How To Prepare For The UPSC Civil Services Exam

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

upsc mains reference books new pattern 20013

Last year’s successful candidates who made it into IAS including the topper Shena Aggarwal and other 17 IAS officer trainees now trained at LBSNAA, came together and under the leadership of  Nikhil Pavan Kalyan, IAS, wrote an extensive document to guide serious IAS aspirants in clearing UPSC civil services examination.

My IAS friends who have also contributed to this document forwarded me a copy of the book titled “Reading Between The Lines“. With their permission I am publishing it on my blog for the benefit of thousands of aspirants who visit this blog for information about civil service exam.

It is their sincere wish that this document helps many serious aspirants in realizing IAS dream. Please make full use of it. It is very extensive and covers many topics that are very important for exam preparation.


how to prepare for upsc civil services examination new pattern and syllabus 2013, how to prepare for upsc exam, how to prepare for prelims 2014, how to prepare for IAS exam 2014


how to prepare for ias, upsc civil services main exam 2013 new pattern

how to prepare for upsc IAS civil services examination 2013


How To Prepare For UPSC Civil Services Examination According To New Pattern And Syllabus

Those who download it please make full use of it sharing with other serious aspirants. Don’t misuse it for commercial purpose.


1) Shorter Constitution Of India (Set of 2 Volumes) 14th Editon – D.D.Basu (THIS IS PURELY FOR REFERENCE – VERY GOOD BOOK TO HAVE)

OR This Small Book : Introduction to the Constitution of India 20 Edition or

Introduction to the Constitution of India

2) India 2013 – Publication Division, Govt. of India 

3) Economic Survey 2012-2013

4) India Since Independence – Bipan Chandra

India Since Independence – new edition

5) Ideology And Politics in Modern India

6) India’s Struggle For Independence – Bipan Chandra


A Brief History of Modern India – Spectrum Publications

7)Indian Economy : For Civil Services Examinations 5th Edition (2013) – Ramesh Singh

8) Indian Polity for Civil Services Examinations 4th Edition – Laxmikanth

9) Geography of India- Majid Hussain

10) Ethics In Governance OR To Download Free E-Book Click here

11) Buy India After Gandhi: The History Of The World’s Largest Democracy

12) Mastering Modern World History – New Edition – Norman Lowe

Or Buy this Imported Vesrion updated with in-depth chapters on Arab Spring and 2008 Financial Crisis: Mastering Modern World History -5th Edition, Norman Lowe

13) Facts of Indian Culture – Spectrum Publications


Trends in Indian Culture and Heritage: For Civil Services

Or this book from Government of India: The Gazetteer of India: History and Culture Vol II

14) Select Constitutions: 16th Edition – S Chand

15) India’s Foreign Policy – Muchkund Dubey

16) Challenge And Strategy : Rethinking India’s Foreign Policy – Rajiv Sikri

17) History of the World from the Late Nineteenth to the Early Twenty First Century – Arjun Dev (Optional)

18) Social Problems in India 2 Edition – Ram Ahuja

19) Politics and Ethics of the Indian Constitution – Review

20) Public Institutions in India: Performance and Design – PRATAPA BHANU MEHTA

Other Books Civil Services Aspirants Must Read (DURING LEISURE):

1) The Wonder That Was India- A.L.Basham

2) India Unbound: The Social and Economic Revolution from Independence to the Global Information Age – Gurcharan Das

3) Pax Indica: India and the World of the 21st Century – Shashi Tharoor (Pre-order 30% off )

4) An Uncertain Glory: India and its Contradictions – Amartya Sen and Jean Dreze

5) The Argumentative Indian : Writings on Indian History – Amartya Sen

  • Balu Mahendra

    Very informative and confidence boosting. When I have started preparation for this exam last year one book from the people who already made into services gave me a good understanding and realistic approach.

    I have just completed this book and with all due respect I thank all the people who prepared this. In particular the Mains section with select optional analysis is just great.

    Thank You Very much,


    Could you please email me the the pdf of “Ethics and Integrity in Public Administration: Concepts and Cases” book.
    I have tried to download it from this blog but unable to do it.
    I left emails to the people who already received it from you yesterday.But didn’t get response yet.
    Please send me a copy to [email protected] kindly.

