IAS (UPSC CSE) Mains 2021 Preparation Strategy for Mechanical Engineering Optional

Updated On -

Mar 22, 2021

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Sudeshna Bhar

Exams Prepmaster

In IAS (UPSC CSE) Mains exam, engineering subjects are also offered as an optional paper keeping in mind the number of engineers who apply for these posts every year. There are less than a hundred candidates every year who opt for mechanical engineering.

Like other optional papers, the syllabus of mechanical engineering optional subject is also prescribed in the official website of UPSC by the conducting body. Candidaets must know the detailed syllabus at the very beginning of the preparation. Check the mechanical engineering optional syllabus here.

In the following article candidates will be provided with the top books, paper-wise preparation tips and previous years question papers to prepare in depth.

IAS Books

Top Books for IAS (UPSC CSE) Mechanical Engineering Optional

  • Strength of Materials by Sadhu Singh
  • Theory of Machines by RS Khurmi
  • Refrigeration and Air-conditioning by RS Khurmi
  • Operations Research by Hira and Gupta
  • Engineering Thermodynamics by PK Nag
  • Plant Engineering by PK Nag
  • Fundamentals of Compressible Flow by SM Yahya
  • Thermal Engineering by RK Rajput
  • Heat and Mass Transfer by DS Kumar
  • Internal Combustion Engines by V Ganesan
  • Production Management – R K Jain
  • Heat Transfer – Gupta Prakash
  • Heat and Mass Transfer – R. Yadav
  • Surveying and Levelling – T P Kanetkar
  • Heat Conversion – Arora & Kundwar
  • Fundamentals of Classed Thermodynamics – Van Wylen
  • Thermodynamics – R Yadav
  • Heat Conversion – Arora and Kundwar
  • Heat Transfer – Gupta Prakash
  • Theory of Mechanism and Mechanics – Jagdish Lal
  • Principles of Manufacturing Material & Process – Campbell
  • Mechanic of Solids – Popru
  • Environmental Pollution Central Engineering-C S Rao
  • Energy Conversion – Sukhalmoy
  • Surveying and Levelling – T P Kanetkar
  • Manufacturing Science – Ghosh and Malik
Prep Tips

Paper-wise Preparation for IAS (UPSC CSE) Mechanical Engineering Optional

Each chapter you need to study will require a different approach and we have created chapter-wise preparation tips for the same, which is as follows-

Preparation Tips for Mechanical Engineering Paper-I


  • NPTEL website is a good source for lectures on rigid mechanics. Try practicing previous year questions from this chapter as they often get repeated.
  • Strength of materials by Sadhu Singh discusses the mechanics of deformable bodies in detail and is the only reference you will need for understanding this section.

Engineering materials

  • NPTEL website is a good source for this section too.
  • you can also rely on Callister’s Material Science and Engineering.

Theory of machines

  • This is a very important chapter for paper-1 and all the sub-sections under this chapter are equally important.
  • Pay special attention to the numerical related to the different topics in this section.
  • Jigs and fixtures, manufacturing management, are important sections of this chapter.

Preparation Tips for Mechanical Engineering Paper-II

Thermodynamics, gas dynamics, and turbines

  • Thermodynamics is another very section and many questions come from this topic. Cover this entire section thoroughly. The best book to refer to is P.K. Nag. Specifically, emphasis on the theories and practice the solved examples.
  • For the fluids section, check the parts which are in the IAS syllabus and study only those parts.
  • The sections on regeneration are also essential, and thermal engineering by R.K. Rajput is a better book to follow only for these sections, compared to P.K. Nag.

Heat transfer

  • There are several formulas in this section that must be covered thoroughly as there are numerical that are very frequently asked from this chapter.
  • Practice all the types of numerical problems from different books for this chapter specifically.

I.C. Engines

  • The concepts in this entire chapter should be covered thoroughly while referring to previous years’ question papers.

Refrigeration and Air conditioning

  • Psychometry is another topic from this section and can be covered from P.K. Nag.
  • The other parts of the chapter can be covered from NPTEL Website and books by CP Arora and RS Khumri.

Steam Engineering

  • Again, the conceit chapter is more important and can be covered from Power Plant Engineering by P.K. Nag.
Previous Papers

Previous Years’ Papers of IAS (UPSC CSE) Mechanical Engineering Optional

In the following chart, some links are provided though which previous years’ question papers of 2020 to 2014 can easily be downloaded and take a print out free of cost for better prepration.

Years Paper I Paper II
2020 Download Download
2019 Download Download
2018 Download Download
2017 Download Download
2016 Download Download

Only by following the above-mentioned strategy and books will not be enough to clear the IAS (UPSC CSE Mains exam. To get the desired marks in the exam, candidates need to study at least 12 - 15 hours and check the current affairs regularly. Mock tests will also be help for

*The article might have information for the previous academic years, please refer the official website of the exam.