What is Syllabus for IAS Exam?

IAS Exam is conducted in 3 successive stages- Prelims, Main, and Interview test. The prelims stage is an objective test of 400 marks whereas Main is a subjective paper of 1750 marks followed by a personality test of 275 marks. IAS Prelims is qualifying in nature while performance in main and interview round determine the merit of successful candidates. Check IAS Exam Pattern

  • Stage 1: IAS Preliminary Exam – 2 papers that include General Studies like history, geography, Indian polity, Logical reasoning, and analytical ability, Decision making and problem-solving, etc.
  • Stage 2: IAS Main Exam – Written exam (9 papers)
  • Stage 3: Interview Round – 275 marks

The Indian Administrative Service exam officially called as Civil Services Examination (CSE) is the premier administrative civil service of the Government of India. Hierarchy-wise, IAS is the highest administrative post among the 24 services like IPS, IFS (Foreign), IAAS, IRS, IDAS, CAPF-AF to name a few.

Read here How to Prepare for IAS 2021?

IAS Syllabus – Syllabus of IAS Exam 2021-22

  • UPSC civil services preliminary exam is the first stage of the IAS selection process, candidates must clear prelims to qualify for the main exam.
  • It is meant to serve as a screening test only; marks scored in IAS Prelims will not be counted for the final merit list.
  • The Preliminary Stage of IAS has two papers viz. General Ability Test (GAT) (Paper-1) and the Civil Service Aptitude Test (CSAT) (Paper-2).
Paper Questions & Time Marks
General Studies Paper I 100 Questions – 2 Hours 200
General Studies Paper-II (CSAT – Qualifying only) 80 Questions – 2 Hours 200 ( Marks not considered)
Total 200

IAS Syllabus for Paper I

  • Paper I of IAS Prelims includes different topics that 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 2021 for Paper 1
Current events of national and international importance History of India and Indian National Movement
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

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

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 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.

Read Current Affairs (Polity and Governance Part II) before appearing for IAS exam

IAS Syllabus for Paper 2


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)

Check  IAS Selection Process

Civil Services (Preliminary) Exam Pattern

No. of Papers Two (2) compulsory papers
Type of Questions Objective (MCQs)
Total Marks 200 marks each (400 marks)
Duration of Exam 2 hrs. each (20 mins extra for a candidate with Locomotor Disability & Cerebral Palsy)
Negative Marking Yes, one-third (0.33) as a penalty
Medium of Exam Bilingual (Hindi and English)

Section-wise Questions Distribution

Paper Subject Marks
Paper 1 General Ability Test (GAT) 200
Paper 2 Civil Services Aptitude Test 200
Total 2 Papers 400

IAS Syllabus in English (IAS Prelims): Download here


IAS Prelims 2021 Paper Analysis

  • GS Paper-1 is moderately tough with major sections from Agriculture, Economy and Banking.
  • Students believe, there were more questions based on Economy and Environment and lesser on History, Polity, and Current Affairs.
  • UPSC prelims are conducted in the pen-paper mode for a total duration of 2 hours for each paper.
  • The questions are in Multiple Choice Questions (MCQ) format, with every wrong response leads to 0.33 negative marking.
  • Each question paper carries a total of 200 marks, out of which students need to gain a minimum of 33% to qualify the exam.
Section Number of Questions Difficulty Level
Polity 16 easy to moderate
Economy 14 easy to moderate
Science 10 easy to moderate
History and Geography 18 moderate to difficult
Environment 17 moderate
Current Affairs 15 moderate

Polity: The GS Paper 1 of UPSC Prelims 2021, maximum questions were from Polity which is about 16 questions influenced by current affairs. The questions covered areas of Preamble, Fundamental Rights, DPSP, Basic Structure, Union Government.

Economy: The economy section had 14 questions on Gold Tranche, FDI, TRIMS that were direct or conceptual. While questions on monetary policy of RBI, the role of cooperative banks were wholly easy to moderate.

Science: Science section had 10 questions mostly influenced by Current Affairs in Science and Technology in areas of Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain Technology, Nanotubes. Questions were easy if aspirants managed to keep a track on Tech-based questions while preparing.

History and Geography: There had been 18 questions in History, from Ancient, Medieval and Culture with a blend of easy, moderate and tough levels of questions. Geography section had 10 questions on Geography and Agriculture some being technical as of types of soil, climate and fertiliser of crops while others are geographical location-based.

Environment: The environment section has become a staple for UPSC exams that pegged 17 questions plainly based on Current Affairs, pollutants, National Parks and Bio Fuels. Candidates with memorising power and logical reasoning abilities can wildly guess to earn a few points.

Current Affairs: Current Affairs section is where UPSC saves its surprises for the aspirants. This year, there were 15 questions from Current affairs, Government Schemes like Kisan Credit Card and on animal cells and vaccines as influenced by COVID.

UPSC IAS Prelims: Important Points to Remember

  • The negative marking of the questions will be assigned as 1/3 marks for each question.
  • In General Studies Paper I, the aspirants will get 2 marks for every correct answer, whereas they will be deducted 0.66 marks for every wrong answer.
  • In CSAT Paper-II, each of the students will be rewarded 2.5 marks for every correct answer and they will get a deduction of 0.833 for every incorrect answer.
  • If you do not attend any questions, you will not get any deduction in both papers.
  • The obtainable score of the Prelims exam will not be added to the merit list of the final result.
  • Lastly, the ‘Decision Making’ based questions are not included in the negative marks of CSAT.

