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UPSC Mains Syllabus



The Civil Services Examination comprises two successive stages:

  1. Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination (Objective Type) for the selection of candidates for Civil Services (Main) Examination; and
  2. Civil Services (Main) Examination (Written and Interview/Personality Test) for the selection of candidates for the various Services and posts.
  1. The Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination will consist of two papers of  Objective  type  (multiple choice questions) and carry a maximum of 400 marks in the subjects set out in sub-section (A) of Section

II. This examination is meant to serve as a screening test only; the marks obtained in the Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination by the candidates who are declared qualified for admission to the Civil Services (Main) Examination will not be counted for determining their final order of merit. The number of candidates to be admitted to the Civil Services (Main) Examination will be about twelve to thirteen times the total approximate number of vacancies to be filled in the year through this Examination. Only those candidates who are declared by the Commission to have qualified in the Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination in the year will be eligible for admission to the Civil Services (Main) Examination of that year provided they are otherwise eligible for admission to the Civil Services (Main) Examination.

Note I : The Commission will draw a list of candidates to be qualified for Civil Services (Main) Examination based on the criterion of minimum qualifying marks of 33% in General Studies Paper-II 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.

Note II : There will be negative marking for incorrect answers as detailed below :

  1. There are four alternatives for the answers to every question. For each question for which a wrong answer has been given by the candidate, one-third (0.33) of the marks assigned to that question will be deducted as penalty.
  2. If a candidate gives more than one answer, it will be treated as a wrong answer even if one of the given answers happen to be correct and there will be same penalty as above for that question.
  3. If a question is left blank i.e. no answer is given by the candidate, there will be no penalty for that question.
  1. The Civil Services (Main) Examination will consist of a Written Examination and  an Interview/Personality Test. The Written Examination will consist of 9 papers of conventional essay type in the  subjects set out in sub-section (B) of Section-II  out of which two papers will be  of qualifying in nature. [Also see Note (ii) under Para-I of Section II-(B)]. Marks obtained for all the compulsory papers (Paper-I to Paper-VII) and Marks obtained in Interview/Personality Test will be counted for ranking.
    1. Candidates who obtain such minimum qualifying  marks  in  the  written  part  of  the  Civil  Services (Main) Examination as  may  be  fixed  by  the  Commission  at  their discretion, shall  be  summoned by  them for an Interview/Personality Test, vide sub-section (C) of Section-II. The number of candidates to  be summoned for Interview/Personality Test will be about twice of the number of vacancies to be filled. The Interview/Personality Test will carry 275 marks (with no minimum qualifying marks).
    2. Marks thus obtained by  the  candidates in the  Civil Services (Main)  Examination (Written part  as  well as Interview/Personality Test) would determine their final ranking.  Candidates  will  be  allotted  to  the various Services keeping in view their ranks in the examination and the preferences expressed by them for the various Services and posts.


SECTION II: Scheme and Subjects for the Preliminary and Main Examination



The Examination shall comprise of two compulsory Papers of 200 marks each.


  1. Both the question papers will be of the objective type (multiple choice questions) and each will be of two hours duration.
  2. The General Studies Paper-II of the Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination will be a qualifying paper with minimum qualifying marks fixed at 33% .
  3. The question papers will be set both in Hindi and English.
  4. Details of the syllabi are indicated in Part A of Section III.



The Written Examination will consist of the following papers:—


Qualifying Papers:


(One of the Indian Language to be selected by the candidate from  the  Languages  included  in  the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution).                                                                                                                                                300 Marks


English                                                                                                                                                                           300 Marks

Papers to be counted for merit :


Essay                                                                                                                                                                             250 Marks


General Studies-I                                                                                                                                                       250 Marks

(Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society)


General Studies -II                                                                                                                                                    250 Marks

(Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations)


General Studies -III                                                                                                                                                  250 Marks

(Technology, Economic Development, Bio-diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management)


General Studies -IV                                                                                                                                                   250 Marks

(Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude)


Optional Subject - Paper 1                                                                                                                              250 Marks


Optional Subject - Paper 2                                                                                                                              250 Marks

Sub Total (Written test)                                                                                                                                      1750 Marks

