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Study Guide : How to prepare Polity for IAS Prelims


It’s been said, tried and tested multiple times that reading Laxmikant is inevitable for UPSC prep.

We are not going to give you any new source to read Polity. Instead, we are going to tell you the SMART way of preparing for Prelims from Laxmikant itself.

Once you go through this study guide, read through the

Yearwise breakup of questions asked from Polity

Year Number of Questions
2011

17

2012

25

2013

18

2014

11

2015

13

2016

7

 

Trend and importance of Laxmikanth

On an average UPSC has been asking 15-20 Questions each year from polity section since 2011.

Most of the questions are being asked from a single source which is M Laxmikanth.

How to start reading Laxmikanth?

If you devote equal importance to all sections of Laxmikant than that is a hard-work strategy through which you may or may not solve all the polity questions in prelims.

The second strategy is Hard-work + Smart strategy where even though you will read each and every chapter of Laxmikant but you will give special focus to certain important chapters and information which will help you to solve each and every question of polity in UPSC prelims.

Some general observations about the book

  1. It has been written in such a way that you do not need to make any notes out of it
  2. It is one of the best compilation of various useful resources contained in the constitution
  3. Its language is simple and easy to understand
  4. It is way more to easy to comprehend than say, a book like Constitution of India by D .D. Basu

Macro-level suggestions on how we should read from Laxmikant book

#1. Start chronologically with Chapter 1 itself. Go slowly, reading each and every line (each and every line of this book ought to be read)

#2. Prelims examination not only requires conceptual clarity but also the applied part of it.The conceptual clarity helps to solve the analytical question asked from this section. (Prelims 2017 was heavily loaded with conceptual questions from Polity)

Example:

One of the implications of equality in society is the absence of
(a) Privileges

(b) Restraints

(c) Competition

(d) Ideology

You might be wondering how this is applicable to the current scenario? The Central government had taken a decision to abolish the use of red beacons by all government ministers and officials. This was end of privileges in society.

According to the earlier trends, it was easy to attempt a maximum number of questions from this section because generally questions from this section were direct and based on factual information. But, now the nature of questions has changed.

#3. Along with factual information, one should cover the current political developments.

Link the static part with current affairs.

Example: 

With reference to the Parliament of India, consider the following statements:

  1. A private member’s bill is a bill presented by a Member of Parliament who is not elected but only nominated by the President of India.
  2. Recently, a private member’s bill has been passed in the Parliament of India for the first time in its history.
    Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

UPSC, nowadays do not ask direct current affairs, it asks about background knowledge of any matter/issue.

Correlating things: the bookish knowledge and the practical happenings- is the real essence of preparing for UPSC civil services exam. Try to locate whatever you learned from Laxmikanth book in the day-to-day happenings, history, hypothetical situations etc.

You may watch Lok Sabha proceeding and can tally whatever you learned from the book. You might read an article in a newspaper about change in name of a state, and revise the procedure for the same from the book. This will make learning interesting.

#4. Most importantly, analyze previous year’s question papers. See what type of question is asked and how they are asked.

Practicing previous year questions will help you to find out the areas where you commit mistakes.

Micro-level suggestions on how you should read the book

#1. Section one: Historical background

What is most important here?

  • Committees of the Constituent Assembly

What is moderately important?

  • Composition of the Constituent Assembly
  • Rest can be ignored or given a mild read.

After you read this chapter from book completely, revise it using Titbits by Dr. V here: Click2read

#2. Section two: Fundamental Rights, Duties, DPSP, Preamble (Very very important)

General Comments

UPSC asks 5-6 Questions every year from this section. In UPSC 2017 most of the polity Questions were asked from this section. You have to read this section multiple times.

Specific Suggestions

  1. Salient features of the Indian Constitution (Moderately important. The topics mentioned in this chapters are covered extensively in later chapters)
  2. Preamble to the Constitution (Very very important) UPSC simply loves Preamble. It has asked questions on the preamble in 2015 and this year also. Read carefully about different words mentioned in the preamble (example fraternity) and what do they exactly mean.
  3. Union and its territory (Moderately important). Aspirants should be aware of the process through which states are created and also they should be aware of the sequence of new states creation).
  4.  Fundamental rights, DPSP and Fundamental duties (Very very important) FR, FD, DPSP etc are difficult as they have laws and bylaws.

