UPSC Books and Mock Tests for IAS/IPS Exam 

Topics Covered: Recommended Book List (NCERT & other books) for UPSC IAS for General Studies, Prelims Exam & Mains Exam, Strategy of ‘Work Smart Not Hard’, Attempt Free Mock Tests, Benefits of Solving Mock Tests & Tips on Solving Mock Tests

If you wish to clear the UPSC IAS Exam you need to inscribe onto the innermost echelons of your heart, a remarkable quote by the great American academic, Charles William Eliot,

“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.”

That’s because throughout the entire duration of your UPSC CSE preparation your books need to be your best friend.

So, getting to the benefits of reading from the various UPSC books. These books will render you with a superior perspective on life and the world.

That’s a great reward in and of itself if you ask me, leaving aside the question of if that’s enough to help you clear the IAS exam in your first attempt or not.

Long story short, going through all the books for UPSC will definitely help you become more confident and wiser as a person, and these traits are something that an IAS officer should certainly possess.

Having said that, I still remember the time I was preparing for the UPSC exams back in the day. I used to live and breathe UPSC books.

It was in the moments that I spent with the IAS books that I got to learn so much about our nation and the world, nature, science, history, politics, finance, and whatnot. Gosh! Such a transformative time it was for me.

However, I would also like to add that even though books are the greatest for the purpose of gaining knowledge, reading just from them to complete the UPSC syllabus will not be enough.

To clear the IAS exam, you’d also have to test your waters by putting all of your bookish knowledge to the test. To do so you’d have to solve as many UPSC mock tests as you can.

So, without further ado, let’s begin.

UPSC Books and Mock tests for IAS/IPS Exam 

UPSC Books

Right off the bat, I would like to point out that since the IAS prelims 2021 has been postponed to take place on 10th October (earlier it was scheduled on 27th June 2021) this year.

To know about the important UPSC IAS exam dates, read the blog I have written on the same.

Now. since there is not much time left for the Prelims paper, it’s only logical that you pick from only the best UPSC books for your preparation.

Now, according to me as well as several toppers of previous IAS exams, the best way to start your preparation is by reading through the NCERT books for UPSC and then moving on to the other books for UPSC (the standard ones).

Also, you should be mindful about the type of IAS books that you choose for your preparation, given that the UPSC prelims and UPSC mains are very different from each other and would need 2 different sets of reading material for each.

The UPSC Prelims, being an entirely objective type of paper would need a separate set of book lists and the UPSC Mains, being entirely subjective in its nature would need its own.

To know more about the UPSC CSE exam pattern, you can go over to the blog I have written on the same.

Anyway, in this section of the blog, I have mentioned the names of all the important books for UPSC according to the different phases and subjects of the UPSC CSEs.

I have started with the NCERT books for UPSC. Here’s the list:

Best NCERT books for UPSC

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

NCERT Books for UPSC- General Studies Paper I

  • NCERT books for UPSC for History:
    • History: NCERT Class 6: Our Past
    • History: NCERT Class 7: Our Past – 1
    • History: NCERT Class 8: Our Past 2 and 3
    • History: NCERT Class 9: India and the Contemporary World – I
    • History: NCERT Class 9: India and the Contemporary World – II
    • History: NCERT Class 10: World History
    • History: NCERT Class 12: Indian History – 1
    • History: NCERT Class 12: Indian History – 2
    • History: NCERT Class 12: Indian History – 3
  • NCERT Books for UPSC about Indian Society:
    • Indian Society: NCERT Class 6: Social Science: Social & Political Life I
    • Indian Society: NCERT Class 7: Social Science: Social & Political Life II
    • Indian Society: NCERT Class 8: Social Science: Social & Political Life III
    • Indian Society: NCERT Class 11: Sociology: Understanding Society
    • Indian Society: NCERT Class 12: Indian Society
    • You can also refer to class 12th Sociology book.
  • NCERT Books for UPSC for Art and Culture:
    • Art & Culture: NCERT Class 11: An Introduction to Indian Art
    • Art & Culture: NCERT Class 11: Living Craft Traditions of India (Chapters IX & X)
  • NCERT Books for UPSC for Geography:
    • NCERT Class 6: The Earth Our Habitat
    • NCERT Class 7: Our Environment
    • NCERT Class 8: Resource and Development
    • NCERT Class 9: Contemporary India – I
    • NCERT Class 10: Contemporary India – II
    • NCERT Class 11: Fundamentals of Physical Geography
    • NCERT Class 11: India Physical Environment
    • NCERT Class 12: Fundamentals of Human Geography
    • NCERT Class 12: India People and Economy

