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UPSC Entrance Guide

UPSC 2020

Latest Updates

  • August 4: Final results for UPSC 2019 have been declared and can be viewed on the official website.
  • July 9: UPSC released the schedule for medical examination of the candidates appearing in IAS interviews 2019.
  • July 7: In the view of COVID-19 pandemic, UPSC has allowed candidates to revise IAS exam centre choice in two phases. Phase 1 will be from July 7 to 13(till 6 PM) and the second phase will open from July 20 to 24 (till 6 PM).
  • June 19: UPSC 2019 revised interview schedule has been released. The remaining IAS interviews will be held between July 20 to July 30.
  • June 5: UPSC IAS 2020 Prelims exam will be held on October 4.
  • May 20: UPSC will announce new dates for IAS exam 2020 on June 5.
  • May 1: UPSC Prelims exam which was scheduled to be held on 31st May has been deferred and the new schedule for the same will be reviewed on 20th May.
  • April 20: UPSC Prelims 2020 have not yet been postponed. Examination date to be reviewed post May 3.
  • March 20: Due to the COVID-19, the Interviews of the candidates of the Civil Services (Main) Examination, 2019 scheduled from 23rd March, 2020 to 3rd April, 2020 are deferred till further orders.


The Civil Services exam is conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) to recruit candidates for Indian Administrative Services (IAS), Indian Police Services (IPS) and Central Civil Services including the Indian Foreign Services. Since all the ministries and departments in the union and state governments are headed by IAS officers, this is the most coveted exam in India.

UPSC has notified that there are 796 vacancies for this year, which is very less as compared to the previous year. Another change in 2020 is that the services related to Indian Railways are also included in the UPSC notification 2020.

Paper Type Prelims- Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs); Mains- Descriptive Questions
Exam Duration Prelims- 2 hours for each paper; Mains- 3 hours for each paper
Scoring Prelims Paper 1: 2 marks for correct answer; Prelims Paper 2: 2.5 marks for correct answer
1/3 of marks assigned to question deducted for incorrect answer in Prelims and Mains
0 marks for not attempted

Important Dates

Online Registration 12 February 2020 to 3 March 2020
Admit Card To be declared
IAS Prelims Exam 4 October 2020
IAS Prelims Results To be notified later
IAS Mains Exam To be notified later

Exam Pattern

The Civil Services exam pattern is designed as a two-stage process so that a large number of candidates can be filtered in the IAS prelims exam and then in-depth knowledge of candidates is tested in the IAS main exam.

Prelims Exam

IAS Preliminary Exam 2020 will consist of two papers, both containing objective-type multiple-choice questions. The candidates can attempt the papers in either English or Hindi languages. Candidates need to mandatorily appear for both the papers. However, Paper-II of is a qualifying paper with 33% as minimum qualifying marks.

Paper No. of Questions Max. Marks Duration
General Studies Paper I 100 200 2 Hours
General Studies Paper-II (CSAT) 80 200 2 Hours

Mains Exam

The Civil Services Main exam consists of a total of 9 papers- two qualifying papers and seven merit-based papers. The marks for the two qualifying language papers will not be counted at the time of preparation of the rank list and candidates need to score above 25% in both of them so that their remaining answer sheets get evaluated.

Paper Max. Marks Duration
Qualifying Papers
Paper A- Indian language 300 3 Hours
Paper B- English 300 3 Hours
Merit-based Papers
Essay 250 3 Hours
General Studies-I (Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society) 250 3 Hours
General Studies –II (Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations) 250 3 Hours
General Studies –III (Technology, Economic Development, Bio-diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management) 250 3 Hours
General Studies –IV (Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude) 250 3 Hours
Optional Subject - Paper 1 250 3 Hours
Optional Subject - Paper 2 250 3 Hours

Important Points:

  • The Indian Language paper is not mandatory for Persons with Benchmark Disability (only Hearing Impairment sub-category) and candidates hailing from the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Sikkim.
  • Other than the literature or language papers, all question papers will be set in Hindi and English languages only. However, candidates will have the option to answer all the question papers (except the qualifying language papers) in either English or any one of the languages included in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution of India.
  • UPSC offers 26 optional subjects from which candidates can choose any one- Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science, Anthropology, Botany, Chemistry, Civil Engineering, Commerce and Accountancy, Economics, Electrical Engineering, Geography, Geology, History, Law, Literature, Management, Mathematics, Mechanical Engineering, Medical Science, Philosophy, Physics, Political Science and International Relations, Psychology, Public Administration, Sociology, Statistics, Zoology.
  • The candidates can choose the Literature of any one of the following languages as their optional subject- Assamese, Bengali, Bodo, Dogri, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Maithili, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Odia, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Santhali, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu, English.

