The UPSC Mains Exam is a demanding one, especially because right after you clear prelims, the Mains Exam date is announced with only a few months gap. The exam covers a wide range of topics, from politics and economics to science and technology. In order to do well in the exam, it is important to be well-versed in current affairs. This obviously cannot be done in a few months so one has to start Mains preparation alongside Prelims preparation.
✅ Staying updated on current affairs is crucial for the UPSC Mains exam.
✅ Methods for staying informed include reading newspapers, watching news channels, and using UPSC Current Affairs magazines, practicing current affairs MCQs, referring different news sources like PIB, Down To Earth etc.
✅ Our Mentors can help candidates identify essential articles and provide a structured approach to understanding current events.
✅ Critical analysis is essential, involving identifying key issues, understanding diverse perspectives, and forming personal opinions.
✅ Current affairs are a significant part of the UPSC Mains exam, and staying informed and analyzing events systematically can enhance success chances.
Check the table below to understand the scheme and subjects of the UPSC CSE examination:
|UPSC CSE Exam||The Pattern of the UPSC CSE Exam|
UPSC Mains GS Paper I is among the four general studies papers in a subjective format. It covers subjects such as History, Geography, Art and Culture, and Indian Society. In addition to GS Paper I, there are eight additional papers in the Mains stage of the UPSC CSE Exam. This article offers insights into the GS I Syllabus and Structure to aid in your UPSC preparation.
|Subjects in GS Paper 1||Sub-Topics|
Art & Culture
Physical Geography of India & World
|Indian Society||Demography, Social Issues (Sociology), and Developments in Indian Society. Current Affairs|
Thematic details of the syllabus (General studies–I)
|Art & Culture||Salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times|
Unlike other general studies papers, the GS Paper I syllabus has subjects from which direct questions can be asked. As in the case of History of GS paper-I. Questions can directly be asked from ancient, medieval, modern, and world history. However, there are also topics in Indian Society and Geography, where an aspirant needs to connect the static syllabus of GS Paper I with current affairs. Hence, if prepared well this is actually a scoring paper for aspirants.
✅ GS1 often involves questions that require an interdisciplinary approach. For instance, a question on the impact of a historical event on society may require knowledge from both history and sociology. Be prepared to make these connections in your answers.
✅ Invest time in reading standard textbooks for each subject. For Indian culture and history, refer to books like NCERTs, Bipan Chandra’s “India’s Struggle for Independence,” and other relevant texts. For world history, books by Norman Lowe and others can be helpful. For geography, NCERTs and books by G.C. Leong are commonly recommended. Having teachers who can help in all the aspects would be a better way to build your basics.
The important features of the UPSC General Studies I Mains paper are:
✅ Social Justice
✅ International relations
Like General Studies I, General Studies II has very few direct questions that are related to one topic. This paper needs a fair bit of critical thinking to answer the questions correctly as many times; interrelated topics will appear.
The table below gives the focus areas in Mains GS Paper-II, which an aspirant should focus on:
|Focus Areas in GS Paper-II|
|Governance & Polity||
The important features of the UPSC General Studies II Mains paper are:
To achieve a higher score in GS Paper 2 (Polity, Governance, International Relations) in UPSC Mains, consider the following tips:
Scoring well in GS2 requires a combination of knowledge, analytical skills, and effective presentation. Being well-versed in current affairs and connecting them to core concepts is crucial.
The GS III Syllabus is focussed on the following subjects:
✅ Economic Development
✅ Disaster Management
As we can see, there is scope for significant overlap between the topics covered in General Studies II and General Studies III.
The table below gives the focus areas in GS 3 mains as well as the syllabus which an aspirant should focus on:
|Focus Areas in GS Paper-III|
|Science & Technology||
|Major Crops and Cropping Patterns|
|Subsidies, Poverty Alleviation and Agricultural Technology|
|Food Processing and Related Industries|
|Science and Technology|
|Achievements of Indians in Science and Technology|
|General Awareness||Awareness in the following fields:|
Focus on Current Affairs – Many topics from UPSC CSE Mains GS-III overlap with current affairs and hence, aspirants can take help from tour Boosters, PIBs etc. published in our Monthly Magazine to prepare accordingly:
The major features of the General Studies Paper III in Mains Exam are:
✅ There are 20 questions printed in both English and Hindi, the questions can be answered only in the language specified during application.
✅ The paper is of a total of 250 marks.
✅ The word limit for 10 marks questions is 150 and, for 15 marks is 250.
