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Civil Service Exam Syllabus

Civil Services Preliminary Examination consists of two papers of objective type questions carrying a maximum of 400 marks. The Question Papers (Test Booklets) are set in English & Hindi

  1. General Studies Paper I – 200 Marks
  2. General Studies Paper II – 200 Marks

Paper I – (200 marks)

The Duration of Paper I is 2 hours. It will include the following topics:

  • 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
  • General Science.

Paper II- (200 marks)

The Duration of Paper II is 2 hours and it will cover the below-given topics:

  • Comprehension.
  • 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.), Data interpretation (charts, graphs, tables, data sufficiency etc.)  of Class X level.

UPSC Syllabus for Mains

The written examination or UPSC Mains exam consists of nine papers, two qualifying papers and seven papers counted for ranking.

Paper I: General Studies

  1. Current events of national and international importance
  2. History of Indian independence and Indian national movement
  3. Geography: India (physical, social, economic); Global geography
  4. Indian Politics and governmental issues
  5. Economic and social development
  6. Environmental Science
  7. General Science.

Paper II: Aptitude Studies

  • English Comprehension
  • Interpersonal and communication skills
  • Logical reasoning and analytical ability
  • Decision making and problem solving
  • General intelligence abilities
  • Basic maths (Class X standard)

Civil Service Mains Exam 

The Civil Service Mains exam is divided into two parts:

  1. Paper A (2 papers) 
  2. Paper B (7 papers)

Paper A: Any Indian language (anyone from the following list)

Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Oriya, Punjabi,  Sanskrit,  Sindhi,  Tamil,  Telugu,  Urdu Bodo,  Santhali,  Maithili, Dogri

The question pattern for Indian language paper are as follows:

  • Comprehension of given passages.
  • Precis Writing
  • Usage and Vocabulary.
  • Short Essay
  • Translation from English to the Indian language and vice-versa.

Paper B: English

The question pattern for English  paper are as follows:

  • Comprehension
  • Essay/precis writing
  • Grammar and vocabulary

Paper I: Essay

Within 500-800 words, applicants have to draft an essay on a given topic. This can be written in the medium of language or language of the candidate’s choice. Concise, well expressed and opinionated essays are given credit marks.

Sample Essay topics for IAS Mains Paper B Essay section:

  • India against terrorism
  • Environmental Concern is changing the course of International Politics
  • Geospatial Information Regulation Bill
  • Agriculture marketing in India
  • Drought in India
  • Nuclear Security Summit
  • Demonetization in India

Paper II: General Studies – I ((Indian heritage and culture, history and geography of the world and society)

  • India – heritage, culture, history, geography, trends
  • Indian culture
  • Modern India and its contributors
  • The Independent India movement and struggle
  • Post Independence and the current state of India

Paper III: General Studies – II (Governance, constitution, polity, social justice, and international relations)

  • 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- 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.
  • History of the world will include events from 18th century such as industrial revolution, world wars, redrawing 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 globalization on 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 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.
  • International relations and governance
  • Indian culture
  • Modern India history (personalities, issues and events)
  • The Independent India movement and struggle
  • Post Independence and current state of India

Paper IV: General Studies – III (Technology, economic development, biodiversity, environment, security and disaster management)

  • 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 the development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
  • Issues relating to the 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.
  • Technology/ Economic Development/ Biodiversity/ Security and disaster
  • Government Budgets
  • Growth and development
  • Indian Economy – Status and trends

Paper V – General Studies -V 250 Marks (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.

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

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

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

  4. 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.

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

  6. Contributions of moral thinkers and philosophers from India and world.

  7. 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.

  8. 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

  9. Charters, Work culture, Quality of service delivery, Utilization of public funds, challenges of corruption.

  10. Case Studies on the above issues.


Optional Subject – Paper I -250 Marks


Optional Subject – Paper II -250 Marks

Candidates can pick one topic from the given list:

  • Botany
  • Economics
  • General Studies
  • Philosophy
  • Geography
  • Agriculture
  • Chemistry
  • Medical Science
  • Law
  • Essays
  • Psychology
  • Commerce and accounts
  • Maths
  • Physics
  • Statistics
  • Sociology
  • Electrical engineering

Civil Service Interview

The Civil Service Interview is held in the UPSC Office at Dholpur House, Shahjahan Road, New Delhi. There are multiple boards’ headed by a chairman and other members. Here is the contact detail of the UPSC office.

Union Public Service Commission (UPSC)
Dholpur House,
Shahjahan Road
New Delhi – 110-069

The score of the interview directly impacts ones final ranking/posting. Those who secure 60% and more in the interview round are offered services as per their choice.

The Kothari Committee of UPSC has listed the criteria on which an applicant is judged during the Civil Service interview session:

  1. Clarity of expression
  2. Grasp of narrative and argument
  3. Reasoning ability,
  4. Appreciation of different points of view
  5. Awareness and concern for socio-economic problems
  6. Range and depth of interests and personal attributes relevant to interaction with people.

The candidate is interviewed by a board who will have before them the record of each applicant’s career.

  • Mental awareness
  • Logical Reasoning
  • Current affairs and trending news
  • Depth of interests
  • Leadership skills and abilities
  • Social traits
  • Critical analytical ability
  • Judgment
  • Intellectual and moral integrity

For detailed information log on to UPSC Official website.

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