UPSC Syllabus 2020  – Prelims, Mains and Interview

The UPSC board describes the standard IAS Exam Syllabus. At Elite IAS, we have presented the UPSC Syllabus for Prelims and Mains Exam. The IAS aspirants should go through the syllabus in detail before starting with preparation. Moreover, the UPSC revises the syllabus on a yearly basis. The civil services exam has three consecutive stages.

IAS Exam Syllabus

  1. UPSC Prelims Syllabus
  2. UPSC Mains Syllabus
  3. UPSC Interview

Every IAS Aspirant will have to face all three stages to become the IAS Officer. to help you with the detailed syllabus for the same we have listed out all step by step UPSC Syllabus 2020 below:-

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Preliminary Stage – IAS Exam Syllabus

Mains Exam Qualifying Papers Syllabus

IAS Interview Syllabus

Preliminary Stage – IAS Exam Syllabus

 The IAS candidates must clear prelims to attend the mains exam. The preliminary stage is a screening round. Its purpose is only to qualify the candidates to the next round. The estimation of the final IAS ranking does not consider the marks scored in prelims. As per the UPSC syllabus, the prelims stage has 2 papers. They are:

  • General Ability Test – GAT
  • Civil Service Aptitude Test – CSAT

The IAS Exam Syllabus is huge. As a result, the candidates must check the syllabus with caution. Elite IAS understands the importance and has put an extra effort into helping you with better preparation. Here is the list of detailed UPSC prelims syllabus that helps you to attain success.

Two papers of the prelims exam have a total of 200 marks. The candidates appearing for the exam will get 2 hours duration. In prelims stage, paper 2 is a qualifying paper. 33 percent is the minimum score to be obtained by every candidate. On the other hand, the marks obtained in paper 1 is taken into consideration for the final ranking. All the questions are objective type and have multiple choice. The attendance to both the papers is compulsory. Failing to attend, the candidates are considered as disqualified. Paper 1 and paper 2 IAS Exam syllabus is as follows.

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Paper 1 – IAS Prelims Exam Syllabus Chart

Topic Name – Prelims UPSC Syllabus Details
Current Events Events in relation to national and international importance
Indian History History of India, Indian National Movement
Indian Geography & World Geography Physical Geography, Social Geography, Economic Geography (Both India and World)
Indian Polity & Governance Constitution, Panchayati Raj, Rights Issues, Political System, Public Policy.
Economic & Social Development Poverty, Demographics, Sustainable Development, Inclusion, Social Sector Initiatives
Environmental Studies General issues of environmental ecology, Climate change, Biodiversity. Subject specialization is not necessary.
General Science

Paper 2 – UPSC Prelims Syllabus Chart

Topic Name – UPSC Prelims Syllabus Details
Comprehension Skills English Language Compatibility Test
Interpersonal Skills & Communication Skills Understanding and Interpretation of language
Logical Reasoning & Analytical Ability Examines your ability of abstract reasoning
Problem Solving & Decision Making Demands quick decision-making ability
General Mental Ability Tests your mental alertness
Basic Numeracy

Number relations, orders of magnitude, data interpretation from charts, tables, graphs, data sufficiency.

NCERT Class 10 Level

UPSC Syllabus for Mains Examination

In the mains exam stage, the board examines the candidate’s complete intellectual traits. Every IAS aspirant must understand the subject in depth. Mugging up the information will not help in getting better scores. Commonly, the general studies paper (from paper 2 to paper 5) do not require specialized preparation. The well-educated person can easily answer without in-depth subject study. The questions are structured to test the candidate’s awareness of the subject on a general basis.

In turn, these questions from IAS Exam syllabus are related to the civil services career. How well has the candidate understood the current issues? Does he or she have the ability to analyze the situation? Grasp the ability to understand the socio-economic conflicting issues. Being an aspiring candidate, he or she must primarily focus on UPSC Syllabus. Consequently, the candidates can give meaningful and relevant answers.

In the case of optional subjects, the syllabus is one level higher than the bachelor’s degree. On the other hand, the syllabus standard is below the master’s degree. Here is the IAS Exam syllabus as per the UPSC scheme.

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Mains Exam Qualifying Papers – UPSC Mains Syllabus

The main examination has a quite different pattern as compared to prelims. Paper I has two qualifying papers which include one Indian language as Paper A and English Language as Paper B. The main objective of these papers is to test the comprehension skills of the candidate. How well can a candidate understand the prose? In turn, he/she must express the thoughts clearly. It applies to both English and Indian Language papers as per UPSC Syllabus. Here is the broad classification of question pattern in four ways:

  • Comprehension Passages
  • Precise Writing
  • Vocabulary Usage
  • Short Essays

In the case of the Indian language paper, an additional question pattern is present. The UPSC board asks the questions based on language translation. It can be from the Indian language to English or vice-versa. Both language papers are qualifying in nature. As a result, the final ranking metrics do not include the marks obtained in Paper A and Paper B. The candidates should mandatorily answer the English language paper in English. Also, the Indian language paper in the Indian language respectively. Here is the list of the Indian language options:

Assamese Bengali Bodo Dogri Gujarati
Hindi Kannada Konkani Maithili Malayalam
Marathi Nepali Oriya Punjabi Sanskrit
Santhali Sindhi Tamil Telugu Urdu

Paper I Mains Exam Merit Papers – UPSC Syllabus

According to IAS Exam Syllabus 2020, the paper one has essay type subjective questions. It is surely not an objective type question. The questions examine the writing skills of IAS candidate. The marks obtained in Paper I to Paper VII affects final IAS ranking. All the candidates must answer the Paper I questions in English only. The questions appear for the total marks of 250 in Paper I.

