About IAS Exam

UPSC Civil Services Exam (CSE) popularly known as IAS Exam is a three-stage examination for entry into IAS, IPS, IFS, IRS and other Central Government Group A services like IDAS, IAAS etc.

UPSC CSE Exam Pattern

The UPSC exam will be conducted in three stages: prelims, mains and interview. The overview of UPSC syllabus 2024 for all the three stages of the exam are given below.

Exam StagePaper to be AttemptedTotal MarksSyllabusNature of Exam
PrelimsPaper 1: General Studies
Paper 2: CSAT
Paper 1: 200
Paper 2: 200
Indian Polity, Geography, History, Economy, Science and Technology, Current Affairs, Reading, Comprehension, Logical Reasoning, Data InterpretationNeed to Qualify for Next Stage
MainsPaper A: Indian Language
Paper B: English
Paper A: 300
Paper B: 300
Comprehension, precise writing, short essays, translation, vocabulary etc.Need to Qualify for Next Stage
Essay250Not SpecifiedMarks Considered for Merit list
General Studies 1250 X 4History, Polity, Geography, Indian society, International Relations, Social Justice, Economy, Disaster Management, Internal Security, Environment and Ecology, Ethics, Aptitude and Integrity.Marks Considered for Merit list
General Studies 2
General Studies 3
General Studies 4
Optional Paper 1
Optional Paper 2
250 X 2Total 24 Optional Subjects, Need to Select 1 Optional Paper.Marks Considered for Merit list
Interview-275Not SpecifiedMarks Added to Mains marks to prepare the merit list

Prelims Overview

UPSC syllabus for prelims is divided into two papers: General Studies and CSAT. The overview of UPSC syllabus for prelims 2024 is given below.

Papers for UPSC PrelimsGeneral Studies, CSAT
Total MarksGeneral Studies: 200, CSAT: 200
Number of QuestionsGeneral Studies: 100, CSAT: 80
Nature of QuestionsMCQ
Marks for Correct AnswerGeneral Studies: +2, CSAT: +2.5
Marks for Incorrect AnswerGeneral Studies: -0.66, CSAT: -0.83
Syllabus for General Studies 1Indian Polity, Geography, History and Art and Culture, Economy, Science and Technology, Environment and Ecology, International Relations, Current Affairs
Syllabus for CSATLogical Reasoning, Comprehension, Data interpretation, Quantitative Aptitude

Mains Overview

The UPSC mains syllabus consists of nine papers. While Paper A and Paper B are qualifying in nature, a candidate’s score in Essay, General Studies and Optional paper will be used to determine their merit ranking. The details are given in the table below.

Paper NumberPaper NameNature of PaperSubjectsMarks
Paper AIndian LanguageQualifyingCompulsory Indian Language from 8th Schedule of the Indian Constitution.300
Paper BEnglishQualifyingEnglish Language300
Paper 1EssayConsidered for Merit CalculationCandidates are required to write two essays, covering a broad range of subjects, including: Socio-political, Economic issues, Environmental issues, International relations, Science and technology, Philosophical topics, etc.250
Paper 2General Studies 1Considered for Merit CalculationGeography, History, Indian Heritage and Culture, Social Issues250
Paper 3General Studies 2Considered for Merit CalculationPolity and Governance, Constitution, Social Justice, International Relations250
Paper 4General Studies 3Considered for Merit CalculationEconomy and Growth, Science and Technology, Environment and Ecology, Disaster Management, Internal Security250
Paper 5General Studies 4Considered for Merit CalculationEthics, Integrity and Aptitude250
Paper 6Optional Paper 1Considered for Merit CalculationNA250
Paper 7Optional Paper 2Considered for Merit CalculationNA250

UPSC Mains Syllabus (as Prescribed by the UPSC)

Paper I: Essay  

In Essay Paper, candidates may be required to write essays on multiple topics. They will be expected to keep close to the subject of the essay to arrange their ideas in an orderly fashion and to write concisely. Credit will be given for effective and exact expression. 

Paper II: General studies Paper-I

It covers topics of Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society. 

  • Art & Culture: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, literature, and Architecture from ancient to modern times.
  • Modern History: Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, and issues. The Freedom Struggle — its various stages and important contributors/contributions from different parts of the country.
  • Post-Independence: Post-independence consolidation and reorganization within the country.
  • World History: The history of the world will include events from the 18th century such as the Industrial Revolution, world wars, redrawal of national boundaries, colonization, decolonization, political philosophies like communism, capitalism, socialism etc.— their forms and effects 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.
  • Physical Geography: Salient features of the world’s physical geography.
  • Human and Economic 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).
  • Geophysical Phenomena: Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclones etc., geographical features and their location-changes in critical geographical features (including water-bodies and ice-caps) and flora and fauna and the effects of such changes.

Paper III –General Studies Paper- II

It covers topics of 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • India and its neighbourhood 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.

Paper IV -General Studies Paper- III

It covers topics from technology, economic development, bio diversity, environment, security and disaster management 

  • 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; issues 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- 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, biotechnology, and issues relating to intellectual property rights.
  • Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.
  • Disaster and disaster management.
  • 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.

Paper V -General Studies Paper- IV

  • 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 the above issues.