UPSC Syllabus 2021  – Prelims, Mains and Interview

Management of studies during UPSC the Civil Services Examination is very critical. To properly plan and manage the studies it is essential to understand the syllabus. The Syllabus is the gateway to UPSC Prelims and Mains examinations. Syllabus provides the aspirant with the scope of the topics to be covered. The aspirants should channelize all their endeavors well to satisfies the needs of the examination. In such a scenario, the Syllabus copy guides the aspirants to follow the correct and required path. 

Benefits of Understanding the syllabus: -

  • When the aspirants analyse syllabus, they get know the common topics to be covered for Prelims and Mains Examinations. These points can be studied integrating the Prelims and Mains scope. 
  • This not only eases the preparation but also saves valuable time. 
  • If an aspirant keeps study without analysing the syllabus, he may end up studying relevant and useless material. In this process the aspirants will lose their most valuable time. 
  • To avoid this analysing the UPSC Prelims and Mains syllabus before starting the preparation is crucial.

PRELIMS SYLLABUS: -

  • Among the three stages of the UPSC exam, the first stage is the Preliminary Exam. 
  • It comprises two papers of 200 marks each containing objective-type multiple-choice questions. 
  • The time allotted to attempt each exam is 2 hours which needs to be mandatorily attempted by the candidates. 
  • The candidates need to score qualifying marks to clear the cut-off. 
  • The Prelims consists of two papers of 200 marks each. 
  • Paper 1 consists of the General studies syllabus. 
  • Paper-2 (CSAT) in the Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination is a qualifying paper with minimum qualifying marks fixed at 33%. 
  • The question papers will be set in both Hindi and English.

The IAS Prelims exam details:

Exam

Total marks

Duration

No. of questions

Negative Marking

Nature

Required marks to qualify

GS 1

200

2 hours

100

Yes

Marks counted for ranking

Cut-off prescribed by UPSC

GS 2

200

2 hours

80

Yes

Qualifying only

33% (66/200)

 

General Studies Paper-1 Syllabus:

  1. Current events of national and international importance.
  2. History of India and Indian National Movement.
  3. Indian and World Geography-Physical, Social, Economic Geography of India and the World.
  4. Indian Polity and Governance – Constitution, Political System, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights Issues, etc.
  5. Economic and Social Development – Sustainable Development, Poverty, Inclusion, Demographics, Social Sector initiatives, etc.
  6. General issues on Environmental Ecology, Biodiversity and Climate Change- that do not require subject specialization.
  7. General Science.

General Studies Paper-2 (CSAT) Syllabus:

  1. Comprehension.
  2. Interpersonal skills including communication skills;
  3. Logical reasoning and analytical ability.
  4. Decision-making and problem-solving.
  5. General mental ability.
  6. Basic numeracy (numbers and their relations, orders of magnitude, etc.) (Class X level)
  7. Data interpretation (charts, graphs, tables, data sufficiency, etc. – Class X level).
  8. English language comprehension skills – Class X level.

MAINS SYLLABUS: -

  • Candidates who qualify Preliminary exam are called for the Main exam. 
  • The UPSC mains exam is conducted in 2 parts: - qualifying papers and merit exams. 
  • There are a total of 9 papers in the Mains exam. Every paper is of 3 hours and extra 30 minutes extra is given to blind students.
  • Paper A and Paper B are 300 marks each and the remaining papers are 250 marks each.
  • The questions in Mains are of the subjective type and can be written in either Hindi or English language.

Exam pattern: -

Paper

Subject

Duration

Total marks

Time Allotted

Paper A

Compulsory Indian language

3 hours

300

3 hours

Paper B

English

3 hours

300

3 hours

Paper I

Essay

3 hours

250

3 hours

Paper-II

General Studies I

3 hours

250

3 hours

Paper III

General Studies II

3 hours

250

3 hours

Paper IV

General Studies III

3 hours

250

3 hours

Paper V

General Studies IV

3 hours

250

3 hours

Paper VI

Optional I

3 hours

250

3 hours

Paper VII

Optional II

3 hours

250

3 hours

Sub Total

Written Test

 

1750

 
 

Personality Test 

 

275

 
 

Grand Total

 