The IAS Exam Syllabus mentions that the candidate must write essays on various topics. The panel members expect the candidate to answer the essay concisely. Good marks in essay demand an effective and expressive answer. Focus on UPSC Syllabus under the language section while practicing essays.

Paper II Mains Exam Merit Papers – UPSC Syllabus

Paper II has questions about Indian Heritage and Culture. It also asks about History & Geography of the world as well as society. The questions are objective type with multiple choice. Paper II has a total of 250 marks based on IAS Exam Syllabus. It is known as General Studies Paper I of IAS mains exam.

Paper II – UPSC Mains Exam Syllabus Chart

Topic Name UPSC Syllabus Details
Indian Culture Salient aspects of art forms, architecture, and literature from ancient times to modern times
Modern Indian History History from the middle of the 18th century, significant events, issues, and personalities
The Freedom Struggle Various stages of freedom struggle, Its Important contributors/contributions from various parts of the country
Post-Independence Reorganization and consolidation events within the country
History Of World Events from the 18th century, Industrial revolution, redrawal of national boundaries, world wars, colonization, decolonization, and political philosophies such as capitalism, socialism, and communism. Their effect on society.
Indian Society Salient features of Indian diversity and society.
Role Of Women in India Importance of Women’s organization, populations & associated issues, developmental issues, and poverty. Urbanization, problems faced, & their remedies.
Globalization Effects of globalization on the Indian Society
Social Empowerment Communalism, secularism, and regionalism
World Geography World’s physical geography salient features.
Natural Resources Distribution of all the key natural resources all over the world. It includes Indian sub-continent and South Asia. Factors responsible for the presence of primary, secondary & tertiary industry sectors in several parts of the world. It includes India too.
Geophysical Phenomena Phenomena like Tsunami, earthquakes, cyclone, volcanic activity, many more. Geographical features, Location changes in critical geographical features like ice caps and water bodies, flora & fauna, consequences of such changes.

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Paper III Mains Exam Merit Papers – UPSC Syllabus

The paper III has questions about Governance and Constitution. It also asks about Polity, international relations, and social justice. The questions are objective type with multiple choice. The Paper III has a total of 250 marks based on UPSC Syllabus 2020. It is known as General Studies Paper II of IAS mains exam.

Paper III – Mains Exam Syllabus Chart

Topic Name UPSC Syllabus Details
Indian Constitution Basic Structure, Significant Provisions, Historical, Underpinnings, Evolution, Amendments and Features.
Functions & Responsibilities of Union and States Challenges pertaining to the devolution of powers, issues, and challenges faced by federal structure, and finances up to local level.
Separation Of Powers Separating powers between the various organs, institutions and redressal mechanisms.
Indian Constitutional Scheme Comparing the Indian Constitutional Scheme with other Countries.
Parliament & State Legislatures Issues arising due to the Conduct of Business, Powers and Privileges, Functioning and Structure of the Parliament and its State Legislatures.
Ministries and Departments of Government Functioning, Structure, and Organization of the Executive and Judiciary. Also, the role of Pressure groups & Formal/Informal associations.
People’s Act Representation of the salient features – People’s Act
Appointment to Different Constitutional Posts Appointing different functions, powers, posts, and responsibilities of different constitutional bodies.
Quasi-Judicial Bodies Regulatory & Statutory measures, Different Quasi – Judicial Bodies.
Government Policies Issues arising due to design and implementation, the intervention of development in various sectors by the government policies.
Development Processes & Development Industry The role of NGO’s, SHG’s, donors, stakeholders, associations and other groups in the development process.
Welfare Schemes Schemes for protecting the betterment of vulnerable sections based by the population such as mechanisms, schemes, laws, governing institutions.
Social Service Issues Issues related to the development and management of the social service sector which relates to Human Resource, Education and Healthcare.
Poverty Issues Serious issues of Poverty and Hunger
Important Aspects Of the Governance Important aspects based upon the transparency, governance, and accountability of applications, models, success, citizens charters, accountability, and their other measures.
Role of Civil Services Features of Civil Services in Democracy.
India and Neighborhood Relations  The relation between India and its neighboring countries.
Groupings and Agreements Global, Regional or Bilateral groupings; Agreements which can conflict interests between India and its neighbors.
Effect of Policies The role of policy and politics by the developing countries on India’s interest and Indian diaspora.
Salient International Institutions The important International institutions, agencies and their mandate structure.

