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

It is more important to know what not to study than what to study for 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 to 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. As suggested by many experts, here you will get to know more on the NCERTs to read as this forms the base of your UPSC preparation.

1.Prelims Study Material for UPSC Civil Services Examination

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 parts. For the static part refer to NCERTs to build a strong foundation.

Also Read: How to Make Notes for UPSC Preparation? UPSC Topper [AIR 77] Shares Secrets!

Some Standard NCERTs Books for UPSC Syllabus Preparation to Refer

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)

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)

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)

Economics (NCERT)

11th (Indian Economic Development), 12th (Intro. To Macroeconomics)

S&T (NCERT): 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th (Chemistry unit- 14 & Biology Unit- 4 & 5), 12th (Chemistry Unit- 16 & Biology Unit- 8, 9, 10)

Environment & Ecology (NCERT)

12th (Biology Unit- 13 to 16)

Other Books

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.

Also Read : The Complete Study Material for IAS Exam: A Guide to Crack the Civil Services Examination

2. Complete Study Material for IAS Mains

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.

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)

Internal Security (GS III): For this refer to the book Challenges to Internal Security by Ashok Kumar

International Relations (GS III)

India’s Foreign Policy Since Independence by V P Dutt is a good book. International relations mostly concentrate on Current Affairs.

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. For proper IAS study, 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 UPSC 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 the 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.


For the complete study material for IAS, thousands of IAS aspirants refer to UPSC Pathshala, each year. It is an online platform which provides video lectures to the student. Along with that, it also provides personalized mentorship to the IAS aspirants. The work of the mentor is to help the student make a strategy for studying and solve his doubts. Each student gets access to previous year papers, sample questions etc. Some of the advantages of UPSC Pathshala is the custom-made courses and the flexibility of learning that it offers.

Also Read : A Detailed IAS Planner 2020 for Beginners: Guide to Crack the UPSC Civil Services Exam

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Is the UPSC syllabus giving you nightmares? Are you tired of finding out the right study material for IAS? Not getting any lead for the preparations? Take a deep breath & read on to get all your queries resolved.
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About the Author

Akshay Palande

Akshay Palande is a passionate teacher helping hundreds of students in their UPSC preparation. With a degree in Mechanical Engineering and double masters in Public Administration and Economics, he has experience of teaching UPSC aspirants for 5 years. His subject of expertise are Geography, Polity, Economics and Environment and Ecology.

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