NCERT Books for UPSC- General Studies Paper II

  • NCERT IAS books for Polity
    • Polity: NCERT Class 9: Political Science – Democratic Politics Part – 1
    • Polity: NCERT Class 10: Political Science – Democratic Politics Part – 2
    • Polity: NCERT Class 11: Political Science – Indian Constitution at Work
    • Polity: NCERT Class 11: Political Science – Political Theory
    • Polity: NCERT Class 12: Political Science 1 – Contemporary World Politics
    • Polity: NCERT Class 12: Political Science 2 – Politics in India since Independence
    • NCERT Polity: you should read the Class 9 to class 12 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).

NCERT UPSC Books – General Studies Paper III

  • NCERT UPSC Books on Economy
    • Economy: NCERT Class 9 Economics
    • Economy: NCERT Class 10: Understanding Economic Development
    • Economy: NCERT Class 11: Indian Economic Development
    • Economy: NCERT Class 12: Introductory Microeconomics
    • Economy: NCERT Class 12: Introductory Macroeconomics
  • NCERT UPSC Books for Science & Technology
    • Science: NCERT Class 6
    • Science: NCERT Class 7
    • Science: NCERT Class 8
    • Science: NCERT Class 9
    • Science: NCERT Class 10
    • Science: NCERT Class 11: Chemistry: Unit 14 and Biology: Units 4 & 5
    • Science: NCERT Class 12: Chemistry: Unit 16 and Biology: Units 8, 9 & 10
  • UPSC Books of NCERT for Environment & Ecology
    • Science: Class 12: Biology: last four Chapters (13 – 16)

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 alreadyreading 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.

NCERT UPSC Books – General Studies Paper IV

  • 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.

That wraps up the list of all the NCERT books for UPSC. Now let’s take a look at the IAS according to the different phases of the UPSC exam.

Best UPSC Books for IAS Prelims

In the IAS prelims round there are 2 papers and both are objective type in nature. That means both have multiple-type questions with negative markings for each wrong answer.

I have mentioned below the list of the best IAS books for the Prelims round:

Subject UPSC Books
History 1. India’s Struggle for Independence – Bipan Chandra
2. Facets of Indian Culture – Spectrum
3. NCERT XI (Ancient & Medieval)
4. NCERT XII (Modern Indian History)
Geography 1. Certificate Physical Geography – G C Leong
2. NCERT VI – X (Old Syllabus)
3. NCERT XI, XII (New Syllabus)
4. World Atlas
Indian Polity 1. Indian Polity – M Laxmikanth
Economics 1. Indian Economy by Ramesh Singh
2. Economic Development and Policies in India: Jain & Ohri
International Relations 1. NCERT XII (Contemporary World Politics)
2. Current Affairs
CSAT 1. Tata McGraw Hill CSAT Manual
2. CSAT II – Arihant
3. Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning: R S Aggarwal

Best UPSC Books for IAS Mains

If you are able to clear the Prelims stage of the IAS exam, then you’d have to appear for the Mains. In the IAS Mains, there are 9 subjective type papers out of which 2 are subjects that you can choose from.  

So, accordingly, I have mentioned down below a list of the best books for your preparation for the Mains round of the IAS: 

Subject UPSC Books
History, Indian Heritage & Culture [GS Paper 1] • An Intro to Indian Art Part 1-Textbook in Fine Arts for Class 11
• Bipan Chadra’s India’s Struggle for Independence
• Bipan Chandra’s India after Independence
• Satish Chandra’s History of Medieval India
• RS Sharma’s Ancient India
Geography [GS Paper 1] • Majid Husain’s Geography of India
• Majid Husain’s World Geography
• World Atlas
• GC Leong’s Certificate Physical and Human Geography
• NCERT Class 11: Fundamentals of Physical Geography
Polity & International Relations [GS Paper 2] • M. Laxmikanth’s Indian Polity
• DD Basu’s Introduction to the Constitution of India
• Rajiv Sikri’s India’s Foreign Policy
Economy [GS Paper 3] • Ramesh Singh’s Indian Economy
Ethics [GS Paper 4] • Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude for Civil Services Main Examination by Subba Rao and P.N. Roy Chaudary

These are all the list of books that I have for you as far as the Prelims and the Mains rounds of the UPSC are concerned.

