Syllabus for Various Exams

UPSC Civil Services Exam (CSE) – Syllabus & Guide



The Civil Services Examination is widely considered as one of the toughest and prestigious examinations conducted in India.

To understand the exam, one needs to understand the syllabus. This helps in eliminating the burden of reading unnecessary topics and keeps one strictly aligned to the expectations of the UPSC from Day one itself.

The UPSC prescribes a common syllabus pattern for services such as the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Foreign Service (IFS), Indian Police Service (IPS), Indian Revenue Service (Customs & Central Excise) to name a few.


The UPSC Civil Services Exam is conducted in three phases:

Phase1: Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination (Objective Type)

Phase2: Civil Services (Mains) Examination (Descriptive Type)

Phase3: Personal Interview (Personality Test)


Phase1: Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination

The Preliminary Examination is composed of two components:

1) Paper I – General Studies: It is qualifying paper to write the Mains exam. (2 Hours)

2) Paper II – Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT): This paper is of qualifying nature, but candidate must score at least 33% marks in this paper and Marks of this paper are not counted for writing the Mains examination. (2 Hours)

Prelims Exam Questions Marks
Paper IGeneral Studies 100 200
Paper II – Aptitude 80 200

PrelimsGeneral Studies Paper I Syllabus (In Bracket we have suggested book list – It is just an advice to help you to start your journey)

  1. Current events of national and international importance. (Vision Monthly Magazine)
  2. History of India and Indian national movement. (Spectrum Modern History)
  3. Indian and World Geography- Physical, Social, Economic Geography of India and the world (Geography NCERTs Class 11 & 12 + G.C. Leong)
  4. Indian Polity and Governance – Constitution, Political system, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights issues, etc. (M. Laxmikanth + Indian Constitution at Work NCERT)
  5. Economic and Social development – sustainable development, poverty, inclusion, demographics, social sector initiatives etc. (Ramesh Singh + NCERT Class 11)
  6. General issues on environmental ecology, Bio-diversity and Climate change-that do not require subject specialization (ShankarIAS Environment + Class 12 Environmental Biology Section)
  7. General science (Lucent Science)

PrelimsAptitude (CSAT) Syllabus

  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)
  7. English Language Comprehension skills (Class X level)
  8. Questions relating to English Language Comprehension skills of Class X level. (will be tested through passages from English language only without providing Hindi translation)


Phase-2: Civil Services (Mains) Examination

Qualifying Papers
Paper A One of the Indian Language to be selected by the candidate from the languages included in the Eight Schedule to the Constitution. 300 Marks
Paper B English Language 300 Marks
Papers to be Counted for Merit (Ranking)
Paper I Essay 250 Marks
Paper II General Studies I 250 Marks
Paper III General Studies II 250 Marks
Paper IV General Studies III 250 Marks
Paper V General Studies IV 250 Marks
Paper VI Optional Subject– Paper 1 250 Marks
Paper VII Optional Subject– Paper 2 250 Marks
Subtotal (Written Test) 1750 Marks
Personality Test (Interview) 275 Marks
Grand Total 2025 Marks


The aim of the paper is to test the candidate’s ability to read and understand serious discursive prose, and to express his ideas clearly and correctly, in English and Indian Language concerned.

The pattern of questions on English would be broadly as follows:-

(i) Comprehension of given passages

(ii) Précis Writing

(iii) Usage and Vocabulary

(iv) Short Essay.

The pattern of questions on Indian Languages would be broadly as follows:-

(i) Comprehension of given passages.

(ii) Précis Writing

(iii) Usage and Vocabulary.

(iv) Short Essay

(v) Translation from English to the Indian language and vice-versa.

Note 1: The papers on Indian languages and English will be of Matriculation or equivalent standard will be of qualifying nature only. The marks obtained in these papers will not be counted for ranking.

Note 2: The candidate will have to answer the English and Indian Languages papers in English and respective Indian language (except where translation is involved).



Candidates will be required to write an essay on a specific topic. The choice of subjects will be given.

They will be expected to keep closely 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.


PAPERII: General Studies- I

(Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society)

1) Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

2) Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues.

3) The Freedom Struggle – its various stages and important contributors /contributions from different parts of the country.

4) Post-independence consolidation and reorganization within the country.

5) History of the world will include events from 18th century such as industrial revolution, world wars, redrawal of national boundaries, colonization, decolonization, political philosophies like communism, capitalism, socialism etc.- their forms and effect on the society.

6) Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India.

7) Role of women and women’s organization, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.

8) Effects of globalization on Indian society.

9) Social empowerment, communalism, regionalism & secularism.

