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Preparation Strategy for GS Paper II- UPSC Mains

Nov 25, 2021

Preparation Strategy for General Studies Paper II of UPSC Mains

General Studies Paper-II is one of the nine subjective papers of UPSC Mains that comprises “Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations.” in its syllabus.

Considered for merit and determining the final rank of the candidate, this 250 marks paper should be prepared well during UPSC exam preparation and attempted with no scope of error.

Read this article till the end to find out the preparation strategy to crack the UPSC Mains General Studies Paper II, reference books for its preparation, and past year questions asked in the GS Paper-II.

First things first, you can seamlessly prepare and crack the paper only if you are well-aware of its syllabus. To remind you what needs to be studied for the GS Paper II, refer to the syllabus below.

Syllabus of General Studies Paper-II of UPSC Civil Services Examination

General Studies‐ II: Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations.

  • Indian Constitution—historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions, and basic structure.
  • Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein.
  • Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.
  • Comparison of the Indian constitutional scheme with that of other countries.
  • Parliament and State legislatures—structure, functioning, the conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.
  • Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary—Ministries and Departments of the Government; pressure groups and formal/informal associations and their role in the Polity.
  • Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act.
  • Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies.
  • Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies. Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  • Development processes and the development industry —the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders.
  • Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.
  • Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
  • Issues relating to poverty and hunger.
  • Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.
  • Role of civil services in a democracy.
  • India and its neighborhood- relations.
  • Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
  • Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.
  • Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate.

Also read: How to Write Good Quality Answers for UPSC Mains

How to Prepare for GS Paper II of UPSC Civil Services Mains Exam

Before we proceed further discussing the preparation strategy for GS Paper II, let’s have a look and always remember the ‘Mantra’ given by the UPSC while writing answers for UPSC Mains:

The questions are likely to test the candidate’s basic understanding of all relevant issues, and ability to analyze, and take a view on conflicting socio-economic goals, objectives and demands. The candidates must give relevant, meaningful and succinct answers.

Now when we know what UPSC expects from us, let’s share the preparation plan!  

Divide the syllabus into four sections; Polity & Constitution, Governance, Social Justice and International Relations and start with the preparation for each section. This way, you will be able to prepare better and focus on the important topics of each section.

Read more: Preparation Strategy for UPSC Mains General Studies Paper I

Polity & Constitution

Every year, a significant amount of questions are asked from the Polity & Constitution section. For its preparation, build a strong foundation with the NCERTs. They will help you with the fundamentals of the section in simple and easy-to-understand language.

After understanding the basics, proceed further in your preparation with advanced books such as M. Laxmikanth. The Constitution of India should be studied on priority. Also, try to feature all the relevant articles of the constitution, the supreme court judgements, recommendations of various committees, law commission reports, etc in your answers to make them more effective. There are some must-know articles of the Indian Constitution that must be focused on during the preparation.


For the Governance part, be thorough with various government policies & interventions for development, important aspects of governance, transparency & accountability, development processes & the development industry, and most importantly, the Role of Civil Services in Democracy.

Make your own comprehensive notes on crucial topics such as Social audit, SHGs, e-governance, etc. Also, consider analyzing government schemes and referring to ARC recommendations while preparing for the Governance part.

International Relations

International Relations (IR) is another crucial section of General Studies Paper-II that commands attention during preparation. It comprises various topics such as the foreign policy of India, Regional cooperation, Bilateral relations, Important International institutions, etc.

IR is dynamic; hence aspirants should read newspapers (The Hindu/The Indian Express) daily. While reading, focus on columns related to International Relations. Visit the official website of the Ministry of External Affairs to stay updated with the latest developments. 

To know more about IR preparation, read How to Prepare International Relations for UPSC Mains.

Social Justice

Aspirants should read newspapers and accordingly make notes related to the syllabus of Social Justice; Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections, Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources. Issues relating to poverty and hunger.

Previous Year Questions of GS Paper II- UPSC Mains

Below mentioned are a few previous year’s questions of the GS Paper II of UPSC Mains. Have a glimpse and understand the level of questions. It will help you to prepare holistically.

Question: Indian constitution exhibits centralising tendencies to maintain unity and integrity of the nation. Elucidate in the perspective of the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897; The Disaster Management Act, 2005 and recently passed Farm Acts.

Question: Which steps are required for constitutionalization of a commission? Do you think imparting constitutionality to the National Commission for Women would ensure greater gender justice and empowerment in India? Give reasons.

Question: “There is a need for simplification of procedure for disqualification of persons found guilty of corrupt practices under the Representation of peoples Act” Comment.

Question: “The Central Administrative Tribunal which was established for redressal of grievances and complaints by or against central government employees nowadays is exercising its powers as an independent judicial authority.” Explain.

Question: What is the significance of Indo-US defence deals over Indo-Russian defence deals? Discuss with reference to stability in the Indo-Pacific region.

Question: ‘The time has come for India and Japan to build a strong contemporary relationship, one involving global and strategic partnerships that will have a great significance for Asia and the world as a whole.’ Comment.

Question: In order to enhance the prospects of social development, sound and adequate health care policies are needed particularly in the fields of geriatric and maternal health care. Discuss.

Question: Despite Consistent experience of high growth, India still goes with the lowest indicators of human development. Examine the issues that make balanced and inclusive development elusive. 

Best Books for GS Paper II Preparation

So, this is how you can prepare for GS Paper II of UPSC Mains and pave your way to the Final personality round. We hope this article will help you put your best foot forward and simplify your GS Paper II preparation.  

Make your GS Paper II preparation more effective and productive with PrepLadder. It is an excellent source of quality and reliable material for UPSC Civil Services aspirants. It has everything you need to ace the Civil Services exam on one single platform. 

This includes concise, effective, and well-planned video lectures by our Dream Team for UPSC, a well-structured and high yield QBank, highly competitive PrepTests based on real exam patterns, and Previous Year Papers in the form of tests. 

Keep following our articles and our Telegram channel to apprise yourself with the latest information about the exam. 

All the best for your exam.

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Auther Details

Raminder Singh

Raminder is a Content Manager at PrepLadder. He has worked in several aspects of the education industry throughout his career and has assisted numerous candidates in cracking major competitive exams.


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