IAS Preparation Tips

Best Books for UPSC Prelims & Mains Preparation

Written by Abhinash Chaudhary · 5 min read >
Best books for UPSC Prelims & Mains

UPSC/Civil Services Examination Booklist | Best books for UPSC Prelims & Mains

UPSC exams syllabus is very huge thus you need to be very precise about your preparation. Wasting time on low-quality books will not do good for you. You may have to re-read and this will be a waste of your time. If you prepare for UPSC then you understand the value of time. Therefore, only choose good and reputed books to prepare for your UPSC preparation. 

Availability of numerous books in the market makes it a challenging task for aspirants to choose the right book. Almost every successful candidate recommends that you start your studies with NCERT books and further moves on to other books and study materials. Evidently, this method works for every student and you should also not make any exception in it. You should only rely on the best books for the IAS exam.

IAS Books Selection

Selection of the UPSC books also varies from student to student. Everyone has their own way of learning so you should also choose books as per your competency or learning style. No books are good or bad, it’s up to the reader how much he gets of it. UPSC Preparation books should always be of high quality because it’s going to be your best friend in the days of exam preparation. 

You may need to bifurcate the book list for Prelims and Mains. You should refer to what is best for your preparation. Choosing the right book will have an outright impact on your results so be smart in choosing the books. Good books help you clear the basic concept which is very essential for clearing the Civil Services Examination. 

The Civil Services exam has three-stage in selecting the candidate for Civil Services. Prelims, Mains & Interview. This year’s UPSC CSE exam is due on 31st May 2020 but it’s likely to be postponed due to COVID-19 spread. However, there is no formal notification from the UPSC board. Check the UPSC calendar on the UPSC website. 

Why is it important to read good books for UPSC preparation?

You need to read good IAS books to clear the UPSC exams. The syllabus is very huge and timing is always a constraint in UPSC preparation. Below is the reason why you should read only the best books for UPSC examination:

  1. Saves time – Good books always save time. If you waste your time in reading below par books then it will be very hard to complete your syllabus. You already have less time to prepare for IAS exams. If you complete your syllabus on time then you can dedicate spare time on revision.
  1. Easy note-making – Since these books are highly sought and trustworthy, it makes note-making easy. Notes are going to be the lifeline while revising the syllabus. Some books come with the special notes section. It means you don’t need to spend time on note-making even.    
  1. Tailor-Made books for UPSC exams – Books of this booklist is custom made for UPSC exams only. Other books are also well written and their writers are also very credible. However, other books are not written from the UPSC preparation point of view. Thus, it becomes really important to read recommended UPSC books only. 
  1. Proven track record – These books have helped numerous IAS candidates and have proved their worth time and again. Thus, you should not be hesitant in choosing the right books for UPSC preparation. 

UPSC Exams Name & Patterns:

Prelims Exam pattern – There are two papers in this exam each containing 200 marks. There is also a negative marking system which deducts 1/3rd marks if you give the wrong answer. This exam is objective in nature.

Mains Exam pattern: Once you qualify the IAS Prelims exam then you are allowed to take the Mains exam. Exam gets tougher in this phase because there are 9 theory papers in the UPSC 2020 Mains exam. There are two optional subjects out of these 9 theory papers. Negative marking is not used while assessing mains paper.

UPSC Interview or Personality Test: 

This is mainly a personality assessment test. The interview is generally for 30 minutes but may stretch depending on individuals.

Cutoff list: Prelims scores are not calculated in the final list. Your ranking is calculated on the basis of your Mains and Interview. 

List of Books for UPSC Prelims: 

SubjectUPSC Booklist
EconomicsIndian Economy by Ramesh Singh
Economic Development & Policies in India – Jain & Ohri
NCERT XI
Indian PolityIndian Polity – M LaxmikanthNCERT IX-XII
CSATTata McGraw Hill CSAT Manual
CSAT II – Arihant
Verbal & Non-Verbal Reasoning – R S Aggarwal
International RelationsNCERT XII (Contemporary World Politics)Current Affairs
HistoryIndia’s Struggle for Independence – Bipan Chandra
Facets of Indian Culture – SpectrumNCERT XI (Ancient & Medieval)
NCERT XII (Modern Indian History)
GeographyCertificate Physical Geography – G C Leong
NCERT VI – X (Old Syllabus)
NCERT XI, XII (New Syllabus)World Atlas

Read in Detail about Each Book for UPSC Prelims

List of Books for UPSC Mains :

Given is the list for UPSC Mains books. All the books are available for online and offline buying in the market very easily.

