UPSC exam is synonymous with a vast syllabus. In such a case it is very important for a student to choose the right study material. Choosing the right study material plays an important role in cracking the exam and securing a post in the prestigious IAS.

As I always say, it is important to know what not to study than what to study in this exam. For this reason, your source of books has to be authentic. The best way to decide on the study material is to refer a person who has gone through the process of the exam or someone who has cleared the exam.
Such mentors can help you get the booklist right. Since I have attempted the exam and reached the interview stage, I think I am fairly competent to give you my take on the study material to refer to UPSC. However, my focus will be more on the NCERTs to read as this forms the base of your UPSC preparation.

1.Prelims Study Material

Let us start with the first stage. For UPSC prelims the study material should be limited but revised multiple times. Focus on a few subjects i.e. History (modern, medieval and ancient), Geography (physical, Indian, world and human), Environment and ecology, Economics (macroeconomics) and Polity. Focus on both static and dynamic part. For the static part refer to NCERTs to build a strong foundation.

Some standard NCERTs books for UPSC preparation to refer are:

  1. History (NCERT):  7th (Our Past – I),  8th (Our Past – II & III), 9th (Contemporary world – I & Medieval India), 10th (Themes in the world History & Modern India), 11th (Ancient India & Introduction to Indian Art 7 Culture), 12th (Themes of Indian History I, II, III)
  2. Geography (NCERT): 9th (Contemporary India – I), 10th (Contemporary India – II), 11th (India- Physical Environment & Fundamentals of Physical Geography), 12th (Fundamentals of HG & India- People & Economy)
  3. Polity (NCERT): 9th (Democratic Politics – I), 10th (Democratic Politics – II), 11th (Indian Consti. At work & Political Theory), 12th (Contemporary world politics & Politics in India since independence)
  4. Economics (NCERT): 11th (Indian Economic Development), 12th (Intro. To Macro-Economics)
  5. S&T (NCERT): 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th (Chemistry unit- 14 & Biology Unit- 4 & 5), 12th (Chemistry Unit- 16 & Biology Unit- 8, 9, 10)
  6. Environment & Ecology (NCERT): 12th (Biology Unit- 13 to 16)

Apart from these the other books to read are Indian Polity by Laxmikant, A Brief History of Modern History by Spectrum publication, Indian Economy by Ramesh Singh. Apart from these static books, the focus should be more on Current Affairs.
For current affairs, there is plenty of material online. You can refer to notes by various platforms or even videos which can help you reduce your study time drastically. It also gives you the flexibility to study wherever and whenever you want.

2.Mains study material

The study material for mains is a bit vast and dynamic. Since a majority of the static syllabus is already covered in prelims, the focus should be on the application of these static concepts in current affairs. Concept articulation and answer writing will play a vital role in scoring high marks in the mains. There is some static syllabus that is added to the mains as well.

  1. Sociology Aspect (GS I): The NCERTs are sufficient: 11th Class (Introducing Sociology and Understanding Society) and 12th Class (Indian Society and Social Change & Development in India)
  2. Internal Security (GS III): For this refer to the book Challenges to Internal Security by Ashok Kumar
  3. International Relations (GS III): India’s Foreign Policy Since Independence by V P Dutt is a good book. In International relations mostly concentrate on Current Affairs.
  4. Ethics, Integrity, and Aptitude (GS IV): For Ethics, Integrity, and Aptitude there is no fixed book. It is a very dynamic subject and needs practice based on case studies. One book you can refer to Ethics is Ethics, Integrity, and Aptitude by Nanda Kishore.

3.Current Affairs for both Prelims and Mains

Now let’s address the elephant in the room. Where do you study Current Affairs from? The best way is to refer to multiple sources. You need to read The Hindu or The Indian Express regularly. In these papers, you need to pick out the news which is relevant to your syllabus.

Apart from the newspapers, you can refer to magazines. Kurukshetra, Yojana are very good magazines for studying government schemes, new developmental policies etc. Similarly, Science Reporter, which is another government magazine is good for updating recent happenings in Science and Technology world.
For policy review, you can refer to Economic and Political Weekly as well. However, it’s in-depth reporting has limited use in UPSC.
One more way to study Current Affairs is to refer to the online material that is available. However, one must be wary of what source he is referring to. We at UPSC Pathshala provide such online content for UPSC aspirants. Our video lectures help a student save time which is required in reading so many books.

UPSC Pathshala is an online platform which provides video lectures to the student. Along with that, we provide personalized mentorship to the student. The work of the mentor is to help the student make a strategy for studying and solve his doubts. Some of the advantages of UPSC Pathshala is the custom-made courses and the flexibility of learning that we offer.   

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