I have heard that Mr. Puri is also going to teach (paper 2). How is he? Overall, which coaching should I join- Minocha’s, Mohanty’s or anyone else..
      Looking forward to your quick response as I have to take admission in next few days.


  19. Vinay Dwivedi says:

    Thanx very much , Being in mumbai its very difficult to find any one to give proper guidance . Have seen aspirant slogging the method of trial and error & wasting their valuable time in going through material which are very irrelevant as you have explained doing exhaustive study cramming more fact and bringing ruin to their results.I have been suggested by one senior ( 4th attempt)aspirant to go through D Basu whole as everyone does so , exhaustively read the newspaper especially and their international affairs section ,To order Vajiram and Ravi GS postal material ( which i havent done so ) but none has suggested to develop more broad conceptual links. So i was hitting in the dark before going through this article which brought light to my preparation but still am perplexed regarding management of the whole syllabus .So if you have time i would like to personally to attend your counsel ,Thank You

  20. Syam says:


    What have you read regarding Indian culture?

    • anaydwivedi says:

      hi syam…
      to be honest i just left it…i realised ancient history and indian culture is not my cup of tea…but they asked too much frm indian culture…had to write sth or the other…
      but i suggest u ask rashmita panda…she is air 13 with 356 in history…i m sure she will b knowing some book/source frm where u can do it quickly… (there’s no dot between www and rashmita)

  21. Girish says:

    Hello Anay,
    I would be very grateful to you if we can have a more detailed and specific discussion on email ? It would enormously help me fine tune my studies.

    Thanks a lot,

  22. RakeshReddy says:

    Hi Anay,
    This is Rakesh.
    Your blog was simply superb…and its good that even after getting the much deserved service u were still guiding the aspirants for a better focused preparation.
    I couldn’t make it out for the 2 hr interactive session u took at vajiram (a week before i think) abt your valuable experiences but nonetheless i found wider perspectives from this extremely useful blog.
    I started my preparation last October (took Psycho and GS coaching at Vajiram),gave (first attempt) prelims (Psycho 80-86 and GS 50 plus ).Now i am taking PubAd coaching (at Mohanty, Synergy).Presently I have the burden of attending 3 hrs class of PubAd daily along with attending the test series on Psycho (which would start from 20th June).
    Pls let me know how can i efficiently use the limited time from now onwards?

    Regarding newspaper i have piled up the paper cuttings of articles of Hindu from April 2010 and i am regularly reading the paper (only Hindu at present) and also listening to All India Radio News analysis programs (daily at 9.15pm) to get expert views on wide ranging topics.From Hindu, I am making notes for articles with limited info and cutting those articles for which lot of content is worthy. But the whole process is taking lots of time and i am not sure if the same can be continued till sept end w/o breaks.

    I feel that this being my first attempt i mayn’t be able to give 100% on newspaper (like reading multiple papers and that too devoting 60% of time on paper as u did it,which i still feel is the best approach one can do with the changing UPSC pattern) as i have to devote time on traditional GS areas at least for the conceptual clarity if not for thorough reading plus preparation from the scratch for the entirely new 2nd optional (Pub Ad) although i am comparatively confident on Psychology part as it was my first optional (though extensive work, as u said, has to be done on Paper 2 thru Internet sources). So where shud be the core focus of my preparation ?
    I guess i have asked too much in the first blog itself but would be more than happy to get little guidance from you.

    • anaydwivedi says:

      hi rakesh…thanks
      gng by wht u have said…i must tell u tht ur prep is gng good as u seem to have a good idea abt the time constraint and other limitations…continue with wht u r doing but in my opinion do not stop newspaper reading..its ok if u r reading only hindu…but do it till sept end at least…thereafter just concentrate on revising the cuttings…mains r starting frm 29th 28 days r enough…
      the idea is simple…revision is very very important…instead of reading 5 books once, read 1 book 5 times…
      as i have said many times before…my strategy might have worked last yr…but its not guaranteed tht it will do so this yr as well…and not every successful candidate has the same strategy…so be confident of ur abilities…keep in mind ur stength and weakness…and execute ur plans wholeheartedly…
      abt the optionals and gs…just focus on thinking in different directions so tht u have many points on every topic mentioned in the syllabus…frm where u get those points doesnt might be the net, books, classes or ur own thinking…

      • RakeshReddy says:

        Thanks a lot for the advise Anay. Yeah i would definitely continue reading Hindu daily. All the Best for your Training and hope to see you successful in changing, whatever little, the face of India.

