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Best Books for UPSC Prelims and NCERTs  

Topics Covered: UPSC Prelims Books 2024, Specific Booklist for GS Paper 1 and CSAT, Important Material, Importance of Prelims Books, NCERT Books and Benefits of NCERTs Books

UPSC CSE is considered one of the toughest exams in the country, yet lakhs of aspirants dream of clearing it.   

With all the prestige that comes along, only a few candidates are selected in the final process which highlights the degree of the exam’s competitiveness.   

The competent nature of the examination owes its difficulty level to its vast syllabus.

As the syllabus is designed to test the candidate’s knowledge on various subjects, therefore, referring to dependable sources becomes extremely crucial for aspirants for cracking the examination.  

From the onset of the exam cycle itself, the aspirants in general, are advised to understand the significance of having reliable books for UPSC prelims.  

The selection of right books is considered to be the first step towards preparation for the exam.  

Since reading from the recommended books helps in covering the vast syllabus and ensure multiple revisions of the given topics which is a key aspect in preparing for an examination like UPSC CSE.  

Along with that, a concise booklist also assists in saving the precious time of the candidates by not having to go through the plethora of books available for the exam.  

The advantages of referring to a reliable UPSC prelims books are not just limited to clearing the exam but also to gain perspective on a variety of topics which will help expanding awareness on different socio- political issues in the country expected from a future civil servant.  

Having said that, in this blog we will be discussing in detail about UPSC Prelims booklist which includes UPSC Prelims GS books and UPSC CSAT books in the section below.   

Along with that, I have also provided details regarding the NCERT books for UPSC. 

So, without further delay, let’s begin the section! 

Table of Content – UPSC Prelims and NCERTs Books

UPSC Prelims Books 2024 

If you are planning to prepare for UPSC CSE 2024, then it is important for you to go through the Prelims booklist comprehensively.  

In the IAS prelims round there are 2 papers – GS Paper 1 and CSAT. Both the papers are of objective type in nature.  

The booklist I have provided includes both UPSC prelims GS books as well as CSAT UPSC books 2024, which will help you cover the subjects and provide an in-depth understanding of topics given in the syllabus. 

To gain clarity on the topics, it is important that you be thorough with the UPSC syllabus. 

Moving on, in the table below, I have provided the list of best IAS books for prelims which contains GS books and UPSC CSAT booklist (excluding NCERTS): 

SubjectsUPSC GS 1 Books
HistoryAncient History:
• Old NCERT by R.S. Sharma
• Themes in indian history, part -1 (chapter 1 to 6), new ncert - class 12TH

Medieval History:
• Old ncert (New NCERT)
• New ncert - class 7TH

Modern India History:
• Spectrum - a brief history of modern india
• Our past - iii, new ncert - class 8TH
• Modern india - old ncert - class 12TH

Art & Culture • An introduction to indian art - class 11TH
• Indian art & Culture by Nitin Singhania

Geography • GC Leong’s Certificate Physical and Human Geography
• Fundamentals of Physical Geography (NCERT Class XI)
• Fundamentals of Human Geography (NCERT Class XII)
• India Physical Environment (NCERT Class XI)
• India : people & economy class (NCERT Class XII)

Polity • M. Laxmikanth’s Indian Polity
• Class 9TH to 12TH (for understanding more on democracy & federalism)

International Relations • International Relations by Pavneet Singh
• Challenge and Strategy: Rethinking India's Foreign Policy by Rajiv Sikri

Economy • Ramesh Singh’s Indian Economy
• Indian Economic Development (NCERT Class XI)
• Introductory Macroeconomics (NCERT Class XII)

Environment • Shankar ias book
• 12th Biology NCERT- Chapter No 13,14,15,16

Science and Technology • Class 6th to 10th
• Class XI : Units 4 & 5

SubjectsUPSC CSAT Books
CSAT Booklist • Analytical Reasoning- M K Pandey
• The Mantra of CSAT Paper II by Gautam Puri
• General Studies Paper-II for UPSC Preliminary Examination by Tata McGraw Hill
• Cracking the Civil Services Aptitude Test Paper-II by Arihant
• A Modern Approach to Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning by R.S. Aggrawal
• English Grammar & Composition by Wren and Martin

I hope this comprehensive list of UPSC Prelims books provided above, which includes prelims GS books as well as CSAT UPSC books 2024, will help you cover the syllabus effectively.  

