The Preliminary syllabus is mainly designed to assess a candidate's comprehension of current affairs and aptitude within the stipulated time. The preliminary paper is a compulsory and qualifying paper.
The Mains syllabus is basically designed to judge a candidate's academic expertise in his/her specialised subject. The syllabus also focuses on testing aspirants' ability to present knowledge in a clear and coherent manner.
The main examination has 9 papers and the syllabus is designed according to the subjects specified. The Preliminary and Mains syllabus is designed for the written test. Candidates, who emerge successful in the Preliminary and Main examination, can appear for the interview.
IAS Prelims Syllabus
The UPSC conducts the Civil Services Examination (CSE) to shortlist the candidates for various posts such as IAS, IPS and IFS. The Preliminary Examination is the first round of the selection process. Aspirants should appear for two general studies papers of the Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination. They should note that General Studies Paper-II is also known as Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT) is a qualifying paper with minimum qualifying marks fixed at 33%.
No Of Questions
No of Marks
120 minutes (2 hours)
120 minutes (2 hours)
240 minutes (4 hours)
IAS Prelims Syllabus For General Studies Paper 1
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.
IAS Prelims Syllabus For General Studies Paper 2
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).
IAS Mains Syllabus
The Commission will release the list of candidates shortlisted for the Civil Services Main Exam based on merit and reservation. Around 12-13 times the total number of vacancies will be shortlisted to take the Main Exam. Aspirants should understand that the Main Exam is the crucial phase in IAS selection procedure. This phase tests the candidates on various subjects. The Main Exam consists of nine conventional (descriptive) papers out of which two are qualifying.
Paper-A (Qualifying Paper)
Indian Language (One of the Indian Language to be selected by the candidate from the Languages included in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution)
Paper-B (Qualifying Paper)
General Studies-I (Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society)
General Studies -II (Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations)
General Studies -III (Technology, Economic Development, Bio-diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management)
General Studies -IV (Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude)
Optional Subject - Paper 1
Optional Subject - Paper 2
Personality Test (Interview)
IAS Mains Syllabus – Indian Language & English
The aim of the paper is to test the candidates’ 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 would be broadly as follows:
Comprehension of given passages
Usage and Vocabulary
Comprehension of given passages
Usage and Vocabulary
Translation from English to the Indian Language and vice-versa.
Note: The syllabus for Indian Language and English will be of matriculation or equivalent standard. These papers are of qualifying nature and marks obtained will not be counted for final merit. Aspirants should answer the English and Indian Languages papers in English and the respective Indian language (except where translation is involved).
IAS Mains Essay – Paper-I
Aspirants should write essays on multiple topics. 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.
IAS Mains General Studies-I Syllabus – Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society
Indian Heritage: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.
Modern Indian History: Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present significant events, personalities, issues. The Freedom Struggle its various stages and important contributors/contributions from different parts of the country. Post-independence consolidation and reorganization within the country.
World History: 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.
Indian Society: Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India. Role of women and women’s organization, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies. Effects of globalization on Indian society. Social empowerment, communalism, regionalism & secularism.
Geography: Salient features of world’s physical geography. Distribution of key natural resources across the world (including South Asia and the Indian sub-continent); factors responsible for the location of primary, secondary, and tertiary sector industries in various parts of the world (including India). Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc., geographical features and their location-changes in critical geographical features (including water-bodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes.
IAS Mains General Studies-II Syllabus – Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International Relations
Indian Constitution: Historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure. 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.
Indian Polity: Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions. Comparison of the Indian constitutional scheme with that of other countries. Parliament and State legislatures—structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these. 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. Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act. Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies. Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.
Social Justice: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation. Development processes and the development industry —the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders. 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. Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources. Issues relating to poverty and hunger.
Indian Governance: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures. Role of civil services in a democracy.
International Relations: India and its neighborhood- relations. Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests. Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora. Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate.
IAS Mains General Studies-III Syllabus – Technology, Economic Development, Bio-diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management
Indian Economy: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment. Inclusive growth and issues arising from it. Government Budgeting. 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. Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices; Public Distribution System- objectives, functioning, limitations, revamping; issue of buffer stocks and food security; Technology missions; economics of animal-rearing. Food processing and related industries in India- scope’ and significance, location, upstream and downstream requirements, supply chain management. Land reforms in India. Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth. Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc. Investment models.
Science and Technology: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life. Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology. Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.
Disaster Management: Disaster and disaster management.
Security: Linkages between development and spread of extremism. Role of external state and non-state actors in creating challenges to internal security. 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. Security challenges and their management in border areas - linkages of organized crime with terrorism. Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate.
IAS Mains General Studies-IV Syllabus – Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude
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: 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: 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.
IAS Mains Optional Subject Syllabus
Candidates may choose any optional subject from amongst the list of optional subjects. Aspirants can also choose one Indian language as an optional subject amongst the list.
Candidates who have qualified in the Civil Services Main Examination will be called for the final stage of the selection process, i.e., Personality Test (Interview). It will carry a total of 275 marks. The number of candidates will be called shortlisted for an interview is twice the number of vacancies. The board will test the candidates on various areas starting from his/her career to general interest.
The assessment will be on the intellectual qualities along with their social traits and his interests in current affairs. It will also assess the candidate's mental caliber. 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.
The official CSE notification reads, “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.”
It also added, “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.”
Note: There is no specific syllabus for IAS Interview, hence, we advise candidates to work more on their personality. The final merit will be based on marks obtained in the Main Examination and Personality Test.