This is a query that concerns most of the UPSC IAS Exam aspirants. General Studies, that is compulsory for both Prelims and Mains in the UPSC Exam has a wide range of subjects to cover and most of the time aspirants find it difficult to tackle subjects that they have not been in touch with after school. Same applies to aspirants who have opted an Optional Subject that they have not studied during their graduation days. For example, a science graduate finds it tough to cover the huge syllabus of humanities subjects.
What one needs to keep in mind here is that the UPSC doesn’t expect the aspirants of Civil Services Exam to be experts/specialists in each of the subjects of its syllabus, rather have a generalist knowledge about all the topics. So first of all, take the fear out of your mind that a subject is necessarily difficult just because you don’t have any background in it. You need to have the right approach towards studying each subject otherwise any subject can prove to be difficult.
Some Important Points to Prepare A Subject for UPSC CSE With No Background In It
First things first, you need to get your basic fundamentals right. That is why it is recommended that one should start with the NCERT books. They contain simple lucid explanations of all the important concepts and thus provide one with the right base to build upon from other sources too. Once the basic understanding of concepts are clear one can move on to some of the standard textbooks on that subject.
Keep in mind to limit your sources for the subject to the most important ones and revise them multiple times, rather than having multiple sources and not even doing one properly.
Also go through the previous years’ question papers to know what kind of questions are asked and try to understand the requirement of the subject from an exam point of view. This requirement may differ for all the three stages of the exam. Thus, you will need to plan your preparation accordingly.
Supplement your textbook knowledge with current affairs from newspapers (Hindu and Indian Express) and magazines (Yojana, EPW, etc.) for the subjects that require to be in sync with the latest happenings going around. Also refer to government websites, check out government reports, cover Economic Survey and Budget in good detail, etc. Don’t just read these extra sources and jot down points, but also try to make linkages with the syllabus topics and gain a holistic understanding. Try making your own short notes for easier revision and better retention purposes.
Whether you have a background in a subject or not, answer writing practice is a very essential part of the preparation. The more you write, the better your overall understanding of the topics and the subject as a whole will become. The only thing is to do away with any kind of fear or inhibitions. When you start writing, your initial answers may not be up to the mark, but don’t give up and stop writing. Try to think and analyse how you could have written it better and with time you will become very good at it. The key is to keep writing and improving.
To have the right study material, below are links of Book lists of different subjects for UPSC CSE Exam:
General Studies Prelims + Mains Book List (click here)
UPSC Maths Optional Book List (click here)
UPSC Public Administration Optional Book List (click here)
UPSC Sociology Optional Book List (click here)
UPSC Commerce & Accountancy Optional Book List (click here)
UPSC History Optional Book List (click here)
UPSC Philosophy Optional Book List (click here)
Wishing you All The Best for your preparation !