UPSC IAS Mains 2020: Strategy to Prepare GS Paper II (Polity, Governance & International Relations)

UPSC: Aspirants appearing for the UPSC IAS Mains 2020 can check here the tips and strategy to prepare for GS Paper II effectively. 

Sakshi Saroha
Nov 17, 2020, 10:29 IST
UPSC IAS Mains 2020: Strategy to Prepare GS Paper II (Polity, Governance & International Relations)
UPSC IAS Mains 2020: Strategy to Prepare GS Paper II (Polity, Governance & International Relations)

UPSC: General Studies Paper-II is a mandatory and merit-based paper for candidates appearing in UPSC IAS Mains exams. This paper is based on Polity, Governance, and International Relations topics. While defining the syllabus and nature of the paper, the Union Public Service Commission mentions:

“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.” 

This statement in itself is a guiding light for aspirant’s preparation. One doesn’t have to master the topics but should possess a basic understanding of the subject and the ability to analyze. As a guiding source, we have here mentioned a few other key points that can help aspirants prepare the GS Paper II in a strategized manner. 


UPSC IAS General Studies Paper II: Section-wise division

GS Paper II is divided into four sections. It is necessary for aspirants to prepare each section dedicatedly as the questions paper covers questions from each topic. Aspirants can also go through previous years’ question papers to get an idea of the expected number of questions from each section. We have provided an analysis of questions that have been asked from each section in the past few years:


10 Marks Questions

15 Marks Questions

Indian Polity

4-5 Questions

3-4 Questions


1-2 Questions

1-3 Questions

International Relations

2-3 Questions

2-3 Questions


1-2 Questions

1-2 Questions

UPSC IAS Mains 2020: Detailed Syllabus for GS Paper II (Polity, Governance & International Relations)

UPSC IAS General Studies Paper II: Section-Wise  Strategy

General Studies II has very few direct questions which are related to one topic. This paper needs a fair share of critical thinking to answer the questions as many times interrelated topics may appear in the exam.

Indian Polity 

In General Studies Paper II, Polity and constitution cover the major portion of the whole syllabus, and every year many questions are asked from this section. Almost 40 % of the total questions of this paper comes from this section which makes it the most important part to prepare. 

  • For beginners, it is advised to read NCERT books of Polity as they are considered as the best reference for basic understanding. 
  • Post the thorough reading of NCERT books, switch to advanced study material for in-depth knowledge of the topic.
  • Prepare short notes with highlighted keywords as well as include current issues in a pragmatic way. Include these facts in answer writing.
  • Practice previous year questions to find out your weak areas.


The syllabus of Governance often confuses aspirants and they tend to overdo the reading. That is why to make a better and compact plan, it is important that aspirants read the detailed syllabus of Governance for better understanding.

  • Follow up every scheme and detail related to governance.
  • Make a chronological chart of the most important topics and revise them step by step as per your comfort zone.
  • Examples play a crucial role in this paper. So observe the examples and use them while writing answers.
  • Analysis of government schemes with respect to vulnerable and marginalized sections of the society is also important.

International Relations

The international relations topic encompasses the foreign policy of India, bilateral relations, regional cooperation, etc. Approx 30% of the total questions of this paper comes from this section. 

  • Develop the habit of newspaper reading and give importance to columns related to international relations in the Newspaper.
  • Understand the basic concepts like OCI, PIO, NRI, Citizenship issues, and correlate them with the current issues.
  • Foreign policy is impacted by global, provincial, and internal growths. Therefore, current affairs are a crucial part of this topic.
  • Correlate the current issues with traditional topics.

The above-mentioned strategies are not enough to crack IAS Mains. Candidates need to ambitiously follow their study time table and practice writing answers on alternate days. This will help them in keeping the track of their progress. We wholeheartedly hope for your success and in the UPSC IAS Mains with desired marks and rank.

Also Check: Tips for Writing Better Answers in UPSC IAS Mains 2020

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