10) Salient features of world’s physical geography.

11) Distribution of key natural resources across the world (including South Asia and the Indian subcontinent); factors responsible for the location of primary, secondary, and tertiary sector industries in various parts of the world (including India).

12) Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc., geographical features and their location- changes in critical geographical features (including waterbodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes.


PAPERIII: General Studies- II

(Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations)

1) Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.

2) Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein.

3) Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.

4) Comparison of the Indian constitutional scheme with that of other countries.

5) Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.

6) Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary Ministries and Departments of the Government; pressure groups and formal/informal associations and their role in the Polity.

7) Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act.

8) Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies.

9) Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies

10) Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

11) Development processes and the development industry- the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders

12) Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

13) Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

14) Issues relating to poverty and hunger.

15) Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.

16) Role of civil services in a democracy.

17) India and its neighborhood- relations.

18) Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

19) Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

20) Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate.


PAPERIV: General Studies-III

(Technology, Economic Development, Bio diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management)

1) Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

2) Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.

3) Government Budgeting.

4) Major crops cropping patterns in various parts of the country, different types of irrigation and irrigation systems storage, transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints; e-technology in the aid of farmers.

5) Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices; Public Distribution System- objectives, functioning, limitations, revamping; issues of buffer stocks and food security; Technology missions; economics of animal-rearing.

6) Food processing and related industries in India- scope and significance, location, upstream and downstream requirements, supply chain management.

7)  Land reforms in India.

8) Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth.

9) Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

10) Investment models.

11) Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life

12) Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.

13) Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, Nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

14) Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

15) Disaster and disaster management.

16) Linkages between development and spread of extremism.

17) Role of external state and non-state actors in creating challenges to internal security.

18) Challenges to internal security through communication networks, role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges, basics of cyber security; money-laundering and its prevention.

19) Security challenges and their management in border areas; linkages of organized crime with terrorism.

20) Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate.


PAPER-V: General Studies- IV (Ethics, Integrity, and Aptitude)

This paper will include questions to test the candidates’ attitude and approach to issues relating to integrity, probity in public life and his problem-solving approach to various issues and conflicts faced by him in dealing with society. Questions may utilise the case study approach to determine these aspects. The following broad areas will be covered.

Ethics and Human Interface: Essence, determinants and consequences of Ethics in human actions; dimensions of ethics; ethics in private and public relationships.

Human Values – lessons from the lives and teachings of great leaders, reformers and administrators; role of family, society and educational institutions in inculcating values.

Attitude: content, structure, function; its influence and relation with thought and behaviour; moral and political attitudes; social influence and persuasion.

Aptitude and foundational values for Civil Service, integrity, impartiality and non-partisanship, objectivity, dedication to public service, empathy, tolerance and compassion towards the weaker sections.

Emotional intelligence– concepts, and their utilities and application in administration and governance.

Contributions of moral thinkers and philosophers from India and world.

Public/Civil service values and Ethics in Public administration: Status and problems; ethical concerns and dilemmas in government and private institutions; laws, rules, regulations and conscience as sources of ethical guidance; accountability and ethical governance; strengthening of ethical and moral values in governance; ethical issues in international relations and funding; corporate governance.

Probity in Governance: Concept of public service; Philosophical basis of governance and probity; Information sharing and transparency in government, Right to Information, Codes of Ethics, Codes of Conduct, Citizen’s Charters, Work culture, Quality of service delivery, Utilization of public funds, challenges of corruption.

Case Studies on above issues.


PAPER VI & VII: Optional Subject Papers – I & II

Candidates may choose any one of the optional subjects from amongst the list given:

  13. LAW
  26. Literature of any one of the following languages:
  • Assamese, Bengali, Bodo, Dogri, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Maithili, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Santali, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu and English.



The interview will carry 275 marks (with no minimum qualifying marks). Marks thus obtained by the candidates in the Main Examination (written part as well as interview) would determine their final ranking. (Ranking is based on score out of 2025 Marks). Candidates will be allotted to the various services keeping in view their ranks in the Examination and the preferences expressed by them for the various services and posts.

The number of candidates to be summoned for interview will be about twice the number of vacancies to be filled.

The candidate will be interviewed by a Board who will have before them a record of his career. He 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 caliber of a candidate.
  • In broad terms this is really an assessment of not only his intellectual qualities but also social traits and his interest in current affairs.

Some of the qualities to be judged are mental alertness, critical powers of assimilation, clear and logical exposition, balance of judgment, variety and depth of interest, ability for social cohesion and leadership, intellectual and moral integrity.

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.

The interview test is not intended to be a test either of the specialized 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.



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