Personality Test/ Interview

Candidates who clear the written tests will be interviewed by a board of competent observers at the UPSC premises in New Delhi. There is no set pattern of the IAS personality test/interview since it differs from candidate to candidate and Board to Board. This interview is for a total of 275 marks. In the interview, candidates will be judged on the skills mentioned below:

  • 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

Detailed Syllabus

IAS Syllabus is broadly defined in the IAS notification each year. It has no boundaries but can be filtered with the relevance and recency point of view. IAS Syllabus is defined based on the principles of socio-economic awareness expected from the IAS aspirants. UPSC notification mentions the IAS prelims syllabus and IAS main syllabus separately, but in reality, the IAS question paper requires a comprehensive study of topics. UPSC frames the IAS prelims questions in such a way that it requires the knowledge of a topic in its entirety to answer a question. So the candidates need to plan their IAS preparation in such a way that it serves the requirements of IAS prelims and IAS main exam. The detailed syllabus for each paper of both stages is provided below:

Syllabus for Prelims- General Studies (Paper I)


  • 1) Prehistoric cultures in India
  • 2) Indus Valley Civilization. Origins- the different phases- society, economy, and culture- Contacts with other cultures- factors lead to the decline
  • 3) Geographical distribution and characteristics of pastoral and farming society
  • 4) Vedic society-Vedic texts- change from Rigvedic to later Vedic phases
  • 5) Vedic society Religion- Upanishad thought-Political and social organization, the evolution of the Varna system and monarchy
  • 6) Formation of the State and urbanization, from the Mahajanapadas to the Nandas
  • 7) Buddhism and Jainism- Factors for the spread of Buddhism
  • 8) The Mauryan Empire- Chandragupta and Megasthenes
  • 9) Ashoka and his inscriptions, his dhamma, culture, administration, and art
  • 10) Society of Post-Mauryan India, BC 200- AD 300- Evolution of Jatis
  • 11) The Satavahanas and formation of the state in the Peninsula
  • 12) Sangam texts and society
  • 13) Indo-Greeks, Sakas, Parthians, Kushans, Kanishka-Contacts with the outer world
  • 14) Different Religion- Bhagavatism, Shaivism, Mahayana Buddhism and Hinayana, Jainism and Culture and art
  • 15) The Guptas and their descendants
  • 16) Literature, Science, Arts, Economy, and society -Modification in the political organization of empire
  • 17) Early Medieval India. Major dynasties; Political and Agrarian organization. Status of women, Extent of social mobility. The Arabs in Sind and the Ghaznavids
  • 18) Cultural trends, 750-1200, Religious circumstances: the significance of temples and monastic institutions; Sankaracharya; Islam; Sufism. Art and architecture. Literature and Science
  • 19) 13th and 14th Centuries: Ghorian invasions reasons and consequences. Delhi Sultanate under the Slave Rulers. Aladdin Khalji: invasion; administrative, agrarian and economic measures. Muhammad Tughlug’s innovations. Firuz Tughluq and the decline of the Delhi Sultanate. Development of urbanization and commerce. Spiritual movements in Hinduism and Islam. Literature. Architecture, Technological changes
  • 20) The 15th and early 16th Century: Key Provincial dynasties; Vijayanagara Empire. The Lodhis, First stage of the Mughal Empire: The Sur Empire and administration. Monotheistic movements: Kabir; Guru Nanak and Sikhism; Bhakti. The spread of regional literature. Art and Culture
  • 21) The Mughal Empire, Akbar: invasion, administrative measures, Policy of Sulh-I-Kul. Jagir and Mansab systems; Jahangir, Shahjahan, and Aurangzeb: extension of Mughal empire in the Deccan; religious policies. Shivaji. Persian and regional literature. Religious idea: Abul Fazl; Maharashtra dharma. Architecture. Painting. Economy: state of affairs of peasants and artisans, escalation in trade; trade with Europe. Social stratification and position of women
  • 22) The decline of the Mughal Empire, Reason behind the decline. Maratha power under the Peshwas. The Afghans. Regional states. Most important components of composite culture. Sawai Jai Singh, astronomer. The rise of the Urdu language
  • 23) British extension: The Carnatic Wars, invasion of Bengal. Mysore and its confrontation to British expansion: The three Anglo-Maratha Wars. Regulating and Pitt’s India Acts. Early composition of the British raj
  • 24) Economic Impact of the British Raj: land revenue settlements like Zamindari, Ryotwari, Mahalwari; Deindustrialization; Railways and commercialization of agriculture; increase of landless labour
  • 25) Cultural encounter and social changes: the inception of western education and modern thoughts. Indian Renaissance, religious and social reform movements; Social reforms events before 1857. Development of Indian middle class; the vernacular press and its effects: the rise of modern literature in Indian languages
  • 26) Confrontation to British rule: Early uprisings; The 1857 Revolt-reasons, character, course and result
  • 27) Indian Freedom struggle the first stage: Growth of national consciousness; creation of Associations; Establishment of the Indian National Congress and its Moderate stage; Swadeshi Movement; Economic Nationalism; The development of Extremism and the split in Congress; The policy of Divide and Rule; Congress-League Pact of 1916
  • 28) Gandhian thoughts and techniques of mass mobilization- Civil Disobedience, the Khilafat movement, Non-Cooperation Movement, and Quit India Movement; another strand in the National Movement-Revolutionaries, Subhash Chandra Bose, and the Indian National Army
  • 29) Separatist movements in Indian politics- the Hindu Mahasabha and the Muslim League; Partition and Independence; The post -1945 developments.
  • 30) India independence to 1964. A parliamentary, democratic, secular. Jawaharlal Nehru’s vision, Foreign policy of Non-alignment, Planning and state-controlled industrialization. Agrarian modification