Some are explicit while others are implicit. It is thus important to get the concept and soul of them. UPSC won’t ask petty details or facts. It will exploit the conceptual part.

You should be able to connect dots with recent happenings. For example, in 2017 UPSC asked a question related to privileges after use of red beacons was abolished by the government for ministers/officers.

  1. Amendment of the constitution (Read carefully about different types of majorities and which majority is used in which case for example in which cases two-third majority is required and in which cases simple majority is required.)
  2. Read very carefully about basic terms of polity like Cabinet form of Government, Judicial review, President System, Prime Minister System, Federalism, First past the post system, Proportional representation, rights and duties etc.

In last few years UPSC has been asking lots of questions to test the conceptual clarity of the aspirant.

After you read this chapter from book completely, revise it using Titbits by Dr. V here:  Click2read

#3. Section three: Similar topics

Union and state Executive

Almost 90%  of powers and functions of President and Governor are same.

If you cover topics which are similar like President and governor, Prime Minister and Chief Minister, Parliament and state legislature, supreme court and high court together it will save your time and will be easy to memorize and link them. Smart work!

How President and Vice President are elected and removed

  • Read very carefully Comparison table of powers of Governor and President mentioned in the Governor Chapter in Laxmikanth.
  • Always read trivial information very carefully, you can also make notes of the titbits information mentioned in any chapter since UPSC loves to ask trivia based questions, for example, President can pardon a death convict, however, Governor cannot.

Parliament and state legislature

Every year 2-3 questions are asked from it in prelims

What is most important in this chapter?

  • Read both chapters simultaneously. Look for differences between the powers of parliament and state legislature example privilege power of parliament is much wider than state legislature. (Very important)
  • Different committees and its composition and various kinds of motions and resolutions.
  • Different types of bills
  • Different types of discussions
  • Powers of speakers,deputy speakers,Chairman and Vice Chairman.
  • Comparison between powers of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha and Rajya Sabha and legislative council.
  • Budget.

Supreme court and High court

What is most important here?

  • Comparison between writ powers of High court and Supreme court
  • Appointment and removal process of SC and HC judges(There is some trivial differences in that process)
  • Original powers of SC and HC

Section 4:  Constitutional/statutory and Executive bodies

What should you read very carefully?

  • Whether the body is constitutional, statutory or executive. Example SC/ST commission is constitutional body but backward commission and women commission are Statutory Bodies.
  • Who appoints the chairman and member of the commission and how they are removed.
  • Focus on trivial issues
  • Usually except appointment and removal, most of the functions and details of Central commissions and state commissions are similar.

Revise all these through Titbits

  1. Functions/powers of legislature Click2read
  2. Functions/powers of executive Click2read
  3. Functions/powers of Judiciary Click2read

Section 5: Special status of different states and union territories

What should you read very carefully?

  • Read carefully the role of Governor and president in these states
  • Read carefully the powers of L.G. and president in union territories. President has some extraordinary power in some union territories.

Revise using Titbits Click2read

Section 6: Local Bodies

  • Read carefully different committees of Panchayati raj.
  • Regarding powers and functions of local bodies read carefully about which clause is mandatory (mandated by 73rd and 74th amendment) and which is optional (depends on whims and fancies of state government).
  • Example SC/ST reservation in local bodies is mentioned in 73rd and 74th amendment but OBC reservation is optional.

Revise using Titbits:  Click2read

Section 7: Miscellaneous items

  • This will include remaining topics
  • In this most important chapters are anti-defection law, the official language, political parties and elections.
  • In the anti-defection chapter closely read about differences in the 52nd amendment and 85th amendment (it is bit tricky).
  • In the political party chapter extensively read about criteria for granting any political party national or regional status.
  • Rest of the chapters should be read but they are not very important from exam perspective.

Prepared with help of inputs from Tanay Rathi, Sajal Singh

Questions, suggestions and comments


  1. Aarti .Verma

    a well-suggested strategy, is it required to read the latest version of Laxmikanth?

    1. Dr V

      Naah, old version suffices.

      How are you doing Aarti?

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