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Books for UPSC Mains- Your Ultimate Study Companion

Books for UPSC Mains- Your Ultimate Study Companion


The Union Public Service Commission conducts the Civil Services Examination, commonly known as UPSC exams, all over India. The UPSC exam is one of the most prestigious and challenging exams in India and requires rigorous hard work and preparation. 

A good score in UPSC helps in securing some of the most looked-up career options in the country. These consist of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Police Service (IPS), and Indian Foreign Services (IFS), among many others. One of the most important aspects of UPSC exam preparation is selecting the right books. The right books for UPSC mains can not only help you cover the complete syllabus but also help you understand the concepts better. To clear the exam, you will need the best books, dedication, a lot of practice and patience, and so on.

Understanding the UPSC exams

Before we explore the various recommendations regarding the best books for UPSC mains, it is important to understand the basic structure of the examination. The civil services examination is conducted by the UPSC board in about 3 stages:

  1. Preliminary examination (prelims)
  2. Main Examination (Mains)
  3. Personality test (Interview)


To reach the interview stage, it is really important to ace the two exams. The preliminary examination consists of a set of two papers- General Studies Paper I and General Studies Paper II, also called the Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT). General Studies Paper I is a basic test that helps in evaluating a candidate's knowledge regarding current events, Indian history, Indian polity, etc., whereas General Studies Paper II evaluates a candidate's comprehension and analytical skills.

There are a total of nine papers that a candidate has to clear in order to pass the main examination. Out of these nine exams, two are qualifying papers, Indian Language and English, and the rest are merit-based exams. The merit-based exams include Essay General Studies I, II, III, and IV plus two optional subjects. You must study hard, completely build your basic concepts, and devote precision to your preparation to master various subjects of the examination. This is necessary to ace both the prelims and mains examination, and to do so; we will refer to some of the best books for UPSC mains that will surely help you assist with your preparation and achieve the desired results.

Understanding the importance of choosing the right books for UPSC examination

The importance of good UPSC Books cannot be overstated, especially with the large number of study materials available online and offline. Candidates must choose the best books for UPSC preparation in order to achieve the desired results.

IAS toppers recommend starting with NCERT books and then moving to standard reference books. The choice of UPSC Books varies, depending on the candidate's expertise and past knowledge in the subject.

Choosing the right books for the different stages of the UPSC exam is crucial as Prelims contains only objective-type questions while IAS Mains contains descriptive essays. 

Best Books for UPSC Mains

  1. Essay Paper: The main examination broadly consists of essays that the candidates have to master. Therefore, candidates need to look for books that contain good essay samples as well as provide assignments and practice questions.
  2. General Studies Papers: The Books that assist in preparation for the portion of General Studies Paper in the examinations provide extensive knowledge on topics including history, geography, economics, and polity.
  3. Indian Language and English: NCERT books are the best recommendation when it comes to studying for Indian language and English in UPSC exams.
  4. Optional Subjects: The choice of the different optional subjects for the examination varies. Therefore, it is necessary to follow the standard books recommended by UPSC.
  5. Current affairs and editorials: To master your knowledge of current affairs and editorials, it is best that you read newspapers daily to know what is happening around the world. Also, referring to various magazines that provide information on events around the globe are some of the best books for UPSC mains.

Best Books for the UPSC Preliminary Exam in India

  1. Indian polity: "Indian Polity" by M. Laxmikanth, this book is often referred to as the bible of Indian polity for UPSC. It covers the Indian political system, the Constitution, and governance comprehensively.
  2. Modern history: "India's Struggle for Independence" by Bipan Chandra is a comprehensive guide to the Indian freedom struggle; it's essential for understanding modern Indian history.
  3. Geography: The book "Certificate Physical and Human Geography" is a great reference book to understand geography as this book provides an in-depth understanding of physical and human geography, covering topics related to climatology, geomorphology, and more.
  4. Economy: "Indian Economy" by Ramesh Singh is a great book that covers all aspects of the Indian economy and is particularly useful for the economics section in Prelims.
  5. Environment and Ecology: "Environment and Ecology" by Majid Hussain, given the increasing importance of environmental issues, this book is invaluable for preparing for the environment and ecology portion of the Prelims.
  6. Science and Technology: "NCERT Class 6 to 10 Science Books" provide the foundation for science and technology topics. For advanced understanding, "Science and Technology" by Ravi P. Agrahari is a recommended book.
  7. Current Affairs: Reading newspapers like "The Hindu" or "The Indian Express" is important for staying updated on current events. Also, monthly magazines like "Yojana" and "Kurukshetra" help in understanding government policies and schemes clearly.


These are some really good books for UPSC preliminary exam in India recommended by experts for preparing thoroughly and acing your exams with hard work and dedication.

Preparing for the UPSC examination is a rigorous process that requires dedication, hard work, and the right resources. The essential books mentioned in this article can help you build a strong foundation for both the Prelims and Mains. However, it's essential to remember that books alone are not enough. Regular self-assessment, revision, and staying updated with current events are equally important.

The UPSC Civil Services Examination is not just a test of knowledge but also a test of your analytical and decision-making abilities. The UPSC prelims booklist in Bangalore can help you provide sufficient guides and study material required by you. It's crucial to develop a holistic approach to your preparation. By combining these resources with effective study habits and strategies, you can significantly increase your chances of success in the UPSC examination and achieve your dream of becoming a civil servant.


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