How to read NCERTs for UPSC

How to read NCERTs for UPSC

UPSC Preparation

For UPSC Civil Services Exam


Table of contents

Which ones do you have to read?

All NCERT books are not relevant for UPSC and you should be selective about which ones you have to read. You first task is to make a list of all such NCERTs.

How do make this list? Simple, look at the syllabus. Pick up NCERTs for all the subjects mentioned in the Prelims syllabus.

Short list

Class VI-X. Read history, geography, civics, economics, at least once.

Class XI-XII. For History, Geography, Sociology, Psychology.

(A detailed list for the lazy people can be found at the bottom of the post)

How to Read NCERTs?

Once you're done with the list, start reading.

Read Subject Wise

And read them subject wise. Not class wise. Eg. finish all Geography NCERTs (6th to 12th) first, then go for Polity, then Economy and so on. This will help you develop a good understanding of one subject before you move on to the next.

Make your life easier, don't jump from subject to subject.

Remember, NCERTs till 10th are to clear your basics. Those from 11-12th will be the ones most relevant for UPSC!

Fast first reading

Do not underline or make notes in first reading. This round is just to ensure that you get a sense of the overall subject. We will come back to the underlining and detailed reading later.

Then look for PYQs (of Prelims and Mains) and try to solve them. If you get most of them wrong, don't worry. This is just the start.

Second reading

During the second reading, lead with the PYQs. Instead of simply reading the chapters, focus on finding areas where the PYQs were asked from. You can underline important areas in this reading.

Also, at this stage, you need to start googling concepts you don't understand. Don't move ahead unless you understand concepts at this stage. This is going to be the foundation of your UPSC journey.

Graduating from School

After the second reading you should have developed an adequate understanding of the subject. If you feel you don't have it, read them ONE MORE TIME before moving forward. Use Google/Youtube to improve your understanding of concepts.

And now, it's time to read the standard books. Like Laxmikanth for Polity.

Congratulations, you've just graduated from school and have built a solid base for your UPSC preparation going forward.


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Long List for the Lazies

Can I skip some of them?

You jump here right from the index, didn't you. But we've all thought this, and yes you can.

If you're comfortable reading the Class XI/XII NCERTs you don't need to read those from Class VI to X. The MUST READ ones have been highlighted in bold to make it easier for you.

How do you know if you're comfortable with them? Go read.

History NCERT books for IAS Preparation

  • Class VI – Our Past
  • Class VII – Our Past -I
  • Class VIII – Our Past II and III
  • Class IX – India and the Contemporary World – I
  • Class IX – India and the Contemporary World – II
  • Class X – Themes In World History

Indian Society NCERT books for UPSC Preparation

  • Class VI – Social Science: Social & Political Life I
  • VII – Social Science: Social & Political Life II
  • Class VIII – Social Science: Social & Political Life III
  • Class XI – Sociology: Understanding Society
  • Class XII – Indian Society
  • Class XII – Social Change and Development in India

Indian Art and Culture NCERT books for UPSC exam

  • Class XI – An Introduction to Indian Art
  • Class XI – Living Craft Traditions of India (Chapters 9 & 10)
  • Class XII – Themes In Indian History – I
  • Class XII – Themes in Indian History – II
  • Class XII – Themes In Indian History – III

3 Books from History have been added here under Art & Culture because these books deal with that topic than with GS relevant history.

Geography NCERT Books for IAS exam

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

Old History NCERT books for UPSC Preparation

You will get a lot of talk about how you should do the old NCERTs for history and not the new ones. The truth is, it doesn't matter.

Because you will anyhow do the standard books for most subjects after the NCERTs (except for Geography - those NCERTs are all you need). And in such a case, duplicating your effort here is pointless.

Polity NCERT Books for IAS Exam

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

Economy NCERT Books for UPSC Preparation

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

NOTE: Ignore all the math and formulas - just understand the concepts.

Science NCERT books for UPSC

  • Class VI, VII, VIII, IX and X
  • Class XI – Chemistry: Unit 14 & Biology: Units 4 & 5
  • Class XII – Chemistry: Unit 16 & Biology: Units 8, 9 & 10
  • Class XII – Biology: last four Chapters (13 to 16)

Standard Books

Repeat the 2 Rounds of reading for all standard books.

Here's a short list of books that UPSC toppers have been recommending for almost 10 years.


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