UPSC Syllabus and UPSC Exam Pattern for Prelims and Mains

UPSC full form Union Public Service Commission is one of the biggest and 2nd most toughest exam in the world according to some data . It is famously known as IAS, IPS exam, also it is known as Civil Service Examination or Public Service Examination. The exam is held in every year from June to March. Thousands of students apply for this exam every year but few of them can actually pass this exam. Many students want to become a collector or DM or an IPS officer, so they apply for this exam. Here this in this article we'll share or discuss the syllabus of UPSC. 

UPSC Syllabus and UPSC Exam Pattern

UPSC or IAS Syllabus 

New aspirant who want to become an IAS officer or an IPS officer or other civil service officers, the syllabus of IAS exam. They are still finding details of the syllabus. And this is a most frequently and commonly asked questions among all UPSC aspirants that "What is the syllabus of UPSC exam ? or What is the syllabus of IAS exam ?". Although you will get the full details of syllabus on the official website of UPSC. But, for your convenience, here we have categorized this in following manner.

UPSC prelims syllabus

The UPSC prelims exam divides into two papers, GS (General Studies I) and General Studies II or CSAT (Civil Services Aptitude Test). The General Studies I is comprised with Indian Polity and Governance, History of India and History of World, Art and Culture of India, Indian Geography, World Geography, Physical and Social Geography, Current Affairs, Science and Technology, Indian Economy, etc. And General Studies II or CSAT paper is comprised with Math, English Comprehension, Reasoning, General Comprehension, etc. We have we have categorized it in the following table. 

👉 Please turn on screen rotation and rotate your phone for better view of the table. 

General Studies I (GS I) General Studies II (CSAT)
Indian Polity & Governance Basic Math (Class X level) - Charts, Tables, Graphs, etc
India, World History & Art, Culture Mental Ability & Logical Reasoning
Geography - Indian, World, Social, Economic, Physical General Comprehension
Current Affairs & Events - National & International English Language Skill
General Science - Science & Tech Communication Skills
Economy - Poverty, Social Development, Demographics, etc Decision Making & Problem Solving Skill
Environment, Agriculture & Govt Schemes Data Interpretation
International Relation Interpersonal Skills

UPSC Mains Syllabus

As the name (Mains Exam) implies that this is a very important exam because it will decide your rank and your selection to UPSC. The Main exam consists of 9 papers in total, Indian language, English Language, General Studies I, General Studies II, General Studies III, General Studies IV, General Studies V, General Studies VI, and General Studies VII. And out of these 9 papers two are compulsory and two are optional. We have we have categorized it in the following table.

Paper Names Paper Titles
Paper - A Compulsory Indian Language Paper : Short Essay, Precis Writing, Usage & Vocabulary, Translation, Reading Comprehension
Paper - B Compulsory English Language Paper : Short Essay, Precis Writing, Usage & Vocabulary, Reading Comprehension
Paper - I Essay Writing
Paper - II General Studies I : History, India & World Geography, Indian Heritage & Culture, Society
Paper - III General Studies II : Polity, Constitution, Governance, International Relation & Social Justice
Paper - IV General Studies III : Economy, Bio-diversity, Sci & Tech, Environment, Disaster & Security Management
Paper - V General Studies IV : Ethics, Integrity & Aptitude
Paper - VI Optional I : Optional Subject - Paper - 1
Paper - VII Optional II : Optional Subject - Paper - 2

Important Links Regarding UPSC

UPSC Optional Subject List

Candidates have to choose any one optional subject for main exam. There are also every subject available for optional. You can select one of them according to your educational background or according to you interest on a particular subject. We recommend you to choose optional subject which you love to read. We have listed all optional subjects in the following table. 

