CIVIL SERVICE (IAS/IPS) Syllabus and Exam Pattern



The Union Public Service Commission updates the syllabus for the IAS exam, every year on its official portal. However, the IAS Prelims include topics of varied subjects, and its not so difficult if one studies each topic elaborately. It is just detailed elaboration of the syllabus of prelims. The prelims consist of two sections- General Ability Test(GAT) or General Studies, and Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT), each of 200 marks, commonly called as Paper 1 and Paper2.

Paper 1(GAT):

 For GAT, the topics are:  Indian National Movement, Indian Polity, Geography,  Economics, and General Knowledge. The dominating sections are Current Affairs and General Knowledge. Paper 1 or GAT will be counted for Mains Exam.

The highlighted topics for Paper 1 are:


1)Current events of national and international importance

2)History of India and Indian National Movement


3)Indian Polity and Governance Constitution, Political System, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, and Rights Issues

4)Economic and Social Development‐Sustainable Development, Poverty, Inclusion, Demographics, Social Sector

 Initiatives and General issues on Environmental ecology


5)General Science

a and the World

6)Biodiversity and Climate Change ‐ that do not require subject specialization and General Science

Indian and World Geography-Physical, Social, Economic Geography of Indi



Paper 2(CSAT):

For CSAT, there are questions from Basic Mathematics, Analytical Reasoning, Critical Reasoning, Reading Comprehension and Logical Consistency. CSAT, now has some changes in the pattern of the Verbal (English) section. The quant and reasoning sections followed almost the last year paper pattern.  The credit for this paper 2 of Prelims is just for qualification purpose. At least 33% marks are needed to clear for IAS Mains. The highlighted topics for Paper2 are as below:

1)Logical reasoning and analytical ability


2)Decision-making and problem-solving


3)Basic numeracy (numbers and their relations, orders of magnitude, etc.)

(Class X level)


4)General mental ability


5)Data interpretation (charts, graphs, tables, data sufficiency etc. – Class X level)



X level)



The mains paper has 9 papers included. Paper  1 to 7 are compulsory. Only Paper A and B are optional, which are just for qualifying and not included in merit marks. Paper A can be of any regional Indian language, while Paper B has to be English.  


Paper 1 is to test the writing ability of candidates. The paper is of 250 marks. It is purely subjective with no objective questions. It consists of a specific topic on which the candidate is supposed to write an essay on.


Paper 2 consists of Indian Heritage along with the History and Geography of the World. It is commonly called as General Studies-1 paper.  The total weightage of marks are 250. The highlighted topics for Paper 2,  are as follows:

1)Indian culture, aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times, Modern Indian

history and major personalities.

2)The Freedom Struggle, important contributors /contributions from different parts of the country, Post‐

independence consolidation and reorganization within the country

3)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

4)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  and

secularism, world’s physical geography,

5)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 3 consists of Constitution, Social Justice and International relations of India. The total weightage of marks are 250. The highlighted topics are:

  1. 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
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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  their structure, mandate.
  5. 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 also carries 250 marks. The questions are based on Technology, Economic Development, Bio diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management. The highlighted topics are mentioned below:

  1. Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment. Inclusive growth and issues arising from it. Government Budgeting.
  2. 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.
  3. Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc. Investment models. Science and Technology - developments and their applications and effects in everyday life.
  4. 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.




Questions are based on

Important topics are given below:


  1. 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.
  2. 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.


Paper 6 and Paper 7:

Paper 6 and 7 also carry 250 marks each. For paper 6, you can choose from the following set of topics:

 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.


For Paper7, you can choose from the following list of topics:

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.


After reaching the particular merit score after Mains exam, the selected candidates will go through a personal interview test. They can also choose one language in which they wish to be interviewed. It will test a candidate’s mental calibre, 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.