Beginner Guide

Eligibility, Number of Attempts and Age Limit Permitted for IAS Exam

Category Age Limit Educational Qualification No. of attempts
General 21-32 Graduate (Any Stream) 6
OBC 21-35 Same 9
SC/ST 21-37 Same Unlimited attempts till the age limit.

First step of IAS exam The first step of IAS exam is called PRELIMS. There are two papers conduct in Prelims. 1 General Studies paper IST  2- CSAT.  Both the papers are objective and conduct in a same day. Negative marking are in both the Prelims Paper.

Syllabus of General study Paper Ist-

Paper I- ( 200 Marks ) Duration -2 Hours

  • Indian History & Freedom Struggle
  • World & Indian Geography
  • Polity
  • Indian Economy
  • General Science
  • Bio Diversity
  • Ecology & Environment
  • Current affairs.

Paper 2- ( 200 Marks ) Duration-2 Hours ( CSAT)

  1. Comprehension
  2. Decision making & Problem Solving
  3. Interpersonal Skills & Communication Skills
  4. Analytical Reasoning
  5. Basic Numeracy
  6. General Mental Ability
  7. Data Interpretation

Note- I. the CSAT paper will be a qualifying paper only with a minimum marks of 33 % to be secured. The question of both paper will be multiple choice questions.

Second Step of IAS examAfter passing the Prelims, aspirants have to cross the Mains examination. There are total 9 papers in Mains exam. There are two qualifying papers & seven papers counted in merit.

  • Any Indian Language such as Hindi Language- 300 marks
  • English Language –  300 marks

Paper to be counted for merit

Paper Marks Topic
Essay 250
General study 1st paper 250 Indian heritage & culture, Freedom Struggle, World History, World & Indian Geography, social Issue
General study 2nd paper 250 Governance, Constitution, Political System, Social Justice, International relation.
General study 3rd paper 250 Technology, Economic development, Biodiversity, Environment, Security, Disaster Management
General Study 4th paper 250 Ethics, Integrity, Administrative
Optional subjects
Optional Paper 1 250
Optional Paper 2 250
Total Marks 1750

Third Step of IAS exam-

Personality Test –  Interview                   275 marks

Detailed syllabus for UPSC IAS prelims Exam



Ancient History syllabus for UPSC/Ancient Indian History syllabus for UPSC

  • Prehistoric cultures in India
  • Indus Civilization. Origins- the different phases- society, economy, and culture- Contacts with other cultures- factors lead to the decline.
  • Geographical distribution and characteristics of pastoral and farming society.
  • Vedic society-Vedic texts- change from Rigvedic to later Vedic phases.
  • Vedic society Religion- Upanishad thought-Political and social organization, the evolution of Varna system and monarchy.
  • Formation of the State and urbanization, from the Mahajanapadas to the Nandas.
  • Buddhism and Jainism- Factors for the spread of Buddhism.
  • The Mauryan Empire- Chandragupta and Megasthenes.
  • Asoka and his inscriptions, his dhamma, culture, administration, and art
  • Society of Post-Mauryan India, BC 200- AD 300- Evolution of Jatis.
  • The Satavahanas and formation of the state in the Peninsula.
  • Sangam texts and society.
  • Indo-Greeks, Sakas, Parthians, Kushans, Kanishka-Contacts with the outer world.
  • Different Religion- Bhagavatism, Saivism, Mahayana Buddhism and Hinayana, Jainism and Culture and art.
  • The Guptas and their descendants.
  • Literature science, Arts, Economy, and society -Modification in the political organization of empire.


Medieval India

  • Early Medieval India. Major dynasties; Political and Agrarian organization. Status of women, Extent of social mobility. The Arabs in Sind and the Ghaznavids.
  • Cultural trends, 750-1200, Religious circumstances: significance of temples and monastic institutions; Sankaracharya; Islam; Sufism. Art and architecture. Literature and Science.
  • 13th and 14th Centuries: Ghorian invasions reasons and consequences. Delhi Sultanate under the Slave Rulers. Aladdin Khalji: invasion; administrative, agrarian and economic measures. Muhammad Tughlug’s innovations. Firuz Tughluq and the decline of the Delhi Sultanate. Development of urbanization and commerce. Spiritual movements in Hinduism and Islam. Literature. Architecture, Technological changes.
  • The 15th and early 16th Century: Key Provincial dynasties; Vijayanagara Empire. The Lodhis, First stage of the Mughal Empire: The Sur Empire and administration. Monotheistic movements: Kabir; Guru Nanak and Sikhism; Bhakti. The spread of regional literature. Art and Culture.
  • The Mughal Empire, Akbar: invasion, administrative measures, Policy of Sulh-I-Kul. Jagir and Mansab systems; Jahangir, Shahjahan, and Aurangzeb: extension of Mughal empire in the Deccan; religious policies. Shivaji. Persian and regional literature. Religious idea: Abul Fazl; Maharashtra dharma. Architecture. Painting. Economy: state of affairs of peasants and artisans, escalation in trade; trade with Europe. Social stratification and position of women.
  • The decline of Mughal Empire, Reason behind the decline. Maratha power under the Peshwas. The Afghans. Regional states. Most important components of composite culture. Sawai Jai Singh, astronomer. The rise of Urdu language.


