IAS Syllabus by UPSC

IAS Syllabus, Exam Pattern

IAS Syllabus is decided by Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) each year. The syllabus of IAS is different for all exams. The civil services exam is conducted in three phases:

  • Phase 1: Civil Services Preliminary Examination also known as Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT)
  • Phase 2: Civil Services Main Examination
  • Phase 3: Interview or Personality Exam

Each phase has its own significance in terms of analysing a candidate’s aptitude and personality. IAS is considered as the toughest and most competative examination to recruit candidates for highest administrative post offered by Government of India. IAS Syllabus is the guiding force behind IAS Preparation. Candidates who are fully aware with the curriculam will help them to chalk out the right path to prepare for the exam.

The syllabus and exam pattern for IAS Mains was revised in 2016 by UPSC. And for prelims exam, the pattern and syllabus remains the same. 

  • IAS Exam Syllabus for Prelims evaluates a candidate’s knowledge and aptitude in current affairs. Also, tests a candidates way of tackling reasoning and analytical questions.
  • IAS Exam Syllabus for Mains assesses a candidate’s academic expertise in his specialized subject. It also tests his ability to present knowledge in a clear and coherent manner and his overall intellectual traits and understanding of concepts. Download Free IAS Question Paper PDF
This year, IAS Prelims 2017 is scheduled for June 18, 2017, while IAS Mains 2017 will be conducted on October 28, 2017. Given below is the synopsis of IAS Exam Pattern:
  • IAS Prelims will comprise two qualifying papers of 200 marks each. All candidates who secure at least 33% in IAS Prelims can sit for IAS Mains. 
  • IAS Mains comprises 9 papers out of which 2 are qualifying papers of 300 marks each. All the papers will be subjective in nature. Other 7 papers will be of 250 marks each. Candidates who successfully clear Mains will be considered to appear in IAS Interview.
  • IAS Interview/ Personality Test is the last phase in the examination. This phase is totally vocal one and candidates give prefernce of the language in which they may like to be interviewed. UPSC will be responsible to make all the arrangements

Read on to know complete and updated IAS Syllabus for Prelims and Mains and also some useful books to score better marks in IAS by UPSC. 

IAS Prelims Exam Pattern

  • All questions in IAS will be objective in nature.
  • Candidates will have to tick one correct answer from the given 4 options.
  • One fourth of the marks is deducted for every wrong answer.
  • The questions asked in UPSC Prelims exam are bilingual i.e. they are given in both Hindi and English language.

IAS Exam Syllabus

Paper(s) Subject Marks Total time
Paper 1 General Ability Test (GAT) 200


2 hours

Paper 2 English Language and Aptitude 200
  Total marks 400

Read about IAS Preparation

Sample Questions for IAS Prelims

sample questions for ias prelims

IAS Syllabus for Prelims

The Preliminary Stage of IAS has two papers viz. General Ability test (GAT) and the Civil Service Aptitude Test (CSAT). This stage contains two papers that test the general awareness of all candidates. IAS Prelims is held for screening purpose only, filtering candidates for the next stage.

It is essential to have an extensive knowledge of IAS Syllabus for Prelims before you plan your preparation. This will help you put extra attention on all important topics and proceed in the right direction. Read below to know IAS Syllabus for both the papers of the first stage.

IAS Syllabus for Paper I

  • Paper I of IAS Prelims includes different topics which hold a weightage of 200 marks.
  • All questions will be objective in nature.
  • Candidates must solve the paper in 2 hours.
  • Marks obtained in Paper 1 will be counted for the merit rank.
IAS Syllabus for Paper 1
Current events of national and international importance, History of India and Indian National Movement Bio- diversity and Climate Change - that do not require subject specialization and General Science
Indian Polity and Governance Constitution, Political System, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, and Rights Issues Economic and Social Development-Sustainable Development, Poverty, Inclusion, Demographics, Social Sector Initiatives and General issues on Environmental ecology
General Science Indian and World Geography – Physical, Social, Economic Geography of India and the World

IAS Syllabus for Paper 2

  • All questions will be objective in nature.
  • The total weightage of questions in Paper II is 200 marks.
  • The total duration of the Paper II is 2 hours.
  • Marks obtained in Paper 2 will not be counted for the merit rank in Prelims but will be considered as a qualifying Paper.
  • Candidates need 33% marks to clear IAS Mains.
IAS Syllabus for Paper 2
Comprehension 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)

IAS Mains Exam Pattern

  • IAS Mains has 9 papers out of which 2 Papers are qualifying papers. Candidates clearing Paper 1 and 2 can then appear for the other 7 papers.
  • Questions will be objective and subjective in nature, depending on the paper.
  • Each paper is of 250 marks. 
  • The marks obtained in the qualifying papers are not counted in the formation of IAS Merit List.
  • The question paper is bilingual in nature.
  • The total time duration of IAS Mains is 3 hours.
  • Blind candidates will be given 20 minutes more for each paper.

