The full form of NCERT is ‘National Council of Educational Research and Training‘ and it is a govt. organization that helps in improving the quality of school education in India. Further, NCERT books for Civil Service Exam is a necessary topic and we will be discussing everything about it in this article. UPSC aspirants and NCERT books for IAS exam are inseparable because NCERT books are the building blocks of the Civil Services exam. These are govt. sanctioned books and you do not have to double-check its contents. The NCERT books for CSE are called the building blocks because UPSC expects candidates to have a generalized knowledge about various subjects and not become a subject specialist.

NCERT books aim to help students understand all the subjects from a general point of view. This is the purpose of UPSC because the job revolves around common people and their problems. To be able to bring about progress in society as a whole, an IAS/IPS officer should be able to look from all the sides which will be possible if you read important NCERT books for UPSC exam.

Table Of Contents

Why are UPSC NCERT books important?

One cannot stress the importance of NCERTs books for IAS exam. With a plethora of books out there, it must be really confusing regarding the necessity of NCERT books for CSE. You muat be wonderingif these books can be skipped when so many coaching material and notes are given out for free.Let us look at some of the reasons as to why an IAS/IPS aspirant cannot leave NCERTs out of their preparation strategy –

1. Most Basic Books

These books have been written for basic understanding of subjects. They are so simple that further breakdown is not required. A candidate will be able to cover the most important and basic part of all the subjects by reading NCERT books for CSE.

2. Answer writing example

NCERT books help to prepare notes for Prelims and help in Mains answer writing

The material in these books are fundamental while preparing for the Mains examination. So, The style of Mains answer writing should be similar to the writing style of these books.

3. Direct questions

UPSC often asks questions directly from the NCERT books. Although the questions are direct sometimes, it does not necessarily always mean that the question will be directly copied from the books. Further, UPSC tests the concept and most of the questions can be easily answered by reading NCERTs.

4. Simple language and 100% reliable

Written in simple language, NCERT books are 100% reliable as they are government authorized books. Also, you can never go wrong with them as you are appearing for a government exam.

UPSC NCERT books for CSE Prelims

NCERT books are important to clear the Prelims and Mains exam of UPSC Civil Services
NCERT logo | Image source
  1. UPSC asks almost 30-40 questions directly from NCERTs.
  2. When you read an NCERT book for a subject, you are covering the entire base of the particular subject.
  3. These books cover the tiniest of details so you do not miss out on any of the questions that may be asked in the Prelims.
  4. With a list of all the NCERT books at hand, you do not have to keep searching for extra material. It takes care of all the relevant information that you need for the UPSC exam.
  5. Students who wish to choose an Optional which is very different from their academic background can also rely on these books to start with for the basics.

UPSC NCERT books for CSE Mains

  1. Candidates can read NCERTs even for Mains as the syllabus for Prelims and Mains coincide to a larger extent. For example, the reading list for Geography is the same for both Prelims and Mains. You may refer to other books of you have the time. Else, NCERTs are sufficient.
  2. Also, NCERT books have information written in such a way that you can adapt/improvise this style of writing for your Mains answer writing. The UPSC examiner wants simple and relevant points in your answer.
  3. NCERT books also help you understand the most difficult topics in an easy manner. When you understand concepts, you will be easily able to produce it in your answer in a creative and meaningful way.

You can download NCERT books in English and Hindi from the official website of NCERT.

What to read in NCERT books for Civil Service Exam?

UPSC NCERT Books includes almost all the important subjects that are included in the UPSC syllabus
NCERT Books are important for UPSC preparation
  • HISTORY: Read History from the Prelims and Mains perspective separately. Make sure that you prepare a common ‘Timeline’ since history revolves around chronology. So, pay attention to facts and read the text in relation to different events that may be happening at the same time but in different places.
  • GEOGRAPHY: The four NCERT books of Class X and XII are sufficient for the theoretical part of both Prelims and Mains. Learn all the important maps, rivers, mountain ranges, passes, etc.
  • ART and CULTURE: Class XI NCERT is indispensable for the GS Paper 1 of the mains examination. Read this book until you are well versed in the subject.
  • POLITY: Read the NCERTs for Polity as these will help you enter the world of Polity in general. So, give it a good one time reading to have an idea of the basic concepts. These books will help you understand the bible of this subject – Indian Polity by M. Laxmikanth.
  • SOCIETY: NCERTs on Sociology will help you understand how society is and how it evolves to shifting patterns and maintaining equilibrium. You will be able to understand why and how conflicts happen, the presence of diversity, and also be able to think of sustainable solutions. Study about Society according to the GS-1 mains syllabus from the NCERTs.
  • ENVIRONMENT: Class X and XII Science books (selected Biology and Chemistry chapters) Read the topics mentioned in the syllabus as one can expect at least 10-15 questions from this portion.