2025

 


Exam Syllabus: -

General Studies Paper – I

  1. Indian Culture – Salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.
  2. Modern Indian History
    1. Significant events, issues, personalities during the middle of the eighteenth century (1750s) until the present.
    2. Different stages and important contributors and contributions from various parts of the country in ‘The Freedom Struggle’.
    3. Post-independence consolidation and reorganisation within the country.
  3. History of the world
    1. Events, forms and effect on society since the 18th century (world wars, industrial revolution, colonisation, redrawal of national boundaries, decolonisation, political philosophies like communism, capitalism, socialism, etc.)
  4. Society
    1. Indian society and diversity – Salient aspects.
    2. Role of women and women’s organisations, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanisation, their problems and remedies.
    3. Social empowerment, communalism, regionalism & secularism.
    4. Effects of globalisation on Indian society.
  5. Geography
    1. 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.
    2. Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc.
    3. Geographical features and their location, changes in critical geographical features (including water-bodies and polar ice caps) and, in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes.
    4. Salient features of world’s physical geography.

General Studies Paper – II

  1. Indian Constitution
    1. historical underpinnings,
    2. evolution, features
    3. amendments, significant provisions
    4. basic structure doctrine
    5. Comparison of the Indian constitutional scheme with that of other countries
  2. 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.
  3. Separation of powers between various organs, dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions
  4. Structure, organisation and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary
  5. Parliament and State Legislatures
    1. structure, functioning
    2. conduct of business
    3. powers & privileges and issues arising out of these
  6. Ministries and Departments of the Government; pressure groups and formal/informal associations and their role in the Polity.
  7. Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act
  8. Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies.
  9. Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.
  10. Government policies and interventions aimed at development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  11. Development processes and the development industry – the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, institutional and other stakeholders.
  12. 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.
  13. Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources
  14. Issues relating to poverty and hunger
  15. Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures
  16. Role of civil services in a democracy
  17. International Relations
    1. India and its neighbourhood – International relations
    2. Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting the Indian interests
    3. Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.
    4. Important International institutions, agencies, their structure and mandates

General Studies Paper – III

    1. Economy
      1. Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilisation of resources, growth, development and employment.
      2. Government Budgeting.
      3. Inclusive growth and associated issues/challenges
      4. Effects of liberalisation on the economy (post 1991 changes), changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth.
      5. Infrastructure – Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.
      6. Investment models (PPP etc)
    2. Agriculture
      1. Major 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
      2. Economics of animal rearing.
      3. Food processing and related industries in India – scope and significance, location, upstream and downstream requirements, supply chain management.
      4. 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
  • Land reforms in India.
    1. Science and Technology
      1. Recent developments and their applications and effects in everyday life
      2. Achievements of Indians in science & technology.
      3. Indigenisation of technology and developing new technology.
      4. General awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, Robotics, Nanotechnology, bio-technology
      5. Issues relating to intellectual property rights
    2. Environment
      1. Conservation,
      2. Environmental pollution and degradation
      3. Environmental impact assessment
    3. Disaster Management (Laws, Acts etc.)
    4. Security
      1. Challenges to internal security (external state and non-state actors)
      2. Linkages between development and spread of extremism
      3. Challenges to internal security through communication networks, role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges,
      4. Basics of cyber security; money-laundering and its prevention
      5. Security challenges and their management in border areas; linkages of organised crime with terrorism
  • Various Security forces and agencies and their mandates

