UPSC SYLLABUS - Prelims and Mains

UPSC Civil Services exam consist three stages - Preliminary, Mains and Interview. The Syllabus for Preliminary examination and Mains Examination are common for all the candidates.


Candidates selected through Preliminary examination is eligible for appearing in Mains Exam. Candidates selected in mains are called for interview. Total marks of mains and interview are added to make the merit list.

Preliminary Exam Syllabus


It Consist of two Paper (Objective Type Questions) of 200 Marks Each. Maximum Time allowed is 2 hour each paper with 1/3 negative Marks. Paper - I marks are used for deciding merit, Paper - II is qulaifying in nature

1. General Studies ( Paper - I)

  • Current events of National & International importance.

  • History of India & Indian National Movement.

  • Indian & World Geography – Physical, Social, Economic Geography of India & the World.

  • Indian Polity & Governance – Constitution, Political System, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights Issues, etc.

  • Economic & Social Development – Sustainable Development, Poverty, Inclusion, Demographics, Social Sector Initiatives, etc.

  • General issues on Environmental ecology, Bio-diversity & climate change – that do not require subject specialization.

  • General Science.

Note : Total 100 questions are asked taken from above syllabus as provided by UPSC Notification 2020. No fixed pattern, as to what topic will have question from. it varies from year to year. Preparing it Requires detail understanding Read More

2. General Studies (Paper - II)

(Qualifying, 33 % Marks Required)

  • Comprehension.

  • Interpersonal skills including communication skills.

  • Logical reasoning & analytical ability.

  • Decision making & problem solving.

  • General mental ability.

  • Basic numeracy (numbers & their relations, orders of magnitude, etc.) (Class X level), Data interpretation (charts, graphs, tables, data sufficiency, etc. – Class X level)

Note : Although syllabus seems to be easy, often candidate fails it mostly due to ignorance. Question are some time very tricky so require preparation as well. To know more Read more

Mains Examination Syllabus


It Consist of 9 paper where answer are written in conventional way. It consist of two categories of paper


1. Qualifying Papers ( 2 in number and not counted in Merit)

2. Compulsory Papers (7 in Number and counted in merit)

Qualifying Papers Syllabus (3 Hour and 300 Marks Each)

Paper - A : - Any Language from Eight Schedule of the Constitution

  1. Comprehension of given passages.

  2. Precis Writing.

  3. Usage and Vocabulary.

  4. Short Essays.

  5. Translation from English to the Indian Language and vice-versa.

Note : It do not require specific preparation especially if your mother tongue is that language. Questions are very easy but still candidates are advised to look at the previous year papers once here

Paper - B : - English

  1. Comprehension of given passages.

  2. Precis Writing.

  3. Usage and Vocabulary.

  4. Short Essays.

Note : The candidate who have studies English this paper is very easy to qualify howver vernacular students who have non English background needs to study it. English background student simply looking at previous year paper would be sufficient, Read here


Compulsory Papers (3 Hour and 250 Marks Each)

  1. Paper-I    : Essay

  2. Paper-II   : General Studies-I

  3. Paper-III  : General Studies-II

  4. Paper-IV  : Genera Studies-III

  5. Paper-V   : General Studies-IV

  6. Paper-VI  : Optional Subject Paper - 1

  7. Paper-VII : Optional Subject Paper - 2

Detail Syllabus of Above as provided by UPSC

Paper - I : Essay


  1. Candidates may be required to write essays on multiple topics.

  2. They will be expected to keep closely to the subject of the essay to arrange their ideas in orderly fashion, and to write concisely.

  3. Credit will be given for effective and exact expression.

Note : No syllabus of essay have been given but a general guideline as referred above. Analysis of these line and how to go about essay preparation can be Read in detail here



Paper - II : General Studies - 1

(Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society)

  1. Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

  2. Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues.

  3. The Freedom Struggle — its various stages and important contributors/contributions from different parts of the country.

  4. Post-independence consolidation and reorganization within the country.

  5. History of the world will include events from 18th century such as industrial revolution, world wars, redrawal of national boundaries, colonization, decolonization, political philosophies like communism, capitalism, socialism etc.— their forms and effect on the society.

  6. Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India.

