“Is there a single book which covers all topics for IAS exam (Prelims and Mains)?”. We get this query often from our readers. Nothing wrong which such a line of thinking – as there are hundreds of books in the market for each specific area in the UPSC syllabus for Civil Services Exam, enough to confuse all beginners.
But is there such a book which covers all topics for IAS exam Prelims and Mains?
No. Unfortunately or fortunately – no. IAS exam is not like school or college exams, and there is no such all-in-one book which covers all possible questions in UPSC CSE.
Considering the vast UPSC syllabus, even if any publisher releases such a book, you can imagine how big and bulky it would be. Still, if an author creates a 10000-page all-in-one book, don’t you think that UPSC can frame questions outside the scope of the same? Yes, they can.
“Okay. There is no such thing as a complete all-in-one book. But can you suggest some books which can give proper directions for a beginner?”
Yes. We can. As a beginner, what you need is proper direction. That’s why we always recommend a mix of three essential items – (1) ClearIAS mock exams (which include previous year questions), (2) ClearIAS study materials (which are easy-to-learn and free), and (3) good books.
In this post, we shall suggest some good guides and manuals (apart from textbooks) from leading publishers, which you should not miss. Though not a replacement of authentic textbooks, Civil Services Exam manuals can sometimes be very handy – for beginners and veterans.
For beginners who don’t know what to study and what not, these manuals give a proper direction and thus help save time. For veterans, these books are quick-revision materials.
All-in-one manuals are prepared solely with IAS exam syllabus in focus. Also, these are less expensive considering the cost of purchasing numerous different books.
Guides for UPSC Civil Services Preliminary Exam (Paper 1 and Paper 2)
General Studies for Civil Services Preliminary Examination Paper I by Pearson (combo of 6 books) is a good choice if you are looking for an all-in-one-manual for IAS prelims. This is a set of 6 books, each book in separate binding, which makes it handy. You can buy online English Edition or Hindi Edition.
For Prelims CS Paper 2 (CSAT), you may go for General Studies for Civil Services Preliminary Examination Paper 2 by Pearson.
There are similar manuals by many other leading publishers like McGraw Hill Education, Arihant etc. as well. See some of the popular options. Note: Just buy one book each for GS Paper 1 and GS Paper 2.
Now having covered the manuals for Prelims, let’s see the all-in-one manuals for Mains – which has papers like Essay, General Studies Paper 1, General Studies Paper 2, General Studies Paper 3, and General Studies Paper 4)
Guides for UPSC Civil Services Main Exam (Essay, GS1, GS2, GS3, and GS4)
Get the combo set which contains
- IAS Mains General Studies Paper 1 (GS1) by Arihant
- IAS Mains General Studies Paper 2 (GS2) by Arihant
- IAS Mains General Studies Paper 3 (GS3) by Arihant
- IAS Mains General Studies Paper 4 (GS4) by Arihant
Apart from these get the below books for the essay:
How helpful are the above-discussed manuals and guides?
The manuals and guides can neither completely replace the authoritative textbooks nor assure you 100% of all questions. But these guides can serve as a good starting point for beginners and quick-revision material for veterans. If you go through these books, you will get all the basic essentials needed for cracking IAS exam.
Once you are on the proper-track, we recommend you read as many books from the recommended list of books for IAS preparation, based on the recommendation of toppers. This list includes many books like Laxmikanth for India Polity, Bipan Chandra for Indian History etc.
For updating current affairs topics, you may also need to reference books like Economic Survey, India Year Book, Yojana, Kurukshetra etc. Last but not least, only when you start taking ClearIAS mock exams along with your regular learning, you can ensure that you are on right track. All the best!
Preparation in Civil Services Examination for the Essay Paper
Normally we don't prepare separately for Essay paper. But this 200 marks is very critical because the range of the marks of tined by the students in this paper varies from 30 to 155, which is very vast and can be very critical for anybody. So, therefore preparation for this paper is very essential but it is a very easy process because out of the 5 essays, we have to answer any one of them. Every year if you see the previous years essay papers one essay is from topics like Environment, one related to the Women Issues, One Essay is related to Science and Ethics and also from Economics, Globalisation & Impacts etc.
So, therefore we can clearly identify the areas where we can very well forecast that what could be essay for this year and prepare on those lines. We can have the latest data, Government's Policies, Initiatives, reports from the World Bank related to these issues, and if we go through these aspects before the day of the examination for essay paper and if you write these issues, definitely our essay will be a qualitative paper.
Adding quotations, real life examples, examples from government, administrative reforms, various data from World Bank reports add quality in essay and fetch more marks. But when you write or attempt the actual paper "Do Attempt the Safest Essay!". For example out of the 5 essays one or two topics may not appear very clear. It is wiser not to attempt the essays like this, because we would not really know that what was the intention of the examiner in giving such a topic. And if we attempt essays in a wrong manner, the examiner can even offered us 10 or 15 marks out of 200, which would be a disaster for us. So, its better not to choose risky topics and always go for safer topics like Education, Environment where you are very clear about meaning of the topics and attempt those essays.
The next important aspect is "Do not repeat anything that you write in the paper". Every paragraph should carry atleast one point, and deal with the point, give some examples then switch over to the next point but never repeat the same point anywhere in essay. Do not take it for granted the examiner would read only half of the essay. Methodologically, they would read whole essay and every repetition that we've made would lead us to negative marks and a negative opinion on us.
Normally, 13 to 15 page essay is fairly good essay and don't write more than that and lesser than that.
Spend the first hour in attempting rough work, writing down with the pencil, the thought framework and in last 15 min of the first hour rearrange those ideas and make it into an essay. And write you fair copy in last two hours.
So, these are some of the issues that would be helpful in writing fairly good essay in your civil services examination.
Contemporary Essays by McGraw-Hill Education: [BUY THIS BOOK]
About Book: Collection of many Essays on Topical Issues and Essays with Notes. The book is essential for those studying for their UPSC exams.
A Compendium of Essays by Unique Publishers: [BUY THIS BOOK]
About Book: This is a comprehensive book for the Civil Services exams and essential for candidates applying for UPSC and other Civil Services exams.