To better understand the structure of the exam, you can check the UPSC Exam pattern   

Now, that we are done with books for UPSC Prelims books 2024, in the next section I will be discussing about the best NCERT Books for UPSC.  

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Important Study Materials:

    • 2nd ARC Report
    • Economic Survey (Latest)
    • Budget (Latest)
    • Finance Commission Report (Latest)
    • Annual reports by central ministries
    • Niti Aayog Action Agenda
    • Current Affairs – The Hindu or Indian Newspaper, Yojana Magazine & PIB Releases

Importance of UPSC Prelims Books 

One of the most crucial aspects while preparing for this exam is selecting the right UPSC booklist. It is these following factors that highlight the importance of having a reliable list for books for UPSC Prelims: 

    • In-depth Coverage of the syllabus – These books comprehensively cover the syllabus of different subjects for UPSC Prelims.  
    • Detailed explanation of the topics The books provide in depth explanations which help aspirants understand complex topics.  
    • Easy accessibility – These books are easily available in the market and online which makes it easier aspirants to purchase or access them  
    • Provides questions to practice– Along with detailed explanations, the books also provide some practice questions and some questions from UPSC previous year question papers which will help candidates to assess their preparation.   


Best NCERT Books for UPSC

In order to be build a strong base for all subjects, a thorough reading of the NCERT books for UPSC is an excellent way to ensure it. Referring to these for UPSC exam will help you understand the basic concepts of all subjects with simple explanations.  

Listed below are the best NCERT books for UPSC according to the various subjects of the UPSC exam 2024 (of both Prelims and Mains Phases). 

ClassNCERT BooksE-Books
History Books
Class 6Our PastDownload PDF
Class 7Our Past - 1Download PDF
Class 8Our Past - 2 & 3Download PDF
Class 9India and the Contemporary World - IDownload PDF
Class 10India and the Contemporary World - IIDownload PDF
Class 11World HistoryDownload PDF
Class 12Indian History - 1Download PDF
Class 12Indian History - 2Download PDF
Class 12Indian History - 3Download PDF
Indian Society Books
Class 6Social Science - Social & Political Life IDownload PDF
Class 7Social Science - Social & Political Life IIDownload PDF
Class 8Social Science - Social & Political Life IIIDownload PDF
Class 11Sociology - Understanding SocietyDownload PDF
Class 12Indian SocietyDownload PDF

You can also refer to class 12th Sociology book. 

ClassNCERT BooksPDFs
Art & Culture Books
Class 11An Introduction to Indian ArtDownload PDF
Class 11Living Craft Traditions of India (Chapters IX & X)Download PDF
Geography Books
Class 6The Earth Our HabitatDownload PDF
Class 7Our EnvironmentDownload PDF
Class 8Resource and DevelopmentDownload PDF
Class 9Contemporary India - IDownload PDF
Class 10Contemporary India - IDownload PDF
Class 11Fundamentals of Physical GeographyDownload PDF
Class 11India Physical EnvironmentDownload PDF
Class 12Fundamentals of Human GeographyDownload PDF
Class 12India People and EconomyDownload PDF
Political Science Books
Class 9Democratic Politics Part - 1Download PDF
Class 10Democratic Politics Part - 2Download PDF
Class 11Indian Constitution at WorkDownload PDF
Class 11Political TheoryDownload PDF
Class 12Contemporary World PoliticsDownload PDF
Class 12Politics in India since IndependenceDownload PDF

You should read the Class 9th to class 12th polity IAS books in detail, with a special focus on the ones of the 11th and 12th class. (Out of which cover the topic of World Politics, if time permits). 

