Booklist for Prelims

By | April 10, 2024

Note: My book, Fundamentals of Essay and Answer Writing is available now. It’s a comprehensive guide that helps you write better Essays and Answers in the UPSC Mains Exam. You can know about the book here.

In this article, we will go through my booklist for Civil Services Exam (Prelims). I’ve written this post keeping in mind an absolute beginner aspirant who is starting from level zero.

As you start your Prelims preparation and read these books, please keep the following points in mind:

  1. Along with these books, get a printout of the syllabus and read it carefully.
  2. And when you start, I recommend that you begin with NCERT books. Read and revise them methodically to gain absolute conceptual clarity. They form the foundation of your knowledge which will help you immensely through all stages of the exam.
  3. Do not be scared at the long list of books. For a beginner, one year is more than enough to cover the complete syllabus of GS (prelims and mains) and optional.
  4. In the book list, wherever I had mentioned selective reading, it means there’s no need to read the book cover to cover. Go through the past five years’ question papers to understand the kind of questions UPSC usually asks. It’ll give you a good perspective of what’s important and what’s not.
  5. For the same topic, do not refer to more than one material. For example, take India’s freedom struggle (1857-1947). If you read that portion from the Spectrum publications, there’s no need to do the same again from Bipan Chandra’s book. Read the latter to cover those parts not covered in the former.
  6. Use internet extensively. Let me give a few examples. Youtube’s PMFIAS channel is an excellent resource for understanding complex Geography topics. Similarly, for Art & Culture, I used to watch videos of classical dances, folk dances, puppetry shows on Youtube so that I could memorise their features better. In Science & Tech, if you come across a term, say, Blockchain Technology, go to Youtube and see explainer videos. Even for Environment, suppose you read about endangered species such as the Red Panda and Malabar Hornbill, Google them and see how they look. Visuals stick in your mind far longer. Your target must be to gain knowledge, be it through books or through internet.
  7. If you are taking coaching, by all means read their notes. But please keep in mind that you cannot just read those coaching notes and neglect these standard books. For example, take Polity topic. A coaching institute’s notes will never cover the complete subject, only Laxmikanth does. So even if you refer to your coaching notes, you still have to read Laxmikanth and know it like the back of your hand. This principle applies for all subjects.
  8. For all subjects, you have to superimpose current affairs over it. To illustrate, in Polity topic, apart from reading the static theory portion, you need to keep an eye on current happenings. For example, if the Govt brings in Constitutional amendment for GST, you must read both about the major provisions of the amendment and the Constitutional amendment procedure itself. Do this for all subjects.
  9. To perform well in Prelims, revision is crucial. Without it, you will not be able to recollect whatever you may have read. So please dedicate adequate time for revision before the actual exam.
  10. Just because I am AIR-1, it does not mean that this book list is the last word. If you have been studying some other material, that’s fine, too. To succeed in this exam, the source of material is not important. What’s important is you to understand the concepts, memorise the facts well and have a firm grip over the entire syllabus.

Anudeep Book list for UPSC Prelims Exam

The Complete Booklist for UPSC Civil Services – Prelims Exam (Paper I)


  1. Indian Polity by Laxmikanth


  1. Indian Economy by Ramesh Singh
  2. articles
  3. Macroeconomics – NCERT Class XII
  4. Indian Economic Development – NCERT Class XI
  5. Economic Survey (Selective reading from Prelims perspective)
  6. The Hindu
  7. Internet for understanding concepts (Arthapedia, Google, Youtube)

Ancient History of India

  1. Old NCERT by RS Sharma

Medieval History of India

  1. Old NCERT by Satish Chandra (Selective Reading)

Modern History

  1. A Brief history of Modern India- Spectrum Publications
  2. India’s Struggle for Independence – Bipan Chandra (Selective Reading)
  3. NCERT by Bipan Chandra (For the period 1700s to 1857)

Indian Art and Culture

  1. An Introduction to Indian Art – Class XI NCERT
  2. Chapters related to culture in Ancient and Medieval India NCERTs
  3. Centre for Cultural Resource and Training (CCRT) material
  4. Heritage Crafts: Living Craft Traditions of India -NCERT

Environment and Biodiversity

  1. Shankar IAS book

General Science

  1. General Science books – IX and X standard
  2. The Hindu (Note down and read about the latest scientific terms, discoveries and inventions frequently mentioned in news)
  3. Google and YouTube


  1. Fundamentals of Physical Geography XI NCERT
  2. India: Physical Environment XI NCERT
  3. Fundamentals of Human Geography XII NCERT
  4. India: People and Economy XII NCERT
  5. Certificate Physical and Human Geography: GC Leong
  6. PMFIAS (Excellent resource for understanding complex topics)
  7. Google and YouTube

