Recommended books for IAS Mains 2020

Updated On -

May 21, 2020

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Sudeshna Bhar

Exams Prepmaster

In UPSC CSE, there are seven compulsory papers, and each paper is allotted 250 marks. Among them, there is one essay paper, 4 papers on general studies and 2 papers on optional subjects. For these 7 papers, candidates will be given 3 hours for each paper to complete. For In the following article, you can find the most essential and beneficial books for both types of candidates beginners or advanced:

General Studies Paper I: History, Heritage, and Culture

This paper is divided into 5 sections:Art and Culture, Modern History, World History, Indian Society, and World and Indian Geography. Among these sections, Indian society and Indian & World Geography are more important than any other topics which can be understood while looking at the division of questions from every section. The difficulty level of this paper is moderately difficult depending on the candidate’s educational background. The questions are generally of 10 marks and 15 marks.

  • From Art and culture, just 1 question of 10 marks is usually expected and from World History,1 question of 15 marks is expected.
  • From Modern History, 2 questions of 10 marks and 2 questions of 15 marks are mostly predicted.
  • Almost 3 questions of 10 marks and 3 questions of 15 marks are usually faced by the candidates from the Indian Society.
  • Mostly 4 questions of 10 marks and 4 questions of 15 marks usually come from Geography in General Studies - I of UPSC CSE.
Prepp Test Series
  • Here are some of the top-recommended books to cover the syllabus of this paper:
Topics Name of Book Author/Publisher
Indian History  India’s Struggle for Independence  Bipan Chandra
India after Independence Bipan Chandra
History of Medieval India Satish Chandra(Oxford University)
Ancient India  R.S Sharma
History of Modern World Jain and Mathur Norman Lowe
The Story of Civilization, Part 2 NCERT Arjun Dev
World History  Contemporary World History for class XII Old NCERT Book
Mastering Modern World History Norman Lowe
Indian Heritage and Culture An Introduction to Indian Art Part 1: Textbook in Fine Arts for Class XI
The Wonder That Was India  A. L. Bhasham 
Indian Art and Culture Nitin Singhania
Geography Geography of India Majid Husain
World Geography Majid Husain
Certificate Physical and Human Geography  G C Leong
Fundamentals of Physical Geography NCERT Class XI and XII
School Atlas Orient Black Swan
Indian Geography D. R. Khullar

Must Read: Best Books For UPSC CSE Prelims Exam 2020

General Studies Paper-II

This paper is basically divided into four sections i.e. Polity and Constitution, Governance, Social Justice and International Relations section. From each section a certain number of questions arrives having a certain weightage in marks:

  • From Indian Polity and Constitution, 4-5 questions of 10 marks and 3-5 questions of 15 marks can be expected in UPSC CSE 2020 Main Exam. This topic covers almost 50% of this paper. Questions were asked from the separation of powers, CAT, RPA Act,1951, Article 368, Attorney General and other Polity Syllabus topics in previous years.
  • From the topic of Governance, 1 - 2 questions of 10 marks and 2-3 questions of 15 marks each are usually asked in General studies Paper-II. Questions on Planning, Development progress, ICT on governance are also important.
  • From Poverty and Hunger, Human Development, Welfare schemes 2 questions of 10 marks and 1-2 questions of 15 marks each usually appear.
  • From the International Relations Section, more or less 2 questions of 10 marks and 2 questions of 15 marks each may be asked. To attempt this section, candidates have to be aware of the current affairs.
  • To attempt these above mentioned 4 sections, candidates can rely on the following books to prepare for General Studies Paper-II
Topics Name of Books Author /Publisher
Polity and Constitution Of India Constitution of India at Work (Class XI) NCERT Publication
Indian Polity Laxmikanth
Yojana Magazine Government of India
Introduction to the Constitution of India DD Basu
Governance of India From Government to Governance Kuldeep Mathur
Ethics in Governance ARC Report
Citizen Centric Administration Chapters 2, 5, 6, 7 & 8 only and box items in the report
Developmental Issues Panchayati Raj in India Kuldeep Mathur
Yojana Magazines Ministry of Information and Broadcasting
Kurukshetra Magazine Government of India
International Relations India’s Foreign Policy Since Independence V.P. Dutt
India and The World & international institute Chanakya Publications Pvt Ltd

Check IAS Practice Papers

General Studies Paper III

This paper is basically divided into 5 major topics i.e. Biodiversity and Technology, Indian Economy and Development, Environment, Security and Disaster Management. The questions of this paper very much depend on current affairs and recent development and rules and planning by the Indian government or other national organizations.

