Best Books for UPSC IAS 2020 - All UPSC aspirants who wish to qualify the Civil Service examination must choose the best books to prepare for UPSC IAS. Becoming an IAS is a dream job and 10 lakh plus students are in competition to crack this exam. This requires a strong planning backed with best books for UPSC IAS 2020. Since UPSC Civil Services examination is one of the toughest exams in the country, you must have the best knowledge to surpass your competitors. In this article, we provide you with a list of UPSC IAS best books recommended by IAS toppers to qualify UPSC prelims and mains examination. It is crucial that the candidates do not get confused with plethora of UPSC IAS books available on the internet and shops and select only the best books for UPSC IAS preparation. It is advisable to stick to the best books to prepare for UPSC IAS that contains most of the knowledge you require to crack UPSC IAS exam and repeatedly revise these books.Latest: UPSC IAS Application Form 2020 is available now.
UPSC IAS preparation is as much about smart work as it is about hard work. The UPSC IAS syllabus is vast and candidates take at least one year to comprehensively cover it. UPSC IAS 2020 Prelims is scheduled to take place on May 31, 2020. You cannot waste your precious time by referring to books that are below standard or contains irrelevant, incorrect and unauthenticated information. Also, people have a limited amount of memory and it is not possible to remember everything you read. The smart candidates know which are the best books to prepare for UPSC IAS.
Read newspaper everyday
Revise your notes and best books for UPSC IAS repeatedly to memorize everything you study
While most standard books are used for preparation of both Prelims and Mains exam, some UPSC IAS best books can be divided into those required mainly for Prelims exam and those for Mains exam.
The UPSC Civil Services Examination (CSE) comprises of 3 stages:
Preliminary Exam – 2 MCQ-based objective type papers
UPSC Mains – 9 descriptive type papers
UPSC IAS Interview/Personality Test
Check UPSC IAS eligibility 2020 for Prelims to make sure that you are eligible for giving the examination.
Click on this link to read and download the UPSC IAS Syllabus 2020 for the upcoming civil services examination.
Click on the link below for downloading the list of best UPSC IAS books for quick reference.
As a beginner, it is recommended by IAS toppers to start with NCERT books and then move towards standard reference books. Along with this, the candidates must make it a habit to read the newspaper every day and keep making notes of important things they find in it.
Geography, Polity, History, Economics
Class VI to XII
Class XI and XII
Class VI to X
(for non-Science students)
Class XII (last 5 chapters)
The UPSC Prelims exam is an objective MCQ based exam. It consists of 2 papers:
General Studies Paper - I
General Studies Paper-II /Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT)
Here is a subject-wise list of best books for UPSC IAS prelims recommended by experts:
NCERT XI (Ancient & Medieval)
NCERT XII (Modern Indian History)
Facets of Indian Culture – Spectrum
From Plassey to Partition - A History of Modern India
India’s Struggle for Independence – Bipan Chandra
For Prelims, the first 4 books should be sufficient. For Mains, you should read India’s Struggle for Independence – Bipan Chandra, but it is better if one can finish it before Prelims because there isn’t much time left after Prelims to prepare for Mains.
Indian Art & Culture
Indian Art & Culture - Nitin Singhania
This book can be used for both Prelims and Mains
Indian Polity – M Laxmikanth
For prelims you don’t need to read any other book on Polity except Indian Polity – M Laxmikanth. Many questions asked in the Prelims paper seem to have come directly from this book. However, for Mains, you should read D D Basu as it helps you to form opinions you may need to answer some difficult questions in the exam
NCERT VI – X (Old Syllabus)
NCERT XI, XII (New Syllabus)
Certificate Physical Geography – G C Leong
Read NCERTs thoroughly.
The Indian Economy – Sanjiv Verma
Indian Economy by Ramesh Singh
Economic Development & Policies in India – Jain & Ohri
The Indian Economy –Sanjiv Verma is very good for beginners and for those who find economics distasteful and difficult. It explains concepts in very simple language. The book by Ramesh Singh should be read after the book by Sanjiv Verma.
Class XII Biology (last 5 chapters)
Environment & Ecology: Biodiversity, Climate Change and Disaster Management - General Studies for Civil Services (Main) Examination - Paper II and IV - Majid Hussain
Last 5 chapters of the Class XII Biology book are based on Environment.Nowadays, in UPSC Prelims, questions on environment are not only related to concepts but also from the current issues related to the environment.