General Studies Paper – IV

  1. Ethics and Human Interface
    1. Essence of Ethics, Determinants and Consequences of Ethics in Human Interaction
    2. Dimensions of Ethics
    3. Ethics in private and public relationships
    4. Human Values – lessons from the lives and teachings of great leaders, reformers and administrators
    5. Role of family, society and educational institutions in inculcating moral and ethical values
  2. Attitude
    1. Content, structure and function of attitude
    2. Influence of attitude in thought and behaviour
    3. Relation of attitude to thought and behaviour
    4. Moral and Political attitudes
    5. Social influence and persuasion
  3. Aptitude
    1. Aptitude and foundational values of Civil Service
    2. Integrity
    3. Impartiality and non-partisanship
    4. Objectivity
    5. Dedication to public service
    6. Empathy, tolerance and compassion towards the weaker sections of the society
  4. Emotional Intelligence
    1. Concepts of emotional intelligence
    2. Utility and application of emotional intelligence in administration and governance
  5. Contributions of Thinkers and Philosophers
    1. Contributions of moral thinkers and philosophers from India and the world to the concepts of morality
  6. Public/Civil Service Values and Ethics in Public Administration
    1. Status and associated problems
    2. Ethical concerns and dilemmas in government and private institutions
    3. Laws, rules, regulations and conscience as sources of ethical guidance
    4. Accountability and ethical governance
    5. Strengthening of ethical and moral values in governance
    6. Ethical Issues in international relations and funding
    7. Corporate governance
  7. Probity in Governance
    1. Concept of public service
    2. The philosophical basis of governance and probity
    3. Information sharing and transparency in government
    4. Right to Information
    5. Codes of ethics
    6. Codes of Conduct
    7. Citizen’s Charters
    8. Work culture
    9. Quality of service delivery
    10. Utilization of public funds
    11. Challenges of corruption

How to analyse the UPSC Syllabus?

  1. Download the Prelims and Mains syllabus from UPSC website upsc.gov.in. Besides it can be easily obtained from any IAS institutes websites.
  2. Understand the UPSC Prelims and Mains Syllabus separately. Find out the topics from each subject which are common for prelims as well as mains.
  3. Start with Mains topics from General studies (GS1, GS2, GS3, GS4) Syllabus. Pick a topic from each of the General studies Papers of UPSC. Then check the Previous Year questions of Prelims and Mains asked on the particular topic. Aspirants should check the previous year’s questions from 2013 to 2020. 
  4. After analysing each topic, the you can prepare a comprehensive note considering the Prelims and Mains coverage. Also keep adding the relevant points from current news to make your notes more valuable. 
  5. The aspirants should read the relevant NCERTs and revise their notes multiple times. Particularly, a quick revision of the relevant books of history, polity, geography, and macroeconomics is a must. Revise your own notes, subject-wise. Complete their revision at least two to three times in these three months.

OPTIONAL

For the Mains phase of the IAS exam, an aspirant need to pick an Optional subject of their choice. UPSC provides a list of 48 optional subjects. Among the 48 subjects one subject have to be selected as Optional. The total marks allocated for the optional subject is 500 which can make a huge difference in the overall result of the aspirant. In order to study well and secure good marks in Mains exam and to get a good rank, the UPSC aspirants should carefully analyse and choose their Optional Subject. With well-planned strategies, you can easily score well in the Bengali literature. Interest should be the prime criteria for choosing any optional.

Optional exam Pattern

  • The aspirants have to appear for two optional papers of same subject which they have selected for IAS (UPSC CSE) Main Exam. 
  • Each paper is of 250 marks, making a total of 500 marks.
  • Duration for each Optional mains paper is 3 hours. 

Factors to be considered while choosing an optional Subject for UPSC Mains Exam: -

  1. Syllabus Coverage:  The aspirants should analyse the syllabus of the optional subject, to be chosen, in details. Considering the length of the Optional subjects and the General studies subjects to be covered. 
  2. Familiarity with Subject: - Different aspirants come from different graduation streams. Choosing an optional which is completely out of familiarity will left the aspirants frustrated. The aspirants should consider their subjects of graduation and then decide the Optional subject.
  3. Availability of Resources: - Preparing for an Optional subject of 500 marks require a good amount resources for every topic. Besides the aspirants also needs to value – add content in the material. The aspirants should take into the consideration that how easily good study material is available for an optional subject on internet and offline mode.
  4. Level of Competition :- A few applicants feel a decent UPSC Optional subject is the one that has a high achievement ratio as far as various aspirants are appearing. Nonetheless, it is just incompletely evident. More than all the other things, your answer copy will be assessed based only on your answer's understandability. Thus, pick a subject that you're OK with.

Overlapping Syllabus: - An aspirant should consider the same topics that are to be covered from the Optional Syllabus and the General studies syllabus. The aspirants should choose the subject which have more overlapping topics. This will reduce the time to read the same topic and enhance the writing capability of the aspirant.

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