UPSC is one of the toughest and competitive exams in India. It includes two stages, prelims and mains exam. Every year lakh of students embark on their UPSC journey but only a few hundreds of them can clear it successfully.  These candidates come from different backgrounds like science, engineering, medical, commerce, etc. To master the basic humanities subjects they require building their base first.

There is a famous quote by C.N.R. Rao

“Build a strong base. The journey to peaks of excellence requires a strong base camp.”

NCERT books are published by the central authority of India. These books are written in simple and clear language for a better understanding of the core theme of the subject. Moreover, they are seen as compulsory by UPSC aspirants. In this article, I will describe a complete list of NCERT books for UPSC preparation.

Importance of NCERT from UPSC Perspective

NCERT is considered as the basis of the UPSC perspective. These books are highly recommended by toppers to build a strong foundation for each subject. This is written in simple and clear language for a basic understanding of each subject.

These books can become a stepping stone for the success of candidates. These NCERTs are prepared by most reputed authors such as Satish Chandra, Arjun Dev, Bipan Chandra, etc.

# Prelims Perspective

NCERTs are helpful for you from the perspective of the UPSC exam. If you analyse the previous year question papers of UPSC CSE you will find out that many questions are derived from NCERTs. Every year more than 35-40 questions come from them.

# Basic Understanding

NCERTs are the basic reading books for a clear understanding of different subjects of  UPSC. These are written in the simplest language possible. Even beginners can understand the concepts. It helps you to build a strong foundation for the core subjects of UPSC.

# Simple to Understand

NCERTs are written in simple and clear language. It is published to develop a basic understanding of different subjects. It helps aspirants to grasp the ideas for several topics.

# Information is Authentic and Reliable

Information about NCERTs is a genuine and reliable source for preparation. This information is reliable as it is designed by government officials after detailed research.

# Reputed Authors

These books are written by prominent authors like Satish Chandra, Bipan Chandra, M. Laxmikanth, RS Sharma,  etc. They have published these books, especially old NCERTs, after long research.

Also Read: UPSC IAS General Studies Books

Complete NCERT Books List for UPSC Preparation

NCERTs are important to kickstart your UPSC preparation. Therefore I have listed complete NCERT books for UPSC preparation.

History (NCERT)

Class VI – Our Past
Class VII – Our Past -I
Class VIII – Our Past II and III
Class IX – India and the Contemporary World – I
Class IX – India and the Contemporary World – II
Class X – Themes In World History
Class XII – Themes In Indian History – I
Class XII – Themes in Indian History – II
Class XII – Themes In Indian History – III
Ancient India (class XI) by RS Sharma
Medieval India (class IX) by Satish Chandra
Modern India (class X) by Bipin Chandra

Indian Society (NCERT)

Class VI – Social Science: Social & Political Life I
Class VII – Social Science: Social & Political Life II
Class VIII – Social Science: Social & Political Life III
Class XI – Sociology: Understanding Society
Class XII – Indian Society
Class XII – Social Change and Development in India

Art and Culture (NCERT)

Class XI – An Introduction to Indian Art
Class XI – Living Craft Traditions of India

Geography (NCERT)

Class VI – The Earth Our Habitat
Class VII – Our Environment
Class VIII – Resource and Development
Class IX – Contemporary India – I
Class X – Contemporary India – II
Class XI – Fundamentals of Physical Geography
Class XI – India – Physical Environment
Class XII – Fundamentals of Human Geography
  Class XII – India – People and Economy


Political Science (NCERT)

Class IX – Political Science: Democratic Politics Part – I
Class X – Political Science: Democratic Politics Part – II
Class XI – Political Science: Indian Constitution at Work
Class XI – Political Science: Political Theory
Class XII – Political Science I: Contemporary World Politics
Class XII – Political Science II: Politics in India since Independence

Economics (NCERT)

Class IX – Economics
Class X – Understanding Economic Development
Class XI – Indian Economic Development
Class XII – Introductory Microeconomics
Class XII – Introductory Macroeconomics

Science and Technology (NCERT)

Class VI
Class VII
Class VIII
Class IX
Class X
Class XI – Chemistry & Biology
Class XII – Chemistry & Biology

Environment and Ecology (NCERT)

Class XII – Biology

Ethics (NCERT)

Class XII – Psychology

Also Read: Books for UPSC Beginners: UPSC Preparation Guide for Beginners for IAS Exam

How to Read NCERT Books for UPSC?

NCERT should be approached in a manner to ensure success. Here are some effective tips on how to read NCERT books for UPSC?

# Try to read all the books at first reading. Don’t try to understand the concepts first.

# In the second reading try to understand each and every concept. And do solve each exercise to evaluate yourself.

# Now you should read it again and try to make short and crisp notes from them.

# Take your knowledge to the next level by combining your theoretical knowledge with the practical one. Try to figure out how the country runs based on your knowledge.

Is it Sufficient to Read NCERT Books?

NCERTs are good books for understanding the core themes of basic subjects. If you are from a non-humanities background then you won’t be able to understand books like From Plassey to Partition from Sekhar Bandyopadhyay, Indian Polity by RK Mukherjee, etc.

NCERTs helps you to understand basic subjects so that aspirants can build a good foundation for UPSC. It is important to understand that NCERTs are good for building a base for various disciplines like Political Science, Modern history, Geography, etc. But you also have to read other books to gain expertise on different subjects.