NCERT XII (Contemporary World Politics)
International relations keep changing and you must read newspaper to keep yourself updated on the latest developments in the world.
CSAT or Civil Services Aptitude Test was introduced in 2011 to test the aptitude, analytical skills and reasoning ability of UPSC IAS candidates.
CSAT is officially known as General Studies Paper 2.
Click here to know more about the UPSC IAS Exam Pattern.
The candidates need to score only 33.33% to qualify this paper. There is no need for any special books for Paper- II but you must practice 10th level Maths and English questions on grammar and reading comprehension. This is especially required for beginners like students from Commerce/Arts background.
The books recommended by IAS toppers for GS Paper - II - CSAT include:
Tata McGraw Hill CSAT Manual
CSAT II – Arihant
Verbal & Non-Verbal Reasoning – R S Aggarwal
Cracking the CSAT Civil Services Aptitude Test with Solved Papers
The Pearson CSAT Manual
UPSC IAS 2020 Best Books - Other books and study material
Apart from the standard subject-wise books mentioned above, there are some other important books and study material that should be referred for completing your UPSC IAS preparation.
India Year Book - Publication Division, Govt. of India
Economic Survey (latest)
UPSC IAS 2020 Best Books - Current Affairs
Newspaper - Hindu/Indian Express (this should be read every day)
Press Information Bureau
UPSC IAS Best Books - Magazines
Economic and Political Weekly
Down to Earth
Best Books for UPSC IAS 2020 - Question Banks
Indian Polity Question Bank – TMH
General Science Question Bank – TMH
Geography (India+World) Question Bank – TMH
Social & Economic Development Question Bank – TMH
1000 Plus Questions on Indian Polity: General Studies for Civil Services Preliminary Examination (Paper – 1)
14000+ MCQs For Paper-I Prelims
Candidates who clear the UPSC CSE Prelims are shortlisted for the Mains stage of the UPSC CSE Exam. In UPSC IAS 2020 Mains, there are 9 General Studies (GS) descriptive papers out of which 2 papers are of qualifying nature. These qualifying papers are General English and General Language. There are 4 General Studies papers, 1 Essay Paper and 2 optional subject papers.
Name of the Paper
General Studies I
General Studies II
General Studies III
General Studies IV
Optional Subject Paper I
History, Indian Heritage & Culture[GS Paper 1]
An Introduction to Indian Art Part 1: Textbook in Fine Arts for Class XI
From Plassey To Partition And After by Sekhar Bandopadhyaya
India’s Struggle for Independence by Bipan Chandra
India after Independence by Bipan Chandra
History of Modern India by Bipin Chandra
History of Medieval India by Satish Chandra
India’s Ancient Past by R.S Sharma
Contemporary World History for class XII (Old NCERT Book)
Mastering Modern World History by Norman Lowe
Geography[GS Paper 1]
NCERT Class 11 - Fundamentals of Physical Geography
NCERT Class 12 - Fundamentals of Human Geography
Certificate Physical and Human Geography – G C Leong
World Atlas - Orient Black Swan
Other reference books -
Indian Geography by D. R. Khullar
World Geography by Majid Husain
Geography of India by Majid Husain
Polity[GS Paper 2]
Indian Polity by M. Laxmikanth
Introduction to the Constitution of India by DD Basu
From Government to Governance by Kuldeep Mathur
Ethics in Governance, ARC Report (Citizen Centric Administration (Chapters 2, 5, 6, 7 & 8 only and box items in the report)
Human Development Report & World Development Report
Social Justice[GS Paper 2]
XI Standard NCERT on Indian Society (Chapters on Unity & Diversity and Population Issues)
XII Standard NCERT (Chapters on Communalism, Secularism and Urban Issues such as Poverty, Housing, etc.)
