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How do I clear IAS without reading NCERT books? Is there any substitute for it?

NCERTs are the foundation of your UPSC /IAS exam preparation. Hence it is never advisable to completely forego them as they are an essential part of your IAS preparation. They are relatively simple to learn and have been designed in such a way that it caters to the need of school education, hence they should be imbibed into your preparation schedule.


Why NCERTs are needed?

A strong foundation is necessary to support your entire IAS preparation. NCERTs serve as the foundation of the UPSC Civil Service Exam. They’ll help you in forming the habit of studying as they are designed for school education. Additionally, the subjects align with UPSC requirements as they are written in a very straightforward style and from a purely objective viewpoint. UPSC seeks to ensure fair playing conditions for everyone. These books are inexpensive and widely available and NCERTs are directly cited in at least 30-35 questions each year. Plus, in today’s world, there is massive information overload and so, the excesses will be filtered out by NCERT books as they are both time and content effective. Click here to download all the NCERTs from our website for free.


When should I start reading them?

You should finish them before purchasing the necessary reference books or enrolling in the best IAS coaching institute. You’ll find the UPSC syllabus to be a lot simpler once you finish the NCERTs. Your preparation should be limited to NCERTs for the first two to three months.


How to use them?

It is better to focus only on one NCERT for a while if you are a complete beginner. As you read, highlight the important areas during the first reading. Then, read the highlighted material again and optimize it. When reading a third time, take brief notes and review them every month. After some practice, you should achieve a point where it will only take 4-5 hours to review all of the NCERTs from classes 6 to 12. Keep in mind that, for the Mains and preliminary exams, it is more important to retain the key ideas and information than it is to finish the NCERTs.


Which NCERTs should be read?

The most important books are listed below.


Class 10: Understanding Economic Development

Class 11: Indian Economic Development

Class 12: Introductory Macroeconomics


Class 11: Indian Constitution at work

Class 12: Politics in India since Independence


Class 11: Fundamentals of Physical Geography

Class 11: India – Physical Environment

Class 12: Fundamentals of Human Geography

Class 12: India – People and Economy


Class 12: Social change & development in India

Indian Society

Class 11: Sociology: Understanding Society

Class 12: Indian society


Class 12: Themes in Indian History I, II, and III (new syllabus)

Class 12: Modern India (old syllabus)

Class 11: Ancient India, medieval India (old syllabus)

Art & Culture

Class 11: An Introduction to Indian Art


How to use the NCERTs for Prelims cum Mains?

  • For history, read from a historical standpoint. Both the preliminary and Mains exams will benefit from this approach. Initially, emphasize the facts; thereafter, emphasize the context. The extension of this, The 11th standard art & culture book is crucial for the GS 1 paper in mains, as well as prelims.
  • Sociology NCERT will provide you with the fundamental knowledge needed to comprehend the present social dynamics in India. Read with respect to the social themes included in the mains syllabus as well. Give priority to the areas that deal with women, children, class, caste, and other disadvantaged groups.
  • On an average, 12 to 14 questions on Environment and Biology topics are asked every year. As this topic has less weightage on Mains, the preparation you do for Prelims is quite enough.
  • This is applicable for Economy, where the basics that you have learned for prelims will help you in building the content for Mains as well.


As explained before, the importance of NCERTs cannot be highlighted enough, while preparing for the IAS exam. If you have already started your preparation, try testing your knowledge in NCERTs by taking free NCERT-based tests by clicking here. If you feel that you need an overall hand in your preparation, consider joining our offline/online programs as we are proud to say that we are one of the top IAS Coaching institutes in India. Good luck in your Civil Services journey.


Published by
Officers IAS Academy – Best IAS Academy in Chennai.

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