How to read NCERT books efficiently for the IAS exam?

How to read NCERT books efficiently for the IAS exam?

   Kautilya Academy    02-06-2021

NCERT Books for UPSC form the major part of the syllabus of the UPSC Civil Services Examinations. So every aspirant should fall back on the basic NCERT books. However, though each aspirant reads the same books, what exactly is expected of you in the UPSC Exams as far as the knowledge on the subjects is concerned? It is expected that you have a thorough understanding of the subject, understand the reasoning associated with each topic, and remember the important facts of the subject. It is also expected that you can reproduce all this in the answers as required during the examination.


There are some top rank holders, and others don’t even make it through the first stage or Prelims.  So what differentiates these two sets of candidates? The difference, therefore, is not in what they are reading, but how they are reading it.


When it comes to reading, it’s about what you read and how you read. As NCERT books are a must for all IAS aspirants, it also becomes important to know how to read them. Let’s first take a look at why the NCERT book is important & why you should read NCERT Books:


 Why NCERTs are important for UPSC:-


  • Simple: The language in NCERT Books are highly simplified for your better understanding.

  • Reputed people in the field have done extensive Research: NCERT books are written & published after a great amount of research.

  • Authentic: NCERT books are an authentic source of information as the information published is provided by government agencies & institutions.

  • Standard book for all exams: They are standard books for all exams & questions therein are also reliable.

  • Correct information: NCERT books are checked and rechecked many times before they are published, so the information is correct.

  • Good for understanding concepts: These books cover topics in a well-framed manner. They start with the basics and go on to a higher level, unlike many other books. So, you are looking to clear your concepts NCERT is the way to go.


How to read NCERT Books for UPSC:-


Now that we have covered why you should read NCERT books, let’s move on to how you should read NCERT books:


  1. Class Wise: The first method is reading all the books class-wise starting from Std. 6th. This is an excellent way to read specifically for the exams when you have a time constraint.

  2. Subject Wise: The second method is to read the NCERT books subject-wise. In this method, you pick up one particular subject and read all the books from class 6 to 12.


Here are some helpful step for How to read NCERT Books:-

Step 1:-

How are you going to read each subject and each topic? We suggest starting from the books of the sixth standard. Initially, the books will seem to be very easy and you will be going through the chapters very fast. At this stage, try not to stop understanding concepts if you are unclear. Just go on reading to get an idea of the subject. How it works, what the logical connections are, how each chapter flows to the next and get a general sense of the topics in the subject. This will be your first step. And it will help you a lot.

Step 2:-

Reread the subjects, but this time to understand each concept of each topic. This is the step where you will seek external help to understand if required and not skip any topic to go to the next. Do not skip any part of any chapter either because generally, a chapter to be understood requires knowledge from the previous chapter’s topics. So at this stage make sure you understand every book and corner of the book. Underline concepts that you need to remember, make notes and do short revisions if required so that you are comfortable with the topics. Also, solve each question in the exercises following the chapters. In case you are unable to solve the problems, you need to redo this step and go back to understanding the concepts.


Step 3:-


Do a final reading of the subjects. During this reading, you should be so comfortable with the subject and the topics that you read smoothly without much pause. Of course, you might find things you had missed earlier, facts and data and some concepts, however, on the whole, you will be comfortably covering chapter after chapter quite fast. Work on your notes and make them concise and crisp at this point so that you can revise each subject in a very short period of time. If you have done the earlier steps correctly, you should find this step to be easy and quite enjoyable.


Step 4:-


Finally, correlate the everyday events that you are reading in the newspaper to the subjects you have read. For example, if a government scheme on poverty alleviation is in the news, try to make use of it and revise other similar schemes from the past or the constitutional framework in which such schemes are made. This will really help to cement both the current affairs topic and the static syllabus topic in your mind.

If you do your reading following these 4 steps, you will already be ahead of the lacs of aspirants who aspire to crack this exam but don’t know how to study for it.

However, here is a little more to take you even further. Let us look at how to internalize the topics rather than just read them. This is exactly what UPSC expects out of candidates, not just knowledge, but a deep understanding of the topics correlated and connected with reality.


Here is the list of NCERT BOOKS for UPSC:-




UPSC Books

Indian Polity


Indian Polity – M Laxmikanth


NCERT VI-X & XII (Modern Indian History)

India’s Struggle for Independence – Bipan Chandra

NCERT XI (Ancient & Medieval)

Facets of Indian Culture – Spectrum

International Relations

Current Affairs

NCERT XII (Contemporary World Politics)


NCERT VI – X (Old Syllabus)

World Atlas

Certificate Physical Geography – G C Leong

NCERT XI, XII (New Syllabus)


CSAT II – Arihant

Verbal & Non-Verbal Reasoning – R S Aggarwal

Tata McGraw Hill CSAT Manual

For more information on CSAT, check the linked article




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