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UPSC Mains General Studies Paper-III Strategy, Syllabus & Structure

In General Studies Paper-III, questions are asked on Technology, Economic Development, Biodiversity, Environment, Security, and Disaster Management.


The paper is part of the UPSC Mains examination which is the second stage of the UPSC Civil Services Exam. It is one of the qualifying papers. More dynamic questions are asked in this paper and there is enough scope for innovation. 

GS Paper-III Structure:

GS Paper-III is for 250 marks. The question paper consists of 20 questions. Each question needs to be answered in 150 to 250 words depending on the marks assigned to the question.


The question paper is set both in English and Hindi.

The following Table Lists Important Topics in GS paper-III:

SubjectImportant Topics
EconomyIndian Economy Inclusive growth Infrastructure Macroeconomics
AgricultureMajor cropping pattern Direct and Indirect subsidies, MSP Land reforms in India
Environment and EcologyEnvironmental Pollution Conservation Major Environmental Conventions, Conferences and Protocols.
Science & TechnologyMajor developments Applications and effects Artificial Intelligence Space Technology Defence Technology Indigenization of Indian Technology
Disaster ManagementTheory of Disaster management NDMA guidelines Disaster management and Mitigation strategy
Security & ChallengesInternal Security Challenges in India Extremism Terrorism Money-Laundering Security forces

GS Paper-III Booklist:

The following table lists important books and sources for UPSC Mains GS paper-III:

SubjectReference Books/Sources
Indian EconomyIndian Economic Development XI Standard NCERT Indian Economy by Sanjiv Verma Introductory Macro Economics XII Standard NCERT The Hindu or Indian Express Newspaper Latest Economic Survey
Ecology & EnvironmentCertificate Physical & Human Geography by Goh Cheng Leong (Second Half of the Book) XII Standard NCERT Book on Biology (Chapters pertaining to Ecology) India Year Book (Chapters on Environment)Chapter on Climate Change from Economic SurveyThe Hindu or Indian Express Newspaper
Science & TechnologyVIII, IX, X Standard NCERT books on Biology The Hindu or Indian Express Newspaper Monthly Magazine ‘Science Reporter for Science & Technology’
Security & Disaster ManagementIndia’s Security in a Turbulent World by Jasjit Singh, published by National Book Trust of India The Hindu or Indian Express Newspaper

GS Paper-III Syllabus:

The following table categorises the UPSC Civil Services Mains GS-III syllabus:

SubjectImportant topics
Indian EconomyIndian Economy and issues relating to-Planning, Mobilization of Resources, Growth, Development, and Employment.
Inclusive Growth and issues arising from it.
Government Budgeting  
AgricultureMajor crops and cropping pattern in different parts of the country Different types of irrigation and irrigation systems storage Transport and marketing of agricultural produce Issues related to transport and marketing of agricultural produce E- technology in the aid of farmers Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies Issues related to Minimum Support Prices Public Distribution System Objectives Functioning Limitations Revamp Issues related to buffer stocks and food security Technology missions Economics of Animal rearing Food processing and related industries in India Scope and significance Location Upstream and downstream requirements Supply chain management Land reforms in India
LiberalizationEffects of Liberalization on the economy Changes in industrial policy Effects of changes in industrial policy on industrial growth
InfrastructureEnergy Ports Roads Airports Railways etc.
InvestmentInvestment models such as Public-Private Partnerships, Build Operate Transfer etc.
Science & TechnologyDevelopments in Science and Technology Applications of scientific developments in everyday life Effects of scientific developments in everyday life Important contributions of Indians in Science and Technology Indigenization of technology Developing new technology indigenously Awareness in the following fields: IT Space Computers Robotics Nanotechnology Biotechnology Issues related to Intellectual Property Rights in these fields  
EnvironmentConservation Environmental pollution and degradation Environmental Impact Assessment
     Disaster                                                 ManagementDisasters Disaster Management
         SecurityLinkages between development and spread of extremism Role of state and non-state actors in creating challenges to internal security 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 Security challenges and their management in border areas: Linkages of organized crime with terrorism Various Security forces and agencies and their mandates

Strategy for UPSC General Studies Paper-III:

  • Economy: Start with the basic books like NCERTs and then move on to standard books like Sanjiv Verma or Ramesh Singh. Make short notes for those topics which you feel are difficult and revise them constantly. Use newspapers and monthly magazines as well as articles on PIB and PRS websites.
  • Use self-made notes for topics that you prefer. They help to retrieve information easily in a stressful situation and ensures to write a quality answer.
  • Never leave any question blank and try to attempt all the questions.
  • Agriculture: Read about subsidies that are being given to farmers, the debate around the minimum support price, various viewpoints. Newspapers and current affairs magazines cab be used extensively. You can use the Lok Sabha questions to find out the recent debate in the parliament around any topic.
  • Science & Technology: The questions from Science and technology part are more open-ended and are more analytical in nature. Do not focus much on facts. The answer should be very generalistic and avoid getting deep into the technicality.
  • Disaster Management: Refer to the guidelines released by National Disaster Management Authority(NDMA) from time to time.
  • Security Issues: Make use of maps in these questions. For example, if a question is asked on North-East Insurgency, you can draw a map to represent the porous border of North-East, indicate Golden Triangle on the map. This has a positive impact on the marks. You can improvise your answer by including the current examples, expert opinions, and committee estimations.

For detailed Notes and compilations related to General Studies Paper-III from one of the Best IAS Institute in KarnatakaClick Here.

February 2024