Paper IV Mains Exam Merit Papers – UPSC Syllabus

The paper IV has questions about Technology and Economic Development. It also asks about biodiversity, security & disaster management, and the environment. The questions are objective type with multiple choice. The Paper IV has a total of 250 marks based on IAS Exam Syllabus. It is known as General Studies Paper III of IAS mains exam.

Paper IV – Mains Exam Syllabus Chart

Topic Name UPSC Syllabus Details
Indian Economy Issues pertaining to planning and mobilization of employment, growth, development, and resources; Government Budgeting.
Major Crops and Cropping Pattern Different types of irrigation & irrigational storing systems, issues related to the mode of transport and marketing of agricultural products. Usage of e-technology and its benefit to farmers.
Public Distribution System Issues related to the direct and indirect minimum support price and farm subsidies; Objective, functioning, revamping and limitations of Public Distribution System; problems of Buffer stocks and Food Security; Animal Rearing, technology mission and economics.
Food Processing Scope and Significance of Food Processing and its related industries. Location Upstream and Downstream requirements; Supply Chain Management.
Effects of Liberalization Land reforms in India,
Infrastructure Investment Models.
Science and Technology Applications and Development of Science in everyday life.
Achievements of Indians The role of Indians in developing new technology, achievements, and indigenization.
Awareness in Technology fields Issues related to Intellectual Property Rights and awareness in the fields of Robotics, Nanotechnology, Bio-Technology, and Space.
Conservation of Environment Assessment of Environmental Hazards, Pollution, and degradation.
Environment Disaster Types of Disaster and Combating of Disasters.
Extremism The linkage between the development and spread of its extremism.
Internal Security and its challenges The challenges faced by internal security through communication, social networking sites, and preventive measures of money laundering; Security challenges faced by border areas, organized terrorism crimes and the role of various security forces.

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Paper V Mains Exam Merit Papers – UPSC Syllabus

The paper V has questions about ethics. It also asks about Integrity and aptitude. The questions are objective type with multiple choice. The Paper V has a total of 250 marks based on UPSC Exam Syllabus. It is known as General Studies Paper IV of IAS mains exam.

The questions in this paper tests the candidate’s way of approach to integrity in public life. How can he or she approach the conflicts and issues while dealing with society? As a result, questions can be case-study based. The broad areas covered in the UPSC Syllabus is below.

Paper V – Mains IAS Exam Syllabus Chart

Topic Name UPSC Syllabus Details
Ethics & Human Interface Consequences, determinants, and essence of Human behavior on ethics. Preaching the lessons of lives by moral leaders, reformers and administrators. Role of society, educational institutions to inculcate core human values.
Attitude The influence of attitude such as content, structure, and thought function behavior. The attitude of moral and political influencers.
Aptitude & Foundational Values Promoting dedication to public service, Foundational values for civil service. Integrity, impartiality, empathy, tolerance, and compassion towards the weaker section of society.
Emotional Intelligence The contribution of moral thinkers, philosophers from India & World.
Public or Civil Service Values – Ethics in the Public Administration Dilemmas and ethical concerns in government and private institutions. Rules and regulations, laws pertaining to ethical guidance, strengthening of moral and ethical values, ethical issues in funding and international regulations; Corporate Governance; Status and Problems of Public Administration and Civil Services.
Probity in Governance The concept of the Public Service; Transparency in government and Information sharing such as Right to Information, Citizen Charter, Quality of Service given, utilization of public allocated funds, Codes of Ethics, Code of Conduct and Work Culture; Challenges faced due to corruption;
Case Studies in all the above issues The detailed case study of above-listed issues.


Paper VI & VII Mains Exam Merit Papers – UPSC Syllabus

In the UPSC mains exam, every candidate must attend two optional subject papers. Choose any one of the subjects from the below list. They prepare the in-depth subject questions for this paper. The optional paper II questions are generally asked from current affairs and subject based. The optional paper II questions are generally theoretical. Here is the list of optional subjects you can choose from:

Agriculture Animal Husbandry & Veterinary Science Anthropology Botany Chemistry
Civil Engineering Commerce and Accountancy Economics Electrical Engineering Geography
Geology History Law Literature (Any Non-English Language From Above List) Management
Mathematics Mechanical Engineering Medical Science Philosophy Physics
Political Science & International Relations Psychology Public Administration Sociology Statistics

UPSC Syllabus for Interview Phase

If a candidate successfully clears the mains exam with a good score, he/she is called for a final interview. The maximum marks allotted to this round is 275. UPSC board panel members test the overall suitability of the appearing candidate. There is no particular Syllabus for an interview. However, here is the list of things you should learn about.

  • The interviewer asks questions from the candidate’s detailed application form
  • Based on the details in the application form, the interviewer asks questions to test the candidate’s morality, mental alertness, and reasoning ability.
  • Candidates are not only tested from academic study syllabus. In turn, they must learn about the current affairs happening in and around the state they live.

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