  • 1) The basic idea about India- Location, latitude, longitude, time zone; Neighbouring countries; States and its position and the states on International boundaries; Important straits
  • 2) Physical features of India- The Himalayas (Geological Formation, Physiographic divisions, Climate, Vegetation, Soil and Biodiversity, Major passes, Significance, Recent issues); The Great North Indian plains (Geological Formation, Physiographic divisions, Climate, Vegetation, Soil and Biodiversity, Significance); Peninsular Plateau (Geological formation, Deccan plateau, Central Highlands, Western and Eastern Ghats, Socio-economic issues related); Indian Desert; Coastal plains and Islands
  • 3) River systems – Characteristics, comparison and significance; Himalayan rivers; Peninsular rivers; River basins; Hydro-Power projects, Power plants and Major Dams; Regional development and planning; West flowing and east-flowing rivers; Interlinking of rivers
  • 4) Climate in India- Monsoon (Driving mechanism, Effects of La-Nino and El-Nino, Recent theories); Season of India; Cyclones
  • 5) Mineral and industries- Distribution of minerals; Industrial policies; Location factors; Issues and challenges of the industries; Industrial clusters
  • 6) Agriculture and Allied-characteristics and Problems- Land utilization; Types of agriculture practices; Soils and Crops; Trends agriculture (Green revolution); Irrigation; Major irrigation projects; Land reforms; Government policies and schemes; Animal husbandry (livestock resources)
  • 7) Natural vegetation and fauna- Characteristics, importance, comparison and significance; Classification of natural vegetation; Rainfall distribution; Wildlife sanctuaries; National Forest Policy; Biosphere reserve; National parks; Environmental issues; Red-listed species (in recent news)
  • 8) Economic infrastructure- Transportation; Road(National Highways)- Rail- Air- Water(Major inland waterways) and its Significance; Power and energy sector; Sources of conventional and non-conventional energy; Energy conservation and crisis; Recent developments
  • 9) Human Geography- Demographics; Recent census- 2011
  • 10) Universe- Theories related to Solar System; Theories related to the formation of the universe; Recent updates on the same
  • 11) The basic idea about Earth- The motion of the Earth (Rotation and Revolution); Latitudes and Longitudes; The inclination of the Earth’s Axis – effect on seasons; Solar Eclipse, Lunar Eclipse and Tides and their significance
  • 12) Geomorphology- Earth’s movement (exo-genetic and endo-genetic); Earthquakes, volcanic activity; The basic idea about Continental Drift Theory, Plate Tectonics Theory, Sea Floor Spreading
  • 13) Interior of the earth- Lithosphere; Interaction of lithosphere with other spheres; Boundaries and composition
  • 14) Mass Movements of landforms, erosion and deposits- Basic information about geographical landforms and their significance; Rock system and Classification of Rocks
  • 15) Climatology- Structure and composition of the atmosphere; Factors controlling the temperature distribution; Insolation and terrestrial radiation; Heat budget; Global warming and ozone layer; Humidity and condensation; Clouds & their classification; Precipitation; Precipitation mechanism; Different types and forms of precipitation; Pressure belts; Atmospheric circulation; Winds; Planetary Winds; Seasonal and Local Winds; Cyclones Tropical and Temperate cyclone; Formation of cyclone, characteristics and impact; Jet streams; Various atmospheric phenomenon
  • 16) The hydrosphere- Bottom relief of ocean; Salinity and temp variation; Ocean Currents; Ocean deposit; Ocean resources; Recent issues and development with ref to oceanography- Eg: UNCLOS
  • 17) Biosphere- Major Biomes; Flora and fauna; International organization for biodiversity; Conservation of Biodiversity; Recent issues
  • 18) Economic geography
  • 19) Map work
  • 20) Places in News


