Question banks? Or is NCERT just enough? for CBSE Class 10 Board Exams 2024

How Question Banks top the hierarchy in board exam prep?

<red> June 10th, 2023 <red>

Which reference books, RD Sharma, RS Aggarwal, Lakhmir Singh or Question banks type are actually useful to score well in CBSE Class 10?

Which books to buy for Class 10 Board preparation cannot have the same answer applicable for every student in the class. Class 10 is the first real academic competition any student faces where the pressure of expectations and performance is felt most.

Advice and recommendations are rife. Youtube educators go on a mission of aspiration driven videos like ‘95+ laane ka strategy, Topper study technique, complete x subject in y days’ etc. Students fall prey to such artificial motivation and swear by these educators.

Same with online courses from edtech platforms, that are celebrity teachers driven, always assuring you that this is what you need as they cover everything from live classes to DPPs to doubt-solving even. 

But old wisdom prevails, students don’t really need any of the above in Class 10. Because, it’s not JEE, NEET or UPSC where the syllabus is wide, sophisticated and rank driven. For CBSE Class 10 students need their school teachers most to cover the syllabus with ease along with some important books.

But in books, it gets equally overwhelming to identify the right combination - type of books needed, which publisher and when the books should be purchased. So after a lot of research, we have created this article to provide a very logical perspective on this topic.

Up until the early 2000s, students and teachers didn’t have many options to consider apart from NCERT. CBSE paper pattern was also very straightforward then. Then came the era of author based books like Lakhmir Singh, HC Verma, RS Aggarwal and RD Sharma types. Aggressive offline marketing and good quality content propelled them to the pinnacle of must-have books to clear concepts. 


With NEP-2020, CBSE has spiced the paper pattern a whole lot with various Sections in most subjects asking 8-9 types of Questions. Conceptual clarity is actually tested in some Questions. In the last 5-10 years, Question Banks have become hugely popular as they offer students everything on the plate in terms of what CBSE asks now.

As rightly quoted by Albert Einstein

I hear a lot of students say that they are asked to do a certain type of book mandatorily even if they don’t feel like it’s for them. Every student has a different velocity of learning and dedication co-efficient. Some prefer simple and less detailed content, others prefer extensive practice to not miss out anything. Saying a particular book is right for all students will be unfair. 

So I will answer this actually difficult question based on four types of students in a class and what book type will suit each, depending on where they fall:

Types of Students in a Class

Type A students study very selectively from books that are of high order thinking. They want to test their knowledge to limits. Type B students go with the safe bets that are traditionally suggested by seniors and teachers. 

Type C, are awkwardly, the most ignored and just invisible ninjas in the class. They do want a variety of books to suit their needs. One size fits all doesn’t work for them. Type D students prefer dumbed down resources (really simple notes or repeated drilling through various sources like YouTube, Coaching, elder siblings) before they get it. Their study requirement is ‘less is good’, be it books or study hours.

Now let’s look at the type of books available nowadays to analyze in depth:

Question Bank NCERT/ other reference books
Chapter-wise short theory
(simplification of NCERT)
Chapter-wise detailed explanation
Solved examples & multiple Questions
(helps with self-practice)
Limited examples and questions
Questions are set based on the latest board exam pattern Same Questions are followed for years
(mostly board exam-appropriate)
Real-life concepts Just theory.
Topper answers/ sample papers/ marks-breakdown tips Again, just theory.

Textbook - NCERT

80% Theory | 10% Examples | 10% Questions

(in terms of pages) 

  • Officially prescribed by CBSE
  • Tells you what you should/not study as nothing comes out of this in exam
  • Typical textbook with theory, examples and very limited Q’s (no solutions)
  • Questions and Theory are not updated as per recent CBSE paper pattern changes
  • Because it’s a ‘board agnostic’ book that is used by students from all states and boards.

All types of students need to have this as a must book, mainly to know the scope of the syllabus. The book helps in knowing the exact topics and sub-topics plus how in-depth they go. You wouldn’t want to study a single paragraph extra because time is money. It’s important to check the revised NCERT Textbooks from here and make sure you mark the deleted Chapters/ topics for 2023-24.

Note: NCERT Exemplars are also provided by NCERT (free pdf available here of whole book) to provide lots of questions to practice

Textbook - Lakhmir Singh, others etc..

70% Theory | 10% Examples | 20% Questions

(in terms of pages)

  • Such books are commissioned by schools so students don’t have a choice but to study. 
  • These are private publishing houses books that are normally suggested by a lot of teachers to study along with NCERT to understand the topics better
  • Not based on CBSE 2023-24 syllabus but complete old NCERT
  • Such books are very theory oriented with more lucid and easy to understand topics (compared to NCERT). 
  • Lots of examples are given to explain theory better through different scenarios.
  • Students who want to cover concepts through self-study in a short period of time find such books useful so Type B students can find them handy.