  • Indian economy: 4-5 questions of 10 marks and 4-5 questions of 15 marks each will be given to answer.
  • Environment: 1- 2 questions of 10 marks and 1 question of 15 marks each will be asked in General Studies Paper-III.
  • Biodiversity and Technology: 2-3 questions of 10 marks and 2 questions of 15 marks each can be expected.
  • Security and Disaster Management: 3-4 questions of 10 marks and 3-4 questions of 15 marks need to be answered in this paper.
  • Here is a list of most recommended books followed by the toppers and other candidates who have already cracked UPSC CSE Mains:
Topics Name of Books Author/Publisher
Economic Status and Development of India Indian Economic Development NCERT Class XI
Indian Economy  Ramesh Singh
Indian Economy Uma Kapila
Introductory Macroeconomics NCERT Class XII (excluding mathematical formulas and Diagrams)
Economics Dictionary Collins and Penguin
Economic Survey Ministry of Finance
Indian Economy Part A & B Chanakya Publications Pvt Ltd
Ecology and Environment Certificate Physical & Human Geography Goh Cheng Leong
Biology (Chapters related to Ecology) NCERT Standard XII
Chapters on Environment India Year Book
Security Issues India’s Security in a Turbulent World Jasjit Singh( National Book Trust of India)
National Security and Disaster Management Chanakya Publication Pvt Ltd
Science and Technology Biology NCERT Standards IX,X, XI and XII 
Science Reporter for Science & Technology Monthly Magazine

Check How to read a newspaper for IAS exam

General Studies Paper - IV

General Studies Paper - IV mainly concentrates on ethics. This matter can be divided into 4 primary topics i.e. Ethics and Human Interface, Attitude, Emotional intelligence, Civil Service Values and Ethics in Public administration. Here are some books that will guide you to answer this paper:

Topics Name of Books Author/ Publisher
Ethics, Integrity & Aptitude Ethics in Governance ARC Report
Ethics, Integrity & Aptitude M. Karthikeyan
Lexicon for Ethics  Chronicle

No matter if it is about UPSC CSE Prelims or Main, the most crucial and important thing is to keep yourself updated in every aspect through updating yourself by maintaining current affairs. For current affairs, you can use newspapers, magazines (weekly and monthly), televisions and apps or even reliable websites.

Newspapers like The Hindu, Dainik Jagran, the Indian Express, and magazines like Yojana Magazine, Kurukshetra, Economic and Political Weekly etc. should be followed regularly. And don't forget to make notes. We hope our advice will benefit you in your times of need and good luck for your UPSC Mains and Prelims 2020.

Check IAS 2020 Preparation Tips, Important Books and Exam Pattern

FAQs related to UPSC Mains Books

Ques. Which subject is best for UPSC CSE 2020 Main?

Ans. Candidates usually get confused about what subject they should choose for the UPSC CSE 2020 Main. Mostly those subjects which were primary or secondary subjects in Bachelor’s Degree are preferred the most. But geography, history, psychology, public ad and sociology are the best optional subjects. Sociology is very easy to understand, and the topics covered in it are related to the society that we are a part of.

Ques. How can I prepare for UPSC CSE without coaching?

Ans. If you are planning to crack UPSC CSE 2020 without coaching, there are 5 things that must be followed:

  • Prepare a proper study plan.
  • Solve Previous years’ question papers.
  • Follow newspapers and current affairs daily.
  • Regular write answers
  • Make note while preparing

Ques. What are the 9 papers in UPSC CSE 2020 Mains?

Ans. The names of all 9 papers of UPSC CSE 2020 Mains are:

  • Compulsory English
  • Compulsory Indian Language.
  • Essay.
  • General Studies Paper -I
  • General Studies Paper -II
  • General Studies Paper -III
  • General Studies Paper -IV
  • Optional Subject Paper- I
  • Optional Subject Paper-II

Ques. Are NCERT books enough for UPSC IAS Mains?

Ans. NCERT Books are very essential for UPSC IAS Mains as well as UPSC IAS Prelims but they are not enough. A beginner should start preparation with NCERT Books as referred in this article , one should always go for other advanced books to gain a depth of knowledge.

Ques. How many hours study for UPSC CSE Mains?

Ans. As we all know that the UPSC CSE is one of the toughest exams in INDIA. So, at least 13 - 14 hours are necessary to study daily. It may vary according to your educational background and intellectual and logical abilities.

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

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