UPSC IAS Syllabus for Preliminary & Mains Examination

You can access the syllabus for UPSC CSE exam 2021 from this page or save it as a bookmark for future reference. This exam is popularly known as the ‘IAS exam.’ It is conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) for commission into various Civil Services of the government of India, like ‘Indian Administrative Service,’ ‘Indian Foreign Service,” Indian Police Service’, and many others.


How is UPSC CSE conducted? 

This exam is conducted in three phases: 

  1. Preliminary examination – This phase has two objective-type papers called General Studies Paper – I and General Studies Paper-II. The initial exam is also known as CSAT (Civil Services Aptitude Test).
  2. The main examination – This phase has nine conventional type papers (essay), two of them are qualifying, and the remaining seven are considered in the final counting of marks.
  3. Personality Test (Interview). 

Syllabus for Civil Services Preliminary Examination 

It comprises of two papers that are compulsory, carrying 200 marks each. The papers will have an objective type, multiple-choice questions. This exam is only for the purpose of qualification for the Main Exam; the marks from these papers won’t be considered for the final ranking. 

Paper – I – 200 Marks 

This is an objective paper with 100 questions and a duration of two hours. Only the marks of this paper are considered to determine qualification for mains. Below is the syllabus of paper – I. 

  • Knowledge of current events. 
  • Indian History and Indian National Movement. 
  • Indian and World Geography. 
  • .Indian Polity- Panchayat Raj System and governance. 
  • Economic and Social Development, Sustainable development, Social Sector Initiatives, Poverty, Inclusion, Demographics, etc.
  • Environmental Ecology, Biodiversity, Climate Change. 
  • General Science. 

Paper-II – 200 Marks 

This is an objective paper as well, with 80 questions and a duration of two hours. Though the marks of this paper will not be counted for qualifying for mains, candidates need to acquire at least 33% of marks in this paper. Below is the syllabus of Paper-II. 

  • Candidates’ comprehensive skills.
  • Interpersonal skills.
  • Communication skills. 
  • Logical Reasoning. 
  • Analytical ability. 
  • Decision making.
  • Problem-solving. 
  • Basic numeracy. 
  • Data interpretation. 
  • English language comprehension skills. 
  • Mental ability. 

Syllabus for Civil Services Mains Examination 

Ranking in the UPSC CSE is only based on the marks scored in the Mains exam and the interview. The Mains Exam carries 1750 marks, while the interview carries 275 marks. The questions may range from one mark to 60 marks, for which the candidates need to write twenty words to 600 words answers, respectively. Each paper carries 250 marks with a duration of 3 hours. The Mains exam consists of nine papers, out of which only seven will be considered for counting marks for merit ranking though candidates need to acquire qualifying marks in the remaining two papers.

Paper – I: Essay – 250 Marks 

Candidates are required to write essays on various topics, keeping close to the subject and arranging their ideas in an orderly fashion. Essays will be evaluated on their effectiveness and expression. 

Paper-II: General Studies I – 250 Marks 

The syllabus for Paper-II includes the below major areas of Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of World and Society. Let’s look at them in detail:

  • Indian Culture – The salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture (ancient to modern times) 
  • Modern Indian History – Significant events, personalities, and issues from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present times. 
  • Indian Freedom Struggle – Various stages of our Freedom Struggle, prominent contributors from all over the country. 
  • Post – Independence – Consolidation and reorganization within the country. 
  • History of the World – Includes events from the 18th century like the World wars, Industrial revolution, revival of national boundaries, colonization & decolonization. 
  • Various Political philosophies like Communism, Socialism, etc., and their effects on the society. 
  • Indian Society – Salient features of our society like Diversity, Secularism, etc. 
  • Globalization and its effects on society 
  • Distribution of Natural Resources across the world 
  • Women and their role in society and entrepreneurship 
  • Social Issues like population issues, poverty, urbanization- The issues that arise with them and solutions for the same. 
  • Industries – Primary, Secondary and Tertiary industries and factors affecting their locations. 
  • World’s Physical Geography and its salient features. 
  • Communalism, Regionalism, and Secularism. 
  • Geophysical Phenomena – Earthquakes, Tsunamis, Volcanic activity, Cyclone, etc. 
  • Critical changes in the geographical features, and Flora and Fauna, and the effects of these changes. 

Paper – III: General Studies II – 250 Marks 

Syllabus for Paper: III includes the major areas like Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice, and International Relations. Let us look at the detailed syllabus:

  • Indian Constitution – History, Evolution, Features, Amendments, Significant Provisions, and Basic Structure. 
  • Governance – Federal structure and Functions of the Union and State governments, their responsibilities, issues and challenges, separation of powers among various organizations, dispute redressal mechanisms, and institutions. 
  • Comparison of Indian Constitution with that of other nations. 
  • About the Parliament and State Legislatures – Their Structure and Functioning, Powers and privileges, business. 
  • Execution and Judiciary – Structure, Organization, and Functions. 
  • Representation of people’s actions – Salient features. 
  • Government Policies, Development and Welfare Schemes. 
  • Issues related to development and management of Social Services, Health, Education, Human Resources, Poverty and Hunger. 