Personality Test                                                                                                                                                         275 Marks

Grand Total                                                                                                                                                               2025 Marks


Candidates may choose any one of the optional subjects from amongst the list of subjects given in para 2 below:

Note :

  1. The papers on Indian languages and English (Paper A and paper B) will be of Matriculation or equivalent standard and will be of qualifying nature. The marks obtained in these papers will not be counted for ranking.
  2. Evaluation of the papers, namely, 'Essay', 'General Studies' and Optional Subject of all the candidates would be done simultaneously along with evaluation of their qualifying papers on ‘Indian Languages’ and ‘English’ but the papers on Éssay', General Studies and Optional Subject of only such candidates will be taken cognizance who attain 25% marks in ‘Indian Language’ and 25% in English as minimum qualifying standards in these qualifying papers.
  3. The paper A on Indian Language will not, however, be compulsory for candidates hailing from the States of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Sikkim.
  4. The paper A on Indian Language will not, however, be compulsory for Candidates belonging to Persons with Benchmark Disability (only Hearing Impairment sub-category) provided that they have been granted such exemption from 2nd or 3rd language courses by the concerned education Board/University. The candidate needs to provide an undertaking/self declaration in this regard in order to claim such an exemption to the Commission.
  5. Marks obtained by the candidates for the Paper I-VII only will be counted for merit ranking. However, the Commission will have the discretion to fix qualifying marks in any or all of these papers.
  6. For the Language medium/literature of languages, the scripts to be used by the candidates will be as under :—

Language                   Script

Assamese                      Assamese

Bengali                           Bengali

Gujarati                          Gujarati

Hindi                               Devanagari

Kannada                         Kannada

Kashmiri                        Persian

Konkani                         Devanagari

Malayalam                    Malayalam

Manipuri                        Bengali

Marathi                          Devanagari

Nepali                             Devanagari

Odia                                 Odia

Punjabi                           Gurumukhi

Sanskrit                          Devanagari

Sindhi                              Devanagari or Arabic

Tamil                                Tamil

Telugu                            Telugu

Urdu                                Persian

Bodo                                Devanagari

Dogri                                Devanagari

Maithilli                         Devanagari

Santhali                          Devanagari or Olchiki


Note : For Santhali language, question paper will be printed in Devanagari script; but candidates will be free to answer either in Devanagari script or in Olchiki.

  1. List of optional subjects for Main Examination:
    1. Agriculture
    2. Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science
    3. Anthropology
    4. Botany
    5. Chemistry
    6. Civil Engineering
    7. Commerce and Accountancy
    8. Economics
    9. Electrical Engineering
    10. Geography
    11. Geology
    12. History
    13. Law
    14. Management
    15. Mathematics
    16. Mechanical Engineering
    17. Medical Science
    18. Philosophy
    19. Physics
    20. Political Science and International Relations
    21. Psychology
    22. Public Administration
    23. Sociology
    24. Statistics
    25. Zoology
    26. Literature of any one of the following languages:

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


Note :

  1. The question papers for the examination will be of conventional (essay) type.
  2. Each paper will be of three hours duration.
  3. Candidates will have the option to answer all the question papers, except the Qualifying Language Papers, Paper-A and Paper-B, in any one of the languages included in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution of India or in English. Notwithstanding this, the Candidate will have the choice to write the Optional Papers in English also if candidates opt to write Paper I-V except  the  Qualifying  Language Papers, Paper-A and Paper-B, in any one of the language included in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution of India.
  4. Candidates exercising the option to answer Papers in any one of the languages included in  the Eight Schedule to the Constitution of India mentioned above may, if they so desire, give English version within brackets of only the description of the technical terms, if any, in addition to the version in the language opted by them. Candidates should, however, note that if they misuse the above rule, a deduction


will be made on this account from the total marks otherwise accruing to them and in extreme cases; their script(s) will not be valued for being in an unauthorized medium.

  1. Candidates should note that if any irrelevant matter/signages/marks etc. are found written in the answer script(s), which would not be related to any question/answer and/or would be having the potential to disclose the candidate’s identity, the Commission will impose a penalty of deduction of marks from the total marks otherwise accruing to the candidate or will not evaluate the said script(s) on this account.
  2. The question papers (other than the literature of language papers) will be set in Hindi and English only.
  3. The details of the syllabi are set out in Part B of Section III.


