How To Read NCERT For UPSC

By Aarna Tiwari|Updated : April 15th, 2022

How to read NCERT for UPSC is the most essential question an aspirant ponders upon when starting the UPSC journey. Effective and exhaustive reading is very important in the preparation for the UPSC Exam. Reading NCERTs from basic gives sheer joy, and one must enjoy it. It has been analyzed that questions are consistently asked either directly or indirectly from NCERT books in the PYQs. One should always keep in mind that to command over UPSC Exam, you should command over the NCERT books.

Let us now look into How To Study NCERT For UPSC. 

Table of Content

Why Read NCERT for UPSC?

The NCERT books form the basis of most of the preparation of subjects in the UPSC Preparation Strategy. To read NCERT Books for UPSC, always move from class 6th level to 12th level. When glancing, always keep yourself in the place of the question-setter to match the frequency of his mindset. The NCERT Books do not cover the entire civil service syllabus but it does cover most of the fundamentals. The NCERTs are important for UPSC because:

  • The language of the NCERT is very simple and lucid.
  • The NCERT books are published by the Government, and a great amount of research is done by eminent scholars on the study material.
  • NCERTs are the standard books that are referred for most competitive exams.
  • The accessibility of the NCERT books, along with their availability in both English and Hindi language makes it the go-to source for all students as well as aspirants. 
  • As the NCERTs are checked and rechecked multiple times before publishing, the information is mostly factually correct.

How To Study NCERT For UPSC?

The best approach to How to read NCERT for UPSC is to start class-wise, and then proceed subject-wise. It is always suggested to pick the NCERT Books subject-wise so that the concepts get clear and information is retained for a much longer period. Reading the NCERT Books also helps in understanding the subject quickly, and the basic knowledge gets more substantial, with the concepts getting clearer. To approach How to read NCERT for UPSC, one must always keep in mind the following aspects:

  • Always keep the UPSC Syllabus handy when you start with the initials reading of the NCERTs. This helps in the correlation of the topics mentioned.
  • Reading NCERTs is important for conceptual clarity and understanding basics.
  • The initial reading should be made just to read and get a basic overview of the concepts.
  • The NCERTs are overwhelming when read for the first time, but with further readings, you will realize how enlightening and insightful they can be.
  • Segregate your subjects and sub-topics time table-wise. A disciplined Timetable To Complete NCERT For UPSC is very important in the UPSC preparation.
  • When going through the second reading, micro-manage the topics. One should always take notes according to the topics mentioned in the UPSC Syllabus.
  • Always refer to the Previous Year Questions when reading the NCERT for UPSC. Highlight the important points according to the UPSC Prelims Syllabus and UPSC Mains Syllabus.
  • With further readings, reduce the time when you read the same topics.
  • Every subject requires a different style of note-making strategy. For example, history requires a combination of flowcharts and infographics to retain factual information, whereas, geography needs mnemonics.
  • Always try to correlate topics with current affairs. 
  • Revision is the key. With the substantial revision, the topics and aspects get clear. 

Timetable To Complete NCERT For UPSC

Combining all the subjects from class 6th to 12th, from all the classes, there are about 40-45 books in total to cover in NCERTs. It takes around 3-3.5 months to complete all the NCERTs. A strategic approach with a disciplined Timetable To Complete NCERT For UPSC is important for the UPSC Exam.

Follow the given approach to Complete NCERT For UPSC:

1st Month

  • Buy NCERTs for all the classes, along with the UPSC Syllabus. You can also download them from the official website.
  • The first reading is for gaining conceptual clarity and understanding the basics.
  • The NCERTs are overwhelming when read for the first time, but with further readings, they are enlightening and insightful.
  • Always sit with a pencil when doing the first reading, and mark important topics. 
  • Making a timetable and following it religiously makes the task half complete.

2nd Month

  • When the basics and concepts are clear, the second reading should be sufficient with PYQs. Referring to the Previous Year Questions helps in understanding the level of questions asked in the UPSC Exam.
  • Micro-manage the topics according to the UPSC Syllabus. Set daily targets, and weekly and monthly goals to complete.
  • When going in for the further readings of the NCERTs, take along a pen and eraser. Having gained an insight into the syllabus, try erasing things that do not seem important, and mark the important points with a pen.
  • Also, try attempting mocks according to the subjects you have covered fully. It helps you to understand both your strong and weak points.

3rd Month

  • At this point, mostly all the books of all subjects and classes should be covered.
  • The notes of each subject require a different style and approach to note-making. The notes should always be 3/4th the size of the chapter so that it becomes handy in revision
  • In the final reading phase of the NCERTs, try using a highlighter to highlight the important points, along with the fundamental concepts mentioned.
  • This time, both mocks and PYQs should be practiced along. Practicing and revising the NCERTs keeps the preparation on track.
  • Once, the NCERTs are completed, students can refer to notes for further revisions.