Modern India (Modern History Syllabus for IAS)

  • British extension: The Carnatic Wars, invasion of Bengal. Mysore and its confrontation to British expansion: The three Anglo-Maratha Wars. Regulating and Pitt’s India Acts. Early composition of the British raj.
  • Economic Impact of the British Raj: land revenue settlements like Zamindari, Ryotwari, Mahalwari; Deindustrialization; Railways and commercialization of agriculture; increase of landless labor.
  • Cultural encounter and social changes: inception of western education and modern thoughts. Indian Renaissance, religious and social reform movements; Social reforms events before 1857. Development of Indian middle class; the vernacular press and its effects: the rise of modern literature in Indian languages.
  • Confrontation to British rule: Early uprisings; The 1857 Revolt-reasons, character, course and result.
  • Indian Freedom struggle the first stage: Growth of national consciousness; creation of Associations; Establishment of the Indian National Congress and its Moderate stage; Swadeshi Movement; Economic Nationalism; The development of Extremism and the split in Congress; The policy of Divide and Rule; Congress-League Pact of 1916.
  • Gandhian thoughts and techniques of mass mobilization- Civil Disobedience, the Khilafat movement, Non-Cooperation Movement, and Quit India Movement; another strand in the National Movement-Revolutionaries, Subhash Chandra Bose, and the Indian National Army.
  • Separatist movements in Indian politics- the Hindu Mahasabha and the Muslim League; Partition and Independence; The post -1945 developments.
  • India independent to 1964. A parliamentary, democratic, secular. Jawaharlal Nehru’s vision, Foreign policy of Non-alignment, Planning and state-controlled industrialization. Agrarian modification.


  • Section-A.
  • Physical Geography
  • i) Geomorphology Origin of the earth; Geological Time Scale; Interior of the earth; Types and characteristics of rocks; Folding and Faulting; Volcanoes; Earthquakes; Weathering; Landforms caused by fluvial, aeolian and glacial actions. ii) Climatology Structure and composition of atmosphere; Temperature; Pressure belts and Wind systems; Clouds and rainfall types; Cyclones and anticyclones; Major climatic types. iii) Oceanography Ocean relief; Temperature; Salinity; Ocean deposits; Ocean currents, El Nino and La Nino; Waves and tides. iv) Biogeography Origin and types of soils; Major biomes of the world; Ecosystem and food chain; Environmental degradation and conservation.
  • Section-B
  • Human Geographyi) Man and Environment Relationship Growth and development of Human Geography; Concepts of Determinism and Possibilism. ii) Population Races of mankind and tribes; growth and distribution of world population; migration; population problems of developed and developing countries. iii) Economic Activities Food gathering and hunting; pastoral herding; fishing and forestry; Types of agriculture-shifting, subsistence, commercial and plantation; Mining, Power; Manufacturing -locational factors of textile, iron and steel, sugar and fertilizer industries; Tertiary activities-trade, transport, communication and services. iv) Settlements Origin, types and patterns of rural settlements; Processes of urbanisation; morphology and functional classification of towns; million-cities and megacities.
  • Section-C
  • Geography of the Worldi) Major Natural Regions: Characteristics, economic base and human adaptation. ii) Regional Geography of Developed Countries: Canada, U.S.A., Western Europe, Russia, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. iii) Regional Geography of Developing Countries: S.E. Asia, S.W. Asia, China, Southern Africa and Brazil. iv) Regional Geography of South Asia.
  • Section-D
  • Geography of India (Indian Geography syllabus for IAS Prelims)
  • i) Physical Setting Landforms, drainage, climate, soils and natural vegetation. ii) Economic Base Minerals & energy resources, aquatic resources, forest resources; irrigation, agriculture and industries; trade and commerce. iii) Population Growth, distribution and density; demographic characteristics. iv) Environmental problems, developmental issues and regional planning.
  • Section-EGeographical Thought
  • i) Ancient Period: Contributions of Indians, Greeks, Romans and Arabs. ii) Pre-Modern Period: Contribution of Verenius, Kant, Humboldt and Ritter. iii) Modern Period: Dichotomy of determinism and possibilism; contributions of Ratzel, Semple, Huntington and La Blache. iv) Recent Period: Quantitative Revolution; Radicalism, Behaviorism and Humanism.
  • Section-F
  • Techniques of Geographical Analysisi) Maps: Scale and types, uses. ii) Diagrams: Types and uses iii) Projections: Types, characteristics and uses. iv) Remote sensing and geographical information system (GIS): Aerial photographs and imagery, GIS. Questions about the location of important places, landforms, and geographical features in India and the world appeared in the previous UPSC prelims exam papers. Candidates are advised to refer previous years IAS prelims question prepare to understand the nature of questions asked and to prepare accordingly and questions are of easy to moderate level.

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