Civil Services

NCERT for UPSC: Ultimate IAS Study Guide

A Comprehensive Guide for Civil Service and State Government Aspirants
A Comprehensive Guide for Civil Service and State Government Aspirants

NCERT for UPSC: Essential Books and Study Strategies for Civil Services Success

NCERT textbooks for UPSC preparation
NCERT textbooks for UPSC preparation


Preparing for the UPSC civil services exam requires a strategic approach, with ‘NCERT for UPSC’ being a cornerstone of effective study. These textbooks are not just foundational for school education but are also crucial for mastering the vast syllabus of the civil services exam. The UPSC exam, consisting of Preliminary, Main, and Interview stages, demands a deep and broad understanding of subjects ranging from History and Geography to Polity and Science. NCERT books are recommended for their clear, comprehensive presentation of these subjects, making them indispensable for every aspirant’s preparation strategy.

Understanding NCERT Books

What are NCERT Books?

NCERT books are a series of educational books authored and published by the National Council of Educational Research and Training. As the premier organization in educational resource development, NCERT plays a pivotal role in designing and distributing textbooks used in schools across India. These books are structured to provide a clear understanding of fundamental concepts, making them an essential resource for any foundational study.

Why are NCERT Books Recommended for Civil Services?

For civil services aspirants, NCERT books are recommended due to their:

  • Clarity and Comprehensiveness: They break down complex topics into easily understandable language, ensuring that foundational concepts are grasped thoroughly.
  • Alignment with Exam Syllabus: Many topics covered in these books are directly aligned with the UPSC syllabus, making them a direct source for preparation.
  • Reliability of Information: As government-sanctioned textbooks, the information is accurate and trustworthy, which is crucial for writing credible answers in the civil services exams.

Overview of Relevant Subjects

NCERT books cover a wide range of subjects that are critical to the civil services exam:

  • Social Sciences: Including History, Geography, Economics, and Political Science.
  • Sciences: Basic concepts in Physics, Chemistry, and Biology.
  • Environmental Education: Addressing ecological awareness and conservation.
  • Mathematics: Fostering quantitative thinking and problem-solving skills.

Each of these subjects forms a part of the civil services examination syllabus at various levels, making NCERT books a must-study resource.

Detailed Subject-wise Strategy

The utility of NCERT books extends across various subjects, each requiring a focused approach to maximize retention and applicability in the exam.


History in the civil services examination spans ancient, medieval, and modern periods of India, along with world history. Key NCERT books include:

  • Ancient India (Class XI)
  • Medieval India (Class XI)
  • Modern India (Class XII)

For history, it’s beneficial to integrate current affairs, especially in the context of India’s freedom struggle, cultural heritage, and significant historical events. Making timelines and noting down significant personalities and their contributions can help in easier recollection during exams.


Geography demands an understanding of physical concepts along with human geography which is intricately linked to environmental and economic aspects. Essential NCERT books are:

  • Fundamentals of Physical Geography (Class XI)
  • India: Physical Environment (Class XI)
  • Fundamentals of Human Geography (Class XII)

Maps are a crucial tool in geography. Aspirants should practice sketching quick and accurate maps to illustrate answers, especially in the mains examination.


Indian Polity is central to both prelims and mains exams. The NCERT books provide a clear explanation of the Indian Constitution, political system, and governance mechanisms, crucial for any civil servant. Important books include:

  • Democratic Politics (Classes IX-X)
  • Indian Constitution at Work (Class XI)

It is helpful to juxtapose the theoretical knowledge from NCERT books with current affairs, especially recent amendments, bills, and government initiatives.


Understanding basic economics from NCERT books helps grasp complex national and international economic scenarios. Key books include:

  • Understanding Economic Development (Class X)
  • Indian Economic Development (Class XI)

Since economics terminology can be dense, maintaining a separate glossary of economic terms can be beneficial.

Environment and Ecology

This is a growing field of importance in the exams with a focus on sustainable development and conservation. Relevant NCERT content is mostly integrated within geography and science books but focusing on specific chapters related to biodiversity, climate change, and ecosystem services is crucial.