ClassNCERT BooksPDFs
Economy Books
Class 9EconomicsDownload PDF
Class 10Understanding Economic DevelopmentDownload PDF
Class 11Indian Economic DevelopmentDownload PDF
Class 12Introductory MicroeconomicsDownload PDF
Class 12Introductory MacroeconomicsDownload PDF
Science & Technology Books
Class 6ScienceDownload PDF
Class 7ScienceDownload PDF
Class 8ScienceDownload PDF
Class 9ScienceDownload PDF
Class 10ScienceDownload PDF
Class 11ChemistryDownload PDF
Class 11BiologyDownload PDF
Class 12ChemistryDownload PDF
Class 12Bio-Ceology: Unit 8 ,9 & 10Download PDF

Note: For the subject of Economics, you can refer to the NCERT books of class 9 to 12. However, if you are familiar with the basics of the subject already, reading from the economics books of class 11 and class 12 (macro & micro both) would be sufficient. 

For the subject of Science, you should refer to the textbooks of class 9 and 10. That should be good enough for your IAS exam preparation strategy.  

NCERT Books for General Studies Paper 4: 

  • Subject of Ethics: NCERT Class 12: Psychology: This is not too significant from the exam perspective; however, you can go through this IAS book for the basics. However, remember to read selectively. 

Before moving on, you can take a look at UPSC eligibility criteria in case you haven’t checked yet.   

Benefits of NCERTs books 

Reading NCERTs is an excellent way to begin preparing for UPSC examination. There are advantages of referring to NCERTs for UPSC aspirants which are: 

    • Building strong base – These books help build a strong foundation for complex topics 
    • Simple explanation – The topics of the syllabus are explained in a simple manner which makes it easier for aspirants to understand. 
    • Covering topics in concise manner – These books cover the topics effectively in a concise manner without lengthy explanations.  

Apart from these books, you can refer to UPSC free study material for your exam preparation.  

That wraps up the list of all the NCERT books for UPSC.   

How to study NCERT Books for UPSC? 

To effectively read and cover NCERTS for UPSC CSE preparation, you can look at the following points: 

    • Know the UPSC syllabus well: Have well- rounded understanding of the syllabus to identify important topics to cover.  
    • Focus on crucial topics: After identifying key topics, cover them in a comprehensive manner.  
    • Create notes to summarize: Highlight or note down important information from each chapter in a concise format.  
    • Gain conceptual understanding: Instead of memorizing facts, focus on gaining conceptual clarity of the topics.  
    • Connect the dots with current affairs: Since UPSC syllabus is dynamic in nature, link the NCERT concepts with the relevant current events.  
    • Make use of visual tools: For easy understanding, you can create flowcharts, mind maps or diagrams to facilitate your notes.  
    • Solve practice questions: At the end of each chapter, there are some questions given. Practice these questions to assess your understanding of the topics.  


With this, we have come to the conclusion of the section. Till now, I have shared my insights on everything you need to know regarding UPSC Prelims books 2024.

Hope you find the detailed discussion above beneficial for your preparation. For now, I shall take your leave and wish you all the very best for your preparation on UPSC examination.  

Best of Luck!! 

Keep Learning!! 

CEO of Anujjindal.in

About Anuj Jindal


Anuj Jindal, the founder, is an ex-manager from SBI, with an M.Com from Delhi School of Economics. He also has a JRF in Commerce & Management and NET in HRM, along with more than 5 years of experience in the field of Education.

UPSC CSE – Related Resources

FAQs: UPSC Prelims and NCERT Books

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    How many books are required for UPSC Prelims?

    There are 2 Papers in the UPSC Prelims – GS Paper 1 and the CSAT.

    For both the papers, the minimum number of books required is 15, while the maximum number of books required can go up to 25 for UPSC prelims preparation.  

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    Which book is best for UPSC Prelims GS Paper?

    To prepare and cover the paper of General Studies, some of the best UPSC Prelims GS books include –  

    • Shankar IAS Book for Environment,  
    • Indian polity by M. Laxmikanth,  
    • Indian Economy by Ramesh Singh,  
    • Certificate Physical Geography by G C Leong. 

    You can check the detailed booklist for UPSC Prelims GS Paper. 

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    What are the best UPSC Books for CSAT?

