UPSC Syllabus for IAS Exam 2019 – Prelims, Mains & Personal Interview

UPSC Syllabus for IAS exam or Civil Services exam released every year through the Civil Services Exam Notification. It is broadly divided into two parts: UPSC Prelims Syllabus and UPSC Mains Syllabus.

This article gives a broad overview of the Civil Services syllabus with additional links containing in-depth information.

IAS Exam Syllabus

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 Exam

The UPSC Prelims Exam tests an IAS aspirant's reasoning and analytical ability. It consists of two objective type papers (multiple choice questions), each carrying 200 marks 2 hours allocated for each paper. The purpose of this exam is to screen the candidates who will proceed to write the Main Examination. The marks obtained in Prelims is 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)


how to start your IAS Preparation

UPSC Syllabus for IAS Mains Exam

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 memorising and rote learning, the exam is designed to analyse the overall understanding of the subject and depth of intellect.

The exam 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 stick to the subject 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


UPSC IAS Prelims Booklist

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:

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UPSC Syllabus for IAS Interview (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 how suitable the candidate is for the job. 

  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 must be aware of the affairs happening both within and outside their state or country.

The final merit list is issued on the basis of the cumulative marks scored by the candidates in Mains and Personality Test. The merit list is published on the UPSC website as well as in the leading newspapers.

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Recommended book list for UPSC Preparation

The following books are extremely important for the Civil Service exam preparation, recommended by IAS toppers and teachers:


  • Ancient India RS Sharma
  • Medieval India Sathish Chandra
  • Modern India Bipan Chandra
  • Brief History of Modern India (Spectrum)
  • History of World by Arjun Dev


  • Contemporary India (9th and 10th standard)
  • Fundamentals of Physical Geography (11th Standard)
  • India Physical environment (11th Standard)
  • Fundamentals of Human Geography (12th Standard)
  • India People and Economy (12th Standard)
  • Certificate Physical and Human Geography by Goh Cheng Leong
  • School Atlas - Oxford or Orient BlackSwan School Atlas

Indian Polity

  • Political Science NCERTs (11th and 12th Standard)
  • Indian Constitution at Work Politics in India Since Independence
  • Indian Polity - Laxmikanth

Indian Economy

  • Economy 11th and 12th NCERTs Micro and Macroeconomics
  • Indian Economic Development
  • Indian Economy - Ramesh Singh

Art and Culture

  • Art and Culture NCERTs (11th Standard) Introduction to Indian Art
  • Indian Art and Culture By Nitin Singhania


  • Science Biology 12th Standard NCERT (Last four Chapters 13 to 16)
  • Shankar IAS Environment Material (Act, Policies and Convention)

Current Affairs

  • The Hindu and Indian Express
  • Yojana Magazine
  • India Year Book - PIB Publication


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