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How Should You Read ESE General Studies Subjects | Strategy and Approach

General Studies is the most crucial and easy to score paper in Engineering Service Examination. The score decides your chance of getting selected in the prelims and also contributes to the final score. Engineering Service Examination (UPSC ESE) has two prelims papers. Out of them, the paper I of prelims is General Studies and Engineering Aptitude (GS & EA).

A lot of you would be disappointed with the number of vacancies in Engineering Services but for those of you who are still preparing and trying their best to get inside, this might be extremely beneficial for you.

This is particularly for ESE General Studies, you will find a lot of information online regarding what to read or where to read but here we will be discussing how to do it, how are you going to approach it. As all of you would know ESE General Studies is a very vast topic which has around 10 different topics and the material is about 200 pages.

What Exactly is General Study?

Even we have courses for it and it is a lot to read. So coming back to the question - how do you approach it? First of all, you should understand what General Studies is, a generalist is a person who knows something about everything, it's not like a scientist or a doctor who is specialized in a particular field but General Studies are all about knowing something about everything. You need to study all these topics to some level, not to the fullest.

Whatever topics are there, you should be familiar with everything. For example, under the environmental topic, you have a subtopic related to habitats, there are different kinds of habitat - Grasslands, Desserts, Aquatic, Forests, and different kinds of biomes. All of this comes under biomes.

Want to watch a video instead? Here's a video on the same blog!

Let's Take an Example

So if you have to read about biomes, first of all, you need to understand what is a biome, the biome as a habitat and why are there so many types of habitat and why is it happening, is it because of the weather, geographical conditions, or something else.

Then you will come to different kinds of biomes and under that to there are classifications like terrestrial, aquatic, and more. Then you will study the characteristics of each biome - what sort of species are there, what sort of trees are there and what are their heights, what is the weather like, or on what geographical location it is found.

This much information is enough for you to study, you don't need to go and find any more data about how the graphs look like or any other things because this is more than enough and you won't have the time to study all of this.

A Simple Approach that Works the Best!

In general studies you always get MCQs and your primary aim should be to eliminate the wrong ones and figure out the correct answer. So for that, you just need to know the concept behind each of them.

For example, you take this question which came in one of the ESE General Studies papers, the question goes like this-

Which one of the following is a terrestrial type of ecosystem?

  • Limnetic

  • Estuary

  • Prairie

  • Reefs

Okay, what to think further?

As it is mentioned "terrestrial type" so it will not be something related to lake, sea or something like that. So again going by the process of elimination, you would have learned a few things about each of the types, so you can solve this one too. As you can see these three options:

Option D - Reefs are related to Marine ecosystems.

Option B - Estuary is a transition between river and marine.

Option A - Limnetic is also related to lakes and ponds

So eliminating all these options, we are left with Option C that is Prairie and you would be familiar with that it's a Grassland. So this is the terrestrial type.

Now, it's your turn to answer this simple one, using the same approach ;)

So, as you can see in both the questions, if you would have known the characteristics of each one of them, you would have figured out the answers.

This is what you need to understand that instead of reading one topic in-depth, you should try to gather more information about several topics and read everything. Whether you're reading it from our courses or some other online resources, this is how you should go about every topic. Lesser is the information more is the power of our brain to retain it for a longer duration.

Thank you for giving it a read. In case of any doubt or support, you can always reach us at


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