UPSC Syllabus

Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) is the government body that conducts the Civil Services Examination for recruitment to the following services and posts such as Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Foreign Service (IFS), Indian Police Service (IPS), Indian Revenue Service (IRS) and many more. UPSC Syllabus for IAS exam or civil service exam is provided each year through the Civil Services Exam Notification. UPSC Syllabus is synonymous with IAS exam syllabus or civil services syllabus and can be broadly divided into two parts; UPSC Prelims Syllabus and UPSC Mains Syllabus. The internet is littered with outdated information for the same and finding the complete and latest IAS Syllabus at one place, in an easy to understand format, can be challenging. Below you will find the complete IAS Syllabus broken down by various phases and subjects. This article gives a broad overview of the complete civil services syllabus with additional links containing in-depth information.

UPSC Syllabus/IAS Exam Syllabus

The UPSC Civil Services Exam is conducted in three successive stages:

1: Preliminary Examination (Objective)

2: Mains Examination (Subjective)

3: Personal Interview (Verbal)

UPSC Syllabus for IAS Prelims

The UPSC Prelims Exam or Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT) 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 it are not taken into consideration for the final merit.

The UPSC Prelims Syllabus for IAS Prelims Paper 1

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

  • 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 – that do not require subject specialization.
  • General Science.

The UPSC Prelims Syllabus for IAS Prelims Paper 2

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

  • 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).

UPSC Syllabus for IAS Mains

The UPSC Mains Exam is a crucial part of the Civil Services Exam because every mark scored in this stage counts for the selection process. The UPSC Mains Syllabus is designed in a way that helps in assessing the academic talent of the individual in form of her ability to apply and present her knowledge. Rather than memorisation and regurgitation (aka ratta-fication) the exam is designed to analyse overall understanding of the subject and depth of intellect.

It consists of 9 subjective type papers, out of which 2 are qualifying papers carrying 300 marks and remaining are 250 marks each (total of 1750 marks). Only the marks obtained by the candidates for the Paper-I-VII will be counted for merit ranking.

PaperUPSC SyllabusMarks
AIndian 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 Sikkim300 (25% for Qualifying)
BEnglish Language300 (25% for Qualifying)
Paper-IEssay - 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-IIGeneral Studies-I - UPSC Syllabus. (Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society)250
Paper-IIIGeneral Studies-II - UPSC Syllabus (Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations)250
Paper-IVGeneral Studies-III - UPSC Syllabus (Technology, Economic Development, Bio-diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management)250
Paper-VGeneral Studies-IV (Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude)250
Paper-VIOptional - Paper 1250
Paper-VIIOptional - Paper 2250


The scope of the syllabus for optional subject papers (Paper VI and Paper VII) for the examination is broadly of the honours degree level i.e. a level higher than the bachelors' degree and lower than the masters' degree. In the case of Engineering, Medical Science and law, the level corresponds to the bachelors' degree. A candidate can select any Optional from the list of following subjects including Language/Literature. The candidate is not required to be a graduate in that language’s literature.

Optional SubjectsLiterature Optionals
Agriculture - UPSC SyllabusAssamese - UPSC Syllabus
Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science - UPSC SyllabusBengali - UPSC Syllabus
Anthropology - UPSC SyllabusBodo - UPSC Syllabus
Botany - UPSC SyllabusDogri - UPSC Syllabus
Chemistry - UPSC SyllabusGujarati - UPSC Syllabus
Civil Engineering - UPSC SyllabusHindi - UPSC Syllabus
Commerce and Accountancy - UPSC SyllabusKannada - UPSC Syllabus
Economics - UPSC SyllabusKashmiri - UPSC Syllabus
Electrical Engineering - UPSC SyllabusKonkani - UPSC Syllabus
Geography - UPSC SyllabusMaithili - UPSC Syllabus
Geology - UPSC SyllabusMalayalam - UPSC Syllabus
History - UPSC SyllabusManipuri - UPSC Syllabus
Law - UPSC SyllabusMarathi - UPSC Syllabus
Management - UPSC SyllabusNepali - UPSC Syllabus
Mathematics - UPSC SyllabusOriya - UPSC Syllabus
Mechanical Engineering - UPSC SyllabusPunjabi - UPSC Syllabus
Medical Science - UPSC SyllabusSanskrit - UPSC Syllabus
Philosophy - UPSC SyllabusSanthali - UPSC Syllabus
Physics - UPSC SyllabusSindhi - UPSC Syllabus
Political Science and International Relations - UPSC SyllabusTamil - UPSC Syllabus
Psychology - UPSC SyllabusTelugu - UPSC Syllabus
Public Administration - UPSC SyllabusUrdu - UPSC Syllabus
Sociology - UPSC SyllabusEnglish - UPSC Syllabus
Statistics - UPSC Syllabus
Zoology - UPSC Syllabus

UPSC Syllabus for IAS Interview

The candidates successfully qualifying the UPSC Mains Exam are then moved to the final phase of the process i.e. Personality Test or Interview carrying 275 marks. The test is conducted by the Board of competent that checks the personal aptness of the appearing candidate. The performance of the each candidate is evaluated on the basis of mental alertness, judgement, leadership skills, etc.

  1. The candidate will be interviewed by a Board who 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, balance of judgement, variety and depth of interest, ability for social cohesion and leadership, intellectual and moral integrity.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 rouse the curiosity of well educated youth.


Lastly, the final merit list is issued on the basis of the marks scored by the qualifying candidates and the list is published in the leading newspapers to notify the successful candidates.



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