One of the most important things for UPSC preparation is the syllabus. The aspirants will need a clear understanding of the entire Prelims, as well as the Mains paper syllabus.

Only after knowing and understanding the entire syllabus, can the candidate start his/her IAS preparation. However, once the candidate notes down the syllabus, the next step, or rather the next task, would entail him/her to find proper sources and books that will cover all the topics mentioned under the subjects in the syllabus.

Various classes and online tutors cover these topics in the books provided by them. However, it becomes difficult for the candidates to find the appropriate notes if he/ she is preparing for the exam all by themselves. So they enter a bookstore and buy every book insight that has IAS preparation written over it. Once they drag all those unnecessary books home, they are surrounded with just one thought- “I cannot read all these books in time!”

Books by Toppers

How about following in the footsteps of successful UPSC rankers? Several past years’ rankers have put out their UPSC answer copy of various subjects and the names of books they used for preparation, along with a plethora of useful tips and tricks to help you with your journey.

So, we are here to help you with their notes too. We will answer some of your most common questions like- what are the links to the notes of the UPSC toppers? Where can I find toppers’ notes? Or, what is the suggested UPSC toppers booklist?

UPSC Prelims Syllabus, Booklist, and Toppers Notes/ Links

Paper I (200 Marks)


  •  Economic and Social Development, Demographics, Poverty, Social Sector initiatives, Inclusion, Sustainable Development, etc.
  • General Science.
  • Current events of national and international importance.
  • Biodiversity and Climate change, General issues on Environment Ecology.
  • Indian and World Geography- Economic, Social, Physical Geography (India and World)
  • History of India and Indian National Movement.
  • Indian Polity and Governance.

A few book lists by toppers

  • Indian Polity by M Laxmikanth
  • Indian Culture– Spectrum
  • India’s Struggle for Independence by Bipan Chandra
  • International Relations NCERT XI & XII
  • Indian Economy by Ramesh Singh
  • NCERTs of History, Geography & Polity Class 8th-12th
  • Certificate of Physical Geography by GC Leong

Here are some of the best Paper I notes by Rushikesh Reddy who was the 95th rank holder in the UPSC exam 2019-20.

Paper-II (200 Marks)


  • General mental ability
  • Comprehension
  • Logical reasoning and analytical skills
  • Decision making and Problem-solving
  • Interpersonal Skills
  • Basic numeracy and Data interpretation

 UPSC topper booklist

  • Quicker Maths by M. Tyra
  •  Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning by RS Agarwal
  • English Grammar and Composition by Wren and Martin
  •  TMH CSAT Manual

UPSC Mains Syllabus, Booklists, Topper Notes/ links:

Paper I (Essay) (250 marks)


There are many essay topics, and the candidates are expected to prepare on different topics with a scope of covering topics from different topics. Here are some of the most looked after notes from the toppers for Essay.

You can also find some great notes for the Essay here.

 Paper-II (GS Paper 1) (250 marks)


  • History of the World and Society
  • Geography of the World and Society
  • Indian Culture and Heritage

And all the detailed topics under the above topics.

Booklist by Toppers

  •  From Plassey To Partition and After by Sekhar Bandyopadhyay
  • World Geography – Majid Hussain
  • India After Independence by Bipan Chandra
  • History of Medieval India by Satish Chandra
  • Ancient Indian by RS Sharma

You can find some of the best topper links for the topics covered under GS paper 1 at Evernote

 Paper III (GS Paper 2) (250 Marks)


  • Polity
  • International Relations
  • Constitution
  • Social Justice
  • Governance

And all the detailed topics that come under the above topics.

Booklist by toppers

  •  India’s Foreign Policy by Rajiv Sikri
  • Indian Polity by M Laxmikanth
  • Constitution of India by DD Basu

Some of the UPSC rankers post their GS 2 notes here.

Paper IV (GS Paper 3) (250 marks)


  • Environment
  • Technology
  • Security and Disaster Management
  • Biodiversity
  • Economic Development

And all the detailed topics that come under the above topics.

