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Which NCERT Books Are Required For UPSC?

  • 23 Dec 2021

Designed to provide easy access to the books they need, this article aims to bring peace of mind to aspirants so that they can easily download their required set of books for their preparation.

There is no doubt that NCERT books are a bundle of information, though designed for school students they also cover relevant topics that are an integral part of the UPSC syllabus. Helping UPSC aspirants learn substantial topics, they are among the most reputed books that must be read for UPSC preparation. From Biodiversity to Geography and from thousand-year-hand histories to current politics, NCERT authors have compiled everything crucial in their books.

The content of NCERT books is comprehensible and is highly reliable. The language of the books makes it easy to memorise and gives vast knowledge on various crucial topics and ultimately helps in building a strong foundation. For beginners, it is advised to start with these books before beginning with the standard references. Most IAS toppers and teachers consider these books vital for the preparation for the UPSC exam.

Besides studying, collecting material is one of the most time-consuming tasks. Candidates often find it difficult to trace PDFs for books, this is why we have provided all the important information that is needed regarding NCERT in this article. From study techniques to the links of all the mandatory books, we have mentioned everything you need to know.

We should consider NCERT books from classes 6 to 12 as it is not necessary to cover complete books. We intend to make things easier by not only listing books but also relevant topics in the books that will help you go through many of your Prelims and Mains’ topics. The NCERT books do not cover the entire civil service syllabus but it does cover most of the fundamentals. Also, we have separated the book lists properly for you to consider.

List of NCERT books suggested by UPSC teachers and toppers:

There is a lot of information that needs to be covered as a part of the UPSC syllabus. Finding appropriate sources for this information can be extremely challenging. Here, we have compiled a subject-wise list of NCERT books that are the most relevant for UPSC preparation. We have also added all the necessary links to download these books.

Paper I (General Studies)


Understanding the science behind the operation of society is very important especially when you are aspiring to become a civil servant. Download NCERT Sociology books from here.


For a foundational preparation for prelims and mains, students can start with NCERT history books, to begin with, their history preparation. These books have proven to be extremely beneficial in the case of students that come from commerce or science backgrounds.


Knowing Indian and World Geography is extremely important. Maps and information provided about different climatic regions in NCERT Geography books help in answering a lot of the answers related to Geography.


Paper-II (General Studies)


Political Science covers the country’s legal and fundamental aspects, which makes it an extremely important subject. Download important NCERT polity books from here.

Paper III (General Studies)


Having adequate knowledge of general science is important in UPSC. To be able to answer science and technology-related questions you must refer to NCERT science books as they cover a lot of information. You can download books from here.


The subject of the Indian Economy covers India's current and past economic aspects, which makes it an important topic. Knowing its fundamentals is crucial for UPSC exams. Download NCERT economic books from here.


Paper IV (Ethics)

For more NCERT books or to download these books chapter-wise, please visit this link: https://ncert.nic.in/textbook.php

How to study from NCERT books for UPSC?

Adequate use of pictures, simplified tables, descriptive examples, maps, and an easy-to-understand language makes NCERT books very simple for anyone to read. These books cover a huge amount of information especially on India's cultural history, politics and biodiversity which are undeniably an important part of the IAS exam.

There is not any particular or best way to study from these books. The only way that suits you best must be followed. However, you can consider the tips mentioned below to increase the effectiveness of your preparation.

  • Read subject-wise and not class-wise

NCERT books from 6 to 12 provide us with generous amounts of information and each subject is interlinked with the other in every class. Thus, to form connectivity between books, read them subject-wise.

  • Makes notes

Give a good read and start jotting down pivotal points or highlighting whatever you find important to avoid unnecessary reading during revision.

  • Time management

Set a target number of days to complete reading NCERT books. For example, assign one week for one subject to avoid wasting time.

  • The old is gold

For history books, it is advised to also read old books as they contain a more in-depth history.

  • Latest is the best

For Geography and other books, it is important to read new and latest books (along with old ones, only if found necessary) to keep a track of geographical, political and research changes.


Does UPSC ask questions directly from NCERT?

Yes, that’s right. UPSC asks questions from NCERT and many times such questions were asked directly. Do consider a case from 2016 Prelims, when there were more than 5 questions directly asked from NCERT books!

Can we avoid NCERT for UPSC?

That would be a big mistake. NCERTs are important and the best books to start your UPSC preparation with. They form a fundamental base and can help you understand basic and crucial aspects faster.

How many times should I read NCERT books as a part of UPSC preparation?

At least more than one time to thoroughly understand the concepts and learn them by heart if needed.

Studying NCERTs help in building the foundation for UPSC preparation. Although studying only NCERTs is not enough and other standard references are also of equal importance, if you begin with the NCERT books for preparation, it will provide you with a strong base to move ahead with other books and references.

 Shrishti Gupta 

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