SubjectIAS booklist
History, Indian Heritage & Culture[General Studies Paper 1]An Introduction to Indian Art Part 1: Textbook in Fine Arts for Class XI
India’s Struggle for Independence by Bipan Chandra
India after Independence by Bipan Chandra
History of Medieval India by Satish ChandraAncient India by R.S Sharma
Geography[General Studies Paper 1]Geography of India by Majid Husain
World Geography by Majid HusainWorld Atlas Certificate Physical and Human Geography – G C Leong Fundamentals of Physical Geography NCERT Class 11
Polity & International Relations[General Studies Paper 2]Indian Polity by M. LaxmikanthIntroduction to the Constitution of India by DD Basu
India’s Foreign Policy by Rajiv Sikri
Economy[GS Paper 3]Indian Economy – Ramesh Singh
Ethics[GS Paper 4]Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude for Civil Services Main Examination by Subba Rao and P.N. Roy Chaudary

These important books will certainly help you in your UPSC preparation. Additionally, you also may need more study materials to continue for the Civil Services exam. UPSC Current affairs are very extensive thus you need to keep a good track on it. 

List of useful study materials which you need other than UPSC books.

  • 2nd ARC Report 
  • Annual reports by central ministries
  • Finance Commission Report (latest)
  • Niti Aayog Action Agenda
  • Budget (latest)
  • Economic Survey (latest)
  • Current Affairs
  • The Hindu
  • Yojana Magazine
  • Press Information Bureau

This booklist doesn’t give information on the list of option paper books. Read these books and plan smartly to prepare for the UPSC exams. You should have a positive outlook towards your exam then it will be easy to prepare. If you feel demotivated by looking at this lengthy and tedious UPSC booklist then UPSC may not be your taste. 

Frequently Asked Questions about UPSC Exam Booklist

Question 1 – What is the best geography book for UPSC Prelims?

Answer – Certificate Physical Geography – G C Leong is the best book for Geography. But, you should start your study with NCERT VI-X (Old Syllabus) and XI-XII ( New syllabus). You should also refer to ATLAS for best results in UPSC prelims.  

Question 2 – What is the best history book for UPSC Prelims?

Answer – History is a good subject to score marks as it doesn’t change. So the information is static. History of Modern India should be focused on while UPSC preparation. You should take help of the best history books for UPSC prelims.

  • India’s Struggle for Independence – Bipan Chandra
  • Facets of Indian Culture – Spectrum
  • NCERT XI (Ancient & Medieval)
  • NCERT XII (Modern Indian History) 

Question 2 – What are the best books for UPSC economics (IAS Prelims)?

Answer –  You should have a stronghold on economics and you should always get the best books for UPSC prelims. Read these books for basics and also opt for study materials from top IAS institutes in India. 

  • Indian Economy by Ramesh Singh
  • Economic Development & Policies in India – Jain & Ohri
  • NCERT XI

Question 4 – Are UPSC Prelims Books & Mains books different?

Answer – Some subjects overlap and preparing for both exams is always going to be beneficial. However, it’s good to read books and bifurcate with respect to Prelims and Mains.

Question 5 – What are the best international relations books for UPSC prelims? 

Answer – You should read refer to NCERT XII (Contemporary World Politics) and also keep a sharp eye on Current Affairs revolving International relations. 

Useful Articles

Written by Abhinash Chaudhary
Abhinash Chaudhary is a Passionate Blogger, Entrepreneur & Digital Marketer in India. He has been blogging since 2013 & writes about Education, Web Design, Web Development, SEO and Technology. Profile
× How can I help you?