General Instructions (Preliminary as well as Main Examination) :

  1. Candidates must write the papers in their own hand. In no circumstances will  they  be  allowed  the help of a scribe to write  the  answers  for them. The  Persons  with  Benchmark  Disabilities  in  the  categories of blindness, locomotor disability (both arm affected – BA) and cerebral palsy will be provided the facility of scribe, if desired by the person.  In  case  of  other  category  of  Persons  with  Benchmark  Disabilities  as defined under section 2 (r) of the RPWD Act, 2016, the  facility  of scribe  will  be  allowed to  such  candidates on production of a certificate  to the effect that the  person concerned has physical limitation to write, and scribe is essential to write examination on behalf, from the Chief Medical Officer/Civil Surgeon/Medical Superintendent of a Government Health Care institution as per proforma at Appendix-IV.
  2. The candidates have discretion of opting for their own scribe or request the Commission for the same. The details of scribe i.e. whether own or the Commission’s and the details of scribe in case candidates are bringing their own scribe, will be sought at the time of filling up the application form online as per proforma at Appendix-V.
  3. The qualification of the Commission’s scribe as well as own scribe will not be more than the minimum qualification criteria of the examination. However, the qualification of the scribe should always be matriculate or above.
  4. The Persons with Benchmark Disabilities in the category of blindness, locomotor disability (both arms affected-BA) and cerebral palsy will be allowed Compensatory Time of twenty minutes per hour of the examination. In case of other categories of Persons with Benchmark Disabilities, this facility will be provided on production of a certificate to the effect that the person concerned has physical limitation to write from the Chief Medical Officer/Civil Surgeon/Medical Superintendent of a Government Health Care institution as per proforma at Appendix-IV.


Note (1) : The eligibility conditions of a scribe and the conduct of scribe inside the examination hall and the manner in which and extent to which the scribe can help the Persons with Benchmark Disabilities (PwBD) candidate in writing the Civil Services Examination shall be  governed by the instructions issued by the UPSC in this regard. Violation of all or any of the said instructions  shall entail  the  cancellation of the candidature of the Persons with Benchmark Disabilities (PwBD) candidate in addition to any other action that the UPSC may take against the scribe.


Note (2) : The criteria for determining the percentage of visual impairment shall be as follows :—

Better eye

Best Corrected

Worse eye

Best Corrected

Per Cent


Disability category





6/6 to 6/18

6/6 to 6/18




6/24 to 6/60




Less than 6/60 to 3/60






Less       than       3/60       No      Light



II (One eyed person)

6/24 to 6/60

Or Visual field less than 40 up to

20     degree      around      centre      of

fixation or heminaopia involving macula

6/24 to 6/60


III a (low vision)

Less than 6/60 to 3/60


III b (low vision)

Less    than    3/60  to  No     Light Perception


III c (low vision)

Less than 6/60 to 3/60 Or

Visual field less than 20 up to 10 degree around centre of fixation

Less than 6/60 to 3/60


III d (low vision)

Less    than    3/60  to  No     Light Perception


III e (low vision)

Less than 3/60 to 1/60 Or

Visual field less than 10 degree around centre of fixation

Less    than    3/60  to  No     Light Perception


IV a (Blindness)


Only Light Perception, No Light perception


Only Light Perception, No Light perception


IV b (Blindness)


Note (3) : The concession admissible to blind candidates shall not be admissible to those suffering from Myopia.

  1. The Commission have discretion to fix qualifying marks in any or all the subjects of the examination.
  2. If a candidate’s handwriting is not easily legible, a deduction will be made on this account from the total marks otherwise accruing to the candidate.
  3. Marks will not be allotted for mere superficial knowledge.
  4. Credit will  be  given for orderly, effective  and exact expression combined with due economy of words in all subjects of the examination.
  5. In the question papers, wherever required, SI units will be used.
  6. Candidates should use only International form of Indian numerals (i.e. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 etc.) while answering question papers.
  7. Candidates will be allowed the use of Scientific (Non-Programmable type) Calculators at the conventional (Essay) type examination of UPSC.  Programmable  type  calculators  will  however  not  be allowed and the use of such calculators shall tantamount to resorting to unfair means by the candidates. Loaning or interchanging of calculators in the  Examination  Hall  is  not  permitted.  It  is  also  important  to note that candidates are not permitted to use calculators  for  answering  objective  type  papers  (Test Booklets). They should not therefore bring the same inside the Examination Hall.


