How To Prepare Economics For UPSC: A Comprehensive Guide

how to prepare economics for upsc

The Indian economy is an important part of the UPSC CSE Main exam’s General Studies III paper. As it appears in all three phases of the exams, it is important that you know how to prepare economics for UPSC CSE exams thoroughly.

Prelims, mains, and even the interview process include questions about recent development, economic growth in the private sector, social sector, tax revenue and growth in the industry, agriculture, trade, and transportation in day-to-day scenarios.

When it comes to understanding Economics, the subject comprises of a plethora of terminologies, phenomena, theories, etc. Any country’s economy serves as the foundation for its growth and development.

You are going to be an Administrator in the future so it is very important to understand the Indian Economy thoroughly, hence the extra effort on how to prepare economics for UPSC CSE exams.

The UPSC CSE Mains GS III paper assesses the candidate’s knowledge of Economics. The Indian economic development is also covered in the General Studies Paper in Prelims, with a particular emphasis on budget allocation and recently launched schemes.

Important Points To Be Kept In Mind Before Commencing Economics Preparation

There are some points that you should notice before you start preparing for the Indian Economy :

  1. The prelims section of Indian Economy in UPSC CSE comprises of concept-based questions. IAS Prelims demands conceptual clarity but with an objective approach. You can prepare easily for it as it also covers your current affairs section.
  2. As mentioned in the previous point your current affairs section overlaps with subjects like Economics as most of the questions arise from the current economic scenario of the Country and various microeconomic policies.
  3. For the Mains exam question, NCERT books may not help you fully as it is highly conceptual and Mains demands a subjective approach. However, questions from the Indian economy demand both facts and figures along with your opinion. Still, your answer cannot be highly subjective as the Economy can’t be explained on the basis of your sentiments. You need to prove your point with the help of an unbiased technical opinion.
  4. People from mathematics backgrounds may feel quite comfortable as they are good with numbers.

You can check some of the questions asked in previous years’ questions papers so that you can get some idea :

  1. Elaborate on the policy taken by the Government of India to meet the challenges of the food processing sector. (UPSC CSE MAINS,2019)
  2. Examine the role of supermarkets in the supply chain management of fruits, vegetables, and food items. How do they eliminate the number of intermediaries? (UPSC CSE MAINS, 2018)
  3. Comment on the important changes introduced in respect of the Long term Capital Gains Tax (LCGT) and Dividend Distribution Tax (DDT) in the Budget for 2018-2019. (UPSC CSE MAINS, 2019)
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How To Prepare economics for UPSC

Here are some points to help you prepare for the UPSC CSE Economy syllabus and you can also speed up your preparation by following these points:

  1. Begin with NCERTs: It is very important to have a solid understanding of key economic concepts. NCERTs are the best resource to fulfill this need. It is evident from the previous year that questions are asked directly from the NCERT books. As a result, it is important to read them thoroughly.
  2. Read IGNOU/NIOS notes: After you’ve finished the NCERTs, supplement your knowledge by reading IGNOU/NIOS notes. You do not need to read them cover to cover; simply go over the relevant chapters from the UPSC CSE Economy syllabus for mains.
  3. Cover Basic books: Covering basic books such as Shankar Ganesh’s Indian Economy Key Concepts and Ramesh Singh’s Indian Economy and making small notes of these bulky books can be a very beneficial approach for an aspirant which clearly explains the definition of economy.

    The books are strategically designed and planned to cover every topic related to UPSC CSE preparation like economic policies, resource policies, fiscal policy, industrial policy, land reforms, investment model, economic survey and many more with conceptual understanding in detail.
  4. Current Affairs: The economy is less about facts but more about trends and concepts. Recent developments in the Indian economy are something you need to understand and grasp thoroughly for the better preparation of UPSC Mains.  

    Read English newspapers like “Economic Times” and “Business Standard” to cover the current affairs of the economic and political weekly portion for good preparation.
  5. Solve Mock Test: Mock tests are an extremely important part of UPSC Exam preparation. Solving as many mock tests as you can, analyzing your mistakes, amending them, and repeating this process will ultimately benefit you in the actual exam and boost your fundamental concepts of economics.

Booklist For Preparing UPSC Economics Syllabus For Civil Services Exam

  1. NCERTs (Class X, XI, and XII)
  2. Indian Economy by Ramesh Singh.
  3. Indian Economy: Performance and Policies by Uma Kapila.
  4. Indian Economy Key Concepts by Sankarganesh Karuppiah
  5. NIOS notes and IGNOU notes

To know about the standard booklist for UPSC preparation of other subjects, visit the linked article.

Some of the additional study material include The Hindu and Economic Times newspapers along with government publications like Yojna, Kurukshetra, and India Year Book.

This is a brief overview of the UPSC Economics Syllabus and the preparation strategy for this subject for the Civil Services Examination.

To be honest, there is no speedy way to study any subject, be it economics or anything else. For cracking any exam, you need to realize the importance of basic concepts.

But yes, a good hold on the foundation will make your preparation efficient.


Indian economy-related questions for prelims and UPSC mains need a different approach. However, economic preparation for the IAS Mains exam will require hard work and dedication.

The books mentioned above will definitely help as well as a few things to note down from the above article that would benefit the preparation of the Indian Economy for the Civil Services Examination. 

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