Tuesday, April 26, 2011

BOOKS for Civil Services Exams(Pre) - CSAT

As the Preliminary examination from 2011 will focus more on mental ability, logical reasoning, and data interpretation it’s important to have the right books for CSAT in advance. Those r here
Note: All the books mentioned on this page are highly recommended by fellow aspirants.

I strongly recommend you get hold of previous years solved SECTION-WISE question papers and the Civil Services Exam Syllabus. This will ensure you get off to a flying start in the IAS preparation.

Books for Paper 1 of Prelims
General Studies Manual (GS Manual)
When starting out with prelims preparation it is a must to have a GS manual with you. What is a GS manual? Well it is a all-in-one book for civil services prelims covering all the topics like History, Geography, Polity, Economy, Current Affairs, General Knowledge, Mental Ability, Facts, and more. It is very useful for finding all information at one place. Also many times the standard books do not contain information, especially the latest ones. For this the GS manual is very handy.
There are many GS manual available in the market but I recommend Tata McGraw Hill’s (TMH) GS Manual for prelims.
I think the information provided in TMH GS manual is up-to date, relevant and of high quality. Also the maps in the Geography section are very good for understanding the concepts. Language used is simple to grasp and its General Knowledge section is quite good. Good part is some discounts on the cover price are available.
Why TMH General Studies Manual is still relevant for CSAT

Manorama Year Book
A good Year Book is must for IAS Prelims preparation. If you analyze the past 4 years GS papers you will find that minimum 15 question each year have appeared from General Knowledge based Year Books. I and many successful civil services candidates refer to Manorama Year Book. The best sections in MYB are the World profile with information on all countries, recent happenings. The Gk section is exceptional with many facts, data, recent news, awards, etc Other thing to read in MYB is the 500 or so Questions section. I have noticed that even if you just look at those questions in passing you will be benefited greatly in the Prelims as 3-4 questions come from just this section in the IAS Prelims. Discount on the cover price is also available. One of the must-have Books for CSAT.

Book for Indian Polity
As seasoned civil services aspirants are aware there are three books widely referred for Indian Polity, An Introduction to the Constitution of India by DD Basu, Our Constitution by Subhash Kashyap, and India’s Constitution by MV Pylee. Of the three books I always recommend Our Constitution by Subhash Kashyap as the language used is very simple to grasp even by someone who is studying Indian polity for the first time, it covers all the concepts required to gain a mastery of the syllabus.
After reading and understanding this book for CSAT and Mains you will only be required to stay up-to-date with the latest developments in Indian polity. The book will take care of all the conventional questions like How has the SC interpreted Article 21 (Right to Life and Liberty), Relative power of LS Speaker and RS Chairman, Anti-Defection Law and many more.
While DD Basu’s book is also OK, the language used is quite difficult to understand and the book has not been revised so it does not contain the recent amendments.

Nowadays more map-related questions are being asked in the IAS Preliminary exams than conventional type questions. In fact such map based questions are highly scoring if you just scan and observe the Indian and World maps for at least 15 minutes every day. You can then easily score 6-10 marks in the CSAT exam as about 6-10 questions are asked every year in the civil services Prelims from the Geography Atlas. From my experience and that of other successful civil services candidates, I recommend the Oxford School Atlas for GS Geography questions. The Indian and World maps are quite detailed and the Physical and political maps are very easy to understand. If you need help in studying the Oxford Atlas, just leave a comment and I will be glad to help.
Another book you should refer is Goh Cheng Leong’s Certificate Course in Physical Geography. It is very useful for conventional questions on Earthquakes, Rainfall Pattern, Atmosphere, Climate etc asked in the Prelims. Answers to many Geography questions are usually found in this book only.

Indian History
For Indian history, apart from referring NCERT text books from class VIII to X, you will have to refer History books related to modern India as well as most of the History questions in the Prelims are asked from modern Indian history section. I and many other civil’s veterans refer India’s Struggle for Independence by Bipin Chandra as the definitive modern Indian history book for CSAT. The book starts from the 1857 Revolt and continues up to ministry formation post 1947. The chapters are arranged logically and all the major Historical events and revolts like the Civil Disobedience Movement, Quit India Movement, farmer’s Satyagraha, Gandhian activism etc are tackled in detail. This book nicely complements the NCERT textbook that covers the 18th and early part of the 19th century. NCERT books have also to be read for covering Ancient and Medieval Indian history. Struggle for Independence is also highly relevant from the Mains GS point of view and is a must read for the Mains.

