Experts' Preparation strategy and booklist for IAS 2019

Preparation Strategy & Book-List for Students targeting IAS Exam 2019

As per the notification UPSC released for Civil Services Exam 2018, there are comparatively lower vacancies (782 vacancies), i.e. 198 less than last year and 511 jobs less than the best year-2014; which clearly shows the increasing competition and toughness of the exam. And, this year preliminary Exam also went too unexpected. So, the unpredictability of the exam is undoubtedly there, and one must be prepared for all kind of situation which UPSC could create in the coming years in Civil Services Examination.  And therefore, we, at Chanakya IAS Academy have devised this smart preparation strategy with the field experts under the guidance of Mr AK Mishra (Founder & Chairman, Chanakya IAS Academy). This preparation strategy and book list would surely help the aspirants aiming at Civil Services Exam 2019.

To get coached and prepared under experts’ guidance for all 3 stages of Civil Services Exam 2019, Click Here for the details

Now, here is the month wise plan which would help you prepare well for Civil Services Exam 2019

  1. June 1st August 31st, 2018:
  • Syllabus: To begin with, as stated earlier, do read the syllabus well; rather learn it. Then, divide the subject into two parts. The ones you like the most and the ones that scare you the most. Now take 3 subjects to prepare in during this phase of preparation; out of which 1 should be from the list of your liking and other 2 should be from the other list.
  • Integrated Preparation: Make sure you begin with integrated preparation for both Prelims and Mains, and focus on covering the GS part initially.
  • Devote 5 to 7 hours initially: Initially, 5 to 7 hours of study is sufficient if you devoting full time to the preparation, and gradually develop a habit of studying at least 10 hours a day. Remember, it should be qualitative study, not the quantitative. Every hour you put into the preparation must be effective and dedicated.
  • Make notes: Note making is extremely important during the entire phase of preparation. Make sure you make crisp and to the point notes of everything you study for quick revisions.
  • Practice Answer writing: While Civil Services preliminary exam is objective in nature, Mains exam is completely subjective and tests your writing skills the most. You are not only expected to have the knowledge, but you must know the art of rightly presenting your knowledge in the form of answer writing. Thus you are advised to give special space and time to answer writing in your schedule & rigorously follow it.
  • Stay abreast with Current Affairs: Current affairs play a crucial role in all 3 stages of Civil Services Exam, and therefore, this needs special attention from the day 1 itself. Most of the subjects of GS cover both static as well as the dynamic portion of the syllabus, while you will cover the static portion from the books, the dynamic portion would require a sound knowledge of current affairs. Read The Hindi and Indian Express every day, read editorials from the Newspaper, listen to AIR News, Rajya Sabha & Lok Sabha News and stay updated with current happenings around the globe.
  • Revise: Do not forget to keep a day just for revision in a week, revise everything you studied in the entire week on this day.
  • Solve Previous Year Question Papers: Go through the previous year question papers. You are not at all expected to solve those question papers at this stage, but at least get an idea as to what kind of questions are asked in both the stages of the exam (Prelims and Mains)
  • Keep yourself away from distractions: Although sparing some time for personal activities, socializing, outing is always advisable, but there must be a set time for everything. So do not compromise with the working hours you will devote to your study, and keep your mind away from all the distractions at that time. Rest, you can make a right timetable for you, where you can spare a good amount of time to give to those activities you love the most.
  • Discuss: You are never advised to lock yourself in a room and study for hours without having interaction with others. You are going to be an administrator who will have to deal with lakhs of students every day. So during the preparation phase, you must develop a habit of discussing the current happenings, know the opinion of others and look out for the ways to bring better changes. You need to change your perspective from common man to an administrator. 


  1. September 1st to October 31st 2018:
  • Time to upgrade the preparation: After devoting regular 3 months to the preparation, your mind must have become habitual by now and more effective in understanding the concepts and things from an administrator’s perspective. Make most of this upgradation of your mind and add 2 more subjects now in your study list. Apart from this, now you need to get out of the books world and go for a reality check. Move out, indulge yourself in healthy discussion with peer groups and the general people in the society, understand their viewpoints and start thinking with a problem-solving approach.
  • Increase your study hours: Now when your mind has become habitual and more productive, this is the time to increase your hours of study and devote more attention to covering the syllabus.
  • Complete all the tough subjects by end of this phase: Before moving to the easier subjects and the subjects of your interest, try to cover all the difficult subjects by the end of this phase. Form a stronger foundation with NCERTs and then for standard books. The booklist for all the subjects is given in this article below.
  • Start solving previous year question papers: Now in the initial phase, you were advised to just have a look at the previous year question papers and get an understanding about the exam format, the questions asked and other important details. Now is the time to practice solving those question papers. This will help you understand your preparation level, your weaknesses, and your areas of strengths; and then the actual preparation to sit for the exam will begin when you will start working on your loopholes.
  • Current Affairs: Again, current affairs are very important. Stay updated. Make a habit of reading newspaper every day and do keep searching about the current affairs on google to understand the stories in depth.
  • Revision: Keep a day for your revision once in a week without fail


