Best General Studies Books for UPSC: How to Prepare General Studies for UPSC?

Best General Studies Books for UPSC

Are you preparing for the UPSC Civil Services Examination (CSE)? But don’t know where to start? Don’t worry! In this article, we will discuss how to prepare General Studies for UPSC? In prelims, there are two papers GS Paper 1 and GS Paper 2 (CSAT). There are too many UPSC general studies books in the market. Read the article till the end to get a recommendation of the best general studies books for UPSC.

How to Prepare General Studies for UPSC?

Start by reading NCERT books of 10th to 12th standard. If you don’t have a basic understanding of a particular subject then you can start by reading NCERT of standard 6th. As prelims are more of a fact-based exam, you will have to remember lots of things.

In UPSC prelims there are Multiple Choice Questions which are easier as compared to Mains descriptive writing pattern. Therefore one should start his or her preparation of Mains first. For Prelims start practising MCQs within the exam time limits about two to three months before the exam.

Read current affairs from important newspapers, magazines and NCERT are enough of UPSC prelims along with the rigorous practice of MCQs.

How to Prepare of UPSC Mains General Studies?

As you know Mains have descriptive type questions. Here answer writing becomes an important part. To write good answers you will have to build your opinion on things. This can only be achieved by reading newspapers.

When you are done with NCERT, read standard books that can help you write answers. Making proper consolidated notes is necessary for the purpose of retaining the information in the memory as well as for revisions.

Revising topics once won’t be enough you will have to do multiple revisions.

Practise answer writing as much as possible. Join a good test series. Don’t wait to complete the syllabus to give mock test. The syllabus is so vast that you are bound to leave a topic or two there is no way you cover such a huge syllabus.

Have a look at the previous year’s question papers and try to analyze the trends. You also have to practise answer writing from at least the last five years question papers.

Make notes such that you can revise any subject in a matter of hours. Write down keywords in your notebook.

UPSC General Studies-I Syllabus

Indian Heritage and Culture, History

(i) Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, literature, and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

(ii) Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues.

(iii) The Freedom Struggle — its various stages and important contributors/contributions from different parts of the country.

(iv) Post-independence consolidation and reorganization within the country.

(v) History of the world will include events from the 18th century such as industrial revolution, world wars, redrawing of national boundaries, colonization, decolonization, political philosophies like communism, capitalism, socialism, etc.— their forms and effect on society.

Geography of the World and Society.

(vi) Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India.

(vii) Role of women and women’s organization, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems, and their remedies.

(viii) Effects of globalization on Indian society.

(ix) Social empowerment, communalism, regionalism & secularism.

(x) Salient features of the world’s physical geography.

(xi) Distribution of key natural resources across the world (including South Asia and the Indian sub-continent); factors responsible for the location of primary, secondary, and tertiary sector industries in various parts of the world (including India).

(xii) Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone, etc., geographical features and their location-changes in critical geographical features (including water-bodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes.

Also Read: UPSC Geography Previous Year Optional Question Papers: All You need to Crack UPSC 2021

UPSC General Studies II Syllabus

Governance, Constitution, and Polity

(i) Indian Constitution—historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions, and basic structure.

(ii) Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels, and challenges therein.

(iii) Separation of powers between various organs disputes redressal mechanisms and institutions.

(iv) Comparison of the Indian constitutional scheme with that of other countries.

(v) Parliament and State legislatures—structure, functioning, the conduct of business, powers & privileges, and issues arising out of these.

(vi) Structure, organization, and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary—Ministries and Departments of the Government; pressure groups and formal/informal associations and their role in the Polity.

(vii) Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act.

(viii) Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions, and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies.

(ix) Statutory, regulatory, and various quasi-judicial bodies.

(x) Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Social Justice

(xi) Development processes and the development industry —the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders.

(xii) Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions, and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

(xiii) Issues relating to the development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

(xiv) Issues relating to poverty and hunger.

(xv) Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability, and institutional and other measures.

(xvi) Role of civil services in a democracy.

International Relations

(xvii) India and its neighborhood- relations.

(xviii) Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

(xix) Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

(xx) Important International institutions, agencies, and fora – their structure, mandate.

Also Read: Daily Answer Writing Practice for UPSC 2021: When and How to Start Answer Writing Practice?