The Hindu or Indian Express Newspaper
International Relations[GS Paper 2]
India’s Foreign Policy Since Independence by V.P. Dutt Or
India’s Foreign Policy by Rajiv Sikri
Economy[GS Paper 3]
Indian Economic Development XI Standard NCERT
Introductory Macroeconomics XII Standard NCERT (Ignore all diagrams & mathematical formulas)
Indian Economy by Sanjiv Verma
Indian Economy – Ramesh Singh
Biodiversity, Environment[GS Paper 3]
XII Standard NCERT Book on Biology (Chapters pertaining to Ecology)
India Year Book (Chapters on Environment)
Chapter on Climate Change from Economic Survey
Security and Disaster Management[GS Paper 3]
India’s Security in a Turbulent World by Jasjit Singh, published by National Book Trust of India
Science & Technology[GS Paper 3]
VIII, IX, X Standard NCERT books on Biology
Monthly Magazine ‘Science Reporter for Science & Technology’
Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude[GS Paper 4]
Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude for Civil Services Main Examination by Subba Rao and P.N. Roy Chaudary
Ethics in Governance, ARC Report
Lexicon by Chronicle Publications
In the UPSC CSE Mains exam, besides 4 General Studies papers, there are 2 Optional papers. Candidate has to choose one optional subject for this Optional Paper. The optional papers accounts for 500 marks in total and it plays an important role in deciding candidates’ ranking in UPSC CSE examination. Therefore, it is important that the right books are referred for it. The list of best books for UPSC IAS Mains for the optional subjects are given below:
Geography is one of the popular optional subjects among UPSC IAS candidates. It has a high success rate and roughly 3000 to 4000 out of 16000 aspirants opt for Geography, thus, there is a high level of competition also. Geography is a scientific subject based on understanding of concepts and involves minimum rote-learning. Geography has exhaustive but a definite syllabus. Some topics overlap with GS Paper 1 and GS Paper 3. Here is the list of books for Geography:
Paper - I
Paper - II
NCERT-XI & XII
Made Simple Series by Rupa Publication-Vol-I & II
A certificate course in geography by Goh Cheng Leong
Physical Geography - by Savindra Singh or Physical Geography - by Husain Majid
Modern Physical Geography - by Strahler & Strahler
India: A Comprehensive Geography by D.R. Khullar
Regional Planning In India by Mahesh Chand
Other Books that can be referred:
Evolution of Geographical Thought by Majid Husain
Economic and Social Geography Made Simple by R. Knowles, J. Wareing
Models in Geography by Majid Husain
Oxford Student Atlas for India
Public administration is one of the most popular optional subjects opted for by students in UPSC IAS main examination. It is considered a scoring subject. Its significance lies in its interlinkage with administration and governance of the country. There is some overlap with the General Studies papers topics and hence students find it easier to study this subject. Here is the list of books for Public administration.
Public Administration Books for UPSC Mains:
Administrative Thinkers by Prasad and Prasad
Other Books that can be referred:
Public Administration and Public Affairs 12th Edition – Nicholas Henry
Sociology is one of the easiest optional subjects. It is easy to understand and considered highly scoring. The syllabus deals with day-to-day life of society and a lot of questions can easily be attempted. Paper I of Sociology deals with the fundamentals of Sociology where Paper II of Sociology optional deals with the Indian society, its structure, and change. Here is the list of books for Sociology.
Sociology - Introductory Readings by Anthony Giddens
Introduction to Political Theory by O. P. Gauba
Social Change in Modern India by Srinivas
Many candidates opt for History as it is an easy subject telling the story about the past of India and the world around us. It requires the least amount of coaching. History is a general studies friendly subject. Here is the list of books for History.
List of Ancient Indian History Books For UPSC
List of Medieval Indian History Books For UPSC
Asoka and the Decline of the Mauryas by Romila Thapar
List Of Modern Indian History Books For UPSC
From Plassey to Partition - A History of Modern India by Bandyopadhyay Sekhar
Modern India (Macmillan) -Sumit Sarkar
List Of World history books For UPSC
Mastering Modern World History - Norman Lowe
History of the World by Arjun Dev
Economics is also a popular optional paper generally opted by candidates who have a good understanding of concepts of economics. Also, there is a large overlap of the syllabus of General Studies for Prelims and Mains. The syllabus focuses on the candidates’ understanding of the basic concepts in economics and application of this knowledge to developmental challenges of the country. Here is the list of books for Economics.Economics Books for UPSC Mains.
Money and Banking – Gupta and Ahuja
Indian Economy by Mishra and Puri
Indian Economy by Dutt and Sundaram
Indian Economy by Uma Kapila
Economic Survey, EPW, RBI
Any one Business Newspaper – Economic Times or Financial Express or The Economist
About 50-60% of the syllabus of Political Science coordinates with the General Studies Paper topics of UPSC Mains. Considering the changes and revision in syllabus and nature of the topics dealt in the subject, it is considered a very dynamic and constantly evolving subject. Here is the list of books for Political Science. The Paper-I of UPSC Mains Political Science deals with the Political Theory and Indian Politics. Paper-II of UPSC Mains Political Science deals with Comparative Political Analysis and International Politics.
