Austin Clarke

Benefits of NCERT books in UPSC Preparation

Be it in interviews or in the course of preparation, reading NCERT books is one advice that every civil aspirant always get to hear. Top rank holders and even the senior civil servants credit the NCERT for various purposes. Here, we try to decode the What, Why, How and When of NCERT's for you.

NCERT- National Council of Educational Research and Training

Established in the year 1961 by the Government of India, NCERT is an autonomous organisation that advises the central and state governments to provide quality education. The books published by NCERT are used by all CBSE schools in India. Gradually, it can be observed that many State governments are also trying to align their textbooks on the lines of NCERT, making it all more important. Here is why the NCERT books form a core of your preparation.

Fundamental and Basic Books

NCERT books are known for their easy and comprehensible language. Most of the core concepts in social studies, sciences and mathematics can be found in these books. The books are edited and revised regularly, so there is no concern about outdated text.

The books span from 6th grade to 12th grade. If one reads the books of one grade after another, it can be found that the syllabus in each grade is such that it is a continuation of the previous book. This helps the students in building up their basic concepts. This is especially true in the case of students coming from the science or commerce backgrounds. For them to crack civil examination, the first steppingstone would be to read these books to gain basic knowledge of various disciplines.

Besides, the textbooks employ various methods to enhance the understanding of the concepts. For difficult words, the textbook has a textbook on the left/right sides of the page. The box contains the meaning of the word, according to the context in which it has been used in the textbook.

Books in science have activities, solve examples and exercises to solve at the end of every chapter. There is a summary for every chapter as well, which one can refer to whenever there is shortage of time. It is also useful to look at the summary to recollect the concepts that one has previously learnt.

There are also boxes containing additional information, facts, interesting articles and cartoons relevant to the lesson. Instead of reading complex materials provided by various organisations, candidates prefer to read NCERT's, which make it easier to read other material in the future. Overall, the books will lay a strong foundation for the learner.

Relevance in CSE Prelims

The preliminary examination is in the format of Multiple-Choice Questions (MCQs). All UPSC aspirants know that the syllabus for this is very vast. Considering this, it is good to have a broad knowledge in all disciplines that are believed to be weighted in the examination.

It also tests the general knowledge of the students. Reading NCERT books will help the candidates in solving these questions easily. This will help them as reading all books will familiarise the students with almost all the core concepts from all disciplines.

It is also noted that a minimum of 30-40 questions in the UPSC Prelims have been picked up from the NCERT textbooks. This pattern has been observed from at least a decade. For instance, questions on environmental sustainability, conventions and various summits have been asked in the past five years. All these are mentioned and explained in the NCERT Geography textbooks. The same holds true for polity, economy and culture. This is also the reason why a lot of training coaching institutes stress on the importance of reading NCERT books. For Prelims, one must remember factual information from these books.

Relevance in CSE Mains

One of the most important skills required to crack the Mains examination is the answer writing. The answers to the questions should be crisp, within the given word limit. At the same time, they must contain the precise information and analyse the question that has been given. Even if the candidate chooses to write answers longer than the stipulated words, the time constraint will spare no time for the rest of the answers.

In order to crack this puzzle, one must turn to the text of NCERT books. The way every concept is explained, and every question is addressed sets an example for the candidates to write answers in unique style. It helps them grasp the style of writing an answer.

Let us consider an example. For a question on power sharing and federalism, the NCERT book of class 10 civics explains it in a very lucid way. Borrowing points and arguments from these lessons will help the candidates in writing a decent answer.

Another important skill is the listing of arguments by providing a holistic view. These textbooks try to analyse the questions on similar lines. But unlike for prelims where the candidates need to remember facts, here they must remember the analysis and explanation.

List of Important NCERT Books

Reading all the books of NCERT consumes a lot of time. In order to simplify the process, here is a subject-wise list of important books that candidates need to read for UPSC preparation.


• Class IX – India and the Contemporary World – I

• Class IX – India and the Contemporary World – II

• Class X – Themes In World History

• Class XII – Themes In Indian History – I

• Class XII – Themes in Indian History – II

• Class XII – Themes In Indian History – III

Political Science/ Civics

• 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


• Class IX – Economics

• Class X – Understanding Economic Development

• Class XI – Indian Economic Development

• Class XII – Introductory Microeconomics

• Class XII – Introductory Macroeconomics


• 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

Sociology/Indian Society

• Class XI – Sociology: Understanding Society

• Class XII – Indian Society

• Class XII – Social Change and Development in India

How to read NCERT books?

Besides, there are also books for Indian culture and art, science and technology, biology, environmental science and psychology that candidates can read. It is important to read them all at least four times on average to gain a better understanding of all the concepts. Spending two to three hours every day for reading NCERT books is a good routine. Initially, when reading for the first time, it is better to underline the text that is seemingly important. When reading every subsequent time, it becomes easy to identify the important lines without wasting time on introductions and conclusions.

Making notes of the books is a good exercise when reading them for the fourth or fifth time. This will ensure that you have notes of your own, without the need to go back to the textbook every time. Above all, in order to achieve success, it is important to focus on the goal. Practice and perseverance are the keys to success.

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