UPSC Prelims are your first step towards the Civil Services Exams. There are several sources that can be approached for the preparation of UPSC Prelims, however, it is advised by toppers and teachers that overburdening yourself with books isn’t really an effective option. Read the following article to find the best books for UPSC Prelims that can help you reach your goals of clearing IAS. You can also find some useful tips on how to study from books and important information on Prelims 2021.

Best Books for UPSC Prelims

Some of the most important books referred by previous years’ UPSC toppers are as follows-

General Science Paper I

The paper consists of 100 questions that carry two marks each, with negative marking ⅓ marks.

History of India and Indian National Movement

  • Ancient India (NCERT) by R.S. Sharma
  • Medieval India (NCERT) by Satish Chandra
  • Modern India (NCERT) by Bipin Chandra for Indian National Movements
  • Concise History of Modern India by Sujata Menon
  • Facets of Indian Culture by Spectrum Publications

Indian and World Geography

  • Geography of India NCERT Class X
  • Principles of Geography NCERT Class XI
  • Fundamentals of Human Geography NCERT Class XII
  • Certificate Physical and Human Geography by Goh Cheng Leong
  • Oxford School Atlas by Oxford University Press

Indian Polity and Governance

  • Indian Polity by M. Laxmikanth
  • An Introduction to the Constitution of India by DD Basu
  • Governance in India by M. Laxmikanth

Economic and Social Development

  • Indian Economy by Ramesh Singh
  • Indian Economic Development NCERT Class XI
  • Macro Economics NCERT Class XII
  • Indian Economy by Mishra and Puri
  • Economic Survey of India

Environmental Ecology, Biodiversity, and Climate Change

  • Environment and Ecology study material by NIOS
  • Environment and Ecology study material by IGNOU
  • India State of Forest Report (ISFR) in India Year Book
  • Environmental Studies by Benny Joseph
  • Environment and Ecology- Biodiversity, Climate Change and Disaster Management by Majid Husain

General Science and Technology

  • General Science by Spectrum
  • General Science NCERT Class IX and X

Also Read: Important Dates and a Timetable for UPSC Prelims 2021

General Science Paper-II or CSAT

Some of the important books for UPSC Prelims CSAT are as follows-

  • Cracking the CSAT Paper 2 by Arihant Experts
  • The Mantra of CSAT Paper II by Gautam Puri
  • A Modern Approach to Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning by R.S. Aggarwal
  • Analytical Reasoning by M.K. Pandey

You can find an elaborate list of CSAT Books and Preparation Strategy for the exam here.

How to Read Books Effectively for Your IAS Prelims

Having the important books for Prelims in possession doesn’t guarantee success to anyone. It depends on how the candidates prepare for the exam with the help of books and other resources. Here are some tips that can guide you through your preparation with the help of the books mentioned above.

  1. Keep your UPSC prelims syllabus by your side at all times
  2. Pick up important concepts from the books, online videos and old question papers.
  3. Start with the basics. Learn about the basics of every topic from books like NCERT and then move on to other books that mention the information in detail.
  4. Once you’ve made notes from the books, search for more information or details about the same concepts from the internet and government websites.
  5. Read the books twice before keeping them away to ensure that you don’t miss out on any important information.


Now that you are familiar with the list of books important for the prelims, you need to understand that there might be more books available in the market for the exams and it is upon you to research and pick on the books that are suitable for you.

However, the books mentioned in the article cover all the basic and important concepts and should not be completely left out. One of the most important parts of preparation for the exam is that you should understand all the concepts well, memorise all the facts and be familiar with the entire syllabus. For more information on the exam, subscribe here.

Also Read : Which stream is best for IAS after the 10th? Which subject is best for IAS?

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Best Books for UPSC Prelims: How to Read Books Effectively for UPSC Preparation?
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Best Books for UPSC Prelims: How to Read Books Effectively for UPSC Preparation?
What books should you read for UPSC prelims 2021? What are the effective ways of referring to books for your preparation? Find out effective tips and information on prelims 2021.
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UPSC Pathshala
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