  • 1) Preamble- Features of preamble; 42nd Amendment; Swaran Singh committee
  • 2) Schedules- The basic idea about 12 schedules
  • 3) Constitution of India- The basic idea about All articles; Historical Background; Drafting committee and the making of the Constitution; Influence of other constitutions; Its salient features
  • 4) Union and its Territory- The basic idea about Article 1-4; State reorganization and different Commissions; Federal nature; Recent issues
  • 5) Citizenship- The basic idea about Article 5-11; PIO, NRI, OCI and Pravasi Bharatiya Divas; Privileges available for Indian citizens and foreigners; Citizenship Amendment Act of 2016; New policies, schemes and recent changes in voting
  • 6) Fundamental Rights (FR)- The basic idea about Article 12-35; A thorough understanding of Articles 14- 30 and Art. 32; Rights and privileges available to citizens of India only and both to citizens and foreigners; 44th amendment act; Different types of Writs; Enforcement and Exceptional cases with regard to FR’s; RTE and recent issues related to FR
  • 7) Fundamental Duties(FD)- Article 51A; Difference between FR and FD; Significance and Criticism; Enforcement of FDs; Recent issues about FD
  • 8) Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP)- The basic idea about Article and Article 36-51 and Article 368; Sources and key features of DPSP; Classification of DPSP; Comparison/ conflicts between Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles; Keshavananda Bharathi, Minerva Mills, Golaknath Case, Maneka Gandhi case; Important Amendments- 42nd Amendment, 44th Amendment, and 97th amendment
  • 9) Union- The basic idea about Article 52-73; Qualification and Election; Function and Powers- (Executive, Legislative, Financial, Judicial, Diplomatic, Military and Emergency Powers); Resignation and impeachment; Role and responsibilities and relationship with Prime minister, Council of Minister, Cabinet ministers; Prime minister and council of ministers- Basic idea about Article 74-75; Powers and Functions; Council of ministers; Resignation and Removal; Attorney general; Parliament; The basic idea about Article related; Role and functions of the Parliament; Sessions, Motions, Parliamentary procedure – Summoning, Prorogation, Joint Sitting; Parliamentary proceedings like Question Hour, Zero Hour, and Adjournment Motion, etc.; Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha; Special powers of Rajya Sabha; Anti-defection law and 10th schedule; Parliamentary Privileges; Bill and lawmaking procedure; Budget, funds and its summary; Parliamentary Committees
  • 10) Judiciary- The basic idea about Article related to the judiciary; Powers of Supreme court and high court; Qualification and appointment; Removal procedure; Recent controversy, verdicts, and constitutional provisions
  • 11) State Government- State Executive; Governor- appointment, removal and special powers.; Executive, Legislative, Financial, Judicial powers and discretionary of the governor; 7th constitutional amendment; Chief minister and council of ministers; Power of chief minister; State Legislature; State legislature compared to the Parliament with regard to composition, powers, and functions; Bicameral legislatures; Creation and abolition of the Legislative councils; Administration of Union Territories (UT); Special provision for Delhi; Administration and jurisdiction in UTs
  • l2) Administration of Special Areas- Basic idea about 5th Schedule & 6th Schedule; Recent issues related to Administration of Special Areas; Special provision for Jammu and Kashmir-Article 370; Difference between constitutional provisions related to Jammu and Kashmir
  • 13) Emergency Provisions- National emergency- Article 352; President’s rule or State emergency- Article 356; Financial emergency- Article 360; 44th amendment act; Effects and implications of emergency; Role of President in emergency time; The State of FR, Lok Sabha, and Rajya Sabha; Revoking emergency
  • 14) State- centre and interstate relations- The basic idea about Articles 262 and 263; Composition and functions of Interstate council and Zonal council; Inter-State trade and Commerce; Recent disputes between states, controversies etc; New policies or schemes which impact interstate relations
  • 15) Panchayati Raj and municipalities- Elections, auditing, powers and authority of panchayats; 3 tier structure; 73rd Amendment Act and the 74th Amendment Act; Relation with FR and DPSP; Schemes introduced; Metropolitan planning committee and urban development
  • 16) Reservation
  • 17) Constitution Bodies- Election Commission; UPSC; SPSC; JPSC; Finance Commission; National Commission for SCs and ST’s; Composition, Powers and functions, Removal of the Constitutional bodies
  • 18) Non-Constitutional Bodies- The basic idea about Composition, Functions, Working of the Non-Constitutional bodies such as National Human Rights Commission, Central Information Commission, Central Vigilance Commission, Central Bureau of Investigation, State Human Rights Commission, State Information Commission, etc.
  • 19) Tribunals- The basic idea about Article 323A and tribunals under Article 323B; Recent controversial issues related to tribunals; Different tribunals and importance
  • 20) Special Provisions for SCs, STs, Backward Classes, Minorities and Anglo-Indians- Privileges and right issued to SC’s, ST’s, Backward Classes, Minorities and Anglo-Indians; Issues related to vulnerable sections like women, child, SC’s, ST’s, Backward Classes, Minorities and Anglo-Indians
  • 21) Current affairs- Recent issues related to above-mentioned categories; Important schemes, programs, missions, laws, and policies launched by the government; Recent Government Bills and Governance actions


  • 1) Economic growth and development – basic concept and definition of economy and economics, uses and transfer of resources, distributive effects, macro and microeconomic policy, micro-macro balance, distributive impact of economic policies, development versus growth, determinant of growth and development, concepts such as HPI/MPI, HDI, PQLI, GEM, GDI/GII, TAI, Green index, sustainable development, India’s ranking in the various indices
  • 2) Poverty – definitions, causes, distribution-deprivation, income versus calories, measurement of poverty, the status of poverty, eradication programmes, poverty and resource policy, tribal rights and issues, livelihood mission
  • 3) Inclusion – definition, relevance, types, financial inclusion, recent initiatives
  • 4) Demographics – census data, populations by gender, by state, by age group, socio-economic status, caste, religion, literacy levels, etc. Trends in human development – interstate comparison, etc.
  • 5) Fiscal policy – definition, component, receipts, revenue and capital account, tax revenue, expenditure, budget


  • 1) Universe – Big Bang, Redshift, Blueshift
  • 2) Star Formation – Stellar Evolution, Life Cycle of A Star
  • 3) Solar System Formation – Nebular Theory of Laplace
  • 4) Solar System – Planets, Inner Planets, Outer Planets
  • 5) Sun – Internal Structure, Atmosphere
  • 6) Nuclear Fission, Nuclear Reactor Types
  • 7) India’s Three-Stage Nuclear Power Programme
  • 8) Cell Organelles – Plant Cell vs. Animal Cell
  • 9) Carbohydrates – Monosaccharides, Polysaccharides
  • 10) Proteins – Amino Acids, Enzymes
  • 11) Vitamins and Minerals – Deficiency Diseases
  • 12) Fats – Healthy Fats and Unhealthy Fats
  • 13) Animal Tissues – Epithelium, Connective Tissues
  • 14) Human Digestive System – Digestive Glands
  • 15) Respiratory System – NCERT General Science
  • 16) Endocrine Glands and Hormones
  • 17) Human Neural System – Human Brain
  • 18) Muscular and Skeletal System
  • 19) Nucleic acids – DNA and RNA, Recombinant DNA
  • 20) Mitosis – Cell Cycle, Cell Division, Meiosis – Mitosis – Meiosis Comparison
  • 21) Inheritance – Mendel’s Laws of Inheritance, Chromosomal Theory, Human Genome Project
  • 22) Sex Determination – Genetic Disorders
  • 23) Diseases Caused by Microorganisms
  • 24) Microbes in Human Welfare – Useful Microbes
  • 25) Immunity – Human Immune System
  • 26) AIDS, Cancer – causes
  • 27) Drugs and Alcohol Abuse
  • 28) Diseases – Acute, Chronic, Communicable Diseases
  • 29) Blood – Blood Groups – Formed Elements
  • 30) Circulatory System, Double Circulation
  • 31) Excretory System – Kidney, Urine Formation
  • 32) Origin and Evolution of Life on Earth
  • 33) Biological Classification
  • 34) Five Kingdom Classifications of Plants and Animals
  • 35) Plant Parts and Their Functions
  • 36) Plant Kingdom – Halophytes, Bryophytes
  • 37) Plants with Seeds – Gymnosperms and Angiosperms
  • 38) Plant Tissue – Simple, Complex Permanent Tissue
  • 39) Plant Nutrition – Photosynthesis, Nitrogen Cycle, Fixation
  • 40) Sexual and Asexual Reproduction in Plants
  • 41) Classification of Animal Kingdom (Animalia)
  • 42) Classification of Vertebrata (Phylum Chordata)
  • 43) Human Reproductive System
  • 44) Biotechnology – Genetic Engineering – Processes and Applications
  • 45) Atomic Theory – Structure of an Atom