  1. Interview/Personality Test

The candidate will be interviewed by a Board who will have  before  them a record of the candidate’s career. The candidate will be asked questions on matters  of  general  interest.  The  object  of  the Interview/Personality Test is to assess the personal suitability  of  the  candidate  for  a  career  in  public service by a Board of competent and unbiased observers.  The  Interview/Personality  Test  is  intended  to judge the mental calibre of a candidate. In broad terms this is really an assessment of not only intellectual qualities but also social traits and interest in current affairs. Some of the qualities to be judged are 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.


2. The technique of the Interview/Personality  Test  is  not  that  of  a  strict  cross-examination  but  of  a natural, though directed and  purposive  conversation  which  is  intended  to  reveal  the  mental  qualities  of the candidate.3. The Interview/Personality Test is not intended to be a test either of the specialized or


Part B—Main Examination

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 1evel 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.


Syllabi of the papers included in the scheme of Civil Services (Main) Examination are given as follows :—


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 concerned.

The pattern of questions would be broadly as follows :

  1. Comprehension of given passages.
  2. Precis Writing.
  3. Usage and Vocabulary.
  4. Short Essays.

Indian Languages :—

  1. comprehension of given passages.
  2. Precis Writing.
  3. Usage and Vocabulary.
  4. Short Essays.
  5. Translation from English to the Indian Language and vice-versa.

Note 1 : The papers on Indian Languages and English will be of Matriculation or equivalent standard and will be of qualifying nature only. The marks obtained in these papers will not be counted for ranking.

Note 2 : The candidates will have to answer the English and Indian Languages papers in English and the respective Indian language (except where translation is involved).


Essay: 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.



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- 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 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.


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 weaker-sections.
  • 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 Papers I & II

Candidate may choose any optional subject from amongst the List of Optional Subjects given in Para 2.




Ecology and its relevance to man, natural resources, their sustainable management and conservation. Physical and social environment as factors of crop distribution and production.  Agro ecology; cropping pattern as indicators of environments. Environmental pollution and associated hazards to crops, animals and humans. Climate change—International conventions and global initiatives. Green house effect and global warming. Advance tools for ecosystem analysis—Remote Sensing (RS) and Geographic Information Systems (GIS).

Cropping patterns in different agro-climatic zones of the country. Impact of high-yielding and short-duration varieties on shifts in cropping patterns. Concepts of various cropping,  and  farming systems. Organic and Precision farming. Package of practices for production of important cereals, pulses, oil seeds, fibres, sugar, commercial and fodder crops.

Important features, and scope of various types of forestry plantations such as social forestry, agro- forestry, and natural forests : Propagation of forest plants. Forest products. Agro-forestry and value addition. Conservation of forest flora and fauna.

Weeds, their characteristics, dissemination and association with various crops; their multiplications; cultural, biological, and chemical control of weeds.

Soil—physical, chemical and biological properties. Processes and factors of soil formation. soils of India. Mineral and organic constituents of soils and their role in maintaining soil productivity. Essential plant nutrients and  other beneficial elements in soils  and  plants. Principles of soil  fertility, soil testing and fertiliser recommendations, integrated nutrient management Biofertilizers. Losses of nitrogen in soil, nitrogen-use efficiency in submerged rice soils, nitrogen fixation in soils. Efficient phosphoruse and potassium use. Problem soils and their reclamation. Soil factors affecting green house gas emission.

Soil conservation, integrated watershed management. Soil erosion and its management. Dry land agriculture and its problems. Technology for stabilising agriculture production in rainfed areas.

Water-use efficiency in relation to crop production, criteria for scheduling irrigations, ways and


Government strives to have a workforce which reflects gender balance and women candidates are encouraged to apply.