IAS Exam Pattern

Here is the brief about all the papers in IAS Mains:

Paper Subject Marks
Paper 1 Essay writing 250
Paper 2 General Studies I Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society 250
Paper 3 General Studies II Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations 250
Paper 4 General Studies III Technology, Economic Development, Bio-diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management 250
Paper 5 General Studies IV Ethics, Integrity, and Aptitude 250
Paper 6 Optional Subject – Paper 1 250
Paper 7 Optional Subject – Paper 2 250
Personal Interview 275
Grand Total 2025

Sample Questions for IAS Mains

sample questions for ias mains

IAS Syllabus for Mains

IAS Mains is intended to assess the overall intellectual depth of understanding of candidates rather than merely the range of their information and memory. The questions in UPSC Mains Exam are set to test a candidate’s general awareness of a variety of subjects, which have relevance for a career in Civil Services.

The scope of IAS Syllabus for optional subject papers (Paper VI and Paper VII) for the examination is broad of the honors degree level. In the case of Engineering, Medical Science and law, the level corresponds to the bachelors’ degree. Detailed Syllabus of IAS papers included in the scheme of IAS Mains are given as follows:

Topic Topic
IAS Mains History Syllabus IAS Mains Medical Science Syllabus
IAS Mains Geography Syllabus IAS Mains Philosophy Syllabus
IAS Mains Electrical Engineering Syllabus IAS Mains Law Syllabus
IAS Mains Economics Syllabus IAS Mains Mathematics Syllabus
IAS Mains Geology Syllabus -

Paper I: Essay

  • It is consists of questions to test the writing skills of candidate. Thus, it is purely subjective with no objective type questions.
  • The language for the paper is English thus candidates have no option of answering in any other language.
  • Total marks awarded to this paper are 250.
Title Description
Essay Candidates have to write an essay on a specific topic. It must be kept close to the subject of the essay to arrange the ideas in an orderly fashion and to write concisely. Credit is given for effective and exact expression

Paper II: General Studies-I

  • The candidates have to answer objective type questions based Indian Heritage along with the History and Geography of the World in Paper II.
  • The total weightage of the Paper II is 250 marks. 
Title Topics
General Studies I: Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society Indian culture, aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times, Modern Indian history and major personalities
The Freedom Struggle, important contributors /contributions from different parts of the country, Post-independence consolidation and reorganization within the country
History of the world, industrial revolution, world wars, re-drawl of national boundaries, colonization, decolonization, political philosophies, capitalism, socialism, Salient features of Indian Society and Diversity of India
Role of women and women’s organization, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, Effects of globalization on Indian society, Social empowerment, communalism, regionalism & secularism, world’s physical geography,
Natural resources, factors responsible for the location of primary, secondary, and tertiary sector industries, Important Geophysical phenomena, earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone, 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 III: General Studies-II

  • Paper III is also objective type which comprises questions on Constitution, Social Justice and International relations of India.
  • The questions hold a total weightage of 250 marks. 
Title Topics
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, challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels
Separation of powers, redressed mechanisms and institutions, Comparison of the Indian constitutional scheme with that of other countries, Parliament and State Legislatures, structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers and privileges
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, Representation of People’s Act.
Mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection of 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, Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries, Indian diaspora. Important International institutions, agencies and fora their structure, mandate.
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, Development processes and the development industry the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors and charities.
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, Development processes and the development industry the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities

Paper IV: General Studies III

  • Paper IV is named General Studies III and contains multiple choice questions.
  • The questions are based on Technology, Bio-Diversity and Disaster Management with a weightage of 250 marks. 
Title Topics
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, 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.
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, 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, 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 V: General Studies IV

  • Candidates are asked questions based on Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude
  • Questions are objective in nature and hold a weightage of 250 marks. 
Title Topics
General Studies IV: Ethics, Integrity, and Aptitude Issues relating to integrity, probity in public life. 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 behavior; 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 Study