Govt Schemes  

  1. Govt schemes compilation by the website Civils Daily

General Trivia (Eg: Global groupings, Reports, Institutions, Rankings etc)

  1. Any coaching material
  2. Google

Current Affairs

  1. The Hindu
  2. Civils Daily
  3. ForumIAS

Mindset to tackle the UPSC Prelims Exam

Ten days before the Prelims is usually the time when your mind is rather restless and clouded in self-doubt. Even though you must have prepared thoroughly for the exam, covering all the sources, Some of you are worried that you haven’t yet finished a particular topic, some others are stressed whether they will make the final cut for Mains. Remember that it’s okay to be a little nervous at this point and that it happens to everyone. I was no different, too.

From my experience, I have distilled a few suggestions to help you perform well in the exam.

  1. In the final days preceding the exam, if you start reading entirely new material which you haven’t read before, you’ll only stress yourself out. Just refer to whatever you had already read. Revision is the absolute key. How effectively you perform in the actual exam depends on the quality of revision you do in these 10 days.
  2. Stay calm. While revising, do not get bogged down in one subject. Your target should be to revise all the topics methodically before the final day.
  3. Questions are going to be balanced and will be asked from across the syllabus. So if you are poor in one topic, that’s alright. You can offset it through performing well in your stronger areas. For example, if you are worried about Indian Art and Culture, do not freak out. You might lose out on some questions, but you will still have many others to solve.
  4. Just the day before the exam, ensure that you get 7-8 hours of quality sleep. A good night’s rest will rejuvenate your senses and ensures that your brain is alert and memory is on point.
  5. Many aspirants (especially engineering grads) tend to be careless about CSAT Paper 2. I’ve seen people who solve only 60 questions and think that’s enough to qualify them. Some are even more impulsive—  they leave the hall 30 minutes before time. Don’t be that reckless brat. Your qualification for Mains will be based on your marks, not your audacity. Remember that just because the paper is qualifying, UPSC is not going to hand it you on a platter. This is why they have been constantly pushing up the difficulty level over the past few years. So solve CSAT with all the seriousness and intensity of Paper-1.
  6. While solving the paper, in the first iteration, go through all 100 questions sequentially and do three things: mark those answers you are confident about, round those questions that you are unsure or vaguely aware of (for guesswork later), and cross those questions which you have absolutely no idea about. In the second iteration, you come back again and try to answer those questions you are vaguely aware of through educated guesswork or elimination method.
  7. Don’t get mired in one question and waste your time. If you are unable to recall, make a side mark on the question paper and move on. Once you come back after solving remaining questions, chances are you’ll recollect.
  8. If we assume a moderately difficult paper, then you will confidently know answers to around 50-60 questions. But you must aim to attempt around 85-90 questions. That’s why educated guesswork is necessary and important.
  9. As you enter the exam hall, it doesn’t matter what books you may have read, or how many times you may have revised. What matters are those 100 questions. Put your emotions aside and solve those 100 questions with a laser like focus. Erase your fears, doubts and insecurities and stay positive and confident.
  10. Always believe and keep telling yourself that you have worked hard and prepared well so far and that you’ll do well. On the final day, summon your best self and you will absolutely ace the test.

For further reading,

A. You can check out my article on UPSC GS Mains Preparation

B. Article on how to make educated guess work in UPSC Prelims

So that was my Booklist for UPSC Prelims. Hope it’ll be useful to you.

– Anudeep

Note: My book, Fundamentals of Essay and Answer Writing is an Amazon bestseller. Since its release, the book helped countless candidates master the art of crafting exceptional essays and answers and elevate their performance in the UPSC Mains Exam. You can know about the book here.

622 thoughts on “Booklist for Prelims

  1. preethi

    hello sir,my question is-“Is it possible for a low grade student of btech who had great intrest in studying and wishing to crack the UPSC with consistency can make it possible” ? because i could see many of the toppers are from NITs and IITs.Can we be in the race with the proper preparation?

    1. Rajkumar yadav class 12th

      ,Hii sir i am Rajkumar i belongs from UP. It is difficult for the starting points to find that it i take the books than thank you for telling what you read. You have made a very good and needy post sir Thank you from my heart

  2. Latharani

    Iam with zero knowledge of civils it compulsary to read ncert of all subjects like science,social..etc please tell me sir

  3. Kuldeep Singh

    Sir, my question, 7th from last in this row, is not my concern only even it can help lakhs of aspirants through your valuable response. I hope you will response very soon.

