The Indian Administrative Service officer is one of the most sought out jobs in India. To become an IAS officer, one must write the UPSC exam. The UPSC exam is believed to be one of the toughest and most challenging exams in India.

If you are an IAS aspirant and have decided to take the UPSC Civil Service Exam, then this article will introduce you to a set of books for UPSC prelims and books for UPSC mains that will boost your study preparation. Always remember that it is not the book that decides your score, but it is you and your efforts alone!

This article will help the beginners in kick-starting their UPSC preparation the right way by recommending UPSC preparation for beginners and also for reappearing candidates.

IAS Best Books

Before you know what books to buy, students need to understand why they need a particular book and why that exact book.

Your books need to be tried and tested. Meaning that students have used it before and they should feel that the book has helped them achieve their marks.

Doing your research on books may seem foolish, but in reality, it is not. Many books use false advertising methods to increase their sales, so do not fall into a trap very easily.

There are no best books for UPSC mains or best books for UPSC prelims as such. It is you who has to get the maximum resource out of the books you buy. So make sure you know the book you purchase.

Books for UPSC Prelims

No matter what happens, the UPSC prelims will be the first exam conducted for IAS aspirants. Students need to clear this examination before moving on to the next stage, so it is recommended to start your preparations with a focus on the prelims round.

The prelims round has two papers. One of the general studies and one CSAT examination.

Based on your preparation for the general studies exam it can also help you for the UPSC mains exam.

List of books for UPSC Prelims:

  • Indian Polity NCERT Books from grade IX-XII
  • Indian Polity by M. Laxmikanth
  • Geography NCERT Books from grade VI-XII
  • History NCERT Books of grade XI and XII
  • NCERT grade XI for Economics
  • World Atlas for Geography
  • Verbal and Non Verbal Reasoning by RS Aggarwal
  • CSAT-II by Arihant

These books are best recommended as they will help you cover all the important topics and the content is best suited for the UPSC question papers. If you are a Hindi medium student, then click here to find a list of recommended books.

Also Read: Learn How Toppers Studied Current Affairs

Books for UPSC Mains

If candidates are able to clear the prelims round of the UPSC Civil Service Exam, then they have to write the mains exam. There are 9 Papers in the mains exam out of which two are language subjects and two are optional subject papers.

The best books for the IAS/ UPSC general studies paper are:

1. History, Indian Heritage and Culture-

  • NCERT Grade XI-XII
  • A Brief History of Modern India by Spectrum
  • India After Independence (1947-200) by Bipin Chandra

2. Polity and International Relations-

  • Indian Polity by M. Laxmikanth
  • Governance by M. Laxmikanth 
  • Papers from the Ministry of External Affairs

3. Economics-

  • Grade XI NCERT 
  • Annual Report from Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Control
  • Newspapers
  • Economics Dictionary by Collins and Penguin

4. Ethics and Integrity-

  • Ethics in Governance – ARC Report
  • Ethics, Integrity, Aptitude For Civil Service Main Examination by Subba Rao and P.N. Roy Chaudary 

5. Geography-

  • World Atlas
  • NCERT Grade VI-XII
  • Geography of India by Majid Husain
  • Certificate Physical and Human Geography by Goh Cheng Leong


From the above list, it is very evident that NCERT books are the most important source for your exams, especially for beginners.

Since this is a government based exam and NCERT is also a government body most questions are based on NCERT books.

Prepare from NCERT books and make sure you cover the topics required. Create short notes so that you can remember content easily.

Practice with the questions behind every chapter and also use the books mentioned above, as they have proven to give good results.

Also Read: Creating Notes for UPSC Exam Made Easy 


Writing the IAS exam is considered to be very tough but does not mean it cannot be done. A lot of people have done it and you can do it too.

Preparing for the UPSC exam requires having a good set of books that give tailor-made information or specific to the chapters.

These books are very well suited for the IAS exam and will also provide you with notes or provide challenging questions, and most importantly the information is accurate and verified.

Use these books as an advantage and be able to score significantly higher in your IAS exams. All the best!

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Books for UPSC Beginners: UPSC Preparation Guide for Beginners for IAS Exam
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Books for UPSC Beginners: UPSC Preparation Guide for Beginners for IAS Exam
Writing the UPSC IAS exam? Want a list of books for preparation? Click on the link to find books for UPSC beginners that will make studying very easy.
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UPSC Pathshala
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