The civil services preliminary examination conducted by the UPSC has two papers in General Studies under the revised scheme of examination. The examination in General Studies Paper I is a two hour test where students have to answer 100 questions. Each question carries two marks. While a correct answer gets a candidate two marks, an incorrect one means a loss of 0.66 marks.

Changes in UPSC Civil Services Exam Pattern for 2015

Popularly known as IAS exam, UPSC CSE will undergo some major changes in 2015. The main change regarding exam structure is with the first stage, the preliminary exam. Though there are two papers (Paper I and Paper II) for Prelims 2015 as in the previous years, for 2015 Prelims the General Studies Paper II which deals with aptitude (CSAT) has been made qualifying in nature. The minimum qualifying marks for Paper II is fixed at 33 percent. Thus, the merit of the Preliminary Examination will be determined purely on the basis of marks obtained in the General Studies Paper I, provided the candidate has minimum qualifying marks for General Studies Paper II.

i.e Merit ranking out of 200 marks and not 400 marks! ( For Pre Exam )

Questions asked in this examination can be grouped into three categories:

(i) Multiple Choice Questions – single response correct

(ii) Multiple Choice Questions – multiple response correct

(iii) Multiple Choice Questions – Matching type

The Syllabus

The syllabus for General Studies

Paper-I comprises seven sections: History of India and Indian National Movement; Indian and World Geography; Indian Polity and Governance; Economic and Social Development; Environmental Ecology, Bio-diversity and Climate Change; General Science; and General Knowledge and Current Events.

The syllabus does not give much detail of the topics to be studied under each section. However, since the minimum eligibility for the examination is graduation and the syllabus is common for aspirants coming from different streams, it is assumed that the level of knowledge expected is slightly below the level of a specialised graduation (Honours Course) in these diverse disciplines.

Preparation Strategy

The questions are based on basic principles and their application, factual information and current affairs. Questions based on applied aspects of principles and factual information have been asked in previous years. Mere reading of NCERT texts does not give the reader a sufficient depth to handle such questions. The number of questions asked from different sections has varied over time. Many of the questions asked in the examination overlap with more than one section of the syllabus.

While preparing for this examination, the candidate should adopt an integrated approach. One should understand the principles and then strive to find their applications in day-to-day life. The principles of anaerobic degradation, for example, find application in the generation of biomass energy as well as pollution of water bodies.

Likewise, while studying about river valley civilizations, an understanding of alluvial soils and their importance comes handy. One should start with the basics, and for this NCERT books are useful. It should be followed by in depth study of relevant topics from graduation level text books in relevant subjects. Alternately, a good general studies book can also be used. This facilitates availability of most of the reading material in one source.


Reading newspapers and magazines and periodicals on economic, political and social issues keeps one updated with current developments and policy changes. In the examination hall one should read the questions carefully and thoroughly before selecting the correct answer. Time management is also vital during the examination. If a question cannot be answered immediately, one should move to the next question marking it as unanswered on the question paper.

Such questions should be revisited after going through the whole question paper and answering all the questions. Since a wrong answer is negatively marked, one should avoid making wild guesses.

Now… Reference books…

1. NCERT/NIOS ( 7 to 10 th Class ) and for History Tamil Nadu State books.

2. Polity :- Laxmikant or D.D Basu

3. Modern India :- Alka Grover/Bipin Chandra

4. Economy :- Ramesh Singh /India Year Book/Budget and Survey.

5.Diplomacy/IR :- AIR news / C.Rajamohan ( Indian express clouminst articles and MEA Website )

6.Biodiversity or Ecology:- Environment ministry website,PIB,NIOS and IGNOU Selective study.

7. Geography :- NCERT and Majid Hussain Indian Geography.

8.Sc and Tech :- Lucent GK ,NCERT,ICSE SC Books.

9.Culture :- NCERT + CCRTindia website.

10. Current Affairs :- The Hindu,Indian express ( Highly recommend for Economy and IR Portions ) ,EPW,AIR News.

Feel free to post your queries in comment box.


Ahmad Nadeem