Importance of NCERT in UPSC preparation

UPSC aspirants come from different backgrounds like science, commerce, humanities and the ones with technical degrees but if there is one common beginning point for all then it is NCERT.

Despite hearing several toppers mention NCERT in their recommended booklist, there are some aspirants who feel that NCERT books are for children and directly pick up standard books. This is a BIG mistake! Remember it is not for nothing that all toppers and even ex- UPSC chairman keeps mentioning them.

In this article we will deal with 'why', 'how' and 'what' of NCERT. Also we will see the important NCERT Books that are a must read! [Subject wise]

Why to read NCERT?

  • NCERTs are school level books designed to raise the curiosity of children. It is an excellent way to kickstart your preparation.
  • There are atleast 12-15 MCQs in prelims which are directly from NCERTs.
  • They help build the habit of asking 'why' which is fundamental in UPSC exam.
  • They build your foundation. They connect you to standard books.
  • Above all it makes you realise where you stand.

How to read NCERTs?

  • The best way to read NCERTs is to follow the three-round formula.
  • First, give it a fast reading. At this round don't spend more than 1-2 mins on a page. Just try to grasp what is the chapter talking about.
  • Second, this round is best done the same day of the first round but after some interval. In this round take a pencil and mark the important lines.
  • Finally, in this round take a highlighter and do final markings on each page. Keep in mind there should not be more than 5-6 underlines on the same page.
  • Next time you revise just read these highlighted lines.
  • This method will help you do multiple revisions.
  • You can follow this method for anything you are academically reading.

What are the most important NCERTs?

For Polity :

  • Democratic Politics -1
  • Democratic Politics -2
  • Indian constitution at work
  • Political Theory

For Geography:

  • All NCERTs 6 to 12
  • Try to link the topics given in each book with the previous one.

For History:

  • Class 6 and 7 NCERTS are a must.
  • Themes in Indian History Part 1, 2 and 3.
  • These are for New NCERTs, you can also refer to Old NCERTs.
  • For old NCERTS read - Ancient India class 11 by R.s. Sharma, Medieval India class 11 and Modern India Class 12

For Economy:

  • All NCERTs of class 9 to 12 though you can skip Introductory Microeconomics book.

For Society:

  • Social Change and Development in India
  • Understanding Society
  • Indian Society

For Environment:

  • Geography NCERTs along with class 12 Biology last 4 chapters.

For Art and Culture:

  • An Introduction to Indian Art, Part-1

I hope this article clears all your doubts related to NCERT and its role in UPSC preparation. Thank you.

Written By -

Jyoti Upadhyay
Faculty RICE IAS