  7. Role of women and women’s organization, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.

  8. Effects of globalization on Indian society.

  9. Social empowerment, communalism, regionalism & secularism.

  10. Salient features of world’s physical geography.

  11. Distribution of key natural resources across the world (including South Asia and the Indian sub-continent); factors responsible for the location of primary, secondary, and tertiary sector industries in various parts of the world (including India).

  12. Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc., geographical features and their location-changes in critical geographical features (including water-bodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes.

Note : The above 12 topics can be studied by grouping it into 6 major parts. Books, Detail syllabus analysis and study plan of gs paper 1 can be found here

Paper-III : General Studies-2

(Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations)

  1. Indian Constitution—historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.

  2. Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein.

  3. Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.

  4. Comparison of the Indian constitutional scheme with that of other countries.

  5. Parliament and State legislatures—structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.

  6. Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary—Ministries and Departments of the Government; pressure groups and formal/informal associations and their role in the Polity.

  7. Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act.

  8. Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies.

  9. Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.

  10. Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

  11. Development processes and the development industry —the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders.

  12. Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

  13. Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

  14. Issues relating to poverty and hunger.

  15. Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.

  16. Role of civil services in a democracy.

  17. India and its neighborhood- relations.

  18. Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

  19. Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

  20. Important International institutions, agencies and fora - their structure, mandate.

Note : Total 20 topic of gs paper 2 can be grouped into 4 categories with specific study plan for each of them. Understand syllabus, book to study, and free material available. Read in detail here

Paper-IV : Genera Studies-3

(Technology, Economic Development, Bio-diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management)

  1. Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment.

  2. Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.

  3. Government Budgeting.

  4. Major crops-cropping patterns in various parts of the country, - different types of irrigation and irrigation systems storage, transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints; e-technology in the aid of farmers.

  5. Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices; Public Distribution System-objectives, functioning, limitations, revamping; issues of buffer stocks and food security; Technology missions; economics of animal-rearing.

  6. Food processing and related industries in India- scope’ and significance, location, upstream and downstream requirements, supply chain management.

  7. Land reforms in India.

  8. Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth.

  9. Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

  10. Investment models.

  11. Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life.

  12. Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.

  13. Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, Nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

  14. Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

  15. Disaster and disaster management.

  16. Linkages between development and spread of extremism.

  17. Role of external state and non-state actors in creating challenges to internal security.

  18. Challenges to internal security through communication networks, role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges, basics of cyber security; money-laundering and its prevention.

  19. Security challenges and their management in border areas - linkages of organized crime with terrorism.

  20. Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate.

Note : Total 20 Topic of GS paper 3 can be divided into 6 categories. Each categorizes requires in depth understanding and homogeneous. Go in to detail regarding syllabus topics, books to refer and study plan. Read here

Paper-V : General Studies- 4

(Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude)

  1. Ethics and Human Interface: Essence, determinants and consequences of Ethics in-human actions; dimensions of ethics; ethics - in private and public relationships. Human Values - lessons from the lives and teachings of great leaders, reformers and administrators; role of family society and educational institutions in inculcating values.

  2. Attitude: content, structure, function; its influence and relation with thought and behaviour; moral and political attitudes; social influence and persuasion.

  3. Aptitude and foundational values for Civil Service, integrity, impartiality and non-partisanship, objectivity, dedication to public service, empathy, tolerance and compassion towards the weaker-sections.

  4. Emotional intelligence-concepts, and their utilities and application in administration and governance.

  5. Contributions of moral thinkers and philosophers from India and world.

  6. Public/Civil service values and Ethics in Public administration: Status and problems; ethical concerns and dilemmas in government and private institutions; laws, rules, regulations and conscience as sources of ethical guidance; accountability and ethical governance; strengthening of ethical and moral values in governance; ethical issues in international relations and funding; corporate governance.

  7. Probity in Governance: Concept of public service; Philosophical basis of governance and probity; Information sharing and transparency in government, Right to Information, Codes of Ethics, Codes of Conduct, Citizen’s Charters, Work culture, Quality of service delivery, Utilization of public funds, challenges of corruption.

  8. Case Studies on above issues


Note : Ethics is one of the most trickiest paper in gs paper. It have syllabus which covers all aspect of every subject that exists. Go in detail and read comprehensive analysis here

Paper-VII : Optional Subject – Paper 1

Paper-VI : Optional Subject – Paper 2

(Read in detail about choosing optional here)


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