  • 1) Current events of national and international importance
  • 2) General issues on environmental ecology, biodiversity and Climate Change

Syllabus for Prelims- General Studies Paper II (CSAT)


  • 1) Comprehension
  • 2) Interpersonal skills including communication skills


  • 1) Logical reasoning and analytical ability
  • 2) Decision making and problem-solving


  • 1) General mental ability
  • 2) Basic numeracy- numbers and their relations, orders of magnitude, etc. (Class X level)
  • 1) Data interpretation- charts, graphs, tables, data sufficiency, etc. Class X level)

Syllabus for Mains

Syllabus for Mains- Essay: There is no mention of IAS essay paper syllabus in the UPSC notification and only a broad outline is provided instead. The notification mentions that candidates will be expected to keep closely to the subject of the essay to arrange their ideas in orderly fashion, and to write concisely, and that credit will be given for effective and exact expression. Topics from Philosophy, Public Administration and International scenario are used to test the world view of the candidates through these essays.

The syllabus for the qualifying language papers and the 4 GS papers is presented below.


  • 1) One essay question for 100 marks – candidates have to select one out of the given topics
  • 2) Reading comprehension and related questions for a total of 60 marks
  • 3) Precis writing for 60 marks
  • 4) Translation from English to chosen language for 20 marks
  • 5) Translation from chosen language to English for 20 marks
  • 6) Grammar and basic language usage such as synonyms, sentence correction etc. for a total of 40 marks
  • 7) Two essays from a list of given topics for a combined total of 250 marks


  • 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 the 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 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 the world’s physical geography
  • 11) 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)
  • 12) 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


  • 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) Government strives to have a workforce which reflects gender balance and women candidates are encouraged to apply
  • 5) Comparison of the Indian constitutional scheme with that of other countries
  • 6) Parliament and State legislatures—structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these
  • 7) 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
  • 8) Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act
  • 9) Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies. 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
  • 12) Issues relating to the development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources
  • 12) Issues relating to poverty and hunger
  • 13) Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures
  • 14) Role of civil services in a democracy
  • 15) India and its neighbourhood- relations
  • 16) Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
  • 17) Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora
  • 18) Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate


  • 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 cybersecurity; 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


  • 1) Attitude and approach to issues relating to integrity, probity in public life
  • 2) Problem-solving approach to various issues and conflicts faced while dealing with society
  • 3) 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
  • 4) Attitude: content, structure, function; its influence and relation with thought and behaviour; moral and political attitudes; social influence and persuasion
  • 5) Aptitude and foundational values for Civil Service, integrity, impartiality and nonpartisanship, objectivity, dedication to public service, empathy, tolerance and compassion towards the weaker sections
  • 6) Emotional intelligence-concepts, and their utilities and application in administration and governance
  • 7) Contributions of moral thinkers and philosophers from India and the world
  • 8) 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
  • 9) Probity in Governance: Concept of public service; Philosophical basis of governance and probity; Information sharing and transparency in government, Right to Information
  • 10) Ethics, Codes of Conduct, Citizen’s Charters, Work culture, Quality of service delivery, Utilization of public funds, challenges of corruption
  • 11) Case Studies on the above issues

Exam Analysis

UPSC IAS Prelims 2019 Exam Analysis

UPSC IAS Prelims Exam 2019 was held on 2nd June 2019. The analysis of Paper I and Paper II is given below:

UPSC Prelims GS Paper I Analysis 2019

  • The difficulty level of the exam was moderate to high.
  • A score of 120-130 can be considered as a good attempt, as per the exam analysis.
  • The question paper was dominated by questions on Current Affairs, Polity and Latest Technology. The section-wise analysis is presented below.
Section Number of Questions Important Topics Difficulty Level
Current Affairs 30-35 Chairman of Public sector banks, AIIIB, Maternity Benefit Ammendment Act, Ease of Doing Business Index Moderate to Difficult
History 10-15 Modern and Ancient History of India (Zamindari System, Harrappa civilization) and Indian Freedom Struggle Difficult
Geography 5-10 Climate, Environment and Ecology (Old and New World Crops) Difficult
Polity 15-20 Indian Polity Facts, Law and Governance Issues Difficult
Economy 15-20 Indian Economy and Social Development Difficult
Science & Technology 35-30 General Principles, Summits and Conferences (Wearable Technology, DNA, RNAi, Lab Technology, DIgital Signature) Moderate to Difficult