      • anaydwivedi says:

        thanks rakesh…all the best!!!

  23. maddy says:


  24. maddy says:

    How do you study polity? and what do you study in polity?
    I get confused in front of Mr. Basu. What exactly to study from these books?

    • anaydwivedi says:

      for polity…if u r not able to understand wht to study and wht not to study frm dd basu…go thru either vajiram notes on polity or thru spectrum (the 2000 pages one) polity section..

  25. Pavan says:

    hi Anay,

    I have one more query regarding the Chronicle Magazine.
    You said, one should approx aim to finish one issue in 1-2days. My lame doubt is.. You used to go through the mag whole day without touching any other optional?
    Also, how was your approach on daily basis?..split the day for two optional + GS or reserve whole day for one subject?
    Thanks again for the inspiring replys,,,,

    • anaydwivedi says:

      hi pavan…as i said…i read the whole magazine in a day or two apart frm the 2 hr newspaper reading on tht day…avg was 4 hrs/day…so on such days i might have studied 5-6 hrs…as i usually read the issues a month before the exams…
      i studied psycho for 6 days a week and 1 day was for pub ad…also, newspaper reading everyday…in between sometimes gs…bipin chandra, exo survey, iyb revision…

  26. paramatman8 says:

    Congratulation on your success. I have started preparing for Civil Service exams from this June. I am little confused about how to prepare for Prelims and concerned about economics related questions. Please help me with some tips how to start up with preparations and remembering facts. Thank you for other valuable tips.

    • anaydwivedi says:

      hi paramatman…thank u
      for economics…kindly go thru the paper reading post…i have pointed out how i looked up the terms used in the newspaper on the net…
      for the exam in general…kindly keep in mind tht u have to REVISE whtever u study…without revision, remembering something is very difficult…so concentrate on reading 1 thing 5 times rather than 5 things once…

  27. Kartikeya says:

    Congrats Anay sir,

    My query is regarding the class room notes of various coachings . . i.e vajiram and ravi , ALS, Sriram. .

    You mentioned class room notes of polity by vajiram to maddy’s comment.

    I am residing in a very remote place and not afford to go to delhi, i am planning to go there to buy the study material. Please tell me which coaching class room notes shall i buy and only current year or past 2 or 3 years.

    Thanks. .

    • anaydwivedi says:

      hi kartikeya…thanks
      i dont have much idea abt the notes of coaching institutes as the last time i went thru them was way back in 2007…
      but whichever instt u take notes frm…last yr’s notes wud be more than enough…no need for the past 2-3 yrs’ notes…

  28. Kartikeya says:

    Thanks for your reply to my various queries on different posts. . I am appearing for CSE 2011 with EE and PA.

    Sir, please solve my queries regarding the GS section both for prelims and mains. I am going by the NCERT books for basic understanding of History, Geography, Statistics and Economics. Since already started, so not going by Spectrum GS manual.

    For polity: Subhash kashyap (both parliament and constitution) , P.M Bakshi ‘The constitution of India’, D.D Basu concise version.

    Sir, all these books are for understanding basics. I have these books with me but they are not exam oriented. My plan after finishing these books is to go for exam oriented books. . I have selected few books ( haven’t bought them yet). They are
    History: No need, just Spectrum history of modern india & Bipin Chandra.

    Geography: Confused?? Which book to take? Can u advise? How to cover world geography section? I planned to go by Spectrum : Geography of india.

    Polity: Wizard indian polity and constitution.

    Statistics: Spectrum.

    Economics: I have no idea about it. Many say use dutt sundaram, mishra puri, I C Dhingra, Uma Kapila, Penguin dictionary there is no end to it. And these book too only for basics not from exam point of view.
    Please tell me which economics book should i buy. You haven’t mentioned a single source out of these books and I was so happy to see it. But when you told me to refer dutt and sundaram for public debt data in rs., i was again dis hearten.

    Sir, I have a very old edition of dutt and sundaram, may be 1990’s. If you have read dutt and sundaram, Please tell me the important chapters from the book to be studied as this book is quite bulky. if possible, please mention the chapter title or numbers. If u say, i will buy a new one.
    After this, PD economics, Economic survey and approach paper.

    My problem is i m residing in a real remote place, very very remote village. Hardly can ever sit online. I only go by toppers comment on what to study and what not to study. I don’t have any access to the content on these books, to any preparing aspirant in Delhi. I don’t even know whether these books which i am going to buy are good or not.Just hit and trial coz every top rankers suggested one of these books. Thanks to flipkart that i can get books even in such remote places.

