Views on Coaching for General Studies for Mains

This post is written by Avi Prasad (CSE 2013, Rank 13) and Riju Bafna (CSE 2013, Rank 77). Your queries can be submitted in the comment column below.

At the outset, we would like to clarify that this methodology worked for us, many other successful aspirants may differ.

Those who have read our previous post on prelims preparation will note that coaching may not be of much assistance when it comes to preparation for preliminary examination. The prelims examination tests limited skill set in CSAT paper (that can be mastered through practice) and the General Studies paper (of which syllabus is covered through basic books). Thus, at the prelims stage, it is advisable to limit the sources of study and stick to them as the coaching institute/material is not very helpful.

The same may not strictly hold for the Mains preparation. Mains syllabus requires sourcing of material from multiple sources, depending on the quality of the material.

Mains examination is where UPSC really checks awareness of current affairs and the ability to read and follow myriad of topics. There are two strategies to prepare for GS. One may prepare own notes for topics that are dynamic in nature through internet and other published material and depend on books for the static part of the syllabus. This requires extensive note making and is advisable only if a candidate has started Mains preparation well in advance. However, for those who set to study seriously for Mains only after Prelims examination, the note making business may not be very convenient. They may be better served if they can get decent quality prepared notes which they can improvise through their own research. This is where coaching material comes real handy. We have mentioned three coaching sources we relied on and this material was improved upon by us through multiple sources—books, newspaper articles, published research mostly from online resources.

This is why coaching material might be an important tool for preparation. Yet, at the same time usefulness of coaching material does not mean that one should join any classroom coaching. Classroom coaching may not be of great help for general studies as no coaching institute is in a position to arrange quality resource persons and material for the entire syllabus. Most may have some very good faculty for particular areas but the overall coverage of any particular institute remains mediocre. So the time is better spent in self study and the coaching material can be purchased from market/ arranged from friends.

Our coaching sources, in order of their usefulness in our preparation:

  1. Subscription of mains Programme of GKtoday ( offered in form of online material.
  2. Postal Coaching Material of Shankar IAS academy, Chennai
  3. Classroom material provided by Sriram Coaching, Delhi

We will be sharing topic wise sources of our study for all the four general studies paper in the days to come on this website. The primary coaching material used will be mentioned along with the source which was relied upon to further understand the topic and improve the quality of the coaching material.

20 thoughts on “Views on Coaching for General Studies for Mains”

  1. First of all mam, many congratulations. I am doing my MA in Eco from D-School and intends to write UPSC for 2015. Can you please write on Eco paper as optional, i mean what strategy and books you followed. (I am assuming that you took Eco as optional )
    Many Thanks for the above post

  2. Please write on Law optionals.

    Also, many people say it is ok to start preparing with mains and prelims will get covered through that anyway. How true is it? What would u suggest?


    1. @KS – We can’t comment on others opinion. Ideally, the preparation for Mains and Prelims should go together. However, for our preparation we had devoted last 45-60 days before prelims exclusively for it. Please expect a post on Law in July.

  3. Thank you and I also know you all plan to write on the GS part of the Mains soon but just a quick question- for Economics, should we use Ramesh Singh or the usual- Dutt and Sundaram/Uma Kapila?

  4. Hello riju its a wonderful article kindly tell the sources and materials used for the topics in general studies main exam

  5. i am planning to go for GK Today online program…please clarify one doubt- for the topics covered by GK Today ,do i need to consult other materials also or will it suffice??
    also please let us know which test series is beneficial for GS mains with good feedback??

    1. @abhishek…as you can infer from the above post, we did refer to other coaching material and also updated the coaching material from internet sources. Further any printed material gets dated due to post publishing development so one has to research to keep it as upto date as possible.

  6. Could you please confirm whether the sriram notes that you refrred to are the printed notes that they circulate or hand written notes of their classes? Thanks and regards

  7. Good strategies for GS mains paper-2 nd Paper-3.
    Please write also for paper-1 and paper-4
    And essay part also.

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