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The UPSC divides the Civil Services Exam into three successive stages:

1: Preliminary Examination (Objective)

2: Mains Examination (Subjective)

3: Personality Test (Verbal)

UPSC Syllabus for IAS Prelims

The UPSC Prelims Exam is the first and foremost exam intended to determine the reasoning and analytical ability of a candidate. It consists of two objective type papers (multiple choice questions), each carrying 200 marks (total of 400 marks) with an allocated time of 2 hours each.  This purpose of the exam is to screen the candidates for Main Examination and the marks obtained in prelims are not counted in the final merit.

UPSC Prelims Syllabus for IAS Prelims Paper 1 – General Studies

Marks: 200 | Duration: Two hours | Counted for Mains Selection

  1. Current events of national and international importance.
  2. History of India and Indian National Movement.
  3. Indian and World Geography-Physical, Social, Economic Geography of India and the World.
  4. Indian Polity and Governance – Constitution, Political System, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights Issues, etc.
  5. Economic and Social Development Sustainable Development, Poverty, Inclusion, Demographics, Social Sector initiatives, etc.
  6. General issues on Environmental Ecology, Bio-diversity and Climate Change – that do not require subject specialisation.
  7. General Science.

UPSC Prelims Syllabus for IAS Prelims Paper 2 – CSAT

Marks: 200 | Duration: Two hours | NOT Counted for Mains Selection but 33% Marks Needed for Qualifying

  1. Comprehension.
  2. Interpersonal skills including communication skills.
  3. Logical reasoning and analytical ability.
  4. Decision-making and problem-solving.
  5. General mental ability.
  6. Basic numeracy (numbers and their relations, orders of magnitude, etc.) (Class X level), Data interpretation (charts, graphs, tables, data sufficiency etc. – Class X level).

UPSC Syllabus for IAS Mains

The UPSC Mains Exam is a crucial part of the Civil Services Exam as every mark scored in this stage counts in the selection process. The UPSC Mains Syllabus is designed in a way that helps in assessing the academic talent of the individual in the form of his/her ability to apply and present his/her knowledge. Rather than memorisation and rote learning, the exam is designed to analyse the overall understanding of the subject and depth of intellect.

It consists of 9 subjective papers, out of which two papers are qualifying, carrying 300 marks each. The remaining 7 papers include: Essay Paper, GS Paper I-IV and Optional Paper I-II. Each paper carries 250 marks (total of 1750 marks). Only the marks obtained by the candidates in these 7 papers are counted in the final merit.

Paper UPSC Exam Pattern Marks
A Indian Language – UPSC Syllabus. One of the Indian Languages to be selected by the candidate from the Languages included in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution. This paper will not be compulsory for candidates hailing from the States of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Sikkim 300 (25% for Qualifying)
B English Language 300 (25% for Qualifying)
Paper-I Essay – UPSC Syllabus. Can be taken in the language of choice. Candidates may be required to write essays on multiple topics. They will be expected to keep closely to the sub- ject of the essay to arrange their ideas in orderly fashion and to write concisely. Credit will be given for effective and exact expression. 250
Paper-II General Studies-I – UPSC Syllabus. (Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society) 250
Paper-III General Studies-II – UPSC Syllabus (Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations) 250
Paper-IV General Studies-III – UPSC Syllabus (Technology, Economic Development, Bio-diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management) 250
Paper-V General Studies-IV (Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude) 250
Paper-VI Optional – Paper 1 250
Paper-VII Optional – Paper 2 250

how to choose UPSC optional subject Ebook

The scope of the syllabus for optional subject papers (Paper VI and Paper VII) for the examination is broadly of the honours degree level. In the case of Engineering, Medical Science and law, the level corresponds to the bachelors’ degree. A candidate can select any optional subject from the list of following subjects including Language/Literature.

Optional Subjects Literature Optionals
Agriculture – UPSC Syllabus Assamese – UPSC Syllabus
Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science – UPSC Syllabus Bengali – UPSC Syllabus
Anthropology – UPSC Syllabus Bodo – UPSC Syllabus
Botany – UPSC Syllabus Dogri – UPSC Syllabus
Chemistry – UPSC Syllabus Gujarati – UPSC Syllabus
Civil Engineering – UPSC Syllabus Hindi – UPSC Syllabus
Commerce and Accountancy – UPSC Syllabus Kannada – UPSC Syllabus
Economics – UPSC Syllabus Kashmiri – UPSC Syllabus
Electrical Engineering – UPSC Syllabus Konkani – UPSC Syllabus
Geography – UPSC Syllabus Maithili – UPSC Syllabus
Geology – UPSC Syllabus Malayalam – UPSC Syllabus
History – UPSC Syllabus Manipuri – UPSC Syllabus
Law – UPSC Syllabus Marathi – UPSC Syllabus
Management – UPSC Syllabus Nepali – UPSC Syllabus
Mathematics – UPSC Syllabus Oriya – UPSC Syllabus
Mechanical Engineering – UPSC Syllabus Punjabi – UPSC Syllabus
Medical Science – UPSC Syllabus Sanskrit – UPSC Syllabus
Philosophy – UPSC Syllabus Santhali – UPSC Syllabus
Physics – UPSC Syllabus Sindhi – UPSC Syllabus
Political Science and International Relations – UPSC Syllabus Tamil – UPSC Syllabus
Psychology – UPSC Syllabus Telugu – UPSC Syllabus
Public Administration – UPSC Syllabus Urdu – UPSC Syllabus
Sociology – UPSC Syllabus English – UPSC Syllabus
Statistics – UPSC Syllabus
Zoology – UPSC Syllabus

UPSC Syllabus for Personality Test

The candidates who successfully qualify the UPSC Mains Exam are called for the final phase of the process, i.e. Personality Test (Interview) carrying 275 marks. The test is conducted by a board of competent evaluators who check the suitability of the appearing candidate.

  1. The candidate will be interviewed by a board who will have before them a record of his/her career and interests filled by him/her in the Detailed Application Form (DAF).
  2. The test is intended to determine the suitability of the candidate by judging his/her mental calibre, reasoning ability and moral integrity.
  3. In the personality test, apart from their academic study, candidates are expected to have taken an intelligent interest in the events which are happening around them both within and outside their state or country as well as in modern currents of thought.


Lastly, the final merit list is issued on the basis of the cumulative marks scored by the candidates in Mains Exam and Personality Test. The merit list is published on the website of Union Public Service Commission as well as in the leading newspapers.