Personally these books are not needed for Class 9, 10 as NCERT + notes of classroom teaching are sufficient to get a good hold on the topics. YouTube videos do a better job at minutely explaining the topics for free with visuals. Unless the teacher has made these books part of your curriculum, they can be skipped. 

So having another textbook apart from NCERT would be just extra load of books sitting on pile when you are getting better theory notes from your teachers or online.

Reference Books - RD Sharma, RS Aggarwal etc..

10% Theory | 60% Examples | 30% Questions

(in terms of pages)

  • Most popular books amongst all students
  • CBSE has removed certain topics in some Chapters in the last 2 years, so it’s not easy to identify which Questions (in these books) are not part of 2023-24 syllabus as it’s 100% based on old NCERT textbooks.
  • Focused on solved examples of Subjective Q’s (VSA/SA/LA), in each Topic, of high difficulty level, aimed at clearing your concepts.
  • CBSE usually doesn’t ask such difficulty questions but there is a saying in teachers community that ‘ye laga liya toh board main kuch bhi aaram se kar loge’
  • Lots of unsolved Subjective Questions to test your understanding in-depth is a plus
  • Favorite of Toppers as they need high difficulty Q’s to satiate their assessment needs
  • They are made for students of all Boards, hence covers 100% NCERT syllabus
  • No solutions given in the book for most subjective questions which is frustrating

These books have a cult-type following in the student community just because of the seniors, but in reality it's just a herd mentality. Toppers usually don’t need explanations and can get through the Questions faster, hence should buy it to flex their assessment muscles after each Chapter.

Students who want to study from a reference book that strictly covers only CBSE content should not go for such books, as there is no point in buying a book that has so many questions that you can never finish them for even a single Chapter, that also without step-wise solutions. Lack of CBSE Past Year Questions and Competency Questions of 2023-24 will leave you unprepared because these books are NOT made for CBSE curriculum/pattern. Remember just because a question is difficult doesn’t mean it’s competency in nature.

Note: A better alternative to such reference books for questions practice is NCERT Exemplar (free pdf of Questions available here) where you get similar good quality Questions for free (unsolved). Plus it's officially prepared by NCERT, so it increases the probability of staying close to CBSE paper setters' style of questioning.

Reference Books - Question Banks (Educart)

20% Theory | 80% Questions (solved fully)

  • These are the new breed of books from private publishers that are hugely popular nowadays for concise practice along with NCERT.
  • The book is made exactly for CBSE board, keeping in mind the exact pattern and 2023-24 syllabus of CBSE Class 10.
  • Difficulty level is 50% medium, 30% easy and 20% hard questions (breakdown)
  • Theory covers important points and real-life examples on topics to help teachers and students understand the ‘why’ behind reading that topic along with competency examples for conceptual clarity.
  • Instead of lots of solved examples after each Topic, 100-150+ Questions are given on all typologies with detailed explanations just below the question to clear concepts
  • PYQs, NCERT, and new breed of competency questions are given with detail solutions on new 2023-24 syllabus to ensure students cover all bases
  • Topper Answers and marks breakdown methods explained as well to learn how to score full marks.

These books of Educart are known to provide a lot more features than vanilla reference books covered before. Students like these books more as they cover everything CBSE can possibly ask in 1 book and that also with step-wise detailed explanations. Type C and Type D students should consider such books as it helps them strengthen their topics through 100+ solved Questions on all typologies asked nowadays. 

Detailed Evaluation of all the Reference Books

See above a detailed breakdown of all features and questions quantity to crisply understand where each book type stands and for you to better decide the type of book that suits you most.

Having all past 15 years questions bifurcated chapter-wise with answers is a big plus as normally ‘paper unhi main se aata hai’. Educart is known for such question bank type books as almost 50% Questions comes from this book (since last 4 years). Type C and D students need such focused books most to improve their concepts for each topic for half-yearly, pre-boards and boards. When they feel they are struggling with a certain topic, such an Educart book helps in explaining all possible question types in depth that can come on that topic, which helps immensely.

Overall, Question Banks are becoming widely popular lately amongst Type C and D students mainly but also amongst Type B students who want CBSE specific focused study. Educart Question Banks in particular are referred and recommended by most big educators of India like Sanjiv Pandey, Dear Sir, Digraj Singh Rajput and many teachers of big edtech companies as well. Not to mention more than 1 Lac+ teachers use questions from Educart to make pre-board papers.

All books are solid and useful but most students need to realize the myth surrounding where guidebooks are must and almost forced upon to increase backlogs and pressure. I really hope this breakdown gives some perspective to the students and teachers on the 2023-24 era requirements of CBSE and which type of books meet them actually.

Any sarcasm used in the article is strictly subject to market risks..oh sorry! to induce humor and not demeaning backbenchers. We all know they are the real winners in life unless you turn out to be just useless….(points at herself).

Using Humour as my Defence Mechanism

Boards are going to be tough, but now, you know how to ace them. The process is pretty similar to writing this blog btw. 

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