  4. Rakesh

    Sir I have a doubt how to start for prelims can anyone give a direction pls

  5. Lohitha

    Hi Sir, I’m an IAS aspirant , following your booklist. And starting from zero level. Is there any choice to exempt any topic. Example, from Ancient Indian History, there were 16 chapters , so is there any choice of excluding any.

  6. Jerusha

    Hi sir, i’m an IAS aspirant , i’m just bit confused about syllabus….. so could you please keep the whole syllabus in your blog. so that we can take a print out and we all will thank you later …for donig this.

  7. Anonymous

    Sir, while reading macroeconomics ncert it has number of equations, graphs, complicated solutions.Are they required for upsc Cse?

  8. Anonymous

    Hello sir.
    I did coaching but left out due to certain reasons, mainly health concern. I have many books on the same subject, that is headache for me and I am totally confused please suggest me how to proceed for 2021

  9. Anonymous

    sir, how could one differenciate between what to read and what to not, or what is important and what is not. and how to analyse if i m going on a right track, i feel lost, it looks like i m standing at a cross somewhere in a city and i dont know what to do now, there is no one to guide me, i am not able to go for coaching classes, and i clearly have no one with whome i can discuss any of my query, i really want to do this, but dont know how to assure my studies, all i have is NCERT and refrence books,
    in simple terms i want to know that where to begin and how to proceed, i mean how to choose steps, and how to examine myself.

  10. Sanjay

    Will you plz suggest me some good chapter wise question bank books for preparation.
    What about,
    MG Graw Hill Publication
    For question bank?

  11. Hari

    Some bloggers tell that aspirants need to study 2 years current affairs or at least 1.5 years. Some say that cost to effort ratio wise only June onward current affairs needs to be followed for next year Prelims.

    As it is evident from Prelims questions, UPSC is asking questions from 2-4 years range questions, very deep level questions on all topics. Then it seems impossible task for an aspirant who just started preparing to study for Prelims current affairs. New aspirants will have to study for mains GS 1-4, essay and optional papers also.

    So, when some bloggers suggest that aspirants will have to follow current affairs from many sources(Hindu, Monthly compilations, Yojana, PIB, PRS, Science Reporter, Budget, Economic Survey) and that too for 1.5 – 2 years, then is this message not misleading?
    Where is the line between studying to pass the cut-off and studying only for Prelims?
    What is the optimal way for studying for Prelims?

    1. Anonymous

      Hello! Its nice knowing you. Informative blog. As you have the habit of reading books can you suggest few non fiction books ( not for upsc )

  12. Vinutha

    Hi sir.My name is Diya Dechamma. My ambition is to become an IAS officer. You are my inspiration and role model sir. Please suggest me the basics for upsc preparation.Please reply me sir.

  13. Anonymous

    Thank you so much Anudeep bro for making a blog of my request.I really appreciate your patience in your busy schedule. You are my inspiration and role model. I think you as my own brother.Once again thank you so much dear brother.

  14. Anonymous

    sir every topic as static nd dynamic sir so I want prepare notes static +dynamic (combined notes ) when I want prepare notes before prelims (or) after prelims

  15. Anonymous

    Hello sir, can you please tell that for geography apart from maps given in ncerts of11th and 12th what other maps to draw for mains .

  16. Madhur Maheshwari

    For Ancient India and Medieval India, the OLD one must be preferred or NEW ones.

  17. Anonymous

    Hello sir !
    I’ve just started my preparation for UPSC CSE.I’ll be giving CSE in 2023. I’m reading NCERT textbooks these days. Do I need to make notes from them?

  18. tdtushar1

    Sir what is the difference between spectrum’s and Bipan Chandra’s modern Indian history and how are the 2 books of Mr. Bipan Chandra named ‘modern Indian history’ and ‘struggle of indian independence different’?

  19. Anonymous

    Namaste Sir, The world History book is unavailable in the link provided. Could you please upload the link for World History. Thank you.

  20. Anant(upsc fast)

    Hii sir ,

    This is very Amazing blog for upsc aspirant. I thanks for you to sharing this wonderful knowledge.

    But I have one question for you!
    I confused to choose best coaching for upsc can you help to clear this doubts

    Which coaching is best for upsc exam preparation🤙 vajiram vs vision ias ?

    Can you help me to solve this big problems on front me ?


  21. Aditi gautam

    Hello sir,
    Do we have to study all chapters of class 9 & 10 of science books for general science or just selective reading is required?

  22. Samyukta

    Sir, I want to ask that each and every book, either standard and ncerts u have mentioned in the pre and mains booklist is more than enough….Or do need to study all 6th to 12th ncerts??………And sir ancient history and medieval history there are lot of books surfacing on the net I got confused which one should I go for….

  23. Pradeep

    Anudeep sir can you suggest me the best book for CSAT preparation ??


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