Upsc Civil Services Exam Syllabus: Prelims, Mains and Interview



The union public service commission (UPSC) annually conducted IAS exam. The syllabus of IAS is divided into prelims and mains. The Prelims exam is the first stage and it is qualifying in nature. Candidates who clear the Prelims exam appear for the Mains exam which is descriptive in nature. After the mains exam, candidates appear for the interview stage. It is important to go through the complete UPSC syllabus and start your exam journey.

Civil Services Prelims Exam

The Civil Services Preliminary examination consists of two compulsory papers of 200 marks each (General Studies Paper-I (GS.1) and General Studies Paper-II (GS.2) or CSAT. The questions will be of multiple choice, objective type. The marks in prelims will not be counted for the final ranking, but just for qualification for the main examination. The UPSC Prelims is an elimination round as 5 to 7% of applicants clear the cutoff of prelims.

Exam Pattern & Syllabus for UPSC Prelims

General Studies 

No. Of Questions 

No. of Marks 


Paper 1



2 hours

Paper 2



2 hours




4 hours

PAPER I – 200 Marks

This objective paper is for a duration of two hours. There will be total 100 questions. Marks of only this paper is counted to decide the toppers of the preliminary exam. The syllabus of GS Paper 1 is given below.

• Current events of national and international importance.

• History of India and Indian National Movement.

• Indian and World Geography-Physical, Social, Economic Geography of India and the World.

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

• Economic and Social Development Sustainable Development, Poverty, Inclusion, Demographics, Social Sector initiatives, etc.

• General issues on Environmental Ecology, Bio-diversity, and Climate Change (do not require subject specialization).

• General Science.

PAPER II – 200 Marks

The duration of this paper is Two hours. There will be 80 questions. Marks of this paper are counted to decide the toppers of the preliminary exam. This paper is only qualifying in nature. Candidates just need to ensure that they score at least 33% marks in this paper. This paper is to check the analytical skills of the candidate. The syllabus of GS Paper 2 (CSAT) is given below.

• Comprehension.

• Interpersonal skills including communication skills.

• Logical reasoning and analytical ability.

• Decision-making and problem-solving.

• General mental ability.

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

Civil Services Mains Exam

The main exam has 1750 marks while interview has 275 marks. The written examination (main) will consist of the following nine papers, but only 7 papers will be counted for the final merit ranking. For the rest two papers, the candidate should secure minimum marks prescribed by UPSC each year.

Exam Pattern & Syllabus for UPSC Mains




Paper-A (Qualifying Paper)

Indian language (one of the Indian language to be selected by the candidate from the languages included in the 8th schedule to the constitution)


Paper-B (Qualifying Paper)



Paper I



Paper II

General studies-1

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


Paper III

General studies-2 (Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social justice and International relations)


Paper IV

General studies-3 (Technology, Economic Development, Biodiversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management)


Paper V

General Studies-4 (Ethics, Integrity, and Aptitude)


Paper VI

Optional Subject- Paper 1


Paper VII

Optional Subject- Paper 2


Sub Total

Written Test




Grand Total


Paper A – Indian Language – 300 Marks

One of the Indian Languages to be selected by the candidate from the Languages included in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution. Languages mentioned in 8th Schedule of Indian Constitution are; (1) Assamese, (2) Bengali, (3) Gujarati, (4) Hindi, (5) Kannada, (6) Kashmiri, (7) Konkani, (8) Malayalam, (9) Manipuri, (10) Marathi, (11) Nepali, (12) Oriya, (13) Punjabi, (14) Sanskrit, (15) Sindhi, (16) Tamil, (17) Telugu, (18) Urdu (19) Bodo, (20) Santhali, (21) Maithili and (22) Dogri. This paper will not be compulsory for candidates hailing from the States of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Sikkim).

Paper B – English Language – 300 Marks

The UPSC CSE syllabus for English includes the following sections – Comprehension of a given passage, Precis Writing, Usage, Vocabulary, and Short Essays. Translation from English to the Indian Language and vice-versa. It is qualifying in nature. Also, It is not counted for final ranking.

Paper‐1: (Essay) – 250 Marks

In Essay Paper, candidates may be required to write essays on multiple topics. They will be expected to keep closely to the subject of the essay to arrange their ideas in an orderly fashion and to write concisely. Credit will be given for effective and exact expression.

