List of Books for IAS Prelims

The preparation will be more focused when you know exactly what the examination expects. Remember at every stage of your preparation that this examination is relative. You only need to be better than the other aspirants to get a place in the merit list. The following is the list of books recommended for IAS Prelims:.

Modern History:

1. Old NCERT: Bipin Chandra
2. New NCERT Class XII: Themes in Indian History Part-3
3. Class XII Tamil Nadu Board
4. Modern Indian History by B.L. Grover
5. India's struggle for Independence by Bipin Chandra

Ancient History, Medieval History and Culture:

1. Old NCERT: Ancient India by RS Sharma
2. Old NCERT: Medieval India by Satish Chandra
3. Class XII New NCERT-Themes in Indian History Part-1 and Part-2
4. An Introduction to Indian Art Part 1 : Textbook in Fine Arts for Class 11
5. Indian Art and Culture by Nitin Singhania
6. Ancient India in Historical Outline by DN Jha.
7. A.L. Basham (For advance reading)


1. ICSE Board Class X GC Leong
2. Class 11th NCERT Geography: Fundamentals of Physical Geography
3. Class 11th NCERT Geography -India Physical Environment
4. Class 12th NCERT: Geography -India People and Economy
5. Class 12th NCERT: Fundamental of Human Geography
6. Oxford School Atlas (or any other Atlas).
7. Physical, Human and Economic Geography for Civil Services Examination by D R Khuller
8. Physical Geography by Savindra Singh.


1. Class 9th NCERT: Democratic Politics 1
2. Class 10th NCERT: Democratic Politics 2
3. Class 11th NCERT: Indian Constitution at Work
4. Class 12th NCERT: Politics in India since Independence
5. Class 12th NCERT: Contemporary World Politics
6. Indian Polity by M. Laxmikanth.
7. Introduction to the Constitution of India by D.D. Basu


1. Class 11th NCERT: Indian Economic Development
2. Class 12th NCERT: Macroeconomics
3. Indian Economy by Ramesh Singh
4. Datt and Sundaram's Indian Economy
5. Indian Economy by Uma Kapila.s

Ecology and Environment:

1. NCERT Biology Class 12, Environment Section.
2. Environment And Ecology – A Complete Guide – by R. Rajagopalan (Lexis Nexis)
3. Environment and Ecology – Biodiversity, Climate Change and Disaster Management – Majid Husain (Access Publishers).

Current Affairs:

1. The Hindu
2. Indian Express
3. YouTube Channel of Rajya Sabha TV (Big Picture)
4. Economy and political weekly

Newspaper reading should be complemented by background study through internet and weekly magazines. For example, once you read a news item, say on Nuclear Reactors in India, try to get as much information related to the area, by reading from Wikipedia or reading an analysis from Frontline. This is the way to improve your knowledge and understanding about the topic. It does take quite a bit of time to complete the newspaper, anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours, or more. Don’t worry on the time as such, though you can try and reduce the time taken, slowly. Time saved this way should be utilized for more background study as mentioned above, to get better understanding of the subject.

General Knowledge:

Quite a few questions are asked from this area. Some difficult questions are also asked. Do not spend too much time in memorizing unnecessary facts. You should have a broad awareness about various fields. At the same time, focus more on areas, which have been asked in the past.

Economic Survey:

The trends of macroeconomic indicators like GDP, Fiscal Deficit, Tax Base, Current Account Deficit, Inflows of FDI/FII, financial inclusion, poverty, and NPAs etc. have to be prepared well from the economic survey. Apart from these, the health of various sectors like agriculture, industry, services have to be prepared as they are very important. New concepts that are mentioned in the Economic survey and the “Box Items” are also important from the perspective of the UPSC exam.

India Year Book:

This is important for the prelims and also for some mains two mark questions. However, there is no need (and practically it is not possible) to read everything given in the book, be logical and concentrate on the basics, which can be asked in the exam. Some of the important chapters from this yearbook are as follows:

1. Land and the People
2. National Symbols
3. Agriculture
4. Art and Culture
5. Communications
6. Defense
7. Education
8. Energy
9. Environment
10. Industry
11. Rural Development
12. Scientific and technical developments
13. Welfare

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