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UPSC Civil Services: Here’s a list of books recommended by top educators to crack the exam

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UPSC Civil Services: Here’s a list of books recommended by top educators to crack the exam
  • The process of clearing the exam and bagging the coveted Indian Administrative Service (IAS)/Indian Police Service (IPS) title involves devotion, planning, and a systematic approach.
  • According to the 69th annual report 2018-2019, more than 3 million applications were received for UPSC civil service examinations.
  • The biggest challenge for every aspirant is to keep the momentum going for the preparation on the right track.
Aspirants do seem to believe that the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) is one of the toughest exams, but tutors say that with the right approach, anyone can clear the exam. The process of clearing the exam and bagging the coveted Indian Administrative Service (IAS)/Indian Police Service (IPS) title involves devotion, planning, and a systematic approach.

According to the 69th annual report 2018-2019, more than 3 million applications were received for UPSC civil service examinations, out of which 8,511 were interviewed for Civil Posts while 2,643 were recommended for Civil Posts.

The biggest challenge for every aspirant is to keep the momentum going for the preparation on the right track. “It is a long preparation with at least 2 years of engagement. One must strategise and work smartly to excel in all phases of the exam.” says Prof K.S Sandhu, founder of O2 IAS Academy in Chandigarh.

Another myth which usually people believe is that coaching is an absolute necessity to crack the paper but in reality it is not. “You can also crack this exam through self study, however, coaching does reduce your effort. By having proper resources and guidance, you can clear this exam without coaching.” says Siddhanth Agnihotri of StudyGlow, a UPSC educator who uses ClassPlus to prepare students for UPSC and other government exams.

He further recommends students to indulge in making common groups for UPSC preparation and discuss various topics related to subjects among themselves. Peer learning can really help you solve your queries and also helps in effective learning.

Here’s a list of books with which one can thoroughly prepare for the exams, as recommended by top UPSC educator Siddhant Agnihotri —

Books to begin with

Books to begin with
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National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) books are considered as core books for preparation for UPSC exams. These NCERT books almost broadly cover all the basic aspects of history, geography etc. NCERT books from class 6-12 on subjects like history, geography, science, economics and polity are considered ideal for getting a broad overview of the General Studies portion of the syllabus.

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Indian Polity by M.Laxmikanth

Indian Polity by M.Laxmikanth
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This book is considered as an ideal one for Polity as it can alone fetch you 100% marks in the section for the Prelims stage. The language used in this book is lucid and very easy to understand, even for one who is reading Polity for the first time.

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Indian Art and Culture by Nitin Singhania

Indian Art and Culture by Nitin Singhania
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Art and Culture plays a very important role as UPSC tends to ask lots of questions from this segment. Hence, it is important for all aspirants to know the important topics under this segment. Singhania’s book contains all relevant topics in one place and is considered to be sufficient for this segment.

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India’s Ancient Past by RS Sharma or Tamil Nadu SCERT

India’s Ancient Past by RS Sharma or Tamil Nadu SCERT
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It is also one of the most important segments in the UPSC prelims round. Every year, 5-6 questions are asked from this section. RS Sharma’s India’s Ancient Past is absolutely sufficient for this section. It covers all important topics very briefly. Tamil Nadu’s SCERT book for History is also relevant for the Mains as well. It gives the basic understanding of the subject.

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History of Medieval India by Satish Chandra

History of Medieval India by Satish Chandra
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Satish Chandra is often regarded as one of the most influential historians and credited to be India’s leading scholar about the Mughal rule. His book on Medieval History is one of the most highly recommended books by all educators.

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A Brief History of Modern India by Rajiv Ahir

A Brief History of Modern India by Rajiv Ahir
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Rajiv Ahir’s book on Modern History gives you a brief overview of the history of Modern India. It is often regarded as a book with high return on investment as a lot of questions are directly asked from this book in Prelims and Mains. The summaries given in the end of the book are quite helpful and recommended to at least go through once.

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Indian Economy by Ramesh Singh and The Indian Economy by Sanjiv Verma

Indian Economy by Ramesh Singh and The Indian Economy by Sanjiv Verma
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Both are considered equally good for Economy. Sanjiv Verma’s book is a little more precise and crisp whereas Ramesh Singh’s book is a little detailed. If you have time then one should go for Ramesh Singh, if not then one can choose Sanjiv Verma for this section.

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Certificate Physical and Human Geography by GC Leong

Certificate Physical and Human Geography by GC Leong
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The Certificate Physical and Human Geography by GC Leong is one of the most recommended books by IAS tutors to cover the geography part in UPSC exams. The book contains all relevant geographical knowledge one needs to know about climate change, deserts, oceans, climatic patterns, glaciers etc.

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Geography of India by Majid Husain and India: Physical Environment (NCERT)

Geography of India by Majid Husain and India: Physical Environment (NCERT)
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Majid Husain’s Geography of India is one of the highly popular books for Indian Geography. But one is advised to finish the NCERT books first and then move on to Hussain for a detailed study in the subject.

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Orient BlackSwan for School Atlas and Oxford: Student Atlas for India

Orient BlackSwan for School Atlas and Oxford: Student Atlas for India
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The UPSC exam is incomplete without Atlas. Map-based questions are typically asked in the Prelims as well as in Geography optional paper in the mains. Oxford Student Atlas is considered as student’s favourite as it is very easy to understand and use. Orient BlackSwan has maps for ancient civilisations covering the world.

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Environment by Shankar IAS Academy

Environment by Shankar IAS Academy
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Shankar’s book on Environment and Ecology is more than self-sufficient. It is an ultimate source for the Environment section. The book is a little bit detailed. One can make notes and highlight important points for reference.

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The Lexicon For Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude

The Lexicon For Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude
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The reason why Lexicon is recommended for Ethics is because it provides keys to solve the case study questions. Lexicon covers all the topics mentioned in the syllabus. An aspirant is recommended to solve at least two case studies in a week as this will suffice preparation for Ethics.

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Current Affairs: PIB, The Hindu

Current Affairs: PIB, The Hindu
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Current affairs can be extracted from multiple sources. The Press Information Bureau (PIB) is an ideal source for current affairs. The releases by PIB are very important from an IAS perspective. Other than PIB, daily news analysis of The Hindu is also highly recommended by the experts.

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