UPSC IAS Mains 2019 Exam Analysis

UPSC IAS Mains Exam 2019 was held in September 2019. The analysis of the GS papers is given below:

UPSC Mains GS Paper I Analysis 2019

  • The question paper was of easy to moderate difficulty level. The questions were a mix of both static and analytical knowledge and candidates required a comprehensive understanding of the concepts and historical events to score well.
  • Art and Culture: There was one question on Gandhara Art, tagged at moderate level.
  • Modern History: Four analytical questions were asked from this section and required a complete understanding of each and every event. As an example, a question on the 1857 uprising required candidates to write about the rebellions that occurred in the preceding hundred years. The questions were of moderate difficulty level.
  • World History: Only one analytical question was asked from this section. Since most of the aspirants have an idea about the American and French revolution, the question was easy.
  • Geography: Eight questions were asked from this section and required a mix of analytical and static knowledge. Since most of the concepts were repititive, they were of easy to moderate level.
  • Indian Society: Six questions, most of them analytical, were asked from this section.

UPSC Mains GS Paper II Analysis 2019

  • The question paper of UPSC Mains GS II was highly anaytical and lengthy, compared to the last few years. The GS paper II was found to be of high difficulty level and had a mixture of fundamental and applied part.
  • Candidates needed to be well informed about important articles of the Indian constitution and current affairs to excel in this exam because most of the questions had a direct link with recent happenings. Candidates are advised to include recent commissions, reports, and its recommendations in the answers.
  • Candidates had to dedicate at least 30-40 seconds per question to read and understand what is the basic demand of the question and pin-point which part needs to be addressed.
  • There were 8 difficult questions, 7 questions with moderate difficulty level and 5 easy questions.
  • There were 4 questions on International relations and 16 questions on Indian polity.

UPSC Mains GS Paper III Analysis 2019

  • The question paper of UPSC Mains GS III was easy to moderate. There were 1-2 technical questions which were relatively difficult.
  • The questions were not lenghty which meant that candidates could finish the paper in three hours.
  • Indian Economy: There were 3 easy to moderate level questions based on agriculture, 4 analytical questions based on the country's economic situation and 2 easy questions on policy measures by government regarding food grain distribution and food processing.
  • Science and Technology: Of the 3 questions from this section, one was easy, one was easy to moderate and the third one was moderate to difficult.
  • Environment: Two questions were asked from this section. One question was based on a static concept while the other was based on one of the current threats to environment- sand mining. Both the questions were easy.
  • Internal Security: Of the 4 questions from this section, one was difficult and required prior specific knowledge about the CyberDome project, while the remaining questions were of moderate difficulty level.
  • Disaster Management: Two questions were asked from this section. One question was based on a hazard zonation mapping. Both the questions were of moderate level.

UPSC Mains GS Paper IV Analysis 2019

  • The pattern of this paper was the same as that of 2018, that is, Section-A was for 130 marks and Section-B consisting of six case studies was for 120 marks.
  • Many of the questions in Section- A (Theory) required only a basic understanding of the terms mentioned in the syllabus. However, many questions had two parts, with the second part generally demanding the application of the understanding.
  • In Section- B, the length of the case studies was smaller compared to the previous year.
  • Most of the case studies required candidates to suggest some measures with respect to the issue mentioned in the case.
  • By explaining the context of the question in the case studies, the theoretical knowledge and solution-oriented approach of candidates is evaluated.

Exam Tips

  • Know the exam pattern and syllabus: Candidates must know the exam pattern and detailed syllabus for UPSC before kick-starting the preparation. Going through the UPSC syllabus will help candidates to choose relevant study materials and prioritize the subjects.
  • Choose the right books: Considering the vast syllabus for UPSC Civil Services exam, candidates should choose the right selection of books to ensure that they cover all the topics well. NCERT books are recommended as must-reads by successful candidates since they clear up doubts at a fundamental level. A list of books recomended by experts for UPSC preparation for each subject is given below.

Books for Prelims

Book(s) Subjects
  • India’s Struggle for Independence- Bipan Chandra
  • Facets of Indian Culture – Spectrum
  • NCERT XI (Ancient & Medieval)
  • NCERT XII (Modern Indian History)
  • Certificate Physical Geography – G C Leong
  • World Atlas
  • Indian Polity – M Laxmikanth
Indian Polity
  • Indian Economy - Ramesh Singh
  • Economic Development & Policies in India – Jain & Ohri
  • NCERT XII (Contemporary World Politics)
  • Current Affairs
International Relations
  • Tata McGraw Hill CSAT Manual
  • CSAT II – Arihant
  • Verbal & Non-Verbal Reasoning – R S Aggarwal

Books for Mains

Book(s) Subject
  • An Introduction to Indian Art Part 1: Textbook in Fine Arts for Class XI
  • India’s Struggle for Independence - Bipan Chandra
  • India after Independence - Bipan Chandra
  • History of Medieval India - Satish Chandra
  • Ancient India - R.S Sharma
History, Indian Heritage & Culture [GS Paper 1]
  • Certificate Physical Geography – G C Leong
  • World Atlas
  • Geography of India - Majid Husain
  • World Geography - Majid Husain
Geography [GS Paper 1]
  • Indian Polity – M Laxmikanth
  • Introduction to the Constitution of India by DD Basu
  • India’s Foreign Policy by Rajiv Sikri
Polity & International Relations [GS Paper 2]
  • Indian Economy - Ramesh Singh
Economy [GS Paper 3]
  • Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude for Civil Services Main Examination - Subba Rao and P.N. Roy Chaudary
Ethics [GS Paper 4]

