UPSC Books List

UPSC Books List: UPSC Civil Services Exam is one of the toughest exams of India. On an average 5 lakh students appear for the prelims examination, out of these only 4-5 % clear the prelims and finally around 1000 get selected for the various services. So statistically the selection rate is less than 1 per cent. What makes this exam more challenging is its vast syllabus. At some point in time, each aspirant faces nervousness, anxiety, fear of failure and exhaustion. But the prestige, respect and exposure these services provide are totally worth the efforts and sacrifices involved.

UPSC syllabus is very vast so, to cover and revise this on time one must follow a detailed strategy, correct guidance and most importantly a limited but efficient booklist. It is always advisable to repeat and revise limited books multiple times rather than reading multiple resources just once. The UPSC CSE (Civil Service Examination) consists of 3 stages:

1. Preliminary Exam

2. Mains Exam, and

3. Interview or Personality Test

UPSC Books List for IAS Prelims 

The preliminary exam consists of two papers of 200 marks. Paper-1 is General Studies and Paper-2 is CSAT. The most famous books for the preliminary exam are as follows:

1-UPSC Prelims Previous Year Questions: Previous year questions is the best way to understand the level and nature of questions asked in the actual examination. Some good books are “Disha Publication 25-year previous year questions” and “Arihant chapter-wise Solved Questions”.

2-Polity: Indian Polity has a good weightage in the prelims exam so it becomes necessary to grasp the concepts well and revise thoroughly. For this subject one can refer to “Indian Polity by M.Laxmikant” This book is considered a bible for Indian Polity and if this book seems complex one can start with “NCERT school books”.

3-Ancient History: For ancient history, most of the aspirants prefer the “Tamil Nadu Board History Book of Class 11th”. Ancient history questions are not asked frequently so this book is sufficient.

4-Medieval History: Here again one should refer to the Tamil Nadu Board History textbook. Revising this book thoroughly will definitely give you an edge.

5-Modern History: Modern History questions are asked in abundance so one should follow A Brief History of Modern India by Spectrum Publication and India’s Struggle for Independence authored by Bipan Chandra

6-Economics: Economics is a very vast subject, if one plunges into it, it seems endless. One should not give too much time to a single subject. The UPSC exam tests the knowledge of basic concepts and ongoing economic current affairs. For this NCERT books and Indian Economy by Ramesh Singh. Apart from this one can follow the monthly magazines and newspapers like The Economics Times.

7-Geography: Geography questions test conceptual clarity rather than factual knowledge. So the basic concepts have to be crystal clear. One can start with NCERTs of 6th to 12th and then proceed to “Certificate Physical and Human Geography” by GOCHENG LEONG

8- Art and Culture: On an average 12-15 questions are asked on this topic exclusively. Some of the popular books for this section are “Art and Culture by Prof. S. Baliyan” and “Art and Culture notes by Nitin Singhania”.

9- Current Affairs and International Relations: This section can be divided into two sections. The first is a Newspaper and the second is Monthly Magazine. The newspaper will help to keep track of all the important happenings and monthly magazines will help to relate those happenings with your syllabus. There are many standard newspapers like “The Hindu”, “The Indian Express” etc. For the magazines, one can refer to Yojana and Kurukshetra. Magazines like “Insights” are also very popular.

10- CSAT: CSAT is Paper II of the Preliminary examination. This paper is qualifying in nature so the score is not counted for pre-cutoff. This paper tests the comprehension ability and reasoning aptitude of candidates. For preparing this paper, one should refer to Previous Year Questions first and then solve any standard book like Arihant publication, R S Aggarwal etc.

UPSC Prelims Syllabus 2022- Click to Check

UPSC Books List for IAS Mains

Mains examination consists of Two Language papers, (these are not counted for merit.). One essay paper, four GS papers and two optional papers.

1. Language Paper 1: There are a plethora of language options available for this paper. The candidates can choose the language of their choice accordingly. 

2. Language Paper 2 (English): This paper tests the comprehension ability of the candidate. Although qualifying in nature but one must have basic knowledge of the English language. This can be achieved by regular reading habits and writing small articles on random topics. Further, there are some good books to improve grammar such as English Grammar and Composition by Wren and Martin.

3. Essay: Writing a good essay for the UPSC exam requires a good amount of knowledge and practice, which comes with time. So practice is the key here. Start with small essays, it will improve with time. Keep a track of daily editorials of various newspapers, these are very helpful for essays.

4. GS Paper-I (Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society)- 

  1. “Art and Culture by Prof. S. Baliyan”, 
  2. Art and Culture notes by Nitin Singhania”, 
  3. Tamil Nadu Board History Books, 
  4. A Brief History of Modern India by Spectrum Publication
  5. India’s Struggle for Independence by Bipan Chandra
  6. NCERTs of 6th to 12th 
  7. “Certificate Physical and Human Geography” by GOCHENGLEONG
  8. Oxford ATLAS

5. GS Paper- II (Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International Relations)- Newspaper Editorials, Indian Polity by M.Laxmikant.

6. GS Paper-III: This paper is about Technology, Economic Development, Bio-diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management. For this paper standard newspapers and IGNOU study material is a good choice for aspirants. Further monthly magazines on Science and Technology are also helpful.

7. GS Paper-IV: This paper tests the Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude of candidates. Some of the good books for this paper are “The Lexicon for Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude by Niraj Kumar” and “Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude for Civil Services Examination” by G Subba Rao and P N Roy Chowdhury.

UPSC IAS Mains Syllabus & Exam Pattern [Click Here]

UPSC IAS Officer Salary- Click to Check

UPSC Cut Off [Previous Year]- Click to Check

UPSC Books List: FAQs

Ans. Yes, NCERTs are important and the best books to start your UPSC preparation as they form a fundamental base and can help you understand basic and crucial aspects faster.

Ans. At least 15-20 standard textbooks for different subjects, apart from NCERT books are required to prepare for UPSC IAS Exam.

Ans. Yes, Class 6 to 12 NCERT is enough for UPSC IAS as it will develop a clear understanding of almost all basic concepts.

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