Indian Economy
In Prelims economy questions are mostly of facts and figures type. For instance, the GDP growth of the previous financial year, agricultural production, inflation rate, reasons for it, exports, imports, banking, stock market etc. To tackle such kind of questions you need to refer CSAT books apart from newspapers on a daily basis. The Economic Survey released by the Finance Ministry every year before the budget is a must-read for Indian economy. It is very useful not just for Prelims but also for Mains and in the last few years even direct references are being made to Economic Survey in GS Mains question papers. The Economic Survey usually contains the text part in the first half and the later half is full of important tables and statistics. Both are important.
If you need a book for understanding the fundamentals of Indian economy, then go through Datt and Sundharam’s Indian Economy. Although it seems quite bulky you don’t need to read the complete book. Just read what’s important from Prelims and Mains point of view. Indian Economy is another important book in this regard.

Books for CSAT Paper 2
Fortunately IAS Prelims paper 2 requires far less books compared to Paper 1. Here I list all the popular books for CSAT Paper 2. Remember, you don’t need to refer all of them and different people will like different books so I have listed more than one book.
Crack CSAT 2011

Crack CSAT by Disha is quite a useful book for IAS paper 2 as I have mentioned in this post. Not as popular as Unique Publication’s book for CSAT but equally effective, nonetheless.
CSAT Paper 2 by Unique
By far the most popular book for CSAT, Unique Publication has come out with a comprehensive book for Paper 2 covering all the topics in the 2nd paper. Something about Unique Publications. Although it’s not as popular as TMH but its books are trusted by many IAS aspirants for the comprehensive and correct approach to any subject. And CSAT Paper 2 is no exception to this.

Cracking CSAT by Arihant Publications
This is another good book for Paper 2 by Arihant Publications. Although it has been released quite late in the market I feel it is no less useful than the books listed above. The plus points of this guide for CSAT paper 2 are:
• It claims to be the only book to cover the CSAT Paper 2 completely
• There are many sample questions for understanding and many practice questions
• Difficult concepts are explained quite well to a beginner with non-Science background
• Decision making, interpersonal skills, comprehension are also covered
Although there are minor grammatical errors in some sections I feel, overall, Cracking CSAT by Arihant will add value to your CSAT preparation

{Courtesey:wwwiascracker with bit editing for philanthropic use}


  1. thanks a lot...u have relieved of my burden in chosing the books..keep updating bro...

  2. which book we need 2 prefer 4r civils

  3. i want to know the last preparation or quick rivision for csat 2011. only 9days.refer books both for &p1 p-2

  4. dear sir,
    The work done by u is fantastic. I thank u a lot for gathering entire information at a single place...Really now i feel free from tensions of buying which books.....Please provide more n more updates for civil aspirants.......

  5. thanks a lot brother......

  6. hello sir my name is chandrasekaran i want become a ias officer.how to join your coaching center sir please informed me sir my email id is chandranias1@gmail.com mobile no 9688296953

  7. hello sir i am aditya kumar i want to crack civils say me whether bangalore is suitable for coaching?
    if so where is the best institute at bangalore? i was a jst completed btech can i go for coaching directly or else any past preparation needed?
    please reply me to adityakme@gmail.com

  8. hello sir this is Akash Yadav thanks alot for such arelevant piece of information it would be helpful if u could tell us about some books for mains too.

    I am thinking of taking law and history.

    plzzzzz helppppp

  9. too good information thank u very muchk

  10. dear sir,
    i would be obliged if u could guide me through the atlas preparation for geography.

  11. thanks,sir.i'm Debabrata.now i,m studying in b.tech 4th year i want to become an ias officer.How to prepare it?

  12. Thanks for the information, aiming for ias exams and as a working professional i always look to online for my preparatory needs. And that's why I got enrolled in IAS general studies and CSAT preparation online course at http://www.wiziq.com/course/119-ias-general-studies-prelimnary-course. Still was looking for some more information about books and strategies and your post helped me. Thanks again

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  14. please suggest some books on paper 2...

  15. Nice post. I like the way you start and then conclude your thoughts. Thanks for this information .I really appreciate your work, keep it up.

  16.  Just wanna say thank you for the information that you have been shared on your site. well it is more better.