List of NCERT Books needed for UPSC

The UPSC Syllabus is vast and finding the appropriate sources for it can be extremely challenging. So, in this section of the article, we have covered all the basic NCERT Books needed. These NCERT Books are the foundation of the preparation; having read them, the candidate should proceed further with reading of the basic UPSC Books.

UPSC Preparation Books from NCERT History

  • NCERT Class VI – Our Past
  • NCERT Class VII – Our Past -I
  • NCERT Class VIII – Our Past II and III
  • NCERT Class IX – India and the Contemporary World – I
  • NCERT Class IX – India and the Contemporary World – II
  • NCERT Class X – Themes In World History
  • NCERT Class XII – Themes In Indian History – I
  • NCERT Class XII – Themes in Indian History – II
  • NCERT Class XII – Themes In Indian History – III
  • Old NCERT Class XI - Ancient India by RS Sharma
  • Old NCERT Class IX - Medieval India by Satish Chandra
  • Old NCERT Class X - Modern India by Bipin Chandra

UPSC Preparation Books from NCERT Geography

  • NCERT Class VI – The Earth Our Habitat
  • NCERT Class VII – Our Environment
  • NCERT Class VIII – Resource and Development
  • NCERT Class IX – Contemporary India – I
  • NCERT Class X – Contemporary India – II
  • NCERT Class XI – Fundamentals of Physical Geography
  • NCERT Class XI – India – Physical Environment
  • NCERT Class XII – Fundamentals of Human Geography
  • NCERT Class XII – India – People and Economy

UPSC Preparation Books from NCERT Social Science

  • NCERT Class VI – Social Science: Social & Political Life I
  • NCERT Class VII – Social Science: Social & Political Life II
  • NCERT Class VIII – Social Science: Social & Political Life III

UPSC Preparation Books from NCERT Political Science

  • NCERT Class IX – Political Science: Democratic Politics Part – I
  • NCERT Class X – Political Science: Democratic Politics Part – II
  • NCERT Class XI – Political Science: Indian Constitution at Work
  • NCERT Class XI – Political Science: Political Theory
  • NCERT Class XII – Political Science I: Contemporary World Politics
  • NCERT Class XII – Political Science II: Politics in India since Independence

UPSC Preparation Books from NCERT Economics

  • NCERT Class IX – Economics
  • NCERT Class X – Understanding Economic Development
  • NCERT Class XI – Indian Economic Development
  • NCERT Class XII – Introductory Microeconomics
  • NCERT Class XII – Introductory Macroeconomics

UPSC Preparation Books from NCERT Art & Culture

  • NCERT Class XI – An Introduction to Indian Art
  • NCERT Class XI – Living Craft Traditions of India (Chapters 9 & 10)

UPSC Preparation Books from NCERT Science & Technology

  • NCERT Class VI
  • NCERT Class VII
  • NCERT Class VIII
  • NCERT Class IX
  • NCERT Class X
  • NCERT Class XI – Chemistry: Unit 14 & Biology: Units 4 & 5
  • NCERT Class XII – Chemistry: Unit 16 & Biology: Units 8, 9 & 10

Now we hope that the query How to read NCERT for UPSC has been resolved and the complete booklist of NCERT Books for UPSC preparation is with you. So, don’t waste time and start your IAS preparation today!


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  • The NCERT Books for UPSC should be covered subject-wise, rather than class-wise. One should pick the subject of his/her choice and go with multiple readings of the subjects from the basic to advance level. This will help in the conceptual clarity of the topics. Following this, the aspirant should try to relate the topics to the current affairs too. Notes should also be made side-by-side.

  • Yes. With the right approach and time management, along with the help of the right UPSC Books, one can complete all the NCERT Books in just 3 months. Even if you start preparing now, do the smart work, learn what is needed, and don't go behind everything under the Sun – yes, you can complete all the NCERT Books in just 3 months.

  • UPSC has asked many questions directly from the NCERT books. If we analyze the past trends in detail, we come across multiple questions that are directly asked from NCERT books.

  • The NCERT textbooks are essential for the IAS exam. Some of the basic books to refer to are India and the Contemporary World, Themes In World History, Contemporary India, Fundamentals of Physical Geography, Fundamentals of Human Geography, Indian Constitution at Work, Politics in India since Independence, to name just a few.

  • The NCERTs are fairly simple and cover the basics quite well. NCERTs play a pivotal role in building the foundational basics of all subjects of the CSE’s syllabus. Having said that, it is always advised to cover the NCERTs from the basic level so that a firm understanding and foundation are formed. It also helps in correlating the events and happenings.

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