    I have found this blog yesterday only and articles are useful, particularly the cut off score( much realistic). I got (287-293) and thanks for the free lancers who spend their valuable time in guiding new comers in this exam.

    Thank You Very Much,

  • Antigone

    Unbelievable !!! 125 pages of drivel.. Everyone knows there’s only one way to succeed … READ … We are more worried about what we do not know … Tone down your expectations fellas!!!

    PS. No practical/quantitative Analysis (50-58% Marks to secure IAS/IPS, IAS/IPS Roster based Cadre Allocation, No DAF Format, Approx. Cutoffs, SC/ST/OBC Category Wise Approach, No. of Marks to be attempted in Mains, No Anecdotes, Personal Marks)

    PPS. Everyone knows what to do

    • Antigone,

      You are right that many things are missing in it, but its title implies that it meant for ‘HOW’ to aspect of civil services exam. I think the scope of the document is just limited to telling readers how to prepare for the exam.

      May be when you get into service you can write a better one. There is always scope for improvement and certainly this is not the best one.

      Having said that, still this document goes long way in inspiring new aspirants. It is not a drivel.

      And thanks for critical comment. May be someday I can try and get information about things you mentioned above for the benefit of readers.

  • manish

    Much information indeed !! Really it is “torchbearer”.
    I need a help regarding the current affairs/magazine/yojana , kurukshetra from which month to which month I should cover both for main and Preliminary (2014 pre and mains).?
    You had said in a post that for main exam 2013, from october (2012) to nov 2013 (12 – 13 month) would be ok. In the above document they have said ferburary-march would be good time. Is that mean 9 – 10 month current affairs for main?
    Please clear my doubt about months.

  • Manish,

    Ya I had told to cover current events from last October to this November for Mains. For Prelims one should cover from previous January(2013) to April (2014). So, by the time you write next prelims, you would have covered most of current events of last year. But, for Mains, focus should be on depth and getting conceptual clarity on broad topics between the months I mentioned. It doesn’t mean that one should not read previous events. As already you would have studied them for prelims, it is better if one can revise previous year currents events again. It doesn’t take lot of time though.

  • nandini

    sir .. im a group i central govt employee with 5 years experience .. ive started preparing for mains … i want to know if i get into IAS/IPS .. will my work experience be counted without any service gap? or will i have to start as jr. time scale civil servant in the same pay band??

    • Nandini,

      IAS, IPS and IFoS are all India services, so I think your service won’t be added if you get into one of these services. May be you will get this benefit if you get other central services such as Indian Revenue Service etc. I will confirm again with my friends and let you know soon.

      If you have got age on your side(like if you are aged between 25-35, it is still worth to start afresh in IAS/IPS. No job in India gives wide experience, scope for service and diversity than these services does. All the best and I hope you get into these services soon.

      • nandini

        thank you for the response sir .. .. ive posted this question in various fora but to no avail … i just want to be sure so that i can plan my future better …

        • You are welcome. Plan better and prepare well – you will be in IAS/IPS. All the best.

  • manish

    Little confuse with architectural creations, monuments and material artifacts.
    What is difference among them (with example)?
    It would be correct to call Taj Mahal as monuments ?

  • amit kumar pandey

    for clearing of an ips exam …would i have to give the same paper or will u please tell how the procedure of recruiting of ips…

  • Aspirant

    Hello Sir,
    I am currently working as a Trainee in one of the GOI Institutes and i am sure that NOC will not be given during the training period of Two years. Could you please confirm if can apply for the UPSC Exam even while working or should I quit my job when the Notification is out in February.

    • How many months are left in your training now? are you sure NOC won’t be given?

      As far as I know, if you are selected for a job that is higher than the present one in scale, you must be given NOC.

      Next notification is on May 17th 2014. Prelims is on August 24th. Don’t ever leave the job. 🙂

      • Aspirant

        Thank you very much for the reply and suggestion Sir. Its been 3 months and am sure NOC will not be given, so am little confused with regard to applying for UPSC (although I have still time, wanted to know before it is late).

        Also, the offer letter is silent on trying any Jobs during the Training period. However, restrictions are placed on trying externally after the training period.

