How to Read NCERT Books for UPSC?

by Vajiram & Ravi


05:53 AM

NCERT books are the cornerstone of UPSC exam preparation. They offer a structured and comprehensive approach to understanding the core subjects required for the exam. However, reading NCERT textbooks effectively involves active engagement, critical thinking, and the ability to connect concepts across different subjects. In this article, we will delve into the strategies for effectively reading NCERT books to prepare for the UPSC exam.

How to Read NCERT for UPSC?

The UPSC Civil Services Examination demands a well-rounded and comprehensive understanding of various subjects, including history, geography, economics, political science, and more. When it comes to building a strong foundation in these subjects, NCERT books for UPSC are considered the holy grail for aspirants. By following these strategies, you can harness the power of NCERT books to build a strong foundation and increase your chances of success in the UPSC Civil Services Examination.

Select the Right NCERT Textbooks

Go through the list of Important NCERT Books and Identify the books that cover the subjects and topics mentioned in the UPSC syllabus for both Prelims and Mains. The NCERT Books from classes 6 to 12 need to be studied for general studies syllabus coverage.

Start from the Basics

Begin your NCERT journey with the lower-grade textbooks and gradually work your way up to higher classes. This approach ensures a strong foundation in fundamental concepts.

Read Actively, Not Passively

NCERT Books form an important base for general studies subjects when it comes to UPSC CSE Preparation. Hence it is very important to read actively and underline all the important points in the books while you do so.

Focus on Concept Clarity

NCERT books are known for their clarity in explaining concepts, especially when it comes to reading them for subjects like History and Geography. Pay attention to these explanations as they form the basis for understanding more advanced topics.

Practise Questions

NCERT textbooks often include practice questions and exercises at the end of each chapter. Don't skip them; they are invaluable for testing your understanding. A lot of questions in UPSC Prelims have been directly known to have been asked from the NCERT Books.

For example: 

UPSC Prelims 2019

Building 'Kalyaana Mandapas' was a notable feature in the temple construction in the kingdom of

(a) Chalukya

(b) Chandela

(c) Rashtrakuta

(d) Vijayanagara

Source of Question: NCERT Book Class XII

How to Read NCERT for UPSC

Make Notes

Well this point is optional on your part to consider. You may or may not create concise notes while reading NCERT books. If you feel that your basics have been cleared just by reading the books then you are good to go or else you could always opt for making small pointers from the text that you read that will help you later to revise.

Cross-Reference with Other Sources

While NCERT books are excellent for building a foundation, they may not cover every aspect of a topic. Cross-reference with other standard books or study materials to supplement your knowledge. For example, the old History NCERT Books like RS Sharma are very old and not updated. Hence, some of the information provided in these books is not relevant in the present times.

Revise and Revisit

Regular revision is crucial. Go back to your NCERT notes and textbooks periodically to reinforce what you've learned.

Mind the Maps and Diagrams

NCERT books often include maps, diagrams, and illustrations. Pay attention to these visuals as they can help you grasp geographical and historical concepts more effectively.


How to read NCERT books for UPSC?

The most effective approach to studying NCERT books for UPSC is to begin by focusing on a specific class and then delve into each subject separately. It is advisable to choose NCERT books according to the subjects to enhance concept comprehension and ensure that the information remains retained for an extended period.

How many NCERTs do you need to read for UPSC?

When candidates have ample time at their disposal, it is recommended to commence their study journey with NCERT textbooks starting from the 6th standard and continuing through to the 12th standard for all pertinent subjects. By covering all the subjects across these grade levels, you will be required to go through a total of approximately 40 to 44 books.

Is it enough to read NCERT for UPSC? 

While NCERT books provide a strong foundation, relying solely on them may not be sufficient for UPSC preparation. Supplementing with additional standard reference books, current affairs, and practice is essential for a well-rounded approach to the exam.