The general studies paper 1 of UPSC Mains is among the four general studies papers. It is a subjective type of paper that consists of subjects such as history, geography, Indian society, and art and culture. There are eight other papers in the mains of the IAS Exam along with GS Paper 1.

For GS  Paper 1, there will be 20 questions that need to be answered. There is a certain word limit for 10 marks and 15 marks questions which are 150 and 250 words respectively.

General Studies Paper 1 UPSC Mains Syllabus

From the history syllabus, the emphasis is on Modern History with questions from the freedom fight, the Indian Revolution, and related sub-topics.

The focus of the Geography Syllabus is on current issues relevant to the syllabus along with static sub-topics.

The Indian Society syllabus asks questions from topics such as the empowerment of women, religions, the culture of the Indian Society, etc.

Deeper Look Into The GS 1 Syllabus for UPSC History

These are the following topics to focus on:

  • British Conquest of India
  • British Policies and their Impact
  • Socio-Cultural Reform Movements
  • Growth of Nationalism in India (1858-1905)
  • Political, Economic and Administrative Unification of the Country
  • Role of Western Education
  • Swadeshi and Boycott Movement
  • Surat Split
  • International Influence

Syllabus Topics for Geography

  • Origin and Evolution of Earth
  • Interior of the Earth
  • Hydrological Cycle
  • Earth’s Atmosphere
  • Solar Radiation, heat Budget, and Temperature
  • Soil and Soil Contents
  • Earthquakes
  • Tsunami
  • Types of Resources

Syllabus Topics for Indian Society & Culture

  • Salient features of Indian Society
  • Role of Women and Women Organizations
  • Indian Paintings
  • Classical Dance Forms
  • Folk Dance Forms
  • Contribution of Buddhism & Jainism to the development of Indian Architecture

  • Colonial Architecture and the Modern Period.
  • Effect of Globalization in Indian Society

How To Study Topic Wise for IAS Syllabus

1. History will include movements in the 18th century, such as the Industrial Revolution, the World Wars, the reshaping of national boundaries, colonialism, post-colonialism,  value systems such as communism, capitalism, socialism, etc., and their types and impact on society. Here are some books to study from:

  • Ncert 9th and 11th
  • Norman Lowe’s Mastering Modern World History.
  • History of the World from the Late Nineteenth to the Early Twenty-First Century by Arjun Dev.
  • Spectrum’s book

2. For Indian society, You can read about the role of women from ancient times (women’s position in ancient times, how they were viewed, popular women’s personalities, etc.) to modern times, including the struggle for independence, art, and culture, etc.).  For the arts & culture part, the UPSC focuses on a few areas such as Buddhism & Jainism, Fields of Philosophy such as Sankhya, Charvaka, Vedanta, etc. Along with Indus Valley Civilization, from a cultural point of view and not from the perspective of  Ancient History.

3. For the Geography topic, you can take help from NCERT Class XII – Human Geography and NCERT Class-XII – India-People and Economy. NCERT Class-XI– Fundamentals of Physical Geography. Generally, questions are raised about the impact on monsoon due to global climate change, how the cyclone is influenced by global warming, what cyclones are, how different cyclone types are created, etc.

Also Read: Indian History Notes for UPSC: A Guide to Self Study


A common error most applicants make is reading too many books on a single subject. This mistake costs both your time and your ability to remember information easily and concisely. Only stick to a single source and read it over and over again. Keep in mind the same source. Avoid the desire to do analysis on a topic because the UPSC evaluates your basic understanding of topics. Hence mastery of the subjects is not necessary.

Most of these issues are dynamic, based on the static section. So there is no need for a separate review from regular books. General knowledge, along with original thought, is more than enough. For example, a question on the effects of globalization on old age was asked in 2013. Such answers can not be found in a single traditional book.  What is required is awareness and spontaneity. So, instead of reading more books, reading the newspapers alongside insightful discussions would be helpful.

Also Read: UPSC IAS General Studies Books

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UPSC GS 1 Syllabus: Which Topics Are Most Asked By UPSC?
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UPSC GS 1 Syllabus: Which Topics Are Most Asked By UPSC?
What is the syllabus for general studies paper 1? Which topics are the most important for GS 1? Which books to read for GS 1 mains? Tips to remember while preparing for GS mains.
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