✅ The paper has a special emphasis on Economic Development, so it is expected to have questions and answers that would theoretically spill over to Social Justice and international relations from GS II. Also, the questions from the Environment may have some overlap with the Geography knowledge required for GS-I and Economic Development and Biodiversity from GS II itself. Due to this, analyzing each question and writing to-the-point answers within the word limit is important. A careful analysis of the UPSC GS 3 Syllabus will help in this regard.
✅ The questions related to Security and disaster management are mostly asked in the second half of the paper, so it is important to brush up on topics related to Internal Security and Disaster Management as well as new-age topics like cybercrime
The table below mentions the GS-III topics that are important for UPSC CSE Exam:
|Indian Economy||Inclusive Growth|
|Subsidies, Agriculture||Food Processing|
|Science & Technology||Environment|
To approach questions in UPSC Mains GS Paper 3 effectively, start by understanding the question and the relevant syllabus. Allocate your time wisely, and structure your answers with subheadings to make them reader-friendly. Provide context, use real-life examples, and back your arguments with data and figures when applicable. Balance opinions with pros and cons, address multiple dimensions, and incorporate current affairs to show their relevance. For questions related to policies and reforms, cite legal provisions and government initiatives, and consider the ethical aspects. Finally, practice previous year papers to understand the question pattern.
For instance, if asked about the impact of digital technology on the Indian economy, start with an introduction about digital technology and its significance. Provide examples of digital initiatives like Digital India and analyze their effects on sectors such as e-commerce and financial inclusion. Discuss the pros (economic growth, job creation) and cons (digital divide) while considering legal provisions and ethical concerns. This comprehensive approach, tailored to the question, can help you score well in GS3.
The General Studies Paper IV covers the following main areas:
The UPSC introduced the GS Paper 4, also known as the Ethics, Integrity, and Aptitude paper, in the UPSC Mains examination in the year 2013. This paper assesses the ethical and moral dimensions of aspiring civil servants and their ability to make sound judgments in administrative and real-life situations. It was introduced as part of the new pattern of the Civil Services Mains examination, which came into effect in 2013.
This paper may have a slight overlap of topics with Governance and Social Justice Subjects from General Studies II in the Civil Service Examination mains papers but is largely independent of the syllabus of other GS papers.
|Focus Areas in GS IV Ethics Paper|
|S. No||Ethics Topics|
|1||Ethics and Human Interface|
|6||Contributions of moral thinkers and philosophers from India and the world|
|7||Public or Civil Service Values and Ethics in Public Administration|
|8||Ethical issues in international relations and funding corporate governance|
|9||Probity in Governance: Concept of public service; Philosophical basis of governance and probity; information|
|10||Codes of Ethics & Citizen’s Charters|
The following table mentions the tips on how to prepare ethics for UPSC mains, topic-wise:
|Topic||Tips to Prepare|
|Ethics and Human Interface||
Aspirants should learn:
Note: Questions may be asked in the part I section
Aspirants should focus on:
Candidates should focus on Attitude:
Note: Question may be asked either in Part 1 or Part 2 i.e. either in theory or case study
Important list of words that a candidate should embed in their answer in order to enhance their answer and score high:
Note: Candidates can refer to the ‘Ethics in Governance’ to cover this area as it gives a clear definition of the last five words or concepts including Nolan Committee Recommendations.
Here as an administrator, one has to follow the three procedures of Emotional Intelligence and they are:
Note: Questions may be asked in both Part 1 and Part 2
|Ethical issues in international relations||
Note: Questions may be asked Part 2 i.e. case study
|Sharing and transparency in government, Right to information, codes of ethics, codes of conduct||Candidates can refer to CCS, 1964 – The Central Civil Services (Conduct) Rules, 1964|
|Citizen’s Charters, Work Culture, Quality of Service delivery, utilization of public funds, challenges of corruption|
The following is the detailed Syllabus for General Studies IV Paper in the UPSC Mains Examination:
|Ethics and Human Interface|
|Contributions of Thinkers and Philosophers|
|Public/Civil Service Values and Ethics in Public Administration|
|Probity in Governance|
Creating effective notes for the UPSC Ethics paper (GS Paper 4) involves understanding the syllabus, using standard references, organizing by themes, and including definitions, case studies, ethical theories, and laws. Mentors play a crucial role in providing guidance on syllabus priorities, offering critical analysis of ethical scenarios, assisting with answer writing practice, engaging in ethical discussions, and providing feedback. They can also conduct mock interviews with an ethical focus to prepare for the Personality Test.