Agriculture Political Science & International Relations Physics Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science
Anthropology Philosophy Medical Science Botany
Chemistry Mechanical Engineering Mathematics Civil Engineering
Commerce & Accountancy Management Law Economics
History Electrical Engineering Geography Geology
Zoology Psychology Public Administration Statistics
Sociology Bengali Lit Hindi Lit English Lit
Assamese Lit Bodo Lit Urdu Lit Telugu Lit
Tamil Lit Sindhi Lit Santali Lit Nepali Lit
Sanskrit Lit Dogri Lit Gujarati Lit Kannada Lit
Kashmiri Lit Konkani Lit Punjabi Lit Oriya Lit
Maithili Lit Malayalam Lit Manipuri Lit Marathi Lit

UPSC Exam Pattern

There are total three stages in this exam, Preliminary exam, Main exam and Personality test or Interview. The Prelims is conducted in a single while Mains exam is conducted through several days. Prelims exam is a qualify paper for Mains exam and the prelims exam number is not added to the final merit list. Mains and Interview decides your final merit list or final rank.we have categorized the exam pattern in the following way.

UPSC Prelims Exam Pattern 

UPSC Prelims exam consists of a total of two papers, General Studies I and CSAT (Civil Service Aptitude Test). Total marks of this exam is 400, each paper has 200 marks. The exam is objective type in nature and the papers are comprised with multiple choice of answer. General Studies I is a merit ranking paper while CSAT is a qualifying paper (to qualify CSAT exam, you just need 33% marks out of 200 marks). The exam is conducted in offline mode and negative marking is only applicable for UPSC prelims exam.

Paper Names Total Questions Marks Allotted Exam Time Negative Marks
GS - I 100 200 (1= +2 marks) 2 hours 1/3rd or 0.66 marks
CSAT 80 200 (1= +2.5 marks) 2 hours 1/3rd or 0.83 marks

UPSC Exam Pattern for Mains 

The UPSC mains exam has total of 9 papers while two of them are language paper which are qualifying in nature (you need just 25% marks to qualify language papers) and two of them are optional papers as we have earlier said and others 5 papers are General Studies papers. The UPSC mains exam is conducted over five to a week in offline mode. 

Paper Names Paper Titles Exam Time Marks Allotted
Paper - A Indian Language 3 hours 300 Marks
Paper - B English Language 3 hours 300 Marks
Paper - I Essay Writing 3 hours 250 Marks
Paper - II General Studies - I 3 hours 250 Marks
Paper - III General Studies - II 3 hours 250 Marks
Paper - IV General Studies - III 3 hours 250 Marks
Paper - V General Studies - IV 3 hours 250 Marks
Paper - VI Optional - I 3 hours 250 Marks
Paper - VII Optional - II 3 hours 250 Marks

FAQs on UPSC Exam

How many subjects are there in UPSC syllabus?

The exam covers a wide range of subjects including history, geography, economics, politics, science and technology, etc. And according to the syllabus, the prelim examination consists of 2 papers and the main exam of 9 papers. We have discussed these in this article, you can read them for more details. 

Is math compulsory for UPSC?

No. But in CSAT paper of prelims exam, you'll get some questions from Math and you have to score 33% marks to qualify preliminary exam. And in Mains exam, you can choose Math as an option subject. Technically or practically Math is not a compulsory subject for IAS exam but as an optional subject, it becomes an important subject. 

Is 1 year enough for IAS preparation?

Yes, you can pass this exam with 1 year of preparation. Since the exam is held every year, it is obvious that with the right strategies, dedication and hard work as well as smart work, you can pass this exam. And many aspirants did it with their 1st attempt or 1 year of preparation like Srushti Jayant Deshmukh, Kanishak Kataria, Tina Dabi, etc. 

What is the total marks of UPSC?

The preliminary exam is of 400 marks but this mark is not counted for the final result. ultimately the final result is made by main and interview exam and main exam is of 2350 marks and out of these 2350 marks two papers are compulsory papers and qualifying in nature and they are of 300+300 marks. So, the total number of main exam without compulsory papers is 1750 and interview exam is around 275 marks. So, the final sum of main and interview exam is 2025.

Is UPSC exam MCQ based?

The preliminary exam comprises objective type questions or MCQ type questions. In both GS-I and GS-II paper candidates will get multiple-choice question and have to answer accordingly. But the main comprises 9 descriptive type questions. There is no MCQ type questions in mains exam.


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Hello everyone, I’m Mritunjoy Biswas and I did masters degree in English literature. Now I’m a private tutor and I have been teaching for last 5 years.

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