UPSC General Studies III Syllabus

Economic Development, Biodiversity, Environment

(i) Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment.

(ii) Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.

(iii) Government Budgeting.

(iv) Major crops-cropping patterns in various parts of the country, – different types of irrigation and irrigation systems storage, transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints; e-technology in the aid of farmers.

(v) Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices; Public Distribution System-objectives, functioning, limitations, revamping; issues of buffer stocks and food security; Technology missions; economics of animal-rearing.

(vi) Food processing and related industries in India- scope’ and significance, location, upstream and downstream requirements, supply chain management.

(vii) Land reforms in India.

(viii) Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy, and their effects on industrial growth.

(ix) Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

(x) Investment models.


(xi) Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life.

(xii) Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.

(xiii) Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, Nanotechnology, biotechnology, and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

(xiv) Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

Security and Disaster Management

(xv) Disaster and disaster management.

(xvi) Linkages between development and spread of extremism.

(xvii) Role of external state and non-state actors in creating challenges to internal security.

(xviii) Challenges to internal security through communication networks, the role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges, basics of cybersecurity; money-laundering, and its prevention.

(xix) Security challenges and their management in border areas – linkages of organized crime with terrorism.

(xx) Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate.

UPSC General Studies IV Syllabus

Ethics And Integrity

(i) Ethics and Human Interface: Essence, determinants, and consequences of Ethics in-human actions; dimensions of ethics; ethics – in private and public relationships. Human Values – lessons from the lives and teachings of great leaders, reformers, and administrators; the role of family society and educational institutions in inculcating values.

(ii) Public/Civil service values and Ethics in Public administration: Status and problems; ethical concerns and dilemmas in government and private institutions; laws, rules, regulations, and conscience as sources of ethical guidance; accountability and ethical governance; strengthening of ethical and moral values in governance; ethical issues in international relations and funding; corporate governance.


(iii) Attitude: content, structure, function; its influence and relation with thought and behaviour; moral and political attitudes; social influence and persuasion.

(iv) Aptitude and foundational values for Civil Service, integrity, impartiality and non-partisanship, objectivity, dedication to public service, empathy, tolerance, and compassion towards the weaker sections.

(v) Emotional intelligence-concepts, and their utilities and application in administration and governance.

(vi) Contributions of moral thinkers and philosophers from India and the world.

(vii) Probity in Governance: Concept of public service; Philosophical basis of governance and probity; Information sharing and transparency in government, Right to Information, Codes of Ethics, Codes of Conduct, Citizen’s Charters, Work culture, Quality of service delivery, Utilization of public funds, challenges of corruption.

(viii) Case Studies on the above issues.

Also Read: How to Revise Effectively for UPSC? What Golden Tips to Follow and Mistakes to Avoid

Best Books General Studies for UPSC

These books can be used for UPSC general studies paper 1 as well as UPSC Mains.

Books for History and Geography
Subject Books
Ancient History Ancient India by RS Sharma
Medieval History History of Medieval India by Satish Chandra
Modern History
  • Concise History of Modern India  by Sujata Menon
  • Modern India by Bipin Chandra
  • A Brief History of Modern India by Spectrum
Indian Culture Facets of Indian Culture by Spectrum
  • 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
Books for Polity and Economics
Subject Books
Indian Polity
  • Indian Polity by Laxmikanth
  • An Introduction to the Constitution of India by D. D. Basu
  • The Constitution of India by P. M. Bakshi
  • Old NCERT books for Indian Polity
Indian Economics
  • 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
UPSC Books for Science and Technology
Subject Books
Science and Technology
  • General Science by Spectrum
  • General Science NCERT Class IX and X
  • Newspaper (The Hindu, Economic Times, The Indian Express)
  • ISRO Website, other Online Resources
UPSC Books for Ecology and Environment
Subject Book
Environment and Ecology
  • 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

Also Read: UPSC IES Exam Eligibility: All About UPSC India Engineering Services Exam


Now you know the best UPSC General Studies books. Before you start your full-time preparation know that this exam is not going to be easy to crack. You will have to make lots of sacrifices and dedicate your time only studying. UPSC exam is tough but if the preparation is done in the right direction you can do it.

How is your preparation coming? Let us know in the comment section below!

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