In summary, effective note-taking in ethics is a structured process encompassing essential concepts and real-life examples. Mentors enhance your understanding and skills, guiding you towards a comprehensive grasp of ethical principles, which is valuable both in the UPSC exam and your future role as a civil servant.
The UPSC Civil Service Mains Exam contains a paper on essay writing. Here you will be asked to write two essays each one carrying 125 marks making a total of 250 marks. You will be given two sets of four topics out of which one has to be chosen from each section. Here there is no prescribed syllabus and the topic could be socio-economic in nature. It could also be general. With three hours to finish two essays (each of about 1200 words), you have ample time in this paper, making it a good bet for increasing your score in the UPSC Mains Exam. This article gives details on the 4 types of Essays, 2 different styles of essays and some of the good characteristics of the essay.
There are 4 types of essays which are listed below.
Here the writer narrates an incident or event.
Here the author describes any event, process or condition.
Here the purpose of the writer is to provide information including negative and positive sides to a topic.
Here the author tries to convince the reader about any topic.
Basically, in the essay paper, a combination of all the above types is generally required. The writer’s goals define the type of essay used.
There are two styles of essay writing namely,
In a structured essay, you build a framework on which you write the essay. A spontaneous essay is one in which you make the framework as you write. However, it is important to collect your thoughts and organise the points which you will be covering beforehand. As a writer, you have to figure out which style suits you more. This can be done by practising essays in mock tests.
Good Essay – Characteristics
✅ Read the topic carefully
✅ Think and recollect the points to be included in the topic for 30 minutes
✅ Provoking Essay
✅ Do not get personal
✅ Deviating from the subject
✅ Recommended Reading
✅ Reading Non-Fiction Books as Hobby
✅ Read our Monthly Magazine and other reading materials
✅ Choose the topic you are able to best write on
✅ Think and create a draft structure before you start writing
✅ Do a little study about data that can back up your statements
✅ Don’t be offensive in your writing (don’t harshly criticize a person or the Government, if you disagree with someone or something, then you can suggest measures or reforms that can mend them)
✅ Remember the quotes correctly, and their owners
✅ Try not to deviate from the topic
✅ Read relevant News articles and keep tabs on Current Affairs
✅ Read written Essays of Toppers available online (Educrat Essay page link here)
The UPSC Civil Services Mains Examination is conducted over 5 days. Out of these, the first two papers in the UPSC CSE Exam – English and compulsory Indian language, are qualifying in nature. Candidates have to secure at least 25% marks in these two to be eligible for merit ranking, based on the rest of the UPSC Mains papers and the interview.
The Indian/regional language paper is qualifying in nature, candidates are advised not to ignore its preparation as failure to score the minimum required marks will lead to their failure to clear the mains implying the loss of a precious attempt. The UPSC allows candidates to choose from a list of 22 modern Indian languages given in the 8th schedule of the Indian Constitution. The most popular language taken by candidates in Paper-A (UPSC language paper) is Hindi — One of the official languages of India. On average about 65% of the candidates choose Hindi for Paper A, and the rest 35% take up any one of the remaining languages.
|Bodo||Dogri||Sindhi (Devanagari/Arabic script)||Santhali (Devanagari/Olchiki script)|
The following figures have been compiled from the annual reports published by the UPSC every year. It gives the number of candidates opting for the various Indian languages from the year 2010 to 2015.
UPSC-CSE Mains Exam consists of nine papers, out of which Paper A is the Compulsory Indian Language Paper (commonly called UPSC language paper) and Paper B is English. Papers A and B are of a qualifying nature. Paper A on Indian Language is not compulsory for candidates hailing from the States of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Sikkim. In the Online Application, if a candidate hails from these North-Eastern States, the option for Indian Language will automatically be disabled in the Online Application.
In the preliminary exam, the paper is generally printed in two languages. One is Hindi and the other is English. In mains, questions are printed in English and Hindi. But you can answer in any of the scheduled languages (If Opted) mentioned in the Constitution.
The UPSC allows candidates to choose from a list of 22 modern Indian languages given in the 8th schedule of the Indian Constitution.
The candidates, opting for the Indian Language medium for the written part of the Civil Services (Main) Examination, may choose either the same Indian Language or English or Hindi as the medium for the interview. The candidate has to indicate the language medium of the interview at the time of filling up the Detailed Application Form (DAF).
No, the Hindi Language is not compulsory for the UPSC Exam. The candidates, opting to write the Civil Services (Main) Examination in English, may choose either English or Hindi or any other Indian Language opted for the compulsory Indian Language Paper in the written part of the Civil Services (Main) Examination.
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