IAS Syllabus for Main Exam 2021

  • This paper assesses candidates’ academic expertise in their specialized subjects.
  • It also tests their ability to present knowledge in a clear and coherent manner and his overall intellectual traits and understanding of concepts.
  • In the main exam, there are 9 papers out of which 7 Papers are compulsory and 2 are optional papers that candidates have to choose.
  • Out of the 7 papers, 2 are language papers i.e. Paper A and B.
  • For paper A, a candidate has to choose one of the Indian Language that is included in the 8th Schedule of the Constitution. Paper B will have questions from English.
  • Questions will be subjective in nature.
  • The marks obtained in the language papers are not counted in the formation of the IAS Merit List as they are qualifying in nature.
  • The total time duration of the IAS Main exam is 3 hours.

Go through the practice of previous years’ papers of IAS Exam free of cost

Main Examination – The written exam will consist of the following papers:
Qualifying Papers Paper A (Indian Language) – Check Languages
Paper B (English)
Paper to be counted for Merit Paper I – Paper VII
Interview Personality Test

IAS Syllabus for Main (Reference Links)

Detailed Syllabus of IAS papers included in the scheme of IAS Main are given as follows:

Topics Topics
IAS Syllabus for Main History IAS Syllabus for Main Medical Science
IAS Syllabus for Main Geography IAS Syllabus for Main Philosophy
IAS Syllabus for Main Electrical Engineering IAS Syllabus for Main Law
IAS Main Economics Syllabus IAS Syllabus for Main Mathematics
IAS Main Geology Syllabus

Paper I

  • It consists of questions to test the writing skills of the 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.
Titles Descriptions
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


  • The candidates have to answer the questions based on Indian Heritage along with the History and Geography of the World in Paper-II.
  • The total weightage of 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.

Read Current Affairs (Polity and Governance Part II) before appearing for IAS exam

Paper III

  • Paper III comprises questions on the 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, the 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 the 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

Check IAS Mock test and practice papers

Paper IV

  • Paper IV is named General Studies III and carries 250 marks.
  • The questions are based on Technology, Bio-Diversity, and Disaster Management.
Title Topics
General Studies III: Technology, Economic Development, Biodiversity, 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, the role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges, basics of cybersecurity; 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

  • Candidates are asked questions based on Ethics, Integrity, and Aptitude
  • The questions 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; the 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 the 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 Main.
  • Candidates have to attempt both the papers separately.
  • Each Paper holds a weight-age of 250 marks.
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)
The 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

Check IAS Mock Tests 2021 for free of cost

Civil Services (Main) Exam Facts

No. of Papers Two (2) – written test (9 papers) and an Interview test
Type of Questions Subjective
Total Marks Written Test: 1750 marks | Interview Test: 275 marks (with no qualifying marks)
Duration of Exam 3 hrs each
Medium of Exam Hindi and English (other than the literature of language papers)
 The written exam will consist of 9 papers of conventional essay type out of which two papers will be of qualifying nature.
 Marks obtained in the Interview for Personality Test will be counted for ranking.
 Candidates will be allotted to the various Services keeping in view their ranks in the examination and the preferences expressed by them for the various Services and posts.

UPSC IAS Mains 2021: Important Points to Remember

  • Paper A and Paper B are two qualifying papers of the UPSC IAS Mains Exam and each of the qualifying papers carries 200 marks.
  • More specifically, the two qualifying papers are ‘Any of the Indian languages from Eight Schedule’ and ‘English Language Paper’.
  • The aspirants should get 75 marks each that in 25% to qualify the papers.
  • The score of the seven papers will not be excluded from the final merit list.
  • The aspirants can answer all the scoring subjects in English or any one of the eight scheduled languages.

IAS Main Exam Pattern 2021

  • IAS Main has 9 papers out of which 7 Papers are compulsory and 2 are optional papers that candidates have to choose.
  • Out of the 7 papers, 2 are language papers (A and B).
  • For paper A, the candidate has to choose one of the Indian Language that is included in the 8th Schedule of the Constitution. Paper B will have questions from English.
  • Questions will be subjective in nature.
  • Each paper is of 250 marks while language papers are of 300 marks each.
  • The marks obtained in the language papers are not counted in the formation of the IAS Merit List as they are qualifying in nature.
  • The total time duration of the IAS Main exam is 3 hours.
  • Blind candidates will be given 20 minutes extra for each paper.

IAS Syllabus in English (IAS Mains): Download here

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

Papers Subjects 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

Language Medium/ Literature of Languages

Language Script
Assamese Assamese
Bengali Bengali
Gujarati Gujarati
Hindi Devanagari
Kannada Kannada
Kashmiri Persian
Konkani Devanagari
Malayalam Malayalam
Manipuri Bengali
Marathi Devanagari
Nepali Devanagari
Odia Odia
Punjabi Gurumukhi
Sanskrit Devanagari
Sindhi Devanagari or Arabic
Tamil Tamil
Telugu Telugu
Urdu Persian
Bodo Devanagari
Dogri Devanagari
Maithilli Devanagari
Santhali Devanagari or Olchiki
Note:  For Santhali language, the question paper will be printed in Devanagari script; but candidates will be free to answer either in Devanagari script or in Olchiki.

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

IAS Interview/ Personality Test

  • All candidates who successfully clear IAS Prelims and Main will be called for the interview round. Check IAS Cutoff
  • This stage is of a total of 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, the 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 Main stage. This will form the basis of the final merit list.

Read about How to prepare for the 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. Also, Check Important Books for IAS 2021

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