For science, basic principles and their applications are important. NCERT books for Classes VI to X provide a thorough basis in Physics, Chemistry, and Biology, important for general science questions in prelims and as a part of technology and environment sections in mains.

Note-making and Revision Tips

While studying NCERT books, making notes is crucial. Notes should be concise, reflective of the syllabus, and easy to revise. They should include bullet points, diagrams, and charts where applicable. Regular revision of these notes is key to retention.

Integrating NCERT with Other Study Materials

While NCERT books are foundational, they should be complemented with other resources to cover the syllabus comprehensively. Here’s how you can integrate NCERT books with other materials:

  • Newspapers: Reading a major daily, especially editorials, helps relate theoretical knowledge from NCERT books to current national and international events.
  • Yearly Reports: Government reports like the Economic Survey and the Annual Report by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change provide data and analysis crucial for mains answers.
  • Standard Reference Books: For deep dives, books like ‘India’s Struggle for Independence’ by Bipan Chandra for history, and ‘Indian Polity’ by M. Laxmikanth for polity provide detailed narratives and discussions beyond NCERT books.

Preparation Tips and Common Pitfalls

In preparing with NCERT books, be wary of:

  • Over-reliance on guides and digests: These can oversimplify information, sometimes at the cost of conceptual understanding.
  • Skipping revisions: NCERT books require multiple readings to truly absorb the information.
  • Neglecting practice: Previous years’ question papers and mock tests are critical for understanding the pattern of questions and timing your responses effectively.

Effective study planning involves setting realistic goals, maintaining a consistent study schedule, and allowing time for rest and recreation to avoid burnout.

While NCERT books lay a strong foundation, the breadth and depth of the civil services exam also demand efficient and strategic preparation. Here are some essential tips and common pitfalls every aspirant should be aware of:

Efficient Use of Time

  • Structured Study Plan: Divide the syllabus into manageable sections and set achievable goals within specified timelines.
  • Regular Breaks: Integrate short breaks into study sessions to maintain high levels of concentration and prevent burnout.

Leveraging Technology

  • Online Resources: Utilize online platforms that distill the content into essential points, saving time and enhancing recall. For example, NowForNation specializes in condensing vast topics into key takeaways, making revision quicker and more effective for IAS aspirants.

Common Pitfalls

  • Over-dependence on Multiple Sources: While it is good to refer to multiple sources for comprehensive preparation, it can lead to confusion and overload. Prioritize quality over quantity, focusing on NCERT and a few reliable sources.
  • Neglecting NCERTs: Given their straightforward approach and alignment with the exam syllabus, skipping NCERT books can be a major setback. Ensure these books are thoroughly covered.

Practice and Revision

  • Mock Tests and Past Papers: Regularly practice with mock tests and previous years’ papers to understand the exam pattern and time management.
  • Revision: Use the succinct summaries available on platforms like NowForNation for last-minute revisions and quick brush-ups before the exam.

How NowForNation Helps IAS Aspirants

Our platform is designed specifically for civil services aspirants who are overwhelmed by the vast syllabus and the plethora of study materials available. Here’s how we can help:

  • Diluted Content: We break down comprehensive topics covered in NCERT and other important sources into essential points, making it easier for you to grasp and retain key information quickly.
  • Time Efficiency: Our summaries and key point lists allow you to cover more topics in less time, which is crucial for effective preparation, especially when revising.
  • Accessibility: With all important points at your fingertips, our platform ensures that you can revise on the go and keep your preparation flexible and continuous.


Preparing for the IAS exam is no small feat. It requires diligence, strategic planning, and the right resources. NCERT books form the backbone of the required reading material due to their clarity and comprehensive coverage of the exam syllabus. However, integrating these with concise and targeted resources like NowForNation can significantly enhance your study efficiency and effectiveness. Remember, the key to success in civil services lies not only in hard work but also in smart work. Utilize every tool at your disposal, including NowForNation, to ensure that your preparation is thorough and time-efficient. We are here to help you navigate this challenging journey with ease and confidence.

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