Must buy books for every UPSC IAS aspirant

Must buy books for every UPSC IAS aspirant


Following are few books which are must buy for UPSC IAS exam. Every year questions are directly picked from these books. Hence these are considered standard books for UPSC civil services exam.

Note: Apart from this aspirant has to read many other books to cover the whole syllabus. Following books are selected because of their consistent good track record in UPSC exam.

1. Indian Polity 5th Edition  (English, Paperback, M. Laxmikanth)

Hardly you will find any UPSC topper who has not read this book. This has become a default book for polity section of GS Paper and for Prelims exam. Innumerable questions have been asked from this book.

Some of the direct questions from this book are as below

Mains Questions:

  1. What are the Rights within the ambit of Article 21 of the Indian Constitution?
  2. ‘Essentially all this is contained in Part IV-A of the Constitution is just a codification of tasks integral of the Indian way of life. Critically examine this statement.
  3. Explain the election process of Indian President?

Prelims Questions:

1. With reference to Indian History, the Members of the Constituent Assembly from the Provinces were

  1. directly elected by the people of those Provinces
  2. nominated by the Indian National Congress and the Muslim League
  3. elected by the Provincial Legislative Assemblies
  4. selected by the Government for their expertise in constitutional matters

2. ‘Economic Justice’ the objectives of Constitution has been as one of the Indian provided in

  1. the Preamble and Fundamental Rights
  2. the Preamble and the Directive Principles of State Policy
  3. the Fundamental Rights and the Directive Principles of State Policy
  4. None of the above

3. According to the Constitution of India, which of the following are fundamental for the governance of the country?

  1. Fundamental Rights
  2. Fundamental Duties
  3. Directive Principles of State Policy
  4. Fundamental Rights and Fundamental Duties


2. ENVIRONMENT By SHANKAR  (English, Paperback, Shankar IAS Academy)

After UPSC clubbed Indian Forest Exam with civil services exam, environmental questions gained importance in prelims exam. This book comprehensively covers all the environment related topics. Many times UPSC has directly picked questions from this book.

Some of the direct questions from this book are as below

Mains Questions:

  1. Should the pursuit of carbon credit and clean development mechanism set up under UNFCCC be maintained even through there has been a massive slide in the value of carbon credit? Discuss with respect to India’s energy needs for economic growth.
  2. Enumerate the National Water Policy of India. Taking river Ganges as an example, discuss the strategies which may be adopted for river water pollution control and management. What are the legal provisions for management and handling of hazardous wastes in India?

Prelims Questions:

1. Consider the following statements regarding ‘Earth Hour’

  1. It is an initiative of UNEP and UNESCO.
  2. It is a movement in which the participants switch off the lights for one hour on a certain day every year.
  3. It is a movement to raise the awareness about the climate change and the need to save the planet.

Which of the statements given above is / are correct?

  1. 1 and 3 only
  2. 2 only
  3. 2 and 3 only.
  4. 1, 2 and 3

2. Lichens, which are capable of initiating ecological succession even on a bare rock, are actually a symbiotic association of

  1. algae and bacteria
  2. algae and fungi
  3. bacteria and fungi
  4. fungi and mosses

3. If a wetland of international importance is brought under the ‘Montreux Record’, what does it imply?

  1. Changes in ecological character have occurred, are occurring or are likely to occur in the wetland as a result of human interference.
  2. The country in which the wetland is located should enact a law to prohibit any human activity within five kilo meters from the edge of the wetland
  3. The survival of the wetland depends on the cultural practices and traditions of certain communities living in its vicinity and therefore the cultural diversity therein should not be destroyed
  4. It is given the status of ‘World Heritage Site’

4. Other than poaching, what are the possible reasons for the decline in the population of Ganges River Dolphins?

  1. Construction of dams and barrages on rivers
  2. Increase in the population of crocodiles in rivers
  3. Getting trapped in fishing nets accidentally
  4. Use of synthetic fertilizers and other agricultural chemicals in crop-fields in the vicinity of rivers

Select the correct answer using the code given below.

  1. 1 and 2 only
  2. 2 and 3 only
  3. 1, 3 and 4 only
  4. 1, 2, 3 and 4

3. Certificate Physical and Human Geography New Edition  (English, Paperback, GOH CHENG LEONG)

This is a standard book for physical geography section. It is loaded with lots of useful information written in simple language. One of the favourite book for UPSC paper setters for both prelims and mains exam.

