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Book Review – Pathfinder – A Blueprint For UPSC Civil Services Main Exam

List of Reference Books For Prelims and Mains


Ever since UPSC announced new pattern and syllabus for civil services Main examination, there has been a deluge of books in the market on the subject. Instead of making lives of aspirants easier, they have only made life tougher for clueless aspirants.

Fortunately, Pathfinder, a small 197 pages book authored and edited by Dr. Divya S Iyer (139 Rank, CSE – 2011) with the help of senior bureaucrats and a retired diplomat,  is a boon to the aspirants who have no clue about how to prepare for the new pattern.

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This book is written keeping in mind the demand of the new pattern and syllabus. For last few years, UPSC has experimented with Mains ‘pattern’ within the old framework. Questions were getting tougher and the questions pattern in Optional subject was radically altered to the dismay and surprise of aspirants. Even evaluation was made strict. This was all an indication of things to come. And came the new pattern, where four General Studies papers were introduced in the place of two and one Optional was retained instead of two.

In these four General Studies papers, there are about sixty broad topics are there. Each topic has  sub-topics, but there is no further clue as to what an aspirant should ‘know’ on these sub-topics. For example, there is this topic – Art Forms. Now, the question is which art forms an aspirant should focus? From which regions?

It is here, in understanding the demand of these topics from the examination point of view, most aspirants are confused.

Pathfinder helps you overcome this confusion. The author has divided all the topics broadly into three categories:

  1. Need to Know
  2. Good To Know
  3. Great To Know

Under each category, various topics, which are not given in the official syllabus but are extremely important from the examination point of view are listed. This feature is this book’s USP. If one thoroughly prepares all the topics given in the book, he/she can confidently face the exam. This feature acts as a blueprint for your preparation. Hence this book should be kept as a constant companion to know which topic you are missing in your preparation and to know which topics you must study for Mains from all fours General Studies papers.

Apart from the above categorization of topics, there are good articles on ‘How to choose Optional subject’, ‘How to approach Essay paper’; How to Face the Interview’ (Dr. Divya scored highest marks in her interview that year) and an overall strategy for Civil Services exam is given at the end of the book which is comprehensive and useful.

And there is a list of books for each General Studies paper given in the end. For freshers, who because of lack of guidance buy irrelevant books, coaching materials and photocopies of useless notes, these lists help a lot. But, the list of books given is large. If one has time and determination, it is not impossible to read all the books recommended in Pathfinder. They are standard books. Not the ones manufactured in Delhi for the innocents. (For Insights Books List, click here)

There are insightful and inspiring articles by an IAS officer and a retired diplomat.

This book is a must have companion for new entrants and to all aspirants preparing for next exam. This book is priced at Rs. 160/– and it is worth every penny.

Why am I promoting this book? This book is written with good intention and is very useful for the aspirants and is cheap. Hence this promotion.

You can buy right away from (not available on Flipkart)

Click the link below to buy this book.



Reference Books List