Approach paper for General Studies Test No. 1

Test Date : 18-10-2020 (Sunday)

What do you find in an approach paper?

1) An analysis of previous year’s CSE Mains Question paper relevant to the upcoming test.

2) Where to look for the resources to study for the test (Topic Wise)?

3) What should be the study plan for the week?

4) Going the extra mile forward – What can give you a comparative edge while you prepare for these topics?

Analysis of CSE Mains 2019 Questions relevant to the Week’s Test

It is our primary task to closely look at the nature of questions asked in the Main Examination in recent years. It is through such an exercise we can develop the ability to understand the core idea of the Questions. This can help us to frame an answer that UPSC expects to be answered for a question.

The following analysis of 3 Questions from 2019 CSE Mains Paper is an attempt in this direction.

1. Examine the linkages between the nineteenth century’s Indian Renaissance and the emergence of national identity.?

Topic: Significant events during the middle of the 18th century to the present.

Core idea in the question?

Formation of National Identity : “The feel of ‘one-ness’

Various factors play a role in formation of the feeling of ‘one-ness’

Shared experience of a common culture and history

Economic interdependence between the people of the land.

Perception of exploitation in the hands of the “other”

What is expected out of an aspirant while answering the Question ?

The need to establish a connect between “Indian Renaissance” and in what way did it lead to the formation of a ‘we feeling’ in the minds of the Indians.

This relationship between Indian Renaissance and national identity formation should be viewed through the following questions

Did it or did it not?

If it did – then to what extent? ( Did such an identity formed accommodate all religions / all classes)

Answering the question requires an idea about “Nationalism” and how it emerges, along with an idea about the consequences of the different renaissance movements such as that of Dayanand saraswati , Sir Syed Ahmed Khan etc..

2. The 1857 uprising was the culmination of the recurrent,big and small local rebellions that had occurred in the preceding hundred years of British Rule. Elucidate?

Topic : Significant Events during the middle of the 18th century.

Core Idea in the Question:-

Recurrent nature of different rebellions preceding the 1857 uprising.

Sanyasi Rebellion

Polighar Rebellion

Revolt of Velu Thambi

There is no need to go on listing out all the different rebellions that occurred before 1857, nor talking about the events specific to each such rebellions.

However it is necessary to point out the recurrent nature of all such rebellions

What could be the causal factors? What makes the rebellion recurrent?

Gradual expansion of British Land revenue policy to new area – As the land revenue became oppressive polyghars revolted

Subsidiary alliance system and British attempt to meddle in the affairs of native Indian Rulers – Case of Velu Thampi

Discontentment due to loss of patronage from the landed class – Sanyasi Rebellion was because of loss of patronage from erstwhile Zamindars to the Sanyasis.

What is expected as an answer?

To identify similarities between these rebellions and 1857 revolt and to indicate that the 1857 uprising was a natural conclusion – only bigger in scale but similar in goals and ambitions.

The 1857 revolt was due to similar grievances. The same grievances that can be traced in the earlier rebellions were present in the 1857 revolt as well.

Just that the uprising in 1857 spread over to various parts of India.

But the outlook of the revolutionaries were just the same as that of the earlier rebels – i.e to damage British properties, kill British officers and residents and to burn land records. This similarity can be highlighted further by pointing to the lack of a broader vision among the 1857 revolutionary figures.

Moving on to Society…

3. Are we losing our local identity for global identity?

Topic : Features of Indian Society / Globalization

Core Idea in the Question

Conflict between the local identity and global identity in a globalizing world. Which triumphs?

What is expected in the answer to this question?

Since the question is an open ended question, it offers the scope for the aspirant to take any stand while answering.

The answer should make a study of those identities that have seen a decline.

Eg: Cultural identities such as the preference for traditional attire have in fact declined.


National Identities have been strengthened as illustrated by the success of Nationalist politicians sweeping elections in England,USA ,Brazil and India. The appeal to national identities seem to have got strengthened against global identities.

An appropriate answer is one that deals with both these aspects instead of an outright answer in a single direction.

Takeaway from the analysis:-

1. It is paramount that the Core Idea in each question needs to be identified.

2. History related questions in GS Paper 1 require interconnections across themes and topics.


Linking Renaissance and Growth of National Identity.

French Revolutions and Modern World.

3. Society related Questions can be answered with examples so as to make the argument clear and convincing to the examiner.

4. Questions on Society related topics require knowledge on the basic character of Indian Society.

Topics to be prepared for the upcoming test on 18-10-2020

1) Indian Culture – Salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

2) Modern Indian History-Significant events, issues, personalities during the middle of the eighteenth century (1750s) until the present.Different stages and important contributors and contributions from various parts of the country in ‘The Freedom Struggle’.

3) Post-independence consolidation and reorganisation within the country.

4) History of the world-Events, forms and effect on society since the 18th century (world wars, industrial revolution, colonisation, redrawal of national boundaries, decolonisation, political philosophies like communism, capitalism, socialism, etc.)

5) Society – Indian society and diversity – Salient aspects.

