All About UPSC

7 minutes, 48 seconds Read

UPSC is itself a huge a subject of its own to understand. Today we will discuss about the main points of UPSC Preparation and How we can start with our preparation. Begin with the syllabus first below we discussed all points related to UPSC syllabus from the beginning till the final selection.

UPSC conduct common pattern for services such as the Indian Administrative Service, Indian Foreign Service, Indian Police Service, Indian Revenue Service (Customs and Central Excise) to name a few. Different Levels of the IAS exam have different syllabus. The UPSC Prelims syllabus is focused on general and societal awareness which is tested by objective-type (MCQ) questions. The UPSC Mains syllabus is much more comprehensive as this stage comprises nine theory papers.

The Civil services exam is conducted in three Stages:

Stage 1: Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination (Objective Type)

Stage 2: Civil Services (Mains) Examination (Descriptive Type)

Stage 3: Personal Interview (Personality Test)

Select below tab for more details and syllabus of various stages

Stage 1 : UPSC Prelims Exam

The UPSC Civil Services Prelims Examination is composed of two components:

1) General Studies

PaperSubjectsTotal MarksDuration
IGeneral Studies (GS)2002 hours (9:30 AM to 11:30 AM)
IICSAT2002 hours (2:30 PM to 4:30 PM)

2) Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT)

  • Broadly, the UPSC Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination consists of two papers of objective type, each of 200 marks (hence totaling 400 marks) and of two hours duration. To qualify for the Civil Services Mains, a candidate must attempt both the papers.
  • Further, the UPSC General Studies (GS) paper consists of 100 questions, while the CSAT paper consists of 80 questions. Both papers have negative marks for wrong answers marked to the tune of 1/3rd of the total marks assigned to that question.

  • To further illustrate this, each correctly answered GS question will be awarded 2 marks. So, 0.66 marks would be deducted from the total for every question that is wrongly marked.
  • Similarly, in the CSAT paper, since we have 80 questions for 200 marks, correctly answered CSAT question would attract 2.5 marks each, while every wrongly marked question would attract a penalty of 0.833 for each such wrong answer, which will be deducted from the total.

The two papers of the IAS prelims are discussed in detail below:

  1. General Studies (Generally conducted between 9:30 AM and 11:30 AM)

The General Studies test is the first paper of the preliminary examination. This test is focused to test the general awareness of a candidate in a various range of subjects that include: Indian Polity, Geography, History, Indian Economy, Science and Technology, Environment and Ecology, International Relations and Current affairs.

  1. Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT) (Generally conducted between 2:30 PM and 04:30 PM)

  • This UPSC Prelims syllabus for CSAT intends to assess the aptitude of the candidate in solving ‘Reasoning and Analytical’ questions, apart from ‘Reading Comprehension’ and the occasionally asked ‘Decision Making’ questions.
  • The ‘Decision Making’ based questions are generally exempt from negative marks.
  • The preliminary examination is only meant for screening a candidate for the subsequent stages of the exam.
  • The marks obtained in the Prelims will not be added up while arriving at the final rank list.

UPSC Prelims Syllabus

  • Syllabus for GS Paper (Prelims Paper I)
    • 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, Biodiversity, and Climate Change – that do not require subject specialization.
    • General Science
  • Syllabus for CSAT Paper (Prelims Paper-II)
    • 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)


Stage 2 : UPSC Mains Exam (1750 Marks)

  • The Mains examination constitutes the 2nd phase of the Civil Services Examination. Only after successfully qualifying in the prelims exam would the candidates be allowed to write the IAS Mains.
  • The Mains exam tests the candidate’s academic talent in depth and his/her ability to present his/her understanding according to the requirements of the question in a time-bound manner.
  • The UPSC Mains exam consists of 9 papers, out of which two are qualifying papers of 300 marks each.
  • The two qualifying papers are:
    • Any Indian Language Paper
    • English Language Paper

The papers on Essay, General Studies and Optional Subject of only such candidates who obtained 25% marks in both the language papers  a minimum of qualifying papers, will be taken recognized of, for evaluation.

In case a candidate failed to qualify in these language papers, then the marks obtained by such candidates will not be considered or counted.

Structure of the language papers:

The types of questions asked are –

  1. Essay – 100 marks
  2. Reading comprehension – 60 marks
  3. Precis Writing – 60 marks
  4. Translation:
    1. English to compulsory language (e.g. Hindi) – 20 marks
    2. Compulsory language to English – 20 marks
  5. Grammar and basic language usage – 40 marks

The rest of the seven papers can be written in any of the languages mentioned under the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution of India or in English.