Booklist by toppers

  • Indian Economy by Ramesh Singh

You can find some of the Topper’s notes links for GS3 Paper here.

Paper V (GS Paper 4) (250 marks)


  • Integrity
  • Ethics
  • Aptitude

And many more detailed sub-topics under the above topics.

Booklist by toppers

  • Ethics, Integrity & Aptitude by Subba Rao and PN Rao Chaudhry

Paper VI (Optional Subject Paper 1) (250 marks) and Paper VII (Optional Subject Paper 2) (250 marks) have several subjects to choose from. Each one has a separate list of syllabus and topics under the same.

Some Note-making Advice from 2018 AIR 99 Namrata Jain

Along with selecting the right books, it is also important to use them smartly to your benefit. This is where note-making comes into play. Candidates should make notes cleverly so that at the time of revision they are not overloaded with pages of notes to go through.

Namrata says a very simple yet meaningful line “Make notes that make sense to you”. By this, she explains how making smart and value-adding notes is important. Just making notes of everything in abundance won’t give you efficiency in your preparation.

She explains her note-making process and themes she used to follow in her preparation. She says “I got into the habit of extensive reading and then writing. Any current affairs or any news or article that I came across, I read it two or three times and gathered them in a question-answer format”. 

She Adds More

Namrata also says that she used to dig some articles on the internet to gather in-detail information on specific topics. She would read multiple connected publications related to that news article and then write down the most important and valuable points in her notes. Then she would make a flowchart to compile all the information and make it easy to understand so that when she comes to look back at the flowchart, she can understand the information just by a glimpse of it.

How Should Your Notes be?

Namrata stopped making everyday notes and instead she started compiling a composite set of notes after every four or five days. She suggests all aspirants to make notes in an innovative way that brings clarity as it might create a big confusion if you make cluttered notes. It will only leave you frustrated.

One should always make notes in a way that when you look back, they are crystal clear and do not require extra time and effort. The notes should majorly constitute bullet points, diagrams, flow-charts, and examples.

Final Words

It is very important to have your own notes and a streamlined strategy of note-making in order to practice efficient preparation before your exams. It might get difficult to remember everything at the last moment, and notes will help you revise through every topic you have studied before.

The above article gives you a healthy gist of how to make effective notes and what is the right note-making strategy followed by the UPSC champions before. It also includes Toppers’ answer sheet UPSC, Toppers copy UPSC, and UPSC booklist by toppers along with their notes links that will help you get an idea of how you should progress with your own note-making.

 A few gems of IAS toppers like Rushikesh Reddy, Abhishek Surana, Anudeep Durushetty have shared these notes and lists of books, which are very valuable and are sure to help you in your IAS journey.

UPSC Pathshala will Guide you Through!

From posting regular updates about the UPSC syllabus to bringing the best strategies to strengthen your IAS preparation, we understand your needs. We will keep sharing the best and useful insights by some of the finest UPSC champions and toppers we have had in the past. Stay tuned with our regular newsletters to keep yourself updated with the most effective UPSC tips and strategies.

Join us as we bring excellent video lectures specially designed to help you on your journey. Sign up for a free demo today, and stay tuned to our blogs for more such updates on UPSC.


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What are the Links to the Notes of the UPSC Toppers? What is the Suggested UPSC Booklist by Toppers?
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What are the Links to the Notes of the UPSC Toppers? What is the Suggested UPSC Booklist by Toppers?
In this article, we bring to you the most widely considered toppers notes and the suggested UPSC booklist by toppers to help you ace your IAS preparation. 
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About the Author


Shilpa is a professional web content writer and is in deep love with travelling. She completed her mass communication degree and is now dedicatedly playing with words to guide her readers to get the best for themselves. Developing educational content for UPSC, IELTS aspirants from breakthrough research work is her forte. Strongly driven by her zodiac sign Sagittarius, Shilpa loves to live her life on her own notes and completely agrees with the idea of ‘live and let live. Apart from writing and travelling, most of the time she can be seen in the avatar of 'hooman' mom to her pets and street dogs or else you can also catch her wearing the toque blanche and creating magic in the kitchen on weekends.

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