Topic Wise strategy for weekly preparation

Monday :-

Aspects of art forms , Literature and Architecture from the ancient to medieval period

Most of the content that needs to be prepared, have been already read and covered during one’s prelims preparation. All that needs to be focused upon is to ensure that there are at least 4 or 5 points to write about each specific art form. Mains preparation related to art and literature should be done with an eye on gathering points to construct two page answers for what has been already prepared during prelims preparation.

Check if you have 5 points on Nataraja statues, Akhbarat , Bhakti literature of South India etc..

If not start gathering 5 points

Reading resources

Art and Culture portions of NCERT’s ( R S Sharma and Satish Chandra)

Themes in Indian History – Part 1 and 2.

Select reading of Nitin Singhania


NIOS textbook on art and culture.

Since Modern India would have been adequately covered during the prelims preparation it would be better to prepare for Modern India related topics after completing other topics for the Test

Tuesday and Wednesday:-

World History – Not a part of prelims preparation. Completely New for Mains.

Preparation for World History should progress in the sequence as mentioned below :-

Liberalism and liberal ideas of 18th century- American and French Revolutions – Growth of Nations in Europe – Industrial Revolution – Colonization – Re drawl of National Boundaries in Europe – World War 1 – USSR and Communism – Europe between the world wars – World War 2 – Decolonization – Socialism – Cold War and Non Alignment

All the topics should be prepared on the framework of

Causes – Significant Events – Consequences

It is only by preparing on the basis of the above framework, the entire topic can be completed within a time period of two days.

Reading resouce:-

1.India and Contemporary World – 1 ,NCERT for Class 9. (French Revolution)

2.Themes in World History – Class 11 ,NCERT ( Industrial Revolution)

3.Story of Civilization History NCERT -Chapter 8- (American Revolution, Unification movements in Europe)

Once these topics are completed from the NCERTs, it would be better to stick to Norman Lowe for further reading on all the forthcoming topics.

4.Select chapters can be referred from Norman Lowe for certain topics.( Russian Revolution, World Wars, Europe between the two world wars, Who can be blamed for the World Wars, Decolonization and the problems it has created,Cold War, Decline of Communism, Disintegration of USSR).

Thursday :-

Salient features of Indian Society , Diversity of India

This part of preparation is completely new to mains phase. All earlier inputs on society related parts were limited only from Newspapers and news related to current affairs about social issues.

A better way of preparing for Society related topics is to start from the previous year’s Questions on Society. NCERT textbooks on Society would be a good place to start preparation for questions related to Society.

Certain broad areas about society that needs focus are:-


Caste – its role, issues and changing nature of caste,Caste Prejudice , Marginalized and Depressed Classes

Family – position of women in Family and Household.

Character of Indian Society:-


Tolerance and Co-existence



Reading references :-

NCERT Class 12 “ Indian Society”

Indian Culture Chapter from NIOS Material

CivilsWrite Reading resources available in General Studies 1 menu on the homepage for all Social Issues

Click link to access CivilsWrite Reading Material

Friday and Saturday:-

Post independence consolidation and re-organization within India

Areas of focus :-

1. Language Problem in the post independence India.

2. Separatist tendencies after independence from different parts of India.

3. Lack of development and growth of insurgency.

4. Tribal Issues in the post Independent India.

5. Punjab Crisis.

6. Land Reforms after independence – Success and Failure

Reading resource :-

India Since Independence – Bipan Chandra

Reading Material is available for all topics on the CivilsWrite Website

Click the link to read on the above topics

Modern India :- Significant events & Personalities ,Freedom Struggle & Significant events in India from the middle of the 18th century

Repetition of the same preparation source for Modern India on the same lines as that of Prelims Preparation.

In addition to that certain factual points about the contributions of different Historic Personalities and leaders during the Freedom Struggle can add value to the Mains preparation on Freedom Struggle.

Reading references :-

Spectrum – Modern India.

NCERT – Bipan Chandra

 Going the extra mile

There will be one Question that will be posted in the Telegram Group for students enrolled with us for the Mains Test Series 2020. The Question will be from  the topic that is covered daily as per this weekly study plan.

You can complete reading what needs to be prepared and then try to answer the Question. You may post your written answers over Telegram  to us for an immediate feedback.

This ensures continuous Real time Hand holding is provided during the entire week instead of just a weekend test and evaluation.

This daily Question and Feedback also helps you in ensuring you complete the topics within the stipulated period of time and move on to the next topic.

Freshers are advised to adhere to the schedule provided here to complete the syllabus.Experienced aspirants may use this plan to revise incase you have a separate schedule to  follow.

The sources given are only indicative, if you possess any comprehensive study material apart from what is mentioned above, you are welcome to use the same. 

Whatever reading resource you might refer it is the timely completion of all the topics for the test with clarity that matters.

Best wishes for your first step towards a successful Civil Services Main Exam – 2020!!!

We encourage you to compare our approach with other institutes . 

You can find the difference in how we train you to approach a UPSC Question compared to the rest who can only give you facts and more facts for a question.

The approach papers of the upcoming tests will be available only to those aspirants enrolled in our Mains Test Series 2020.

Join in our Mains Test Series 2020 so that you do not miss out any inputs from us

Click the link to  Register in our Mains Test Series starting from October 18th 2020.