Guide to Cover IAS Prelims Syllabus with Best Books

Time management is one of the prerequisites to cover the comprehensive IAS syllabus. Candidates must utilize the time in hand by reading the best books for UPSC.

Lately, UPSC has postponed the IAS Interview 2020 due to the pandemic situation. The eyes and ears are on the status of the UPSC Prelims 2021 which is scheduled to take place on 27th June. Till now, the Commission has not released any notice regarding the exam status; therefore candidates should focus on covering the syllabus well before-hand to save themselves from last-minute anxiety.

Here, you can find the best strategy and books to study for the civil services examination with special focus on Prelims.

Know The Books for IAS Prelims

The preliminary examination is an objective-type examination with two papers:

  1. General Studies Paper 1
  2. CSAT

The Commission decides UPSC Cut Off based on the marks acquired in the General Studies Paper 1 of this examination. CSAT is a qualifying examination where a candidate has to score a minimum of 33% of the total marks (200). Marks acquired in both the papers are not considered while making the final merit list of the examination, i.e in the final IAS result.

Before coming to the list of books that are a part of the prelims preparation, candidates must know the following points:

  1. NCERT syllabus is fundamental to the exam preparation irrespective of the stage of the examination.
  2. Revision is the key to success. Sooner aspirants accept this, better are the chances to crack the exam.
  3. Take mock tests sincerely and learn from the feedback.

Booklist for UPSC Preliminary Exam

Candidates can find the list of books with their subjects needed for the IAS Prelims examination below:

HistoryNCERT Class 11th and 12th, or Tamil Nadu State Board Text Books of Class 11th and 12th
Indian PolityNCERT Class 12th – Politics in India Since Independence M.Laxmikanth’s Indian Polity
Human Geography, Physical Geography and World GeographyNCERT Class 6th to 12th G C Leong’s Certificate Physical and Human Geography
Indian EconomyNCERT Class 11th and 12th Ramesh Singh’s Indian Economy
Environment and EcologyNCERT Class 12th Biology [Last 4 Chapters] NCERT Class 11th Geography Majid Hussain’s Environment and Ecology – Biodiversity, Climate Change and Disaster Management  
Science and TechnologyNCERT Class 6th to 10th Science Books
Art & CultureNCERT Class 11th – Introduction to Indian Art Nitin Singhania’s Indian Art and Culture

A few reference books that candidates must turn to make their notes are:

  1. Poonam Dalal’s Ancient and Medieval India
  2. D D Basu’s Introduction to Indian Constitution
  3. Majid Hussain’s Geography of India
  4. Nitin Singhania’s Indian Economy

Importance of Current Affairs for Prelims

In the UPSC Preliminary 2020 Examination, there were around 15 questions asked from this segment. Candidates should not miss the fact that almost every subject is aligned with current affairs and because of the difficulty to split static topics with current affairs, the number is 15.

Questions from the static portion are also inspired from current affairs. For example, if news is recurring about the office of governor (which is a static topic in Indian Polity), a question is expected in the prelims exam.

Therefore, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that current affairs preparation plays an important role in your success. A few current affairs sources that will help you with covering UPSC syllabus are mentioned below:

  1. An English Newspaper – The Hindu or Indian Express. The Economic Times for Indian Economy.
  2. Press Information Bureau (PIB)
  3. PRS India
  4. RSTV: The Big Picture

Note: Candidates should note that it is not necessary to refer to all the sources given the time-restraint. However, one must religiously follow a newspaper to remain updated with the current events of national and international importance.

A candidate must keep in mind that at the end it is not about how many books you read, rather how well you revised and recollected the information. As IAS toppers say, usually one can know direct answers of only 40-50 questions. The remaining is all about your analysis, knowledge and memory. Therefore, stick to the book list of your choice till the end of your exam.