  • Complement Books with Study Material: Apart from the books mentioned above, candidates are advised to study complementary UPSC Study Material like: 2nd ARC Report, Economic Survey, Budget, Finance Commission Report, Annual reports by central ministries, Current Affairs, The Hindu, Yojana Magazine, Press Information Bureau, Niti Aayog Action Agenda, Kurukshetra, Economic & Political Weekly.
  • Create a Timetable: UPSC aspirants should set a realisitc timetable to track and organize their preparation and then ensure that they stick to it. Including deadlines helps to streamline preparation and helps to complete the syllabus faster.
  • Make Newspaper Reading a Habit: Newspapers are a very important source of current affairs related questions in the UPSC exam. Following daily news is therefore critical for clearing the exam.
  • Choose the Right Optional: The optional subject accounts for 500 marks in the UPSC final score and hence should be chosen wisely and after a thorough understanding of the pros and cons of the subjects. Some of the factors that candidates should consider when selecting an optional are: Interest in the subject, Prior knowledge in the subject, Overlap with the GS papers, Availability of coaching and/or study material.
  • Prepare Notes: Considering the vast syllabus of the UPSC IAS exam, making short notes during preparation is very useful for two main reasons. Firstly, these notes help to keep track of the portions covered and secondly, they help save time during revision. Aspirants are advised to allocate separate files or notebooks for maintaining notes of separate subjects.
  • Practice Answer Writing: The IAS main exam papers are descriptive in nature. It is mainly about testing your analytical, critical, and communicative abilities. It demands you to think with conceptual clarity and organize your views, perceptions, and thoughts in a flawless manner. Another thing to be kept in mind is the time and space constraint in the answer booklet. Therefore, candidates have to answer the questions quickly and effectively and in minimum words. This is not possible without adequate answer writing practice.
  • Practice sample papers and previous year question papers: Solving sample papers and previous-year papers helps candidates assess their level of their preparation. Practicing these questions papers will also help candidates know different aspects of the exam - pattern, types of questions, difficulty level, etc. Attempting previous year question papers allows candidate to judge the trends in the UPSC exam and get a view on the important topics in each subject.
  • Attempt Mock Tests: Candidates are advised to attempt mock tests for self-assessment in exam-like conditions. Aspirants can use the experience from these tests to shape their approach towards preparation while also realizing their strong and weak areas.
  • Timely Revision: Regular revision is a must for UPSC preparation since it is easy to forget things with such a vast & diverse syllabus. Short notes prepared by aspirants come in very handy for revision purpose.
  • Focus On Personality And Communication Skills: The interview is a key part of the UPSC examination and candidates should have the ability to convey their thoughts clearly to the interviewers. UPSC aspirants therefore, need to work on polishing their communication skills and body language, in addition to preparing the syllabus.

Eligibility Criteria


For IAS and IPS, a candidate must be a citizen of India. For other services, a candidate can also be a subject of Nepal/ Bhutan, a Tibetan refugee who came over to India before January 1, 1962 with the intention of permanently settling in India or a person of Indian origin who has migrated from Pakistan, Burma, Sri Lanka, East African countries of Kenya, Uganda, the United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Zaire, Ethiopia and Vietnam with the intention of permanently settling in India. Candidates who are subjects of Nepal/ Bhutan or Tibetan refugees are not eligible to apply for Indian Foreign Service (IFS)


Candidates must be physically fit according to the standards given in the Civil Services exam notification


Candidates must hold a graduation degree. Candidates who are in the last year of the graduation and awaiting results are also eligible to apply and need to submit the proof of passing the requisite exam at the time of applying for the Mains exam


Candidates must be minimum 21 years and maximum 32 years of age as on August 1, 2020. Relaxation for reserved category candidates- SC/ST: 5 years; OBC: 3 years; Defence Services Personnel, disabled in operations: 3 years; Ex-servicemen who have rendered at least 5 years of military service & have been released: 5 years; PwD: 10 years


Candidates are allowed a maximum of six attempts in the IAS exam. There is no restriction on the number of attempts for the SC/ST category. Candidates belonging to OBC and PwD categories are allowed a maximum of nine attempts

Cut Off

The combined score of the Civil Services Mains exam and personality test is considered while making the final merit list of the UPSC exam. The candidate's score in the preliminary exam is not considered for preparing the final merit list. The final cutoff for UPSC exam 2020 will be released by UPSC after the declaration of the final result in the month of May 2021. Candidates have to qualify the cutoff in order to secure the post.

The cut-off marks are decided by UPSC based on various factors, some of which are:

  • Total Number of Vacancies
  • Total Number of Candidates Participating in Each Stage
  • Last Year cut off Trends
  • Reservation Norms
  • Difficulty Level of Questions

After each stage of the examination, UPSC releases the list of qualified candidates and results/scorecards of all stages along with cutoffs are only released along with the final cutoff. UPSC therefore releases a cutoff for each stage of the Civil Services Examination: Prelims, Mains and a Final cutoff. These cutoff stages are described below:

  • Cutoff Marks for Prelims Exam: UPSC Preliminary Examination of Civil Services consists of two compulsory papers- General Studies Paper-I and General Studies Paper-II, also called Civil Service Aptitude Test (CSAT). The marks obtained in General Studies Paper I are considered for shortlisting to the Mains Exam and UPSC decides the cut-off marks for this paper. In General Studies Paper-II, candidates need to secure the minimum qualifying marks which are 66, i.e., 33% of 200 marks.
  • Cutoff Marks for Mains Exam: UPSC Mains Examination consists of nine papers of conventional essay type, out of which two are qualifying papers (Paper A - Indian Language, Paper B - English) and seven other papers (Paper I to Paper VII) are compulsory and are counted for merit. Candidates need to obtain at least 25% marks in qualifying papers (Paper A and Paper B) as a cut off to appear in the next 7 papers of UPSC Civil Services Mains examination. Cut-off for Mains exam is calculated on the basis of minimum 10% marks in each of the competitive papers i.e., Essay paper, GS-I, GS-II, GS-III, GS-IV, Optional Paper-I and Optional paper-II.
  • Cutoff Marks for IAS Interview: The Interview or personality tests for UPSC Civil Services are conducted for a total of 275 marks. There are no minimum qualifying marks or cut off for UPSC Civil Services Interview.
  • Cutoff for Final Ranking: UPSC releases Final cut off marks for various civil services posts based on marks obtained in Mains - Written Exam (7 Compulsory Papers) and Interview. The aggregate of marks obtained in the 7 Compulsory Papers of Mains written exam and Interview is used to generate All India Rank (AIR) of candidates. Candidates who secure cut off marks for Final Ranking are allotted to the various civil services like IAS, IPS, IFS, IRS, etc., keeping in view their All India Rank in the UPSC exam and preferences expressed by them for the various services and posts.

Previous Years' Cut-off Trends

UPSC Cut Off Marks 2018: UPSC announced the Civil Services Exam 2018 Cut-off on April 8, 2019. Prelims cut-off for this year was lowest in the last 4 years due to the difficulty level of Prelims question paper. The category-wise cut-offs for Prelims, Main and Final is given below:

Category Prelims Mains Final
GEN 98 774 982
OBC 96.66 732 938
SC 84 719 912
ST 83.34 719 912
PH1 73.34 711 899
PH2 53.34 696 908
PH3 40 520 754

UPSC Cut Off Marks 2017: The category-wise cut-offs for Prelims, Main and Final is given below:

Category Prelims Mains Final
GEN 105.34 809 1006
OBC 102.66 770 968
SC 88.66 756 944
ST 88.66 749 939
PH1 85.34 734 923
PH2 61.34 745 948
PH3 40 578 830

Tie-breaking Protocol in IAS Exam

The UPSC has notified about new tie-breaking resolution rules for the Civil Service Exam. These rules will come into play where two or more candidates score the same aggregate marks in the Civil Services exam. The resolution mechanism is as follows:

  • If the marks secured by two or more candidates are same in the aggregate total(out of 2025), the candidate who had secured more marks in the compulsory papers(Essay, GS I, GSII, GS III, GSIV) and the personality test(IAS interview) combined will be given preference over the others.
  • In case the candidates tied in the above situation also, the candidate who is older will be given preference over the younger one.

List of Services

UPSC conducts the Civil Services Exam for the following services:

All India Services

  • Indian Administrative Services(IAS)
  • Indian Police Services(IPS)
  • Indian Forest Services(IFoS) [Prelims Only]

Central Civil Services

  • Indian Foreign Services(IFS)
  • Indian P & T Accounts & Finance Service, Group ‘A’
  • Indian Audit and Accounts Service, Group ‘A’
  • Indian Revenue Service (Customs and Central Excise), Group ‘A’
  • Indian Defence Accounts Service, Group ‘A’
  • Indian Revenue Service (I.T.), Group ‘A’
  • Indian Ordnance Factories Service, Group ‘A’ (Assistant Works Manager, Administration)
  • Indian Postal Service, Group ‘A’
  • Indian Civil Accounts Service, Group ‘A’
  • Indian Railway Traffic Service, Group ‘A’
  • Indian Railway Accounts Service, Group 'A'
  • Indian Railway Personnel Service, Group ‘A’
  • Post of Assistant Security Commissioner in Railway Protection Force, Group ‘A’
  • Indian Defence Estates Service, Group ‘A’
  • Indian Information Service (Junior Grade), Group ‘A’
  • Indian Trade Service, Group 'A'
  • Indian Corporate Law Service, Group ‘A’
  • Armed Forces Headquarters Civil Service, Group ‘B’ (Section Officer’s Grade)
  • Delhi, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli Civil Service, Group 'B'
  • Delhi, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli Police Service, Group 'B'
  • Pondicherry Civil Service, Group 'B'
  • Pondicherry Police Service, Group ‘B’


Ques: What is the difference between IAS and PCS?
Ans: IAS means Indian Administrative Services and PCS means the Provincial Civil Services. IAS is one of the three All India Services. The recruitment for IAS is done by the Union Public Service Commission. PCS is the state-centric civil services recruited through the State Public Service Commissions.

Ques: Who is the Cadre Controlling Authority of IAS?
Ans: Ministry of Personnel which directly report to the Prime Minister of India is the Cadre controlling authority for the IAS.

Ques: Can State PCS Officers be promoted to IAS?
Ans: Yes, the State PCS Officers can be promoted to the IAS subject to certain conditions laid down by UPSC. Each year, out of the total vacancies of IAS, 33% is filled through the promotion.

Ques: I appeared only for GS Paper I in the Prelims Exam. Will this be counted as an attempt?
Ans: If a candidate appears in any one paper of the IAS Prelims Exam, then it is considered that he/she has made an attempt in the IAS Exam.