However, there are 2 optional subject papers in the Mains exam that would require you to read from the books pertaining to the particular subjects of your choice.

Let’s now look at the other essential study material from which you’d have to read apart from all the books that I have already mentioned above:

Other Study Materials:

  1. 2nd ARC Report
  2. Economic Survey (Latest)
  3. Budget (Latest)
  4. Finance Commission Report (Latest)
  5. Annual reports by central ministries
  6. Current Affairs
    • The Hindu Newspaper
    • Yojana Magazine
    • Press Information Bureau Releases
  7. Niti Aayog Action Agenda

Now to mention some important points.

Work Smart, Not Hard

  • It should be noted that the UPSC syllabus is vast, and therefore, it takes a minimum duration of at least a year to read through comprehensively. Thus, make sure that you do not waste precious time reading from books that are not up to the mark or are below standard. By below standard, I mean books that might contain unauthenticated or incorrect information.
  • Make sure to take notes while reading from the IAS books that I have listed for you above.
  • There are some excellent books for UPSC preparation like Laxmikanth. Books such as these are tailor-made for the UPSC exams.
    This is because a lot of questions related to the subject of polity are asked directly from this book. These are the kind of books that you should read as thoroughly as possible.
  • In addition to the points that I have written above, there are a lot of books that consist of information in a “notes”- like format. So, in a way, books like these already do provide you with the notes that you need to prepare for the exam. Therefore while reading such books do not waste your time making notes.
  • Lastly, you need to understand that even though there are books that are exceptionally well-written and informative, they might not be that useful. Therefore as far as preparing for the UPSC is concerned, make sure that you read from books that are relevant only from the UPSC preparation standpoint.

That brings us to the end of this section of the blog. Now, considering that you understand the value of reading from all the IAS books that I have mentioned above, it’s time to understand why it’s equally important to test your waters by attempting UPSC mock tests.

Benefits of SolvingUPSC Mock Tests 

  • The immediate benefit that you’d notice after solving the UPSC mock tests and previous years’ papers is that you’d be able to commit the exam structure to your memory.That would in turn facilitate your understanding of things such as the sections to attempt first and the ones to leave out for later, based on your strengths and weaknesses.
  • The next benefit is an obvious one. More practice would mean better speed of comprehension and the ability to solve more in littler time
  • The next one is that with greater practice you’d be able to tell the questions that would be asked in the actual exam, from the ones that are not as likely to be asked.
  • One important benefit would be that you’d be able to easily decipher questions on the basis of their difficulty levels and the topics they encapsulate.
  • With greater practice, it would become easier for you to gauge your performances segment-wise, subject-wise, and level of difficulty-wise. You’d also get to clearly compartmentalize your strong and weak points according to the topics and segments.
  • Solving more and more UPSC mock tests and previous years papers would make your moves more instinctive while marking the right answers while attempting the objective-type questions.

Now that you know the benefits of solving UPSC mock tests, it should be further noted that the UPSC mock tests and the previous year’s papers are best solved after you have already finished with your UPSC preparation at least once. That way after solving the UPSC mock tests you’d know which portions of the UPSC syllabus you still need to work on.

Anyway, to elaborate on how to solve UPSC mock tests, you can go through the next section.

Tips on Solving UPSC Mock Tests

As I have mentioned above, one of the key advantages of solving mock tests is to be able to maintain your focus, accuracy, and speed for the duration of the exams, may it be the Prelims or the Mains.  

One thing that you should have adequate practice of, is to sit and take your exams for 2 hours straight in the case of the prelims, and 3 hours straight, in the case of the Mains. For that, solving UPSC mocks will be absolutely imperative. 

