Part-5 Mains General Studies Paper 3 & 4: Trend Analysis & Suggested Booklist

Detailed analysis and booklist for Mains General Studies Paper-3 & Paper-4. Also, includes important tips for getting good marks in Ethics Paper
By IT's Research & Analysis Wing
May 02, 2017


  • Year-wise Analysis of Mains GS Paper-3
  • Economy & Agriculture related topics
  • Science & Technology
  • Environment & Ecology
  • Security Issues
  • Mains General Studies Paper-4 Ethics & Integrity
  • Year-wise Analysis of Mains GS Paper 4
  • Strategy to secure good marks in Ethics paper

This is the fifth part of the series of Strategy for UPSC Civil Services Examination by IASToppers. To read previous or subsequent parts, click here.

This part is in continuation of the previous part. In this part, we’ll discuss about the Mains General Studies Paper-3 & Paper-4.


Year-wise Analysis of Mains GS Paper-3





ias toppers mains 2016 paper-3 pie


Topic-wise Analysis of Mains GS Paper-3


Economy & Agriculture related topics

Syllabus Topics

Mains syllabus Topics:

  1. “Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.” [Mains G.S. Paper-3]
  2. “Inclusive growth and issues arising from it” [Mains G.S. Paper-3]
  3. “Government Budgeting” [Mains G.S. Paper-3]
  4. “Major crops cropping patterns in various parts of the country, different types of irrigation and irrigation systems; storage, transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints; e-technology in the aid of farmers” [Mains G.S. Paper-3]
  5. “Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices; Public Distribution System- objectives, functioning, limitations, revamping; issues of buffer stocks and food security; Technology missions; economics of animal-rearing” [Mains G.S. Paper-3]
  6. “Food processing and related industries in India- scope and significance, location, upstream and downstream requirements, supply chain management” [Mains G.S. Paper-3]
  7. “Land reforms in India” [Mains G.S. Paper-3]
  8. “Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth” [Mains G.S. Paper-3]
  9. “Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.” [Mains G.S. Paper-3]
  10. “Investment models” [Mains G.S. Paper-3]


Trend Analysis:

ias toppers mains paper-3 Economy & Agriculture related topics


Suggested readings:

  • NCERT class-11 Indian Economic Development
  • NCERT class-12 Macroeconomics [only chapter no. 2,3,5 & 6 (Ignore graphs, formulas & other complicated matters)]
  • NCERT class-12 Microeconomic (Ignore graphs, formulas & other complicated matters)
  • Laxmikanth (For “Government Budgeting”)
  • Dutt & Sundaram
  • Indian Economy by Ramesh Singh
  • Newspapers
  • Yojana and Kurukshetra Magazines
  • India Year Book and Economic Survey (Latest)
  • Finance Ministry’s latest report

You can also refer IASToppers’ following sections:

  • Current Affairs Analysis
  • Editorial Notes/Explained
  • Quintessence of the Magazines
  • Video summary
  • Mains Articles/RoundUp (we will provide you various articles on Mains topics from time to time)
  • Mind Maps
  • Mains Answer Writing Practice etc.


Don’t worry about the above prescribed list of suggested sources. Refer them selectively as per the syllabus topics i.e. read chapters on Agriculture related aspects from Dutt and Sundaram, Government Budgeting from M. Laxmikanth’s ‘Governance in India’ book etc.


Science & Technology

Syllabus Topics

  1. “General Science” [Prelims]
  2. “Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life” [Mains G.S. Paper-3]
  3. “Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.” [Mains G.S. Paper-3]
  4. “Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights” [Mains G.S. Paper-3]


Trend Analysis:

ias toppers mains paper-3 Science & technology related topics


Suggested readings:

  • NCERT Class 6 to 10
  • NCERT Class 11 Chemistry Unit-14
  • NCERT Class 11 Biology Unit-4 & 5
  • NCERT Class 12 Chemistry Unit-16
  • NCERT Class 12 Biology Unit-8, 9 & 10
  • Newspapers (especially The Hindu Science-Tech section)
  • India Year Book Chapters 8, 9, 22 & 25