        • Apply and write the exam. You can leave the present one when you clear IAS. This should not be a reason for not giving exam.

  • Sonali

    Excellent work sir.this is what I was searching for since so many days a perfect guidance, thank you for sharing this document with all of us who want to br iAS, but confused where to start.

  • Evika

    Insights, thank you for the valuable post. I am having old editions of laxmikanth(3rd) and Ramesh Singh(4th). There have been changes in the respective fields since they have been published. But it is imperative to buy the new editions? They are gonna change again by the time I will appear in mains the next year!

    • Evika,

      No need to buy new ones. Old ones are enough.

  • Mridul

    Hello sir,
    I have started preparing for ias exam this month on my own.. I am seriously planning to appear for upsc 2014 n wish to clear it in first attempt …since the syllabus is huge, should i join coaching classes? are they useful?

  • aaditya

    Hello I Am Aaditya , Student of Paradigm IAS academy.
    Best Article shared thanks !

    Batch Starts in Andheri (W) near
    Railway Station And Dadar (E) near
    Railway Station
    with FREE And open
    Lecture for all on 8 September 2013 , Note : Beginners / Parents
    / Guardians
    / Friends also allowed, Admission Open, Limited Seats
    (English & Hindi
    Medium) , For Details Call Us On
    09970714449 / 08411893043 .

  • Hello Sir,
    Is AMIE (The Associate Member of The Institution of Engineers) graduate eligibale for UPSC Examinations?
    Im in last year now and having plan to attempt for CSE next year.
    Bit confused about its eligibility.
    Could you please help me in this regard?
    Thanks in advance..!!
    Gaju Navande

  • atul dj

    sir ihave done BE MECHANICAL and was working as a lecturer in engg college i have left the job and is preparing for mpsc and i am confident after studing for mpsc that i can do upsc…. sir but iam worried about my previous academics as i hv failed 3 times during my engg would it b my negative point in mpsc /upsc exam

    • No, it won’t affect you in anyway. They are concerned with your personality. You need to have a degree as qualification. Of course people get impressed by good academic record, but in the UPSC interview, your answers in 20-25 minutes matter more than anything. Be confident. Remove these fears. Confidence coupled with humility is all needed. Work on it and put to rest your academic record.

  • nitin

    sir i downloaded this pdf which is not opening please e mail this pdf to my e mail id


    Reading Between the lines: is like a god gift(vardaan) for the people like me who or working and trying to focussed on civil services.
    I have gone throught the above book & taken a print of it for easy use.
    but what i have observed is the is the best website for U.P.S.C. guidance and prepration. I am working in IT sector
    from last 3 years. Going for civil services was something like a dream for me


    I have seen the determination of my cousin Mr wasim ur rahman who have cleared the civil services with an exception that he was an madarsaa product. I was with him during his M.D. days in A.M.U. & was in touch through out his struggle days.


    these things have motivated me alot & i was looking for proper guidance about prepration syllabus wise. I am very happy to see your posts on GS papers. Can you do the same for Prelims Paper 1 & 2 please. Thanks in advance.

  • ajay

    sir, I have done my graduation from NIFT Kolkata. I have honored with a Bachelor of Fashion Technolgy (B. F.-Tech) degree. is my degree eligible for UPSC exam????
    please read following-
    National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) is a fashion institute in India. It was set up in 1986 under the aegis of the Ministry of Textiles, Government of India [1]and is an institution of design, management and technology for the international fashion business. NIFT has been granted statutory status under the act of Parliament of India in 2006, empowering the Institute to award degrees and other academic distinctions.
    reference- nift wikipedia

  • Gladis

    hello sir,
    Can you help me with the exam material for upsc prelims… of all the subjects so that i can buy them now and start preparing….

  • respected sir,
    please suggest me for the books which can help me in preparation of i.a.s exams.i am fresher.please suggest me about the basic books for preparing for this exam.

  • Punya

    very good indeed

    • Indeed doesn’t means.i need reply of my question.

  • Dinesh Shet

    dear Sir,
    I am very thankful for your hardwork and social concern being cultivated in your thoughts.. Now a days everyone sells something in exchange of something.. But your voluntary service to the society really appreciable.. hats off and god may keep u with very prosperous life.

