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 and materials for CSAT in advance. This page lists books that are relevant for CSAT from this point of view.
Note: All the books mentioned on this page have been tried by me or highly recommended by fellow aspirants. Also I am constantly adding books to cover the entire syllabus gradually so keep visiting this page often. This page contains links to pages where you can purchase the books online. Wherever possible I have listed the current and previous year’s edition of current affairs related books.
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.
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.
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 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.
Student Atlas for Geography related questions
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.