    Right now i haven’t bought any of these books. Just asking for you suggestion on how to go for exam oriented preparation. Please clear my queries.

    Sir every topper starts a blog, and after 2 months becomes very busy with the training and then it becomes very difficult for us to get him and it’s totally justified since your training will be so hectic. Your’s is the only blog in which i m posting coz i found it exceptionally good, a lot different from other toppers. I am really glad that some one like you got selected in IAS, such a helping nature to take such pain for aspirants.

    God bless u. .

    You can reply on my mail or here what ever is comfortable for you. .

    Thanks. .

    • anaydwivedi says:

      hi kartikeya
      1. abt geography…just regular newspaper reading is enough…but yes, u may go thru spectrum geography if u want to
      2. economics…again newspapers r the best source…and look up the terms u dnt understand on the net…i wud say u may get dutt and sundaram, but there’s no need to go thru the book frm cover to cover..pick it up only when u want some specific data or understand a particular section abt indian economy..but if u read the newspapers regularly…u will b confident abt economics
      3. get the exam Q papers and stick to the syllabus for the optionals…for gs…try to understand the pattern and trend by gng thru the last 5 yr papers…
      thanks for the kind words…feel free to ask questions and i will try my best to reply asap…all the best…

  29. Kartikeya says:

    Thanks for the detailed reply Sir,

    Regarding newspaper readings, I am appearing for CSAT 2011. Right now only reading the hindu, as this is the only paper available here and that too 3 days late (i get monday’s paper on thursday). For prelims just one newspaper is sufficient or more newspapers are required? You told that you referred to 3 newspapers and that too after prelims. Is just one news paper enough for Pre? By which paper did you go for prelims? For pre 2011, from which month onwards is serious news reading required? And from which month onwards should one start cutting the articles? Is article cutting and revising needed for pre?

    • anaydwivedi says:

      hi kartikeya
      before the pre…i read only the ToI regularly…but did go thru hindu as well sometimes…
      i guess its good to go for newspaper cuttings at least 6 months before the pre exam…tht way u r unlikely to miss out on imp events…but yes, revision is very important…
      i didnt go for newspaper cuttings as i was never worried abt the GS prelims paper…always scored quite well on it…so had to concentrate more on the optional paper for pre…

  30. Ashish Bharti says:

    hi sir…congrats & thnx 4 such a wonderful post…i scored avg marks in all my papers last yr…hope wil improve after following ur advice…tc njoy

    • anaydwivedi says:

      hi ashish…thanks
      yup, same was the case with me in my 2 previous attempts… concentrate fully on the mains and give it ur best…cracking the mains will ensure selection…
      all the best…feel free to ask Qs whenever u want to…

  31. Durga Prasad says:

    hi, thanks a lot for the info..

    Could you let me know how to prepare for prelims : Reasoning and mental ability

    • anaydwivedi says:

      hi durga
      i didnt prepare for it as it was my strong point…
      but i guess for reasoning and mental ability…u can get RS Agarwal’s book on quantitative aptitude…i think it is good for civil services exam…
      u can also try and get in touch with some1 preparing for CAT…and get the basic booklets provided by institutes such as TIME or career launcher…but keep in mind tht the difficult level of CSE in reasoning and mental ability is much much lower than tht for CAT…so get an idea of the kind of Qs asked by gng thru previous yrs’ prelims Q papers…

  32. nitin rajput says:

    hi anay,
    first of all i congratulate u on ur success.
    This,2010 is my 3rd mains,1st optional geog, 2nd optional pol.sci. , now pub. ad. for 1st time. joined pawan sir
    i have few doubts , looking for ur support:
    1) i started reading and cutting newspaper since 25th june and that too only the hindu & ToI. suggest how to cope up
    2) history – i have phobia of thick books, will bipin chandra-thin one do apart from spectrum. also the kind of questions they ask gives jitters.
    3)u said u studied 4 hrs a day! pls elaborate. have u included newspaper reading in this?
    4)is GS predictable? if u can give ur guess on this year GS paper
    looking forward to ur reply


