IAS Prelim - Five Must Books To Clear CSAT I and II

Getting through to the mains is the first hurdle in UPSC. A lot of aspirants with good mains preparation take CSAT lightly only to find that they have wasted one precious year of their lives. Every year around 3 Lac students appear for the exam but only 1/10th ( nearly 30,000)of them go through to the mains stage. A lot depends on the choice of study material. Relying on a all-in-one manual has its obvious risks. This is a competitive exam and whatever edge you have over your neighbors will help you get ahead. These are very crucial books because of the importance of their subject matter and consistent record of landing questions in the previous papers.

1. India's Struggle for Independence - Modern Indian History

The book is written by 5 authors including the renowned Historian BIPAN CHANDRA. It is big and is 530 pages in length but the pace with which it goes, it can be finished in 1-2 weeks. Language is so easy that it can be read by almost anyone. Over the past few years a lot of questions have appeared in the exams from this books and is universally recommended by the successful candidates.
Reading this book
You will need to read this book 2-3 times to be able to grasp the concept of British rule and remember the facts and their relationships. In the first reading read it like a story. This way you can finish it in 1week. In the second reading try to make picture of the chapters in mind and summarize them so that you can try to see how the independence struggle moved. Also, underline the important data in between the lines. In the third reading read only the underlines and relate them to the summaries of the chapters. Following is the time this book should take:
Reading Style: You are free to follow any style you like. However, I enjoyed making a planned reading to get the maximum out of this book. I recommend you the same.
  1. First Reading: 7 days for 3 hours per day.
  2. Second Reading: 10 days for 3 hours per day (includes summarizing).
  3. Third Reading: 5 days for 2 hours per day.
Cheapest Price Online*: Rs. 179/- @ flipkart

2. Certificate Physical and Human Geography by Goh Cheng Leong - Geography

This is a small textbook type book in geography but contains a lot of information. It is a one stop reference for all the geography books. No need to read the repetitive NCERT physical geography books, they are not required if you have this book. This book is shilajit aushadhi for geography questions in the prelims. It contains less than 200 pages of text with descriptive charts and diagrams. It is easy to finish in a span of 10-15 days. The book can be read in a different way than the previous book.
Reading Style: The book should be read chapter-wise (contains 25 chapters) with 1-2 chapters per day. The reading will be slower than the previous book because of the amount of details. Trying to read more than 2 chapters in a day is sure to affect the grasping power. It should be read at least 2 times to feel comfortable about it.
Cheapest Price Online*:Rs. 250/- @ Flipkart

3. Indian Economy Supplement by PD - Economy of India

Pratiyogita Darpan comes up with an Indian Economy suppliment every year. This compilation contains the latest annual figures about the state of the nation's economy with sector-wise data. It is a high voltage book covering all the dimensions in the Socio-Economic domain. Another reason why this book is a must for UPSC preparation is its language and easy to understand tabular representations. I fell in love with this book after reading a few pages.
Reading Style: The book should be read in parts and its biggest use lies as a reference material. Don't try to mug up the facts because you will never succeed. Since questions will be multiple choice you will just need to have a good idea about the topic. Make sure you cover the book completely a month before the exam because all of the things it covers are important.

Cheapest Price Online*: Rs. 228/- @ Flipkart

4. Indian Polity by Laxmikant - Public Administration

There are a lot of good books on Indian Constitution and Pub Ad boasting of covering length and breadth of the subject. Why I chose this book in the face of all other equally good books is its appropriateness for the exam and the testimonials of fellow successful candidates. You may choose to read Constitution from D D Basu for the sake of leisure but that is not a good use of time. Purpose of the test is not to test the knowledge of the nuances of our Constitution (which is the job of lawyers and lawmakers) but to test understanding of general intent and inclination of the political system. Not to mention the fact that a lot of questions relating to constitutional acts are asked from recent happenings. This book does a pretty good job at what is required of all the aspirants.
Reading Style: The book is very interesting understanding the fact that all the aspirants love to learn about their nation. Though, it can appear deadbeat for non-arts students but it is definite worth the mile. It is a very specific book and needs flexible style of reading. Remember, never leave it unread.
Cheapest Price Online*:Rs. 267/- @ flipkart

5. CSAT by Arun Sharma et al - Paper II

Paper II is equally important as Paper I. This can be a make or break subject for Arts students because they might find themselves at loggerheads with maths and logical reasoning. There are plenty of high profile books sitting on bookshelves to make money. This book is obviously better than many others because of easy to understand presentation of concepts, quality and relevance of its questions. Name of Arun Sharma is obviously reliable for MBA aspirants and will comfort even those who have prepared for CAT Exam. This book is easy on the pocket when you compare it to a lot of other books.
Reading Style: This book has two parts - concepts and practice. All the concepts should be followed up with practice step by step. Learning all the concepts first will be a bad idea and prolong your learning period. Don't try to solve all the question and try to make sure that when you are comfortable about one type of questions, it's time to move onto others. After all/most of the concepts are inculcated you have to go for speed with accuracy.
Cheapest Price Online*: Rs. 436/- @ Flipkart