Some of the direct questions from this book are as below

Mains Questions:
1. Explain the factors responsible for the origin of ocean currents. How do they influence regional climates, fishing and navigation?
2. Tropical cyclones are largely confined to South China Sea, Bay of Bengal and Gulf of Mexico. Why?
3. What do you understand by the phenomenon of temperature inversion in meteorology? How does it affect the weather and the habitants of the place?

Prelims Questions: 

1. What could be the main reason/reasons for the formation of African and Eurasian desert belt? (2011)

  1. It is located in the sub-tropical high pressure cells.
  2. It is under the influence of warm ocean currents.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct in this context?

(a.) 1 only

(b.) 2 only

(c.) Both 1 and 2

(d.) Neither 1 nor 2

2. Which one of the following is the characteristic climate of the Tropical Savannah Region? (2012)

(a) Rainfall throughout the year

(b) Rainfall in winter only

(c) An extremely short dry season

(d) A definite dry and wet season

3. The most important fishing grounds of the world are found in the regions where:(2013)

(a) warm and cold atmospheric currents meet

(b) rivers drain out large amounts of fresh water into the sea

(c) warm and cold oceanic currents meet

(d) continental shelf is undulating


4. Which of the following is/are unique characteristic/characteristics of equatorial forests? (2013)

  1. Presence of tall, closely set trees with crowns forming a continuous canopy
  2. Coexistence of a large number of species
  3. Presence of numerous varieties of epiphytes

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 1 and 3 only

(d)1, 2 and 3


4. India Year Book 2017  (English, Paperback, New Media Wing)

The content of this book is mainly contributed by civil servants. It contains important highlights of all the aspects of India (Historical, Cultural, Political, Geographical, Economical etc). Unfortunately people realize the importance of this exam after they discover many questions in prelims/mains were picked from this book.

Some of the direct questions from this book are as below

Mains Questions:

  1. National Urban Transport Policy emphasizes on ‘moving people’ instead of ‘moving vehicles’. Discuss critically the success of the various strategies of the Government in this regard.

  2. Give an account of the current status and the targets to be achieved pertaining to renewable energy sources in the country. Discuss in brief the importance of National Programme on Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs).

  3. India’s Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL) which has a database containing formatted information on more than 2 million medicinal formulations is proving a powerful weapon in the country’s fight against erroneous patents. Discuss the pros and cons making this database publicly available under open-source licensing

Prelims Questions:

1. Which of the following have coral reefs?

  1. Andaman and Nicobar Islands
  2. Gulf of Kutch
  3. Gulf of Mannar
  4. Sunderbans

Select the correct answer using the code given below.

  1. 1, 2 and 3 only
  2. 2 and 4 only
  3. 1 and 3 only
  4. 1, 2, 3 and 4

2. The national motto of India, ‘Satyameva Jayate’ inscribed below the Emblem of India is taken from

  1. Katha Upanishad
  2. Chandogya Upanishad
  3. Aitareya Upanishad
  4. Mundaka Upanishad

3. Chaitra 1 of the national calendar based on the Saka Era corresponds to which one of the following dates of the Gregorian calendar in a normal year of 365 days?

  1. 22 March (or 21st March)
  2. 15th May (or 16th May)
  3. 31st March (or  30th March)
  4. 21st April (or 20th April

5. Orient Black Swan School Atlas 7/e  (Orient Blackswan)

Every year UPSC asks 2 or 3 maps related questions in prelims. Also maps are important for geography sections in GS Paper 1. No doubt to stress again that maps are important part of this exam. it takes less time to practice maps but benefits of the same in exam is immense.

Some of the direct questions from this book are as below

Prelims Questions:

1. In India, the Himalayas are spread over five States only.
2. Western Ghats are spread over five States only.
3. Pulicat Lake is spread over two States only.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 and 2 only
(b) 3 only
(c) 2 and 3 only
(d) 1 and 3 only

2. If you travel by road from Kohima to Kottayam, what is the minimum number of States within India through which you can travel, including the origin and the destination?
(a) 6
(b) 7
(c) 8
(d) 9

3. Mediterranean Sea is a border of which of the following countries?

1. Jordan
2. Iraq
3. Lebanon

4. Syria

Select the correct answer using the code given below:
(a) 1, 2 and 3 only
(b) 2 and 3 only
(c) 3 and 4 only
(d) 1, 3 and 4 only

4. Consider the following countries:

  1. Denmark
  2. Japan
  3. Russian Federation
  4. United Kingdom
  5. United States of America

Which of the above are the members of the ‘Arctic Council ‘?

  1. 1, 2 and 3
  2. 2, 3 and 4
  3. 1, 4 and 5
  4. 1, 3 and 5

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