  1. November 1st to February 28th 2019
  • Pick up the subjects which still remain uncovered: We expect you to have completed all the extensive subjects by now and the remaining one should be of your interest and easy to cover, say, like Environment. Cover those subject within this phase and simultaneously keep revision the subjects which have been covered.
  • Start preparing for Optional Subject: Now, in this phase, you must have got the clarity as in which subject you are strong and which subject seems difficult to you. So this is the time when you should pick up the right optional subject for you to make the best use of your strength in a particular subject. The optional subject is very important; it helps gain marks, as UPSC gives you the liberty here to choose the subject as per your liking. So choose your optional wisely. It should be depending upon your interest level, your academic background, your area of strength, the material available in the market and such other factors. So choose it wisely and start devoting time to it. The questions asked in the optional subject are of 12th class and graduation level, so begin the preparation accordingly.
  • Stay updated with current affairs and revise: Along with these preparations, keep yourself updated with current affairs; read Newspaper, Yojana, Budget, Indian year Book, Economic Survey, All India Radio News, Rajya Sabha News, Lok Sabha News and current affairs compilations which are easily available on the Internet. Besides, keep reading your notes, keep adding newer studies in your notes, revise as much as possible, and keep making crisper notes for last minute mug up.


  1. March 1st till Prelims 2019 Exam (June)
  • Prelims centric preparation: Now, time to shift your focus from integrated preparation to entirely prelims focused preparation. And, since have covered the GS part during the integrated preparation, you will find it easier to cover the prelims GS syllabus soon. Do a quick revision of GS, and cover as per the syllabus. Then move on to CSAT part, start solving maths question from 6 to 10th level and solve previous year question papers.
  • Enrol for Mock Tests: This is the best time to go for mock tests for Prelims which every academy offers during this phase. You will get around 40 to 50 test papers which will consist of the syllabus of both GS and CSAT paper along with answer evaluation & discussions. This is one of the most important parts of preparation process; do not forget to take Test Series.
  • Revise and make quick notes: Read all the subjects twice and make crisp notes for last minute revision. Special focus should be on dates, names, events and such other things as you will find very tricky questions in prelims.
  • Stay updated with current affairs: As seen in CSE Prelims 2017, most of the question asked were from the dynamic potion of the syllabus, therefore, do read current affairs and connect the current affairs with the static portion of syllabus you have studied.


  1. After Prelims (July) till Mains (October) 
  • Mains Centric Preparation: After having appeared for Prelims in June, you get complete 3 months to prepare for Mains, which generally held in October. And now, in this phase, you can make use of the advantage of having covered the GS syllabus during your integrated preparing in the initial phases. So now give undivided attention to Mains exam
  • Practice writing: Mains exam is all about how you present your knowledge in your words. So do writing practice as much as possible. Practice Essay writing, Solve previous year questions papers, make notes, solve case studies for ethics papers and enhance your writing skills as much as you can.
  • Enrol for Mains Test Series: Now this is the best time to enrol for Mains Test Series which every IAS Academy provides along with detailed answers, explanation and special discussions. This will help you enhance not only your writing skills but also your knowledge and will make you well attuned with the exam pattern and probable questions. Moreover, it also helps you assess your preparation level and your areas of strengths and weakness to further work upon.

 Suggested Booklist for Prelims 2019

  • Polity: Lakshmikanth
  • Geography: Class 6th to 12th NCERT, GC Leong, Oxford Atlas.
  • Modern History: Spectrum, Class 12th Old NCERT
  • Ancient/Medieval: Past Year Papers, Old NCERTs
  • Environment: Class 12th Bio NCERT/ Shankar
  • Economics: Class 12th NCERT, Sriram, Mrunal
  • Art and Culture: NIOS Notes, Spectrum, Nitin Singhania. 11th NCERT for Fine Arts
  • For Culture, Science and Environment Ministry from PIB
  • Current Affairs: Along with Hindu Newspaper, students can refer Chanakya Civil Services today for Current affairs or be regular with Daily News Analysis from Chanakya IAS Academy. Also, read Current affairs compilation easily available on the Internet.
  • Science and Tech: Use the Internet and current Affairs compilation to cover this


Suggested Booklist for Mains 2019

GS 1 (Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the world and Science)

  • Geography – NCERT 11th Class, Geophysical Phenomenon by Dr Khullar, PMF IAS Notes for Geography or GC Leong
  • History – Spectrum, Independence – Spectrum (Integration of Princely States), Bipin Chandra, NCERT 12th Class Political Science
  • World History – NCERT of 9th and 10th Class, Vision Notes
  • Sociology – NCERT of Sociology and Newspaper
  • Culture – Ancient Medieval History

GS 2 (Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice, and International Relations)

  • Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice, and International Relations – Laxmikanth, Representation of People Act, Welfare Schemes along with Current Affairs compilation
  • Current Affairs – Newspaper, current affairs compilation and other important sources mentioned above in the article

GS 3 (Technology, Economic Development, Bio-diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management)

  • Economics, Inclusive Growth, Budget – Economic Survey, Budget Highlight
  • Science and Tech – Current Affairs is enough
  • Environment – NCERTs of 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th
  • Disaster Management – Dr Khullar

Other suggested Booklets:– Yojana, Kurukshetra, Science Reporter Magazine

GS 4 (Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude)

  • Emotional Intelligence, Probity of Governance, attitude, ethics – Lexicon or Subba Rao Learn Real Life Examples
  • Essay: Practice, solve previous years papers and enrol for Test Series


Note: Build your answers from editorial analysis and practice writing

Good Luck!


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