You can also refer IASToppers’ following sections

  • Current Affairs Analysis
  • Editorial Notes/Explained
  • Quintessence of the Magazines
  • Video summary
  • Mains Articles/RoundUp (we will provide you various articles on Mains topics from time to time)
  • Mind Maps
  • Mains Answer Writing Practice


NCERTs are meant for Prelims General Science topic only. If you have time constraint before prelims, we suggest you to read NCERT Class 6 to 8 and Environment related chapters from Class 9 & 10. If you have lots of time and want more references to prepare these topics, you can go for any one Manual on General Studies (TMH manual preferable)


Environment & Ecology

Syllabus Topics

  1. “General Issues on Environmental ecology, Bio-diversity and Climate Change -that do not require subject specialization” [Prelims]
  2. “Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment” [Mains G.S. Paper-3]
  3. “Disaster and disaster management” [Mains G.S. Paper-3]


Trend Analysis:

ias toppers mains paper-3 Environment & Ecology

ias toppers mains paper-3 Disaster Management


Suggested readings:

  1. Newspapers
  2. NIOS
  3. NCERT
  4. India Year Book chapters 1 & 12
  5. DownToEarth Magazine
  6. Environment Ministry’s latest Annual Report
  7. The Hindu Environmental Survey (latest)
  8. Yojana March 2012 Issue titled Disaster Management (you can download the issue from

NCERTs include:

  • NCERT Geography Class-6 chapter -8
  • NCERT Geography Class-7
  • NCERT Geography Class-8 chapter 2 & 4
  • NCERT Geography Class-9 chapter 5
  • NCERT Geography Class-10 chapter 2 to 5
  • NCERT Geography India: Physical Environment Class-11 chapter 5 to 7
  • NCERT Geography Fundamental of Physical Geography Class-11 chapter 12,15 & 16
  • NCERT Science Class-6 chapter- 7,9 & 16
  • NCERT Science Class-7 chapter- 7,9 & 16 to 18
  • NCERT Science Class-8 chapter- 1,2,7 & 18
  • NCERT Science Class-9 chapter- 14 & 15
  • NCERT Science Class-10 chapter- 14 to 16
  • NCERT Science Chemistry Class-11 Unit-14
  • NCERT Science Biology Class-12 chapter- 13 to 16

You can also refer IASToppers’ following sections

  • Current Affairs Analysis
  • Editorial Notes/Explained
  • Quintessence of the Magazines
  • Video summary
  • Mains Articles/RoundUp (we will provide you various articles on Mains topics from time to time)
  • Mind Maps
  • Mains Answer Writing Practice


Don’t worry to see the above exhaustive list of references.

Here we provide you a list of chapters of NCERTs which are important for Environment & Ecology. If you read NCERT Geography and Science books as per our suggestion, you don’t need to follow above long list of NCERT chapters.

NIOS Environment material covers all important fundamentals of environment. However, it is a full of junk and also little bit lengthy (around 550 pages). You can condense this material into around 100 pages notes after one concentrative reading.


Security Issues

Syllabus Topics

  1. “Linkages between development and spread of extremism” [Mains GS paper-3]
  2. “Role of external state and non-state actors in creating challenges to internal security” [Mains GS paper-3]
  3. “Challenges to internal security through communication networks, role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges, basics of cyber security; money-laundering and its prevention” [Mains GS paper-3]
  4. “Security challenges and their management in border areas; linkages of organized crime with terrorism” [Mains GS paper-3]
  5. “Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate” [Mains GS paper-3]


Trend Analysis:

ias toppers mains paper-3 Defence & Security Issues


Suggested readings:

  1. Newspapers & Internet
  2. India’s Internal Security Challenges (Monograph of IDSA September 2013)
  3. Challenges to Internal Security in India by Ashok Kumar (TMH publication)
  4. Planning Commission Report on Security Issues
  5. IPCS & IDSA (selective articles)

You can also refer IASToppers’ following sections

  • Current Affairs Analysis
  • Editorial Notes/Explained
  • Quintessence of the Magazines
  • Video summary
  • Mains Articles/RoundUp (we will provide you various articles on Mains topics from time to time)
  • Mind Maps
  • Mains Answer Writing Practice


For fundamentals on these topics, read TMH book plus IDSA’s monograph. Keep an eye on daily news appeared in newspapers. Read IPCS and IDSA articles on security issues selectively.



