General Studies – Answer Writing…


General studies Paper 1

Art, architecture and culture (Ancient and Medieval India)- Book List

  • Vajiram and Ravi class notes on Art & Culture (about 40 pages)
  • NCERT Class 11 Fine Arts – Introduction to Indian art
  • Tamil Nadu history book ( This is useful for both prelims and mains)
  • Nithin Singhania –Selectively ( Like puppetry, dances, painting, Music- basic understanding, philosophy schools etc…)

Modern Indian History

I read spectrum for mains as well. Had a glance of Balyan class notes of modern history

India Post Independence

No specific book, had written this with general understanding of India post 1947. I remember watching Pradhanmantri serial long time back. Questions were very generic, so write in a holistic perspective

World History

I referred Balyan class notes, gave 1-2 readings of the notes. Like prepare short points for some standard topics like – De-colonization etc.. like last year they asked Africa, this year Malay peninsula. So prepare standard skeleton for this and use accordingly for all questions.

Social Issues

No specific book, but read Vision Mains 365 and current affairs (newspaper).


  • G C Leong Part 1 + NCERT India Physical
  • More importance to human geography, availability of minerals
  • Climate regions ( GC Leong part 2)
  • There are some good pages on Mrunal site which covers about industries and their location.

Answer writing Plan – History

  • In the last few years art and culture questions were mainly asking about trends and generic in nature like –
    • art and culture in vijayanagara empire,
    • gupta coin art
    • difference of Indian civilization to others. So the key to write these questions is to present a holistic picture with diverse aspects covered.
  • For example you can cover – under different sub heading art, architecture, literature etc.. for vijayanagara question (2016).  Once you put different sub headings you will fill paper and also not much need go in specific about one point. Can give general overview.
  • If you could draw a map, for example for gupta coin age question ( 2017). I drew a rough map of India, west asia and identified that trade routes were under Muslim rule and trade came down….
  • Even while reading books also try to understand the general trend of events… like how dances were in each state, how paintings changed in 16-18th century ( because painters from mughal courts went to other places because of less patronage, so local artistic styles developed), how puppetry evolved, how music  changed over years etc.. focus on these areas
  • Understand the difference between religious sects like Buddhism – Hinayana and Mahayana and how they influenced the art and architecture. Like prepare points how major events are represented in arts
  • img_20180605_134630.jpg
  • Prepare answers for following topics, they might be handy
    • major differences between vedic and later vedic period and why
    • Hinayana vs  Mahayana with art
    • Ashoka art (stupas , pillars etc…)
    • Shunga art and architecture holistic view
    • Kaniska art, architecture and literature ( why these changes happened)
    • Gandhara , Mathura and other schools
    • Jainism basic idea of what, why it survived even today…
    • Shatavahana art and architecture. General view
    • Gupta period, golden age or not
    • Harsha art, architecture and literature – basic idea
    • Account of tourists
    • Temple styles across all India ( 11th NCERT fine arts books has good content on this)
    • Idea of temple construction in Cholas and Pandyas. How they evolved.
    • Difference between India and Islamic architecture. Which were common. Why changes took place
    • I would suggest to use more pictures/ diagrams at lease rough sketches. For example, temple architecture- Nagara, Dravida style, Temples types in Odissa.
  • For Modern Indian History- questions were more or less straight ones, basic reading of Spectrum or any book shall do.
  • In case you do not know about any event in the modern history or question. No need to skip question. But try to write all the events around that time and connect it with the event. The examiner might give some marks for structure and approach.
  • Coming to World History, regularly there is one question. So dont spend too much time mugging the dates, names, etc.. Try to remember events and understand why they happened. In case you dont remember – analyse every world event on following factors
    • Economic life – How the condition was and how it effected that event
    • Political Life – How the ruling class treated common man etc..
    • Social Life – The living condition in that period, class struggle, slavery etc.
    • Intellectual aspect- Are there any thinkers, intellectuals who supported this cause
    • And finally any spark or sudden incident which started the movement/ revolution etc..
    • If might have some basic idea of these events. So at lease 1-2 points will make answer perfect and cover all aspects.
    • Recently there have been questions related to decolonization, like last year Africa, this time Malay peninsula. So prepare basic content on each topic like skeleton and use for all questions. No matter it is Africa or Malay Peninsula- decolonization will be same.
    • Prepare atleast 200 word content on each topic of Paper 1 History. Use wisely
  • For modern history and world history, you can have standard opening line and concluding lines.
  • For temples u can write “Temples represent the rich socio, cultural and economic conditions prevailing during those times. They are a symbol and ways to understand the period”
  • For world wars, events in modern history –“The events in first half of 19th century /20th century are a reason and reaction to the socio- economic changes that are prevailing at that time”
  • For modern independence struggle and any movement ,you can use – “ The movements of 1905/1921 paved the way for creating awareness and eventually led to attaining independence in 1947”
  • U can write in simple definitions in your own words for introduction.Lost wax intro

