Essential Books to clear Civil Service IAS Prelims Exam

Choosing the right strategy will drive you to the success. Alike, choosing the right books will make your success ratio high. Usually, candidates preparing for IAS brainstorm and search for the IAS books for IAS Exam in Google, and they might end up with lot many mixed results. Some may worthy others may not. In this case, I have written this IAS Exam book list from my own experience as well as from the topper’s book list. This guide specifically helps you to find out the best books for Civil Service Preliminary Examination.

For mains books list you can find out in the separate article.

Civil Service Preliminary Exam

Preliminary Examination has two papers.

Paper I – General Studies (GS I)

General Studies I comprises Indian Polity, History, Indian Economy, Indian Geography, Science and Technology, General Science, Environment & Ecology and Current Affairs.

Paper II – Civil Service Aptitude Test (CSAT – Paper II)

Civil service Aptitude test comprises General Aptitude, Mental Ability, Comprehension, Verbal and Non – Verbal.

Read More: Guide to Prepare IAS from your home – Without Going to Delhi

IAS Exam Book List

Indian Polity

For Indian Polity, there is no other good book than Indian Polity – by Laxmikanth. This book is called as Bible of Indian Polity among civil service aspirants. If have this book, then there is no need to go for other material. Every topic in the UPSC Syllabus Polity section will cover within this book.

The main feature of this book is, topics are clearly explained in a lucid way. So you don’t need to be a law or political science background student to understand these topics. Every man with basic common sense can able to understand the topics and answer it in Examination.

Buy updated 6th Edition Indian Polity – Laxmikanth

Toppers Tip
After reading this book try to attend some mock questions which will highly helpful to understand the topics with more clarity and analytically.

Indian History – Ancient India| Medieval India | Modern and Indian National Movement

Indian history will be the mark fetching area once you develop your interest in History. According to UPSC Syllabus, history is divided into 3 parts which are Ancient, Medieval, Modern, and Indian National Movement.

Apart from Ancient and Medieval India, Modern India and Indian National Movement are the most important section in which you have to concentrate more. Last three chapters of Modern history from NCERT are the most important topic where most of the questions generated in the Prelims.

Summary of Book List for Indian History

We have shortlisted some good books along with the NCERT.

  1. Ancient India – Ancient India Ncert or India’s Ancient Past by RS Sharma – 2019 Edition
  2. Medieval India – History of Medieval India by Satish Chandra (Worth reading comparing with NCERT)
  3. Modern History – NCERT or Spectrum – A Brief History of Modern India – By Rajiv Ahir
  4. Art and Culture – Indian Art and Culture by Nitin Singhania
  5. Also Toppers these days referring Tamil Nadu textbook for Ancient and Medieval India. (Worth reading- On my Personal Experience.)
Toppers Tip
Revise all the topics in history for more than twice. It will keep forgetting. Don’t mess up with two books for each part of History. Go with one and revise as much you can.

Indian Economy

Start with NCERT for basic understanding. And go deep with the Indian Economy by Ramesh Singh. If you don’t understand the topics in Ramesh Singh, then read Key Concepts of India Economy by Shankar Ganesh and go again for Ramesh Singh.

Nowadays, UPSC stopped asking direct questions from Economics. Questions are generated from the Dynamic part of Economics, So, to overcome this you have to read the daily newspaper’s economy section very carefully to fetch good marks in the Economics Section.

Before 3 months to the preliminary exam, the Economic Survey will be published by the Ministry of Finance. Take a print out of it and make notes and read it. There may be direct questions from it.

Take key points from the Budget of that year.

Summary of Book List for Indian Economy

  1. NCERT – Free Download
  2. Key Concepts of Indian Economy – Shankar Ganesh (Very Good book for Prelims)
  3. Indian Economy by Ramesh Singh English
  4. Economic Survey
  5. Budget Key Points
Toppers Tip
Have a very good clarity on basic concepts like GDP, GNP, Bank Rate, Repo Rate etc. It will be highly useful when you read the newspaper and also for further preparation.

Indian Geography

Start with 6th to 10th NCERT and then go for 11th standard NCERT Fundamental of Physical Geography and India: Physical Environment.

And School Atlas is the must to mark the places which come in current affairs

Buy – from Amazon or you can download it from the NCERT website for free. But my advice is to read this book in the printed form.

For concept clarity read Certified Physical and Human Geography by Goh Cheng Leong. Just focus on the Geomorphology, Oceanography, and climate-related topics from this book.

Summary of Book List for Indian Geography

  1. Buy 6-12th Geography NCERT
  2. Buy from this link
  3. Oxford School Atlas
Toppers Tip
Concentrate on Current Events related to Geography, Environment, Biosphere, and Endangered Species.

Science and Tech

If you analyze the recent questions from science and tech then you can see that most of the questions have the base from the current affair, So read daily THE Hindu newspaper and also go with any current affairs material or Vision IAS Science and Tech which is available on monthly basis.

Environment and Ecology

Read Environment by Shankar IAS Academy and for Ecology, topics go with 12th NCERT last 4 Chapters.

Summary of Book List for Environment and Ecology

  1. NCERT 12th Standard (Last 4 Chapters)
  2. Environment by Shankar

Current Affairs

Daily Paper reading will save you in this part. Go with The Hindu or Indian Express and make notes of your own. Most importantly try to read the editorial part which improves your writing skills and analytical thinking which will be highly useful in the perspective of the mains.

Read More: How to read the newspaper for civil service preparation

News you don’t need to concentrate

Local, Political, Cinema, and Sports News.

Don’t confuse with POLITY with Politics. You have to read the POLITY news. Polity News refers to the news which is related to the constitution, Bills, Rajya Sabha, Lok Sabha, Important Supreme court judgments, etc.

Read More: 7 Great tips to read the newspaper

If you are not able to read the daily newspapers due to some work pressure please do join in our Telegram channel by searching Getintoias Daily News:

CSAT – Paper II

Solving the previous year questions itself enough to clear this paper. However we can’t predict the UPSC, hence go with some standard manuals like from Arihant Publishers and practice the questions from that manual.

If you are too weak in solving aptitude. then watch online videos available on the internet. Don’t forget to practice comprehension type of Questions. These questions are so important. Solve some mock test from any institute you like.

Attend Mock test series

Attending mock test series will improve your confidence level and decrease your stress in your mind. Aspirants always failed to clear this examination due to the lack of confidence. Even toppers acknowledged the stress factor for their failure. So, to overcome stress and get a boost on your confidence level, you have to attend the test series.

Toppers Tip
Test series will tell your weakness and strength part of your preparation. So that you can improve your weakness part of reading it again. 

To know more about this read this article: Benefits of attending Test Series.

Practice Old Papers

Practicing previous year question papers is a good practice. For this, you can go for Wizard Publication book or Disha publication previous year solved question paper book.

More tips on IAS Exam Books

  1. Don’t refer to three or more books for the same subject. Try to adapt to 1 or 2 books and revise them periodically.
  2. Don’t buy all the books available in the market. Just ask yourself or your seniors about the book and if necessary buy it or else keep calm.
  3. Always concentrate on basics from NCERT’s.
  4. .Dont read too many sources for current affairs, rely on a reliable single source like Vision IAS current affairs, The Hindu.

We will update this page once we have some new books worth your money and time. So please bookmark this page and come back.

Comment us if any of your favorite books are not listed here, we will try to add.

About the Author: GetintoIAS Team clearly focus to help civil service aspirants, those who are trying hard to get into IAS.


  1. There is no free mock test available in the market. But some institutes test series available on the Internet, Telegram Channel as also in Book Shops.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.