Union Public Service Commission which conducts the Civil Services Exam every year follows a standard exam pattern for the 3 stages, after completion of which the board selects the candidates based on their marks and ranks for the varied services like, Indian Administrative Services (IAS), Indian Police Services (IPS), Indian Foreign Services (IFS) and other services categories in Group A and Group B. This exam is considered to be one of the toughest exams in India.
Civil Services Exam conducts in three Phases:
- Preliminary Examination (Objective)
- Mains Examination (Subjective)
- Interview or Personality Test (Vocal section with Panel of UPSC members)
The UPSC Prelims Syllabus focuses on general and societal awareness which is tested by objective-type (MCQ) questions. The UPSC Mains Syllabus is much more comprehensive as this stage comprises nine theory papers, and the final interview stages tests the overall personality of the candidate by the competent board members.
The two papers of the IAS prelims are discussed in detail below:
- General Studies (Generally conducted between 9:30 AM to 11:30 AM)
The General Studies test is the first paper of the preliminary examination. This test is intended to test the general awareness of a candidate in a wide range of subjects that include: Indian Polity, Geography, History, Indian Economy, Science and Technology, Environment and Ecology, International Relations and associated UPSC current affairs.
- Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT) (Generally conducted between 2:30 PM to 04:30 PM)
- This UPSC Prelims syllabus for CSAT intends to assess the aptitude of the candidate in solving ‘Reasoning and Analytical’ questions, apart from ‘Reading Comprehension’ and the occasionally asked ‘Decision Making’ questions.
- The ‘Decision Making’ based questions are generally exempt from negative marks.
- The preliminary examination is only meant for screening a candidate for the subsequent stages of the exam.
- The marks obtained in the Prelims will not be added up while arriving at the final rank list.
UPSC Syllabus for Prelims Exam
- Syllabus for Prelims Paper-I (GS Paper)
- 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, Biodiversity and Climate Change – that do not require subject specialization.
- General Science
- Syllabus for Prelims Paper-II (CSAT Paper)
- 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).
Consists of Total 9 Papers, 2 of them are qualifying papers, both consist of 300 marks each. The marks of which are not counted in merit, but UPSC board checks the further papers only if the candidate qualifies these 2 papers – Paper A and Paper B
- Paper A- Modern Indian Language
- Paper B- English Language
The aim of the paper is to test the candidates’ ability to read and understand serious discursive prose, and to express ideas clearly and correctly, in English and Indian language.
The pattern of questions would be broadly as follows :
- Comprehension of given passages.
- Precise Writing.
- Usage and Vocabulary.
- Short Essays.
Indian Languages :—
- comprehension of given passages.
- Precise Writing.
- Usage and Vocabulary.
- Short Essays.
- Translation from English to the Indian Language and vice-versa.
PAPER‐1: ESSAY – 250 Marks
Candidates may be required to write essays on multiple topics. 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.
PAPER‐2: (General Studies 1) – 250 Marks
- 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,
- 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 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 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 water bodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes.
PAPER‐3: (GENERAL STUDIES 2) – 250 Marks
- 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 the 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 poverty and hunger.
- Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.
- Role of civil services in a democracy.
- India and its neighbourhood- relations.
- Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
- Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian Diaspora.
- Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate.
PAPER‐4: (GENERAL STUDIES 3) – 250 Marks
- 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, nanotechnology, biotechnology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.
- Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.
- Disaster and disaster management.
- Linkages between development and spread of extremism.
- Role of external state and non-state actors in creating challenges to internal security.
- Challenges to internal security through communication networks, the role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges, basics of cyber security; money-laundering and its prevention.
- Security challenges and their management in border areas; linkages of organized crime with terrorism.
- Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate.
PAPER‐5: (GENERAL STUDIES 4) – 250 Marks
- Ethics and Human Interface: Essence, determinants and consequences of Ethics in human actions; dimensions of ethics; ethics in private and public relationships. Human Values – lessons from the lives and teachings of great leaders, reformers and administrators; role of family, society and educational institutions in inculcating values.
- Attitude: content, structure, function; its influence and relation with thought and behaviour; moral and political attitudes; social influence and persuasion.
- Aptitude and foundational values for Civil Service, integrity, impartiality and non-partisanship, objectivity, dedication to public service, empathy, tolerance and compassion towards the weaker sections.
- Emotional intelligence-concepts, and their utilities and application in administration and governance.
- Contributions of moral thinkers and philosophers from India and the world.
- Public/Civil service values and Ethics in Public administration: Status and problems; ethical concerns and dilemmas in government and private institutions; laws, rules, regulations and conscience as sources of ethical guidance; accountability and ethical governance; strengthening of ethical and moral values in governance; ethical issues in international relations and funding; corporate governance.
- Probity in Governance: Concept of public service; Philosophical basis of governance and probity; Information sharing and transparency in government, Right to Information, Codes of Ethics, Codes of Conduct, Citizen’s Charters, Work culture, Quality of service delivery, Utilization of public funds, challenges of corruption.
- Case Studies on the above issues.
PAPER‐6: (Optional Subject Paper 1) – 250 Marks
PAPER‐7: (Optional Subject Paper 2) – 250 Marks
All the 7 papers consists of 250 marks each and makes the total 1750 marks
Unlike Prelims examination, IAS Mains is more focused on writing, thinking, and analytical skills.
- In the last stage of Civil Services Examination, the candidates are interviewed by the board of competent and unbiased observers, who tests the overall personality of the candidates based on the Detailed Application form (DAF), which every candidate has to fill before the Mains Examination.
- The objective of this Personality test is to judge the candidates personal suitability for the various positions alloted.
- This is not an assessment of intellectual abilities, but the overall personality of the candidate, viz, his social traits, confidence, empathy, personal interest, critical power of assimilation, logical reasoning, balance of judgement, leadership traits, general intellect and moral integrity.
- The test consists of total 250 marks