A Detailed Guide On Must-Read Study Materials For UPSC Preparation

A Detailed Guide On Must-Read Study Materials For UPSC Preparation

Ernest Hemingway once said that there is no loyal friend like a book and we can vouch for the fact that UPSC aspirants heartedly believe this adage. The UPSC syllabus is vast and candidates have to read several study materials to cover the subjects. 

There are several books available online and in the market which act as an effective study resource, however, UPSC toppers suggest sticking to specific study material and revising timely to retain maximum information effectively. 

It is difficult to study different books while preparing for the exams and it is wise only to choose the best. If you wish to know the must-have books for UPSC, then go through this guide as we share the important books for prelims and mains.

Important tips for UPSC

Before we move on to the required books to crack UPSC, there are a few tips that you should keep in mind

  1. A candidate should not buy all the books recommended to them. 
  2. The study resource should be procured from a reliable source. You can also search UPSC books recommended by toppers to understand which study materials you should purchase
  3. A candidate should prefer limited sources and the study materials should include a balanced mix of NCERT books, textbooks, notes, magazines, newspapers and online sources.

Study Material for UPSC Exam

UPSC Prelims Exam

General Studies Paper I

  1. NCERT books (Class X - XII)
  2. Bipin Chandra, India’s Struggle for Independence
  3. Spectrum, Facets of Indian Culture
  4. G C Leong, Certificate Physical Geography
  5. Jain & Ohri, Economic Development & Policies in India
  6. PM Bakshi, The Constitution of India
  7. M Lakshmikanth, Indian Polity
  8. TTK, Blackswan, World Atlas
  9. The Hindu, Yojana, The Indian Express, Business Standard and Kurukshetra

Prelims CSAT Exams

  1. Verbal & Non-Verbal Reasoning – R S Aggarwal 
  2. Tata McGraw Hill CSAT Manual
  3. CSAT II – Arihant

UPSC Main Exams

Main General Studies Papers

Indian Heritage & Culture, History

  1. Culture books of National Books Trust
  2. NCERT book
  3. A L Bashram, The Wonder That was India 
  4. D N Jha, Ancient India in Historical Outline
  5. J. L. Mehta, Advanced Study in the History of Medieval India, Vol III: Medieval Indian Society and Culture 
  6. Satish Chandra, History of Medieval India
  7. A Social, Cultural and Economic History of India
  8. Norman Lowe, Mastering Modern World History

Geography of the World and Society

  1. Majid Hussain, Geography of India
  2. Majid Hussain, World Geography 
  3. Status of Forests Report

Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice

  1. 2nd Arc Report
  2. D D Basu, Introduction to the Constitution of India 
  3. Constitution of India Bare Act
  4. Finance Commission Report
  5. Five Year Plan Documents
  6. Punchhi Commission Report

International Relations

  1. Rajiv Sikri, India’s Foreign Policy
  2. NCERT Political Science

Technology, Economic Development, Biodiversity, Environment

  1. Economic Survey
  2. Ramesh Singh, Indian Economy
  3. Spectrum, Science and Technology 
  4. NCERT books ( India’s Economic Development and Geography India People and Economy)

Security and Disaster Management

  1. Annual Report of the Ministry of Home Affairs
  2. Ashok Kumar, Internal Security & Disaster Management 

Ethics, Integrity & Aptitude

  1. G Subba Rao and P N Roy Chowdhury, Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude for Civil Services Main Examination

Optional Papers


  1. Ember and Ember/ Makhan Jha/ D N Majumdar and T N Madan, N K Vaid, Social Anthropology
  2. Nadeem Hasnain/ V S Sahay and Pradeep K Singh, Indian Anthropology
  3.  P Nath/B M Das, Physical Anthropology
  4. Upadhyay and Pandey, Anthropological Thought


  1. Business newspapers
  2. RBI websites
  3. Uma Kapila, Indian Economy – Performance and Policies
  4. Salvatore, International Economics 


  1. G C Leong, Certificate in Physical and Human Geography
  2. Rupa Publication, Economic and Social Geography Made Simple 
  3. Khuller, India – A Comprehensive Geography


  1. Bipan Chandra, India’s Struggle for Independence & Since Independence 
  2. Shekhar Bandhopadhyay, From Plassey to Partition 
  3. Norman Lowe, Mastering Modern World History 

Public Administration

  1. IGNOU material
  2. Fadia and Fadia, Public Administration in India
  3. Nicholas Henry, Public Administration and Public Affairs

Political Science

  1. Subhra Kashyap, Our Constitution & Our Parliament
  2. O P Gauba, Political Theory
  3. Rajni Kothari, Politics in India


  1. Nadeem Hasnain, Indian Society and Culture
  2. M N Srinivas, Caste: It’s Twentieth Century Avatar
  3. Yogendra Singh, Modernization of Indian Tradition 

Apart from the books mentioned above, newspapers (The Hindu, Economic Times, The Indian Express & Business Standard), magazines (Kurukshetra, Yojana and Science Reporter), yearbooks and new channels can also help candidates remain abreast with the latest development and news.