Paper VI and VII

  • Paper VI and Paper VII are optional subjects for Paper I and Paper II of UPSC Mains.
  • Candidates have to attempt both the Papers separately.
  • Each Paper holds a weightage of 250 marks respectively. 
Title Topics Total Marks
Optional Subject- Paper 1 and 2 Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science, Anthropology, Botany, Chemistry, Civil Engineering, Commerce and Accountancy, Economics, Electrical Engineering, Geography, Geology, History, Law, Management, Mathematics, Mechanical Engineering, Medical Science, Philosophy, Physics, Political Science and International Relations, Psychology, Public Administration, Sociology, Statistics and Zoology 250+250 (500)
Literature of any one of the following languages: Assamese, Bengali, Bodo, Dogri, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Maithili, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Santhali, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu and English

IAS Interview/ Personality Test

  • All candidates who successfully clear IAS Prelims and Mains will be called for the interview round. 
  • This stage is of total 275 marks.
  • Candidates will be asked some general interest questions.
  • Candidates can also choose one language in which they wish to be interviewed.
  • This interview will test a candidate’s mental caliber, mental alertness, critical powers of assimilation, clear and logical exposition, balance of judgment, variety and depth of interest, ability for social cohesion and leadership, intellectual and moral integrity. and his personal suitability.
  • Candidates must secure at least 55% in this round.
  • A candidate securing 60% and above will most likely get a service of his choice.
  • Marks obtained by a candidate in IAS Interview will be added in the Mains stage. This will form the basis of the final merit list.

Read about How to prepare for IAS interview?

IAS Preparation Books

It is very much important for a candidate who appears for IAS to choose the right kind of books. They cover all important topics that are covered in IAS Syllabus. These books help you understand the pattern of the exam more effectively. 

Given below is a list of some important IAS Books that are must to refer for a better score.

Book Title Author/Publication
History Of Modern India (History) Bipan Chandra
India’s Struggle For Independence (History) Bipan Chandra
India’s Ancient Past (History) R.S. Sharma
History Of Medieval India (History) Satish Chandra
The Wonder That Was India (Culture) A.L. Bhasham
Indian Art and Culture (Culture) Nitin Singhania
Geography of India (Geography) Majid Husain
Oxford School Atlas (Geography) Oxford
Certificate Physical and Human Geography (Geography) Goh Cheng Leong
Indian Polity for Civil Services Examinations (Polity) M. Laxmikanth
Indian Economy (Economy) Ramesh Singh
Environmental Studies: From Crisis to Cure (Environment) Rajagopalan
Environment for Civil Services Prelims and Mains (Environment) Khuller
CSAT Paper – 2 Manual by TMH or CSAT-II Arihant
Verbal & Non-Verbal Reasoning R. S. Aggarwal

IAS 2016 Paper Analysis

IAS Prelims comprises two papers- General Studies (Paper I) and Civil Service Aptitude Test (Paper II). These are condcuted in two shifts- morning and evening shift. Given below is the brief information of previous year (IAS 2016) IAS Prelims Exam Analysis:

  • As per the overall IAS Prelims Exam Analysis, the exam was moderately difficult.
  • It had questions from History, Polity, Geography and Agriculture, Science and Technology, Ecology and Environment, Economics, Arts and Culture, Social Welfare and GK. The dominating sections were Current Affairs, Ecology and Environment, Economics and History.
  • Given below is the topic wise weightage of IAS Prelims Paper I:

IAS Prelims Exam Analysis

  • CSAT (Civil Service Aptitude Test) was of moderate difficulty. There were questions from Basic Mathematics, Analytical Reasoning, Critical Reasoning, Reading Comprehension and Logical Consistency.
  • Analytical Reasoning, Critical reasoning and Reading Comprehenstion dominated this paper. This paper was comparatively easier last year and is expected to be easier this year as well.
  • Here is the topic wise weightage of CSAT paper in IAS Prelims:

IAS Prelims Exam Analysis

IAS Mains is a written and descriptive exam. Given below is the overall IAS Mains Exam Analysis of previous year (IAS 2016):

  • Last year, UPSC continued the trend of asking questions related to gender issues. It desires candidates with views about the burning socio-economic themes. Most of the essays were based on current affairs.
  • In GS Paper II, questions from Governance dominated the question paper. The exam was analyzed to be difficult than last 3 years. It is advised to cover topic wise syllabus and balance preparation of current affairs with theoretical knowledge.
  • GS Paper III is generally easier than Paper II. The theme was simple but relevant for the post of an administrator.
  • GS Paper IV, practice of previous year sample papers will aid the preparation and help you score well. Also, this paper gives equal emphasis on analytical and factual themes.