    Clearing the CSAT paper requires candidates to be efficient in Logical Reasoning, Quantitative aptitude and English Comprehension, therefore some of the recommended CSAT UPSC books are –  

    • Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning by R.S. Aggarwal,  
    • CSAT II by Arihant and  
    • Tata McGraw Hill CSAT Manual. 

    You can check the detailed booklist for UPSC CSAT above. 

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    What is the UPSC Book List for Beginners?

    The NCERTs are considered to best books for beginners to start their preparation for UPSC exam. Some of the best NCERT books for UPSC examination are –  

    • India and contemporary world (Class 9th),  
    • Understanding Economic development (Class 10th),  
    • An introduction to Indian Art (Class 11th)  
    • Indian constitution at work (Class 11th)  

    To check detailed booklist for NCERTS, you can download the NCERT book list for UPSC.   


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    Does UPSC ask questions from NCERT?

    Yes. Some of the questions are asked from the NCERTs in the UPSC examination.  


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    Where can I find NCERT books for IAS Exam?

    If you prefer reading e-books for the IAS exam, you may download the NCERT books of your choice from NCERT’s official website, that too absolutely free. But to make your work easy, I have listed all the NCERT books for UPSC, above which can be downloaded as well.   

    On the other hand, if you prefer to read from a hard copy of a book, you will find NCERT books at almost every bookstore near you that sells school books. To know the names of NCERT books you’d need for your IAS preparation you can refer to the blog article that I have written above. 

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    Which Indian Economy (Economics) books are the best for UPSC?

    As I have mentioned in the blog above, the best books to prepare for the subject of economics are the NCERT books, then we also have:  

    • Ramesh Singh’s Indian Economy
    • Indian Economic Development (NCERT Class XI)
    • Introductory Macroeconomics (NCERT Class XII)

    Also, apart from these books you’d also need to refer to other study materials like the Economic Survey (Latest), Budget (Latest), Finance Commission Report (Latest), etc. 

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    Which books are the best for Art and Culture for UPSC?

    For comprehensive coverage of Art and Culture subject, some of the recommended UPSC books are as follows: 

    • An introduction to indian art – class 11TH
    • Indian art & Culture by Nitin Singhania

    Apart from preparing from these books, you can also go through the various IAS Mock test question papers to understand the variety of topics asked from the subject of Art and Culture in the IAS exam. 

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    Are NCERT books enough for IAS?

    Well, here I’d say that even though NCERT books should be the first books that you start preparing from, but my advice would be to strengthen your understanding further by referring to other books as well.   

    The best way would be to first read from the NCERT books, then go over to reading all the other IAS prelims books and IAS mains books such as the ones I have mentioned in the blog above.   

    Apart from these books, you’d also need to solve as many IAS mock tests as you can to understand which topics you are still weak at and work on it even more. 

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    Which book is the best for Indian Polity?

    The best book for Indian polity, without a doubt, is M. Laxmikanth’s Indian Polity.   

    However, apart from this book, you should also prepare from the book called Introduction to the Constitution of India by D.D. Basu.  

    You’d also need to read all polity-related topics from the NCERT books of classes 9, 10, 11, and 12. 

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    Can I leave NCERT books If I am preparing for UPSC?

    Absolutely Not! NCERTs carry a vital stature in the UPSC CSE preparation process, they form the base of the other books. Thus, do not make this mistake of leaving NCERTs in your exam preparation.  

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    Which books are the best for Hindi medium aspirants in UPSC Exam 2024?

    This is a very pertinent question, as a huge percentage of candidates that aspire to clear the IAS exam do their schooling in Hindi medium.    

    Therefore, to prepare for the IAS exam you can also read all the Hindi medium books from NCERT and the Hindi translations of all the popular IAS books that I have mentioned in the blog above.   

    To give an example of the Hindi translations of the popular IAS books, there’s भारत का राष्ट्रीय आंदोलन by Bipan Chandra for history, भारत की राज्यव्यस्था by M. Lakshmikanth for polity, भौटिक भुगोल by Majid Hussain for Geography, so on and so forth. 

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