UPSC Syllabus


  • Current events of national and international importance.
  • History of India and Indian National Movement.
  • Indian and World Geography – Physical, Social, Economic Geography of India and the World.
  • Indian Polity and Governance – Constitution, Political System, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights Issues, etc.
  • Economic and Social Development Sustainable Development, Poverty, Inclusion,Demographics, Social Sector initiatives, etc.
  • General issues on Environmental Ecology, Bio-diversity and Climate Change – thatdo not require subject specialization.
  • General Science.

  • Comprehension.
  • Interpersonal skills including communication skills.
  • Logical reasoning and analytical ability.
  • Decision-making and problem-solving.
  • General mental ability.
  • Basic numeracy (numbers and their relations, orders of magnitude, etc.) (Class X level), Data interpretation (charts, graphs, tables, data sufficiency etc. – Class X level).


Essay Paper

The IAS Essay paper offers candidates a unique opportunity to showcase their creativity and global perspective without constraints. Unlike other papers, UPSC provides only a broad outline for the essay paper syllabus, allowing candidates to freely explore various topics. However, the notification specifies the expectations, emphasizing the need to stay relevant to the essay's subject, organize thoughts systematically, and express ideas concisely. Effective and precise expression is rewarded, reflecting the importance of clear communication and critical thinking skills in the assessment process.

General Studies Paper 1

  • Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature andArchitecture from ancient to modern times.
  • Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until thepresent- significant events, personalities, issues.
  • Freedom Struggle – its various stages and important contributors /contributionsfrom 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 andthe 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.

General Studies Paper 2

  • 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 Paper 3

  • 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 effectson 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 Paper 4

This paper includes questions to test your attitude and approach to issues relating to integrity, probity in public life and his problem solving approach to various issues and conflicts faced in dealing with society. Questions may utilise the case study approach to determine these aspects. The following broad areas are 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 Paper 1

There are 25 optional subjects in the IAS main exam and the candidates need to choose only one out of them. The optional subject carries 500 out of 1750 marks. It is around 30 per cent of the total score. So the candidates are suggested to select the optional subject very carefully because it can make or break their dream of becoming an IAS officer.

Optional Subject Paper 2

In Optional Subject Paper 2, candidates delve deeper into their chosen subject area, showcasing their expertise and understanding through a rigorous examination worth 250 marks. This paper offers a comprehensive evaluation of the chosen subject, testing candidates on advanced concepts, critical analysis, and practical application. It serves as a platform for candidates to demonstrate their mastery and proficiency in their optional subject, highlighting their ability to navigate complex topics and articulate insightful perspectives.

IAS Interview Process

The UPSC IAS interview is a crucial part of the selection process. It is a conversational assessment lasting about 30 minutes, where candidates discuss a wide range of topics with the interview board. While facing the panel can be intimidating, preparation and a confident demeanor can help an aspirant successfully clear the interview.

Here’s a breakdown of what to expect on your interview day:
  • Arrival and Security: Arrive well in advance, typically 2 to 3 hours before the allotted time. Security personnel will verify your interview call letter and ID, and ensure a smooth start to your interview day. It is advised to carry government-issued identification.
  • *Document Verification:* After security check, candidates submit their belongings and undergo document verification in a polite and organized manner. Refreshments are provided. Helpful staff are available to assist with the process, ensuring a smooth transition to the waiting area.
  • *Waiting Area:* Here, you will be assigned a panel number and interview order within that panel. This allows you to estimate your waiting time. The waiting area provides a comfortable space to relax with newspapers, refreshments, and a questionnaire to fill out (for UPSC research purposes).
What to Expect in the Interview

The UPSC interview, also known as the personality test, carries 275 marks (with no minimum qualifying marks). These marks, combined with your scores from the written examination of the UPSC Civil Services (Mains) Examination, will determine your final ranking and service allocation.

The interview board will assess your suitability for a career in public service. They will base their evaluation on your:

  • Mental caliber: This includes intellectual qualities, critical thinking, and clear communication.
  • Social traits: The board will look for well-rounded individuals with strong social cohesion and leadership potential.
  • Integrity: Both intellectual and moral integrity are highly valued.
  • Current awareness: A genuine interest in current events, both domestic and international, is expected.
  • Breadth of knowledge: While in-depth subject knowledge is tested in the written examinations, the interview assesses your wider range of interests and intellectual curiosity.

The interview is not a strict test of your specific knowledge, but rather a conversational setting designed to reveal these qualities. The board will ask questions on a variety of topics, and the goal is to have a natural and engaging dialogue.

Interview Hall: Candidates are grouped based on their assigned panel number. This creates a sense of community with others sharing the interview experience. Here, travel reimbursement forms might be distributed to out-of-town candidates, a helpful gesture recognizing the effort they have made.

The Interview: Each panel typically interviews 5-6 candidates. Interviews generally last around 30 minutes, although some may extend longer. After a final security check, candidates are escorted one by one to their interview room. Remain calm and confident during this final step.

Tips for Success: While the interview itself is a unique experience, some key traits can help you shine

  • Politeness: Be respectful and courteous towards the panel.
  • Humility: Maintain a modest and grounded appearance.
  • Calmness: Manage your nerves and show confidence.

Remember, a well-prepared and confident candidate can excel in the interview irrespective of the panel composition or interview medium. By having a good understanding of the process and focusing on these key qualities, one can approach their UPSC IAS interview with greater confidence and preparedness.