Paper-2: (General Studies-1) – 250 Marks


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

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

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

• Post-Independence: Post-independence consolidation and reorganization within the country.

• World History: 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.

• Indian Society: Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India.

• Role of women: Women’s organization, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies. Effects of globalization on Indian society. Social empowerment, communalism, regionalism & secularism.

• Physical Geography: Salient features of world’s physical geography.

• Human and Economic Geography: 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).

• Geophysical Phenomena: 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.

Paper-3: (General Studies-2) – 250 Marks


• Indian Constitution-historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.

• 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.

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

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

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

• 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.

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

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

• Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.

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

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

• 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.

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

• Issues relating to poverty and hunger.

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

• Role of civil services in a democracy.

• India and its neighborhood- relations.

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

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

• Important International institutions, agencies and foratheir structure, mandate.

Paper-4: (General Studies-3) – 250 Marks


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

• Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.

• Government Budgeting.

• 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.

• 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.

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

• Land reforms in India.

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

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

• Investment models.

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

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

• Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, biotechnology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

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

• Disaster and disaster management.

• Linkages between development and spread of extremism.

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

• 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.

• Security challenges and their management in border areas – linkages of organized crime with terrorism.

• Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate.

Paper-5: (General Studies-4) – 250 Marks


• 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.

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

• 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.

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

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

• 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.

• 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.

• Case Studies on above issues.

Optional Subjects:

Paper-6: (Optional Subject Paper 1) – 250 Marks
Paper-5: (Optional Subject Paper 2) – 250 Marks

The UPSC exam syllabus includes 48 optional subjects covering a wide Horizon of subjects including history geography literature science arts agriculture etc. Candidates have to select one optional subject. There will be two papers for 500 marks (250 each).

Candidates need to choose any one of the below mentioned subjects as their optional.

UPSC Civil Services Optional Subjects:

1 Agriculture

2 Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science

3 Anthropology

4 Botany

5 Chemistry

6 Civil Engineering

7 Commerce & Accountancy

8 Economics

9 Electrical Engineering

10 Geography

11 Geology

12 History

13 Law

14 Management

15 Mathematics

16 Mechanical Engineering

17 Medical Science

18 Philosophy

19 Physics

20 Political Science & International Relations

21 Psychology

22 Public Administration

23 Sociology

24 Statistics

25 Zoology

List of literature optional subjects in UPSC

1 Assamese

2 Bengali

3 Bodo

4 Dogri

5 Gujarati

6 Hindi

7 Kannada

8 Kashmiri

9 Konkani

10 Maithili

11 Malayalam

12 Manipuri

13 Marathi

14 Nepali

15 Oriya

16 Punjabi

17 Sanskrit

18 Santhali

19 Sindhi

20 Tamil

21 Telugu

22 Urdu

23 English

Civil Services Interview

  • Candidates who cleared the UPSC mains exam will be notified and called for the UPSC personality test or interview you can say. The personality test for UPSC exam will have 275 marks interviewed by a board appointed by Union Public Service Commission. The candidate will be interviewed by a Board that will have before them a record of his/her career. He/she will be asked questions on matters of general interest.
  • The object of the interview is to assess the personal suitability of the candidate for a career in public service by a Board of competent and unbiased observers. The test is intended to judge the mental calibre of a candidate. In broad terms, this is really an assessment of not only his/her intellectual qualities but also social traits and his/her interest in current affairs. Some of the qualities to be judged are mental alertness, critical powers of assimilation, clear and logical exposition, a balance of judgement, variety and depth of interest, ability for social cohesion and leadership, intellectual and moral integrity.
  • The technique of the interview is not that of a strict cross-examination but of a natural, though directed and purposive conversation which is intended to reveal the mental qualities of the candidate. The interview test is not intended to be a test either of the specialised or general knowledge of the candidates which has been already tested through their written papers.
  • Candidates are expected to have taken an intelligent interest not only in their special subjects of academic study but also in the events which are happening around them both within and outside their own state or country as well as in modern currents of thought and in new discoveries which should arouse the curiosity of well-educated youth.

Merit List

The final merit list will be prepared based on the UPSC mains exam and personality test for the total of 2025 marks. Based on the marks obtained by the candidates their cadres will be allotted to them.

Sub Total (Written test): 1750 Marks
Personality Test: 275 Marks
Grand Total: 2025 Marks