Mains General Studies Paper-4 Ethics & Integrity


This unique paper is a new addition to the Mains examination, introduced in 2013. You can call this paper an extension of Personality Test (or commonly known as interview) or vice versa as this paper has the same kind of problem solving or role playing questions which might be asked in your Personality Test.

Syllabus Topics:

This paper will include questions to test the candidates’ attitude and approach to issues relating to integrity, probity in public life and his problem solving approach to various issues and conflicts faced by him in dealing with society. Questions may utilise the case study approach to determine these aspects. The following broad areas will be covered.

  • Ethics and Human Interface: Essence, determinants and consequences of Ethics in human actions; dimensions of ethics; ethics in private and public relationships. Human Values – lessons from the lives and teachings of great leaders, reformers and administrators; role of family, society and educational institutions in inculcating values.
  • Attitude: content, structure, function; its influence and relation with thought and behaviour; moral and political attitudes; social influence and persuasion.
  • Aptitude and foundational values for Civil Service, integrity, impartiality and non-partisanship, objectivity, dedication to public service, empathy, tolerance and compassion towards the weaker-sections.
  • Emotional intelligence-concepts, and their utilities and application in administration and governance.
  • Contributions of moral thinkers and philosophers from India and world.
  • Public/Civil service values and Ethics in Public administration: Status and problems; ethical concerns and dilemmas in government and private institutions; laws, rules, regulations and conscience as sources of ethical guidance; accountability and ethical governance; strengthening of ethical and moral values in governance; ethical issues in international relations and funding; corporate governance.
  • Probity in Governance: Concept of public service; Philosophical basis of governance and probity; Information sharing and transparency in government, Right to Information, Codes of Ethics, Codes of Conduct, Citizen’s Charters, Work culture, Quality of service delivery, Utilization of public funds, challenges of corruption.
  • Case Studies on above issues.


Year-wise Analysis of Mains GS Paper 4

Questions asked in this paper are of two types: theoretical as well as practical.

ias toppers mains paper-4 Ethics & Integrity


Suggested Readings:

  • Lexicon for Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude (available on and also on Flipkart)
  • Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC)’s Report on Ethics
  • Yojana March 2014 issue (selective) -available on

Strategy to secure good marks in Ethics paper:

According to the Toppers, this paper is really enjoyable segment of their preparation as well as comparatively easy to handle with a minimum required preparation. Many Toppers scored a decent marks in this paper ranging from 110 to 150 out of 250.

So here the question is: how to secure this range of marks with an ease. The answer to the question is the two-pronged strategy.

Stage One:

Firstly, cover every single topic of the syllabus by referring standard sources. Also read and then try to solve as many case studies as you can. The rationale behind reading case studies is that the more case studies you read the better you will be at finding new solutions.  

There are many books as well as resources available in the market. You can refer any of them only by comparing every single topic that particular source is providing with UPSC syllabus.

Advantages of this stage:

Importance of this stage can be decided from the fact that if you don’t understand the theoretical part of the paper, you can’t write in-depth answers to the questions of the second part of the paper i.e. practical part.

While attempting questions of the practical part, your answers must be supported by the principles. As theoretical part of this paper has a very wide range of principles, good understanding of these principles will help you to make your answers convincing.

Stage Two:

After reading every single topic by referring standard sources, then comes the stage of writing practice. The importance of writing practice is applicable to almost all papers of the Mains exam.

Important Tips:

While solving questions, you should also keep a vigilant eye on the surrounding problems whether they are related to your own life or related to the society as a whole. Newspapers are also a good source of problems having a wide range of nature from administrative to economic to societal. Try to find solutions with the help of principles you have read before.

This brainstorming process will definitely give you a that kind of help which you can never get even after reading many books.  


To sum up, make preparation of ethics paper enjoyable and consider this paper as your personality building with the vital values of life.


This is the end of the part-5. In the next part, we’ll discuss in detail about the Current Affairs for Prelims & Mains.


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