UPSC Syllabus – Civil Services Preliminary Exam
Civil Services Preliminary exam comprises of two compulsory papers of 200 marks each (General Studies Paper I and General Studies Paper II). The questions will be of multiple choice, objective type. The marks in prelims will not be counted for final ranking, but just for qualification for main exam.
The Commission will draw a list of candidates to be qualified for Civil Service (Main) Examination based on the criterion of minimum qualifying marks of 33% in General Studies PaperII of Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination and total qualifying marks of General Studies Paper-I of Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination as may be determined by the Commission.
UPSC Syllabus for Paper I – (200 marks) Duration: Two hours (Counted for the merit rank in the Prelims)
• 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.
UPSC Syllabus for Paper II- (200 marks) Duration: Two hours (Not counted for the merit rank in Prelims but a qualifying Paper; just needs 33% marks)
• 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)
Important Sources (Follow any one newspaper for news items (preferably The Hindu); one for editorial (best Indian Express); and one Business newspaper – only editorials (best is Livemint).
• The Hindu OR The Indian Express
• Press Information Bureau (keep checking the Features section for imp articles and our weekly PIB Gist)
• PRS (only for recent Bills and articles related to them)
• IDSA: Institute for Defense Studies and Analysis (keep checking every 2-3 days for in-depth IR articles)
• Yojana and Kurukshetra (no need to read all articles – read selectively)
• LokSabha and RajyaSabha Debates,Akashwani discussions.
• Refer Insights & gk today current affairs online.
• Frequently visit ministries sites and gather data such as Ministry of environment,social justice,child & women empowerment,etc.
• NCERT – Class 8th (New) – ‘Our Pasts – III’
• NCERT-Class 12th ‘Modern India’ (OLD) OR
• Spectrum Modern India – Rajiv Ahir
Reference Book: India’s Struggle for Independence – Bipan Chandra; Plassey to Partition by Sekhar Bandyopadhyay
• NCERT – Class 7th (New) –‘Our Pasts –II’
• NCERT-Class 12th ‘Modern India’ (OLD) OR
• NCERT-Class 6th( New) *NCERT- Class 12th ‘Ancient India’ (OLD)
• NCERT- Class 12th ‘Themes in Indian History- Part I’ (NEW)- Chapters 1 to 6
• NCERT Social Science, Class 6th (New) ‘The Earth Our Habitat’
• NCERT Social Science, Class 7th (New) ‘Our Environment’
• NCERT Social Science, Class 8th (New) ‘ Resource and Development’
• NCERT Social Science, Class 9th (New) ‘Contemporary India’
• NCERT – Class 11th (New)
o Fundamentals of Physical Geography @India physical environment
• NCERT – Class 12th (New)
o Fundamentals of Human Geography @ India – People and Economy
• Atlas: Orient BlackSwan School Atlas (or) Oxford School Atlas
Reference Book: Certificate Physical and Indian Geography – Goh Cheng Leong; OLD NCERT Geography – Class 11th and 12th (if you can find them )
• NCERT – 6th to 8th (for basic understanding)
• NCERT- Class 9th to 12th (for understanding more on democracy and federalism)
• Indian Polity – M Laxmikanth
• For Mains G.S. Paper-2 go through Vajiram Ravi notes.
Reference Book: Introduction to Indian Constitution – D.D.Basu
• Macroeconomics- Class 12th , NCERT , NCERT 11th – Indian Economic Development
• NCERT- Class 9thand 10th (for basics) , Indian Economy – Ramesh Singh-Selective (Chapters on)
• NARAYANA IAS Economics Notes
• The Hindu-Thursday Edition (not technical news, only application based science & Tech)
• NCERT- Class 6th to 10th
• NCERT – Biology – 11th (Unit IV & V only – read basic concepts not technical details)
• NCERT Biology – 12th (Chapters 4,5 and rest from 7 to 16 – all important – read line by line except technical details)
• NCERT – Biology – 12th (OLD) – Chapter 9 onwards
• NCERT – Physics – 11th (Chap 1,5 & 8) and 12th (Chap 15 only)
• NCERT – Chemistry – 11th (Chap 1 & 14 only) and 12th (Chap 14 & 16 only)
• Science reporter- Selectively
• ICSE Board- Environmental studies- Class 10th and 11th
• NCERT- Geography Books (in 6th to 12th there are lot of chapters on Environment)
• Science NCERT books mentioned above
• Shankar IAS Notes Current affairs downtoearth.org.in
Reference material : NARAYANA IAS notes on Environment
• vikaspedia.in (lists all schemes Ministry and sector wise with details) India yearbook
• NCERT books mentioned above
• Current affairs (also keep checking our weekly PIB Gists – very important)
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A candidate’s rank in UPSC Civil Service Exam depends only on the mark scored in Main and Interview. The main exam has 1750 marks while interview has 275 marks. The written examination (main) will consist of the following nine papers, but only 7 papers will be counted for final merit ranking. For the rest two papers, the candidate should secure minimum marks prescribed by UPSC each year.