UPSC Mains Syllabus

Paper – IEssay (can be written in the medium of the candidate’s choice)250
Paper – IIGeneral Studies – I (Indian Heritage & Culture, History & Geography of the World & Society)250
Paper – IIIGeneral Studies – II (Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice & International Relations)250
Paper – IVGeneral Studies – III (Technology, Economic Development, Biodiversity, Security & Disaster Management)250
Paper – VGeneral Studies – IV (Ethics, Integrity & Aptitude)250
Paper – VIOptional Subject – Paper I250
Paper – VIIOptional Subject – Paper II250

In UPSC Mains syllabus a list of 48 Optional Subjects are given which include Literature of different languages. Candidates can choose any one of the ‘Optional Subjects’ from the list of subjects given below:

Civil Services Exam Syllabus For IAS Mains Optional Subjects:

Animal Husbandry & Veterinary ScienceAssamese (Literature)
AnthropologyBengali (Literature)
BotanyBodo (Literature)
ChemistryDogri (Literature)
Civil Engineering Gujarati (Literature)
Commerce & AccountancyHindi (Literature)
Economics Kannada (Literature)
Electrical Engineering Kashmiri (Literature)
Geography Konkani (Literature)
Geology Maithili (Literature)
History Malayalam (Literature)
LawManipuri (Literature)
Management Marathi (Literature)
MathematicsNepali (Literature)
Mechanical Engineering Odia (Literature)
Medical Science Punjabi (Literature)
Philosophy Sanskrit (Literature)
PhysicsSanthali (Literature)
Political Science & International Relations Sindhi (Literature)
Psychology Tamil (Literature)
Public AdministrationTelugu (Literature)
SociologyEnglish (Literature)
Statistics Urdu (Literature)


Stage 3 : IAS Interview/UPSC Personality Test (275 Marks)

  • Candidates who qualify the UPSC Mains Exam will be called for the ‘Personality Test/Interview’. These candidates will be interviewed by a Board appointed by the UPSC.
  • The objective of the interview is to assess the personal suitability of the candidate for a career in the civil services by a board of competent and unbiased observers.
  • The interview is more of a purposive conversation intended to explore the mental qualities and analytical ability of the candidate.
  • The Interview test will be of 275 marks and the total marks for written examination is 1750. This sums up to a Grand Total of 2025 Marks, based on which the final merit list will be prepared.

Book List

Given are the best General studies books for the UPSC Mains:
  • An Introduction to Indian Art Part 1: Textbook in Fine Arts for Class XI
  • India’s Struggle for Independence by Bipan Chandra
  • India after Independence by Bipan Chandra
  • History of Medieval India by Satish Chandra
  • Ancient India by R.S Sharma
Geography Books For UPSC Mains
  • Geography of India by Majid Husain
  • World Geography by Majid Husain
  • World Atlas
  • Certificate Physical and Human Geography – G C Leong
  • Fundamentals of Physical Geography – NCERT Class 11
Indian Polity Books For UPSC Mains
  • Indian Polity by M. Laxmikanth
  • Introduction to the Constitution of India – DD Basu (author)
  • India’s Foreign Policy by Rajiv Sikri
Ethic Books For UPSC Mains
  • Ethics, Integrity, and Aptitude for Civil Services Main Examination by Subba Rao and P.N. Roy Chaudary
Economics Books For UPSC Mains
  • Indian Economy – Ramesh Singh

Note: The optional paper counts for 500 marks. This is why it is important to use the best books for UPSC mains in terms of the optional subjects. Even if you read more books, there are only benefits to gain and nothing to lose. The UPSC mains examination needs focus and thorough knowledge of different subjects. Additionally, you can read current event books and magazines that have vital information for the UPSC 2021 mains or you can visit Daily News Bullet for the same. So make sure you know at least the bare minimum understanding for all the subjects and topics that may appear. 

The UPSC mains are going to take a step on your schedule and patience. You need to cover numerous study materials, and candidates prepare for the exam years in advance. You cannot waste any time searching for material. Here are some points to keep in mind while preparing for the UPSC Mains exam. 

  1. Prepare a realistic study schedule
  2. Do not overwork yourself
  3. Make sure you keep all the material required for your study ready before you start preparing
  4. Start your preparation well in advance
  5. Refer to past question papers and mock tests to improve your answering ability
  6. Take breaks and stay confident. 

All the very best for Your exam preparation.

Still have doubt then contact our counselor for further assistance.

Similar Posts


Leave a Comment