You can also prepare for IAS Exam through online preparation at home.

How to Read UPSC NCERT books for IAS exam

The NCERTs can be a starting point of your UPSC preparation journey. But always try to start with the chapter that you find interesting or have some idea about. This will boost your motivation and you will be less likely to fall out of line during the later part of your preparation. For instance, if you are somebody who likes Social Science, you may start with History or Geography and then move on to little difficult subjects.

However, do not jump into higher classes as many students do. Start from the lowest class and then move on to higher classes. To remove the confusion on how one should go about reading the NCERTs, we have prepared a step by step formula. If you are a beginner, these may come handy for you:

Step by step guide

  • Do a speed reading in the first reading. Also, highlight the sub-headings which seem important according to the syllabus.
  • Read the highlighted portions with 100% concentration.
  • Further, prepare notes from these portions. After you are done making notes, tally them with the main material.
  • Do your first revision. Post this, you no longer have to read the NCERTs ever again. Your notes will be your final material for the Prelims as well as Mains exam. So, prepare notes in alignment with the syllabus.
  • Weekly and Monthly revisions are a must. At one point of time, you will realize that these revisions have led you to cover the entire NCERTs in less than a week.
  • Finally, remember that you have to read your notes in such a way that you are able to produce them in the exam. Merely reading will not help you in any way. Refer to tips and tricks on how to memorize efficiently wherever needed.

Also, read about tips to choose the best coaching institute for IAS exam.

Additional pointers

  • Read the NCERT books topic wise. This will help you tick off your list of topics to cover one by one in a sorted way.
  • Pay close attention to tables and diagrams. This needs to be done because UPSC often asks questions based on these tables.
  • Try to solve all the questions at the end of the chapter. These serve as mock/practice questions.

NCERT books for UPSC Exam according to Syllabus


  • NCERT-An Introduction to Indian Art for Class 11


UPSC NCERT Books of the following classes:

  • History Class 6 – Our Past I
  • History For Class 7 – Our Past II
  • Our Past Ill Part I and Part II – History For Class 8
  • Themes in Indian History Part I, II and III For Class 12


NCERTs of the following classes:

  • The Earth Our Habitat – Geography – Class 6
  • Our Environment – Geography For Class 7
  • Resource & Development – Geography For Class 8
  • Fundamentals of Physical Geography For Class 11
  • Fundamentals of Human Geography For Class 12
  • India Physical Environment For Class 11
  • India People and Economy For Class 12


NCERTs of the following classes:

  • Social and Political Life – Class 6
  • Social and Political Life II For Class 7
  • Class 8 Social and Political Life
  • Indian Constitution At Work For Class 11


UPSC NCERT Books of the following classes:

  • Economics for Class 9
  • Understanding Economic Development – Economics for Class 10
  • Indian Economic Development For Class 11
  • Macroeconomics For Class 12


  • CLass XI Biology NCERT textbook (Chapter 14 to 18)

Frequently Asked Questions on NCERT Books for UPSC

Frequently Asked Questions about books for Civil Services Examination
What books should be read for the basics of UPSC preparation?

An IAS/IPS aspirant should read the basic NCERT books for UPSC exam if they wish to form a strong base of the subjects. These books contain more than half of the information UPSC intends to ask. You do not have to read from any other sources for the basics if you read them thoroughly.

Are NCERTs books for UPSC exam enough for Civil Service preparation?

NCERTs act as the guiding light to your further preparation by setting the base which will be further layered by Advanced/Reference books. One should also go through monthly magazines like Yojana/Kurukshetra for an overall reading. Finally, newspaper reading is a must to cover the dynamic portion of the paper i.e. Current Affairs. Although, there are a few subjects like Geography where NCERTs suffice for both Prelims and Mains. But, finish NCERTs first to be able to understand advanced books/guides, magazines and the newspaper.

Can I pass the UPSC exam without reading the NCERTs ?

Some people claim that they have not read the NCERTs even once and yet managed to clear the exam. Well, this is not entirely true. Every student who has appeared for the UPSC exam has some or the other time read the NCERTs . The case may be that while the preparation, they may not have directly picked up the books. They must jumped directly to advanced books like Polity by M. Laxmikanth. These students do so because they have a pretty good idea about Indian Polity owing to prior knowledge from school or reading other books on basic concepts. So, if you are someone who has never read anything close to NCERTs, you must not under any circumstances skip them. NCERT books are the holy grail for clearing the UPSC exam.

COVID-19 Update | UPSC NCERT Books

The COVID situation all around the world has led to the postponement of many competitive exams, one of them being the infamous Civil Services Examination,2020. However, many students have prepared via coaching online classes or at home. For the UPSC exam, NCERT books play an important role as they solidify the base of the entire preparation. So, no matter where a students is – whether stuck at a different city or home, one can always begin by reading the NCERTs to kickstart the preparation.

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