I have mentioned some very effective tips and tricks that you can keep in mind while solving your UPSC mock test papers:  

Tips to solve Mocks:

  1. Take your Prelims mock papers sincerely, giving 2 hours each for the GS and CSAT papers. And also, while taking your mock mains papers, take the papers using the official time duration of 3 hours for each.  
  2. While solving the UPSC mocks make sure to solve your papers with a calm mind. The objective shouldn’t be just to solve it in the given time. You should make sure that your answers are right, and also of good quality (in the case of the mains papers). Therefore, 15 minutes here and there above the given time limit can be considered okay, but remember to not take any more time than that.  
  3. Once you are done with a mock, do not consider your job done yet, you’d now have to analyze the questions in the mock thoroughly and also the answers you have written for each. That way you’ll be able to identify the concepts that you are weak at.  
  4. After analyzing a mock answer sheet, do not move over to solving another one without first clearing your weak points.
  5. After clearing your weak points, go over to solve another mock, and do the same again, that is identify your weak points again. For this, you can take help from a mentor as well. You do not have to do this alone.
  6. Keep repeating this process till the very end. 
  7. Also, remember to not spend too much time on one question while solving the mocks. Move on to the next question if you are not sure about the answer to the question you are stuck at. 
  8. If you follow the process I have mentioned in the above points, you will start noticing improvement in your scores within a short span of time.

That concludes the segment of the UPSC mock tests. 


That brings us to the end of this long, but I hope informative blog article. In this article, I have covered the topics of UPSC mock tests and UPSC books. With that, I bid you farewell for now and all the very best for the upcoming UPSC CSE.

Have a nice day!

Founder & CEO of

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.

FAQs: UPSC Books and Mock Tests for IAS/IPS Exam

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

    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 UPSC IAS exam, they need books that are written in Hindi. 

    Well, my Hindi medium brother and sisters, to prepare for the IAS exam you should 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 Bharat Ka Rashtria Aandolan by Bipan Chandra for history, Bharat Ki Rajvyavastha by M. Lakshmikanth for polity, Bhautik Bhugol by Majid Hussain for Geography, so on and so forth. 

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    Where can I find NCERT books for IAS Exam?

    Finding NCERT books for IAS exams shouldn’t be a problem as these books are widely used as the chosen curriculum books in almost all of the Indian education boards. You can easily get the NCERT book of your choice from any bookstore near you. 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. 

    That said, if you like reading e-books, you can also choose to download the NCERT book of your choice from NCERT’s official website as well, that too for absolutely free.

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    Which Economy 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 have Ramesh Singh’s Indian Economy, then there’s Economic Development and Policies in India: Jain & Ohri. 
    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 the subject of Art and Culture, the best books are the NCERT books of class 11th, named An Introduction to Indian Art and Living Craft Traditions of India (Chapters IX & X).  

    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. After doing so you can refer to several other reading materials pertaining to the topic of Indian art and culture.

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    Is NCERT book 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 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 is without a doubt M. Laxmikanth’s Indian Polity. 

    However, apart from this book by Mr. Laxmikanth, 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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    What should be the difficulty level of the IAS mock tests that I solve?

    The difficulty of the IAS mock tests or the UPSC test series that you practice on should be a little higher than the actual IAS exam. That is because by solving IAS mock tests of higher difficulty levels, you’d be able to prepare much better for the actual IAS exam. 

    This means that, when you finally appear for your IAS exam, you might even find the paper to be easier and score high marks, thanks to all the difficult IAS mock tests that you’d have solved. 

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    How many books are there for UPSC preparation?

    Now the answer to this question might be a bit intimidating but since you asked, the answer is almost 70 books. I know, the number is a bit daunting but let me break it down for you. Out of the 55 books, around 50 of them are NCERT books that you’d need to refer to for your IAS preparation, and the others are books and materials by various other authors.  
    I have mentioned the list of all the books that a candidate needs to read from to prepare for the IAS exam. You can find the names of all the IAS preparation books in the blog that I have written above. 

    However, you should not get scared by looking at the number of books, because to prepare well for the IAS exam, you needn’t read all the books cover to cover. You’d just need to read from the portions that you’re required to from the exam point of view.  

    To know the name of the important topics and the important portions to choose from the books, solving IAS mock tests, and solving previous years’ question papers would be necessary. 


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