Qualifying Papers – Not counted for final ranking:
• Paper ‐ A – Indian Language – 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 Marks.
• Paper‐ B – English Language – Syllabus . 300 Marks.
Papers to be counted for merit ranking:
1. Paper‐I Essay – Syllabus. 250 Marks.
2. Paper‐II General Studies – I – Syllabus. 250Marks. (Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society).
3. Paper‐III General Studies –II – Syllabus. 250 Marks. (Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations).
4. Paper‐IV General Studies –III – Syllabus. 250 Marks. (Technology, Economic Development, Bio‐diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management).
5. Paper‐V General Studies –IV – Syllabus. 250 Marks. (Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude).
6. Paper‐VI Optional Subject – Paper 1 – 250 Marks.
7. Paper‐VII Optional Subject – Paper 2 – 250 Marks
The main Examination is intended to assess the overall intellectual traits and depth of understanding of candidates rather than merely the range of their information and memory.
The nature and standard of questions in the General Studies papers (Paper II to Paper V ) will be such that a well‐educated person will be able to answer them without any specialized study. The questions will be such as to test a candidate’s general awareness of a variety of subjects, which will have relevance for a career in Civil Services. The questions are likely to test the candidate’s basic understanding of all relevant issues, and ability to analyze, and take a view on conflicting socio‐ economic goals, objectives and demands. The candidates must give relevant, meaningful and succinct answers.
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.
Essay: 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.
General Studies- I: Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society.
. Indian Culture will cover the salient aspects of Art forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.
. Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present
. The Freedom Struggle – its various stages and important contributors /contributions from different parts of the country.
. Post-independence consolidation and reorganization within the country.
. 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.
. 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 Globalizationon Indian society
. Social empowerment, communalism, regionalism & secularism.
. Salient features of world’s physical geography.
. 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)
. 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.
General Studies- II: 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 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.
General Studies-III: 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, bio-technology 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
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 weakersections.
. 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.
Optional Subject – Paper 2 250 Marks
Books for UPSC Civil Service Main Exam Preparation :-
Books for UPSC Civil Service Main Exam overlap with many books recommended for Prelims. But Mains stage demands certain additional books as there are new topics like Foreign Relations, Internal Security, Ethics etc. We suggest a mix of NCERT Books, Government websites, newspapers along with new text books in the market for mains preparation. Don’t forget to read our online study materials for mains too.
The mentioned books are based on the feedback from many aspirants/toppers who found them useful for the exam. We keep updating this page, when new books worth the time and money of candidate appear in market. So come back to check this page again!
Books for UPSC Civil Service Main Exam Preparation
1. The Wonder That Was India – A.L. Bhasham. (Culture)
2. India’s Ancient Past – R.S. Sharma. (Culture)
3. Indian Art and Culture – Nitin Singhania. (Culture)
4. History Of Modern India – Bipan Chandra. (History)
5. India’s Struggle For Independence – Bipan Chandra. (History)
6. Geography of India – Majid Husain. (Geography)
7. Oxford School Atlas – Oxford. (Geography)
8. Certificate Physical and Human Geography – Goh Cheng Leong. (Geography)
9. Indian Polity for Civil Services Examinations – M. Laxmikanth. (Polity)
10. Indian Economy – Ramesh Singh. (Economy)
11. Economic Survey. (Economy)
12. Science and Technology in India – TMH. (Science and Technology)
13. Environmental Studies: From Crisis to Cure – Rajagopalan. (Environment)
14. Environment for Civil Services Prelims and Mains – Khuller. (Environment)
15. India Year Book (Current Affairs)
16. Manorama Yearbook. (Current Affairs)
17. Contemporay Essays by Ramesh Singh OR 151 ESSAYS For UPSC Mains(Essay Paper)
18. India After Gandhi – Ramchandra Guha (History – GS1)
19. Norman Lowe OR History of Modern World – Jain and Mathur (World History – GS1)
20. Social Problems In India – Ram Ahuja. (Indian Society – GS1)
21. IAS Mains General Studies Paper 2 (Arihant Manual – GS2)
22. Governance in India for CSE. (Governance – GS2)
23. Pax Indica – Shashi Tharoor. (Foreign Policy – GS2)
24. India and the World by Surendra Kumar. (Foreign Policy – GS2)
25. IAS Mains General Studies – GS3. (Arihant Manual – GS3)
26. India’s National Security: A Reader. (Internal Security – GS3)
27. Challenges to Internal Security of India. (Internal Security – GS3)
28. Lexicon for Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude. ( Ethics – GS4)
29. IAS Mains General Studies – Ethics. ( Arihant Manual – GS4)