UPSC Civil Services Prelims and Mains Syllabus

Exam Syllabus For UPSC

 Exam Syllabus For UPSC

Union Public Service Commission

Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) is India’s foremost central organisation responsible for conducting examinations for and appointment to the All India Services and Group A and B staff for central services. The provision for UPSC is enshrined in the Part IV of Indian Constitution. The Articles from Article 315 to Article 323 in Part IV requires the government to constitute a Public Service Commission for the Union as well as all the states of the Indian Union.

Civil Services Examinations

The Civil Service forms the backbone of India’s bureaucratic machinery. The Civil Services Examinations are conducted by the UPSC to recruit the officers for the Indian administrative machinery. Every year, lakhs of aspirants take the competitive exam to get their hands on the distinguished designation in the Indian government. According to majority of the aspirants, the Civil Services Examinations are considered as the toughest competitive exam in the country, the success rate is pretty low with less than thousand seats on offer every year to lakhs of aspirants. The Civil Services
examinations are conducted in three phase since the merger of India Foreign Services(earlier held separately) with the examinations for services like Indian Administrative Service, Indian Police Service, Indian Revenue Service (Customs and Central Excise) to name some.

Three phases of Civil Services Examinations:

  • Preliminary Civil Services Examination (Objective)
  • Mains Civil Services Examination (Subjective)
  • Personal Interview

Preliminary Civil Service Exam

                            Criterion                  Subjects
General Studies CSAT
Type Objective Subjective
Questions 100 80
Duration 2 hours 2 hours
Marks +2, for every right answer
-0.66, for every wrong answer
+2.5, for every right answer
-0.88, for every wrong answer

A)General Studies

  • First Test of Prelims
  • To Test the general awareness of the candidates
  • Subjects: Indian Polity, Geography, History, Indian Economy, Science and Technology, Environment and Ecology, International Relations and related current affairs.

B) CSAT-Civil Services Aptitude Test

  • Conducted after Prelims
  • To test the Reasoning, Analytical, and Decision Making acumen of aspirants

Syllabus for Prelims

Paper-I(General Studies)

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


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

Mains Civil Services Examination

The candidate who successfully clear the Preliminary exams are eligible to appear for the Civil Services Exams Mains. The Mains contain 7 papers of 250 marks and 2 language papers of 300 marks each for qualifying, to test the the candidate’s academic acumen, ability to present precise answers/solutions, and level of understanding.

Mains Papers

Paper     Subject                        Syllabus Marks
Paper I Essay 250
Paper II General Studies I Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society 250
Paper III General Studies II Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations 250
Paper IV General Studies III Technology, Economic Development, Bio-diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management 250
Paper V General Studies IV Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude 250
Paper VI Paper-I Optional Subject 250
Paper VII Paper-II Optional Subject 250

Qualifying Paper

The 2 qualifying language papers are conducted for English Language Paper and Indian Language Paper. The candidates are required to attain a minimum of 30 per cent marks in Indian Language Paper and 25 per cent in the English Language Paper to qualify for the Essay, General Studies, and optional subject paper. The candidates can choose out of 22 Indian regional languages mentioned in the Eighth Schedule of the Indian Constitution to write 7 papers, except the English and Indian Language Papers. The English and optional Indian language marks will not be counted for final evaluation. But, it is essential to qualify in these exams or else the candidates will not be considered for the next stage of selection process.

The Language Paper Structure

  • Essay – 100 marks Reading comprehension – 60 marks
  • Precise Writing – 60 marks
  • Translation:
  • English to compulsory language (e.g. Hindi) – 20 marks
  • Compulsory language to English – 20 marks
  • Grammar and basic language usage – 40 marks

The List of Optional Languages

Indian Language Paper
Arabic Bengali Assamese Bodo Dogri German French
Gujarati Kashmiri Kannada Hindi Konkani Maithili Manipuri
Malayalam Marathi Nepali Punjabi Persian Oriya Santhali
Sindhi Sanskrit Tamil Russian Telugu Urdu

The Optional Subjects For Paper VI and VII

Optional Subjects
Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science Agriculture Anthropology Chemistry Botany
Civil Engineering Economics Commerce and Accountancy Electrical Engineering Geography
Geology History Management Law Mathematics
Mechanical Engineering Medical Science Philosophy Physics Political Science and International Relations
Psychology Sociology Public Administration Zoology Statistics

Personal Interview

  • Candidates who clear the Mains are called for Personal Interview/Personality Test
  • UPSC appoints a Board for candidate’s interview
  • Interview is conducted to by an unbiased and competent board to analyse the personality and suitability of the candidate
  • The interview is a meaningful conversation between the candidate and board to study the analytical and mental ability of the aspirants
  • The PI/PT is of 250 marks that takes the grand total to 2025 marks.


Criteria Requirements
  • General Category: 21-32 Years
  • OBC Category: 21-35 Years
  • SC/ST category: 21-37
  • Defense Services personnel disabled in operations during hostilities with any foreign country or in a disturbed area and released as a consequence thereof: 35 Years(Upper Limit)
  • Defense Services personnel disabled in operations during hostilities with any foreign country or in a disturbed area and released as a consequence thereof: 37 Years
  • Physically Handicapped: 42 Years
Educational Qualification A degree from any of the University incorporated by an Act of the Central or State Legislature in India or other education institutions established by an Act of Parliament or declared to be Deemed University under the UGC Act., 1956, or equivalent qualification
  • General Category: 6
  • OBC Category: 9
  • SC/ST category: Till upper age limit
  • Defense Services personnel disabled in operations during hostilities with any foreign country or in a disturbed area and released as a consequence thereof: Till upper age limit
  • Ex-servicemen including Commissioned Officers and ECOs/SSCOs who have rendered at least five years Military Service: Till upper age limit
  • Physically Handicapped: General/OBC -9
  • SC/ST- Till upper age limit
  • Jammu & Kashmir Domicile: Till upper age limit

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