Paper – IV – General Studies III – 250 Marks

The syllabus for Paper IV includes major areas of Technology, Economic Development, Biodiversity, Environment, Security, and Disaster Management. Let us look at them in detail:

  • Indian Economy – Planning, Budgeting, mobilization of resources, growth, development, and employment. Inclusive growth and related issues. 
  • Major crops and various crop patterns, Types of Irrigation and various irrigation systems, Agriculture, and transport of produce. 
  • Technology aiding farmers, Issues related to farm subsidies. 
  • Issues related to food security and buffer stocks. 
  • Land reforms, Effects of liberalization on the economy, Industrial policy changes, and industrial growth. 
  • Infrastructure- Ports, Roads, Airports, Energy plants, Railways, etc. 
  • Science and Technology- Achievements and issues related to it. 
  • Disaster and Disaster management. 
  • Internal Security, Terrorism and Border Security- Security forces, agencies. Their Managements and Challenges. 

Paper V – General Studies IV – 250 Marks 

The syllabus of this paper covers major areas of Ethics, Integrity, and Aptitude. 

  • Ethics and Human Interface. 
  • Aptitude and foundational values for Civil Service like Integrity, Impartiality and non-partisanship, objectivity, dedication, empathy, tolerance, compassion towards all. 
  • Emotional Intelligence – Concepts, Utility, Application in Administration and Governance. 
  • Public service values and Ethics in Public Administration 
  • Probity in Governance- Concepts of Public Service and Philosophies on Governance. 
  • Case Studies on all the above. 

Paper VI and VII – Optional Subject – Paper – I and II – 250 Marks Each 

Candidates can choose a subject from the list of optional subjects provided. Paper – VI, and Paper – VII are based on that subject. The optional subjects are as following: 

  1. History
  2. Geography
  3. Economics
  4. Sociology
  5. Public Administration
  6. Philosophy
  7. Psychology
  8. Political Science
  9. Agriculture 
  10. Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science
  11. Anthropology
  12. Botany
  13. Chemistry
  14. Civil Engineering
  15. Commerce
  16. Electrical Engineering
  17. Geology
  18. Law
  19. Mathematics
  20. Management
  21. Mechanical Engineering
  22. Medical Science
  23. Physics
  24. Statistics
  25. Zoology
  26. Literature on anyone of the following languages in scripts written in the brackets –  
  27. Assamese (Assamese)
  28. Bengali (Bengali)
  29. Bodo (Devanagari)
  30. Dogri (Devanagari)
  31. English (English)
  32. Gujarati (Gujarati)
  33. Hindi (Devanagari)
  34. Kannada (Kannada)
  35. Kashmiri (Persian)
  36. Konkani (Devanagari)
  37. Maithili (Devanagari)
  38. Malayalam (Malayalam)
  39. Manipuri (Bengali)
  40. Marathi (Devanagari)
  41. Nepali (Devanagari)
  42. Odia (Odia)
  43. Punjabi (Gurumukhi)
  44. Sanskrit (Devanagari)
  45. Santhali (Devanagari or Ol Chiki)
  46. Sindhi (Devanagari or Arabic)
  47. Tamil (Tamil)
  48. Telugu (Telugu)
  49. Urdu (Persian) 

Qualifying Paper – A – 300 Marks

For this paper, candidates need to select one of the Indian Languages from the list of languages included in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution of India. This paper is optional for candidates who hail from Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, and Sikkim. 

Qualifying Paper – B – 300 Marks 

The syllabus for this paper would be the English Language as a whole.  

Syllabus for Civil Services Personality Test (Interview) 

Here comes the third phase of the Civil Services Examination. This test carries 275 Marks. The aim of this interview is to assess the personality of the candidate to see if it’s suitable for a career in public service or not. The interview is led by a board of competent and unbiased observers. This is not just an intellectual assessment but also an assessment of social traits and the candidate’s interest in current affairs. Important traits under assessment in this test would be mental alertness, critical powers of assimilation, clear and logical exposition, the balance of judgment, variety, and depth of interest, ability for social cohesion and leadership, intellectual and moral integrity. 

The interview technique won’t be a strict cross-examination but of a natural, direct, purposeful conversation to reveal all the above traits of a candidate. There won’t be a test of the candidate’s specialization or general knowledge here, as it’s already tested via written papers before the interview. Here, the candidate’s interest and opinion in everything else in the country and the world are tested. The standards of these interviews are very high and require commitment as well as thorough preparation. 

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