BOOKS for UPSC Exams (Why, What, How)
This very article may the first one you might be reading for
the journey that you have chosen to become a civil servant.
books can be considered as the first step out of many to conquer this
challenging examination. These books are so well articulated and unbiased that
you may take its information as a complete truth and make factual notes out of
it especially for the history and geography. Now you might be asking the same
question and facing the same dilemma which every beginner has to tackle which is
about why to study NCERTs when there are so many books/coaching note/online
materials/topper notes already circulating in the offline and the online world?
And why not skip these books for the last and just give a passing reference once
you get to the finishing line of the syllabus?
Explanation: Being the most basic books and written in very
simple language, lucid and neutral perspective makes
NCERTs as the
base for the entire preparation. One will get most of their basic covered for
the geography and history from these books. Secondly, mains answer writing
language should be similar to the writing style of these books which make them
as the fundamental element while preparing for the Mains examination.
Now let us analyse from Prelims and Mains perspective:
Every year at least 35-40 prelims questions are directly asked from the
If you read one book for the prelims it also comes handy in
the mains. For Example,
Geography NCERTs of class
11 and 12 and
History NCERT of class 10 and 11 are the most comprehensive books which must be read by every aspirant.
It helps in planned study otherwise, you may be lost in the vast ocean
of data and coaching materials.
If you are planning to choose humanities optional and you are from the
non-humanities background, then study of these books will help in choosing
the right optional and further, it may help in your optional paper too.
In the history books, read it from the prelims and mains perspective in
different ways, however, common to both is the TIMELINE. Therefore here
factual knowledge is very important along with some contextual memory.
Geography NCERTs: Treat them as the bible for the geography section
of the prelims and the mains examination. Learn all the maps, rivers,
mountain ranges, passes etc.
Art and culture NCERT of the 11th standard is very important for the
mains examination and it covers the “art and culture” section of the GS-1.
Polity NCERT: Don’t make notes from here just read it as an
important book for the Essay writing exercise of the Mains examination. It
is more on the philosophical lines that the factual one and UPSC asks mostly
Sociology NCERTs will provide the idea that how our society is
continuously evolving into new moving equilibrium and there are many
conflicts, may perspectives and the explanation to the many social factors
especially issues related to the women, children, caste, class, deprived
section of the society etc. Therefore read them according to the GS-1 mains
syllabus and its society part.
Biology NCERTs are important because every year there
will be 10-15 questions will be from this area.
How to read NCERTs?
This is the part where one has ample of resources and multiple ways. You may
choose whatever suits you the best as per your capability and the planning. For
example, One may start with a section such as a history and will read all
history NCERTs. Other may move from
class 6 NCERTs
to Class 7 NCERTs
to 8,9,10,11 and finally 12th standard. However, the most optimal way of doing
Underline in the 1st reading.
Read and optimise the underlined stuff in the 2nd reading.
Make crisp notes of NCERTs in the final reading and from now onwards
forget those books and just rely on your notes.
Revise them monthly and after 4-5 iterations, you will reach the level
that you may require around 4-5hours only to revise entire NCERT books from
class 6 to class 12.
Always remember, it's not about reading and finishing the books but to
remember those concepts, facts then recall them in the prelims and reproduce
them in the mains examination.
Thus NCERTs must be studied and prepared in such a way that it can be revised
in 10-12 hours only. Never give up on the hard work, it will pay off someday if
not today. All the best!!!