    • anaydwivedi says:

      hi nitin…thanks
      1. i think newspaper cuttings frm 25th june to 1st week of oct wud suffice…do go thru 1 competition magazine…just organize the cuttings and mark the imp lines then and there…
      i wud suggest u to just go thru ET editorials..only the 1s relevant for the exam…it’s really good…but if u r not able to cope..leave it’s better to do few things thoroughly than go for 10 different things..
      2. do not worry abt the thickness…i suggested bipin chandra as it is more than enough for the 30 marks in mains…do not get nervous after seeing the Qs as u r not expected to knw who said wht, where and why…all u need to do is relate wht all u knw to the Q asked…i have given an idea abt it in the GS mains post…for the 2 qs asked last yr…and also as replies to Qs asked on the blog…
      i dnt knw abt other bipin chandra books…all i did was the one titled india’s struggle for independence (which unfortunately is not so thin…but at the same time more than enough for the CSE)
      3. yes, 4-5 hrs including newspaper reading… i studied with full concentration…and usually i studied 3-4 hrs…but a month before the exam..i did increase it to 5-6 hrs…and 2-3 days before the exam to 7-8 hrs…so in the end..avg was abt 4 hrs… remember, it’s not imp how much time u spend…but abt the optimal concentration and retention…
      i cudnt concentrate tht much if i attempted to study 8 hrs or so daily, months before the exam…
      4. cant say it is predictable…but yes, i cud answer almost all of the current affairs Qs last yr as my prep was based on newspaper reading…as for other Qs such as the one on culture, etc..little bit of guesswork and ingenuity is reqd…with the basic premise being tht u shudnt leave out anything in the paper abt which u have got some idea…
      so i attempted 580-585 marks in GS…leaving out only the 2 markers of ancient history and some other Qs here and there abt which i had absolutely no idea…

  33. Padameshwar Singh says:

    Hi Anay,

    First of all I would like to appreciate you for this wonderful blog. I am preparing for CSE 2011. I have chosen Pub Ad and Manipuri ( Literature) as my optionals. I am doing my Pub Ad coaching at ALS. However, I cant afford GS coaching.

    What I would like to know is about GS coaching. Is it really necessary? Also what is your opinion about Literature as an optional.?

    Waiting for ur reply. Thanks


    • anaydwivedi says:

      hi padameshwar…thanks
      i didnt take any coaching for GS in 2008 and 2009…did everything myself as i realised long time back tht coaching institutes do a lot of guesswork when it comes to GS and if u r confident tht u can do it urself..there’s no need to invest time in gs coaching…as i have gs mains strategy depended on reading newspapers and only few books…

      abt litt…u needn’t worry…it all depends on ur interest and aptitude…many have score excellent marks in litt this yr…so go ahead and give it ur best…no optional is easy and no optional is difficult…also, u cant predict the difficulty level as well as scoring pattern for any optional even if u try to analyze the avg marks scored by candidates in previous yrs… it’s better to concentrate on prep and be ready to take the exam than to worry abt other optionals or wht other people r doing…
      all the best!!!

  34. Padameshwar Singh says:

    Thank you so much Anay for your useful insights.. Hats off

  35. Lalit Jain says:

    Brother suggest me how to tackle science and tech..i mean the source etc

    • anaydwivedi says:

      hi lalit…
      for s&t, i referred only newspapers and looked up the terms on the net…
      other than tht, u can go thru the researches of last 5 yrs’ nobel prize winners in physics, chem and physio…

  36. Anant says:

    I am totally clueless as to how to go about with the 2 markers? I hate to say this, but I have never heard of Kiang Nongbah,Govind Guru, Taji Mideren et. al. even after “studying” quite a lot. Any book, reference, trend, website – that I am missing? Sir, please guide me!


    • anaydwivedi says:

      hi anant
      dont worry…hardly any one knew abt all these…i didnt even prepare history as i felt the marks i cud fetch wud not b commensurate with the effort i wud have to put into it…
      u neednt and cant knw each and everything asked in the exam..wht u need to do is score good marks in wht u knw prepare as much as u can and b confident with tht…

  37. manoj jadhav says:

    sir i want some suggest to how prepar to economics and sci& teh wizard is sufficent for mains and how to take a case studies from to new paper give exmple now i read the india polity form wizard book i have purchase vishal publicatinon book india yrs boook

  38. manoj jadhav says:

    sir i am confuse about the economics sub plz give idea about pre and main point view it pratiyogita darpan sufficient for pre how to use full datt & sudaram if i relied on hindu sci& tec but in upsc there is not more one question

    • anaydwivedi says:

      hi manoj…
      i relied on the newspapers..and only when i had doubts abt some topic or concept..i used to refer the net or other books…
      kindly go thru the newspaper reading post to understand the strategy i followed…

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