Learning and reading of NCERT books made easy for the Civil Services Examination

Reading is a vital factor for a Civil services aspirant to enrich his or her knowledge. Once an aspirant starts preparation he or she has to go through many books ranging from NCERT to a detailed reference book like Pax Indica. Every aspirant should have an effective strategy to read and learn effectively from a short span of time. In both Preliminary and Main examination, the Comprehension plays a very crucial role. It has turned into an integral part of every competitive examination. The General Studies Paper II (CSAT) 2013 examination contained 8 questions from the Comprehension part. Even in Civil Services Main examination also, this is the easiest area but, candidates unable to qualify sometimes. Here are some strategies to improve reading, learning, and retention. This is a wonderful method to improve the reading and retention skill. It may sound like a complex and time-consuming process.


NCERT- A perfect kick start

NCERT books cover a noteworthy piece of the Civil service Exam Syllabus in spite of being exceptionally compact. They are composed in a language almost everyone will understand. Most of the aspirants are usually alien to a lot of topics being asked in Civil Services Exam. NCERT books offer impeccable kick start for UPSC preparation. It is a must read to cement you basic knowledge.


Time is very precious in UPSC preparation as well as in the Civil services examination. If it is not utilized effectively, it will disappoint you. There should be a perfect strategy with you while reading NCERT book or learning new concepts. This technique can help you stay focused and improve your reading, retention, and memory power. Here we are illustrating these methods with an Example using Class 6 NCERT (old) Land and people- Part- I, which is a basic essential book for UPSC preparation.


 “The Scan, Question, Read, Recite, and Review Method”


Scan carefully at the key parts of the book or article to get an overview. This helps you to understand the Central ideas about the article or book before you start the detailed reading.

  • Read the introduction and scan the table of contents
  • Scan the topic or title, headings, and subheadings to get an idea of the book or article.
  • Read the summary if provided.
  • Concentrate any photos, diagrams, outlines, and so on which are incorporated. These can give a visual synopsis of a thought.
  • Rapidly examine the whole area by running the eyes quickly down the page.


For example:   Class 6 NCERT (old) Land and peoples- Part- I Scan the book; go through the units, Boxes like ‘New terms’ and ‘already learned term’, figures, maps, questions provided in the each unit, highlighted terms etc.




Once you complete reading a full chapter or a concept, try to formulate questions- who, what, when, where, how, and why- using the keywords obtained. In NCERT’s and basic books, there will be an exercise area where one can find some simple questions. Candidate should try to generate answers to these questions. This will recall and help in understanding the basic concepts.

For example: Chapter-1 in Unit 1 Class 6 NCERT (old) Land and peoples- Part- I

The chapter gives a basic idea about Solar system. You may have come across these terms in your school times. So try to recollect while reading simply by asking questions.

Let’s see the possible questions that can be generated from this area.

  • What is a star/ Planet/ Celestial body/ Heavenly body/ Asteroids/
  • How many planets are there? Their order?
  • What is Orbits?
  • The difference between Rotation and Revolution?
  • Why is earth called as the blue planet?

These are the basic questions that can be generated before reading using your previous knowledge. While reading also you can generate some question.

Read the highlighted box in the picture.


For e.g.: Which is the coldest planet in the solar system and why?

Pluto is the coldest planet in the solar system. The amount of heat received by a planet is controlled by the distance of that planet from the sun. The Pluto is the farthest planet from the sun and it does not receive much heat. That is why the Pluto is the coldest planet.

After reading, one can go through the exercise part. Answering this section will help you in the Civil services preliminary examination




Aspirants should read with full concentration. Most of the books are complex in its presentation. Books with longer sentences and complex vocabulary are more challenging.  Sometimes the authors will be less direct in delivering their main ideas. This needs more intense thought processing and concentration.

  • Underline the key words, phrases, and new vocabulary.
  • Summarize your ideas in a short note or flow charts.
  • Mark the questions arising in your mind while reading and find the answers.

For example: Chapter-1 in Unit 1 Class 6 NCERT (old) Land and people- Part- I

Follow the picture given below

This page particularly discuss

  1. The Solar System
  2. The Sun
  3. The Planets
  4. The Asteroid


Let’s see how to read, underline and highlight the key points and jot down in your notes.


Take the sub heading, The Solar system

A1. Nine planets

A2. Satellite

Underline and understand each term. Candidate should update the information accordingly.


The Sun

B1. What it is made up of and Reason for life existence on the earth.

B3. Speed of light and how many minutes it takes to reach earth


The Planets

C1. Number of planets and Name of planets (update your knowledge with current data)

C2. Telescope

C3. Biggest and smallest planets, Planets smaller than earth.


The Asteroids

D1. What are asteroids and where it is seen?



After reading a complete portion or a topic or a concept, stop reading and try to recall the main ideas, themes etc. most of the people forget the concept as soon as they finish the reading. So, a prompt review is critical. Immediate recalling is the first step toward continued retention. This will save you time when you revise for your examination. Recite an entire section two to three times using the short notes and keyword generated from.



Along with the reading, it is very necessary to make short notes which will help you in revising. It is very important to review the same, periodically. This helps to fix the ideas, concept in your memory, eliminating the need for last minute nervousness and test anxiety.