For conclusion, u can conclude with simple summary. Example

Conclusion simple

Simple Definitions


  • Maintain structure for every question. Even if you write 1 page answer, it should be properly structured. Your structure will add 1 mark for every question. ( Refer my Answer sheet)
  • Write with general understanding of events, no need to mug up years and dates. Understand the trends like how decolonization happened, why French revolution took place, why world war alliance happened, how cold war played out. Once u understand this you can write freely the answer even without knowing the question

For geography

  • Questions were application based in mains. Like Location of minerals, Climate change issues, Floods and River related, Salinity etc..
    • Again stick to basics. try to analyse location based questions on – resource availability, transport, man power, money, market etc.. if you analyse anything on these topics you will get fodder for good answer.
    • Use simple language and explanations.
    • Prepare standard questions.
    • for climate change questions try to be as broad and diverse as possible
  • Use diagrams and draw maps. This will give you marks even if u are not 100% correct.
  • Drawings will reduce the time, give more information and also catch the eye of examiner. (don’t worry about accuracy, scale and shape of diagrams)
  • You can try something of this type..

Sargasso seaITCZEQ zonesEarthquakesDelta

  • Prepare well on these application based topics
    1. Where and why industry is set up there
    2. Climate and economy of the region
    3. Impact of monsoon and significance.
    4. Delta and other formations
    5. Problems and other issues with disasters like city flooding, land sliding etc…Focus more on these topics
    6. Mix your answers with diagrams + structure + flow charts + relevant examples.

For social issues

  • Over the last few years papers were more on current affairs. Be thorough with the currents.
  • Prepare well with latest bills related to weaker section, children, women, and their advantages and dis-advantages etc..
  • Constitutional provisions and their status related to these people. ( last few years questions were seen)
  • Prepare standard definitions for terms like secularism, communalism, urbanization, women empowerment, globalization, etc.. their effects and some solutions.
  • Idea about working of smart cities and urban development programs.
  • Prepare some conclusions for these topics appropriately. If u quote some good sentences from Ambedkar, etc.. will be better.
  • While addressing these question think broadly. You should be able to cover issues related to family, religion, education, economy, marriage, weaker sections, children, old age, women, tribes etc..
  • If we can bring these sections in our answers we could make it holistic.
  • This part is more about general understanding of society and writing keeping in mind all sections. Keep it simple, cover more areas and to the points.
  • Structure+ holistic coverage+ side headings + good conclusion will be sufficient for this section.

This paper has good scope of scoring with limited input. Plan and Prepare well. Again key would be proper understanding question, structure and good presentation.

Attached: few papers of mine

Structure Geo






6 thoughts on “General Studies – Answer Writing…

  1. sir plz upload ur anthro notes sources test copies


  2. Thanks Harsha for such a detailed write up. It will definitely come handy for my mains this year.
    Please do the same for other GS papers too.


  3. Sir, sontha notes thayarucheskunnnara? Cheskunte online lona offline lona? Notes kuda share cheyandi sir.


  4. Sir can we use abbreviations or short forms in any writing or do we have to write the full forms all the time whenever being referred to


    1. Good if you write…but depends on question


  5. extremely helpful post sir..


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this:
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close