  • Zenia

    Thank you for sharing this document Insights! 🙂

  • kilo limo

    Dear Insight,
    With new pattern available, it will be great to know your opinion on the same.
    How much one can read between the lines with this type of paper?
    Are you going to re-examine your strategy considering the paper has become more contemporary?
    And is there any prelims test series planned?

    • Yes we will re-examine the strategy. Many have found present strategy useful, but one needs to up the ante for next year, so we will revise above strategies again.

      Yes, we will conduct Test Series for Prelims and later for Mains.

  • Anupam kumar


  • kamal

    dear sir,
    i want to prepare for IAS . i m currently doing a decent job in a company as sales analyst . i m in a situation what to do, preparing with job or leave job for complete preparation.

    Please suggest me….

    • We don’t recommend anyone to leave their job. But try to study hard while doing job for one year and see how you can manage both. If it seems impossible to prepare and your dream is only IAS, take risk and leave the job. Thing is you should be clear about the risks involved. No one can guarantee you success. It is in your hands to succeed and yo can do it with proper guidance and plan. All the best.

      • kamal

        Thanks for reply.
        currently m in Mumbai, my most of time goes in office around 10-12 hours. and 3 to 4 hours in travelling in locals.
        i tried to study but its almost impossible to crack this kind of exam in 2-3 hours of study.

        Please suggest me , i dint want to think in future that i could had done it. but dint did due to fear of losing job and all.

        i need a proper guidance for it, but m not able to get it. i found this site from internet. and i hope that you can help me to take a good decision. m now 26 .

  • Jeet

    Sir, I am appearing in ias 2014 and my optional is history sir, problem is that I have seen history optional paper 2013 and I found that 20 % questions are such type that I am unable to find their answers from many books such as ncerts, Romila Thopper, Ignou notes, coaching notes and others, Sir how to cover such types of questions?

  • Rahul

    sir i am 2nd year eng. student i want to prepare for civil service exam so how should i beging my preparation.?Give some tips.

  • Reblogged this on vivekadityacs's Blog.

  • rajasekhar

    sir… preparing for civils….im not good at english.please give me some tips to improve better english sir


    sir,can a lieutenant appear in cse exam? if one is selected,can he leave NDA?

  • amar

    really its great…..very helpful to those who cannot afford to take coaching…..

  • Sima Singh

    Hi sir, I am very new to this exam but I want to sincerely prepare for ias.i want to appear for prelims in aug.i am having tmh paper 1 and 2 please tell me if the questions from tmh are sufficient for prelims or not please.

  • Pankaj

    hello , I’m in first year ba in political science. I want to know that how should I start my preparation for upsc exam

    • Kavish

      Hello panka, this is the best time to start your preparations and the very first thing you have to do is to put all your focus of political science as this is your main subject in graduation and will definitely going to help in clearing this examination.
      You better first start preparing for the prelims by any subject of your choice and then you can move to the mains after finishing all the subject of prelims.

  • varsha singh

    sir I will be appearing in 2015 for 1st time and now am in 3rd. year of my graduation and I have covered whole of the polity and geography but only for preliminary . and its becoming hard for me. to start. for writing practice. I have. knowledge but m scared to start writing something as there is lack of patience in me. just tell me the subject I should start writing with and please recommend books for economics

    • You have to start even if you are afraid of it. Only after starting it you will lose this fear. Start with factual answers. Slowly move towards opinion based answers. This exam preparation teaches patience. It is a very important quality to have in this exam. Hope to see your answers soon.

      For economics books list see this link:

  • varsha singh

    yeah thank u sir.. and I asked to recommend books for economics gs please give your opinion

    • Read 3-4 times NCERT Macroeconomics book. Then go for Ramesh Singh’s book. But rely more on internet for economy. Read one business newspaper such as Economic Times or Business Standard. If you make it a habit, you will start loving and understanding economy part well.

      • varsha singh

        okay sir. thank you .
        soon I’ll be giving my answers over here.

    • Radhika

      congrats on Rank 66 this year in UPSC 2015

  • Beginners can start their preparation by downloading free study material from and