Indian Government and Politics by BL Fadia
Does the Elephant Dance?: Contemporary Indian Foreign Policy by David M. Malone
Apart from the standard books mentioned above, the essential UPSC Study material includes certain important newspapers, magazines and reports:
Geography and You
NITI Aayog reports (especially related to Agriculture, Infrastructure, Regional development, Rural development etc)
Niti Aayog Action Agenda
Some UN documents on Population, development & Environment (eg UNDP)
2nd ARC Report
Finance Commission Report (latest)
Annual reports by central ministries
Preparing for IAS does not mean reading every book available. A lot of good books are available that are more valuable for academics and research scholars, but not necessarily for the UPSC exam. IAS toppers would tell you that you need to remember everything you read. And it is not humanly possible to remember everything you read unless you keep revising it. And you can revise only a set number of books and notes. So, you need UPSC IAS best books that will help in your preparation and help you clear the IAS exam with good marks.
UPSC Civil Services Examination 2020 notification will be released on 12th February 2020. The last date for receipt of applications is March 03, 2020. The application form is expected to be online and will be released on the same day as notification. The application form for the examination will be available at the link given on the UPSC website and the candidates need to apply there itself. For registration, the candidates must have a valid email address and phone number. After successful registration, a candidate is redirected to the application form filling portal. A candidate has to upload a scanned copy of their signature and photograph in JPG format, both of which must not exceed 40KB in size.
Commission releases UPSC IAS admit card in three stages- prelims, mains and interview. Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination, 2020 will be held on May 31 in offline mode. The admit card of UPSC IAS prelims stage will be released by commission by March 28 2020 in online mode.
The UPSC Civil Services Examination (CSE) is considered one of the most prestigious and toughest examinations conducted in India. It has a vast syllabus and it takes at least one year to comprehensively cover this syllabus. Therefore, it is important not to waste your precious time in reading wasteful and unnecessary topics. UPSC Civil Services Examination 2020 syllabus will be released along with the official notification on 12th February 2020. The UPSC IAS syllabus can be found at the UPSC official website or you can click the heading to view the UPSC CSE syllabus.
UPSC Civil Services Examination is conducted in three stages:
UPSC IAS Interview & Personality Test
The results for UPSC IAS 2020 Prelims will be released within 45 days after the commencement of exam which will be held on May 31, 2020. The result of UPSC IAS Prelims will be released in PDF format which comprises the roll number of all successfull candidates.
UPSC Civil Services Examination is considered the mother of all exams. It has a vast syllabus and the candidate can get easily confused and demotivated if not guided properly. It is important to have a meticulous plan for preparing various General Studies (GS) subjects to be complete and productive in your preparation. You must manage your time effectively and be disciplined in following the routine or time-table you set. To implement the correct strategy applicants should also know UPSC IAS cut off which will help them to sucessfully execute the plan. UPSC looks for well-informed candidates with analytical skills. The candidates must read the newspaper every day to keep updated with the latest developments around the country and the world. It is important to read and study NCERT books to build a solid foundation for your preparation in GS. Also, it is not humanly possible to remember everything you study. One must know what to read and what to skip. You must revise constantly to memorize your readings.
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All The Best as you have a dream to become an IAS . I suggest you to take B.Sc as there is science stream in your class 11 and 12 . You have many opportunities as you can do M.Sc or PhD after doing B.Sc . You have an opportunity if you fail to achieve your dream of an IAS officer . If you don't get selected for IAS then you have a chance of becoming professor .
Dream to become an IAS but have an other option also in your career . You should work very hard to become an IAS . But concentrate on your degree as Degree is most crucial to become an IAS as without a degree you are not supposed to write the prelims exam .
Hope this helps you .
Hello Aspirant !
I will suggest you to first choose wisely your undergraduate and start preparing from starting itself.
Then , choose your subjects according to your preparation and interest that what subject you will take as an optional subject in your exams
Many people go for subjects in ART stream like bachelor of art with subject like geography , history , political science etc according to your interest .
Also , you can try for humanities.
Hope it helps , if you have further query please feel free to ask !
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