Edition Published before 2005 Published after 2005
Illustrations Old NCERTs contain fewer diagrams and illustrations New NCERTs contain diagrams and illustrations. They are colourful and attract the attention of the reader.
Content # These books are text-heavy.

# Old NCERTs are written by prominent authors.

These books are written concisely and coherently.

# New NCERTs are written up to point

Available Difficult to find Easy to find
Factual Information Contains lots of facts and figures Lacks facts and figures
Subject There is not much explanation They contain detailed explanations

 Best NCERT Books (Old NCERT)

History and Economics

Best NCERT Books (New NCERT)

Polity, Geography, Science and Technology

Can I Skip the NCERT of UPSC CSE?

A multi-level building is built over a strong base. Without a strong base, a tall building will fall by a gust of wind. It is the same case with NCERT. They are the first steps of your UPSC preparation. You can skip them if you have a strong grasp of core subjects. But if you want to score better and are of another stream don’t try to skip them.

Best NCERT Books for UPSC Preparation

History and Culture Book List
Ancient History ‘Ancient India’ by RS Sharma
Medieval History History of Medieval India by Satish Chandra
Modern History ‘A Brief History of Modern India’ by Spectrum

‘Concise History of Modern India’ by Sujata Menon

World History World History by Norman Lowe
Indian Culture ‘Facets of Indian Culture’ by Spectrum


Book List
Physical Geography Certificate Physical And Human Geography
Indian Geography India: Physical Environment (NCERT)
World Geography Fundamentals of Human Geography (NCERT)

Certificate Physical And Human Geography

Indian Polity


Book List
Polity Indian Polity by Laxmikanth
Economy Book List


Indian Economy India People and Economy (NCERT)

Also Read: Recommended Books for IAS by Toppers: Must-Read Books for UPSC IAS Exam

Important Books to Read for UPSC Preparation


History Books
Ancient India India’s Ancient Past by R.S. Sharma

History of Ancient and Early Medieval India by Upinder Singh

Medieval India History Of Medieval India by Satish Chandra
Modern India History Of Modern India by Bipan Chandra.

India’s Struggle For Independence by Bipan Chandra

A Brief History of Modern India by Rajiv Ahir

Post Independence India After Gandhi by Ramchandra Guha

India Since Independence by Bipan Chandra

Indian Society Indian Society: Themes and Social Issues by Nadeem Hasnain
India and Culture The Wonder That Was India by A.L. Bhasham
World History Modern World History by Uddipan

Mastering Modern World History by Norman Lowe

History of the World by Arjun Dev


Geography Book List
World Geography World Geography by Majid Husain
Physical Geography Physical Geography by Savindra Singh
Human Geography Human Geography by Majid Husain
Geography of India Geography of India by Majid Husain
Maps Oxford Student Atlas for India

Polity and International Relations

Polity and International Relations Book List
Constitution Introduction to the Constitution of India by D. D. Basu
Indian Polity Indian Polity by M. Laxmikanth
Governance Governance in India by M.Karthikeyan
International Relations Pax Indica by Shashi Tharoor

India and the World by Surendra Kumar

The India way by S. Jaishankar


Economy Book List
Indian  Economy Indian Economy by Ramesh Singh

Indian Economy by Nitin Singhania

Indian Economy Key Concepts by Shankar Ganesh Karuppiah

Science and Technology

Science and Technology Book List
Science and Technology by Sheelwant Singh


Environment Book List
Environmental Studies: From Crisis to Cure by Rajagopalan

Environment for Civil Services Prelims and Mains by Khuller


Ethics Book List
Ethics, Integrity, and Aptitude by Awdesh Singh

Ethical Dilemmas of a Civil Servant by Anil Swarup

How to download NCERTs for free?

You can download free pdfs of NCERT books from here.

Also Read: Which NCERT Books to Read for UPSC? Here’s an Ultimate Guide for IAS Preparation


NCERT books are important for your UPSC preparation. It is the best way to start your UPSC preparation. They are sufficient for prelims and acts as a good base for the mains exam.

Try not to skip them as they are very important from a civil service examination perspective. You should read all chapters without skipping anyone as they are interrelated to each other.

If you want to kickstart your UPSC preparation under the guidance of professionals, visit UPSC Pathshala. UPSC Pathshala is the best website for UPSC preparation. You will find different courses, mock tests, notes materials, video lectures, etc. You will also get one-on-one advice from experts through several meeting apps.

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Are you wondering how to start UPSC preparation? Well, start with NCERTs. NCERTs are the best books to kickstart your UPSC preparation and build a strong foundation of basic subjects.
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About the Author


Shilpa is a professional web content writer and is in deep love with travelling. She completed her mass communication degree and is now dedicatedly playing with words to guide her readers to get the best for themselves. Developing educational content for UPSC, IELTS aspirants from breakthrough research work is her forte. Strongly driven by her zodiac sign Sagittarius, Shilpa loves to live her life on her own notes and completely agrees with the idea of ‘live and let live. Apart from writing and travelling, most of the time she can be seen in the avatar of 'hooman' mom to her pets and street dogs or else you can also catch her wearing the toque blanche and creating magic in the kitchen on weekends.

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