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About Exam

The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) is a constitutional body in India that is responsible for recruiting candidates for various civil services and central government jobs. The UPSC conducts a comprehensive examination known as the Civil Services Examination (CSE) to select candidates for a range of prestigious services. Here are some key points about the UPSC exam and the services it encompasses:

Civil Services Examination (CSE): The CSE is an annual competitive examination conducted by the UPSC to recruit candidates for various civil services in the Indian government. It consists of three stages – Preliminary Examination (objective type), Main Examination (descriptive type), and Personality Test (interview).

Services under UPSC: The successful candidates of the CSE are appointed to various services based on their preferences and merit. Some of the prominent services include:

Indian Administrative Service (IAS)
Indian Foreign Service (IFS)
Indian Police Service (IPS)
Indian Revenue Service (IRS)
Indian Forest Service (IFoS)
Indian Audit and Accounts Service (IAAS)
Indian Railway Traffic Service (IRTS)
Indian Economic Service (IES)
Indian Statistical Service (ISS)
and more.

Exam Stages

There are 3 stages in the UPSC Civil Services Exam:

  • Preliminary Exam (Objective Test)
  • Main Exam (Written Test)
  • Personality Test (Interview)

The marks of the Preliminary Exam are not counted for the final ranking. Prelims is a screening test to select the candidates for the Main Exam. A candidate’s final rank in the civil services exam depends only on the mark scored in the Main exam and Interview.

Exam Pattern

Sr No

Name of Paper

No. of Questions




General Studies – I



2 Hours


General Studies – II (CSAT)



2 Hours

  • The negative marking for incorrect answers will be 1/3rd (0.66) of the allotted marks of that question.
  • The GS Paper II (CSAT) in IAS exam is of qualifying nature and candidates should score a minimum of 33% in this paper to qualify to the next stage
    of the IAS exam i.e. the Mains.
  • The marks scored by the candidates in the preliminary examination are not counted for the final score. It is only a screening test where candidates not securing the
    cut-off marks are eliminated.


  • General Studies-I consist: (Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society)
  • General Studies-II consist: (Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International Relations)
  • General Studies-III consist: (Technology, Economic Development, Bio-diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management)
  • General Studies-IV consist: (Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude)
  • The candidates can select their medium of writing the UPSC Civil Services IAS Mains Exam as Hindi or English or any other
    language listed in the 8th Schedule of the Indian Constitution.
  • The candidates who score above the prescribed cut-off marks in the IAS exam (Mains) will get the summons for the Personality Test (last stage of the IAS exam).
  • The final ranking of the candidates is on the basis of the marks obtained by them in the Main Examination and Personality Test/Interview Round of the IAS exam.

Optional Paper List:
Public Administration Sociology Anthropology Political Science and International Relations (PSIR) Geography
Civil Engineering Commerce and Accountancy Economics Electrical Engineering Chemistry
Geology History Law Management Mathematics
Mechanical Engineering Medical Science Philosophy Physics Botany
Psychology Agriculture Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science Statistics Zoology
The literature of any one of the following languages: Assamese, Bengali, Bodo, Dogri, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Maithili, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Odia, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Santhali, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu and English.

Candidates who clear the Mains stage of the IAS exam with the required cut-off marks qualify for the final stage of the IAS exam i.e., the Personality Test or Interview round with the UPSC Board Members. The candidates who qualify to the final stage will be sent an e-summon by the Commission for a face-to-face discussion round with the board members. In this round, the board assesses the personality traits of the candidates and questions will be asked on their hobbies, current affairs, general knowledge, situation questions, etc. to evaluate if they are fit for a career in the civil services or not. The UPSC personality test will be held only in the UPSC Bhavan in New Delhi.

Eligibility Criteria

  • Education Qualification for IAS exam: Candidate must hold a Graduate Degree from a recognised University.

Sr. No



No of Attempt


General & EWS

32 Years

6 Attempts



35 Years

9 Attempts



37 Years



Physically Disabled

42 Years

SC/ST- Unlimited & Others – 9 Attempts


Jammu & Kashmir Domicile

37 Years + (3 years, if OBC OR 5 Years, if SC/ST)

Number of attempts depends on the reserved category.


General Studies-I (Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society):

  • Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.
  • Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues.
  • The Freedom Struggle - its various stages and important contributors /contributions from different parts of the country.
  • Post-independence consolidation and reorganization within the country History of the world will include events from 18th century such as industrial revolution, world wars, redrawal of national boundaries, colonization, decolonization, political philosophies like communism, capitalism, socialism etc.- their forms and effect on the society.
  • Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India.
  • Role of women and women's organization, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.
  • Effects of globalization on Indian society.
  • Social empowerment, communalism, regionalism & secularism.
  • Salient features of world's physical geography.
  • 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).
  • Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc., 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.

General Studies-II (Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society):

  • Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.
  • 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.
  • Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.
  • Comparison of the Indian constitutional scheme with that of other countries
  • Parliament and State Legislatures - structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these
  • 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.
  • Salient features of the Representation of People's Act 
  • 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 and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  • Development processes and the development industry the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders.
  • Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and 
  • Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these 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 and/or affecting India's interests
  • Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India's interests, Indian diaspora.
  • Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate

General Studies-III (Technology, Economic Development, Bio-diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management)

  • 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 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 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; 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, bio-technology 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.

General Studies-IV (Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude)

  • This paper will include questions to test the candidates' attitude and approach to issues relating to integrity, probity in public life and his problem solving approach to various issues and conflicts faced by him in dealing with society. Questions may utilise the case study approach to determine these aspects. The following broad areas will be covered. 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 behaviour; 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 Studies on above issues.

Exam Calendar-2024

Exam Calendar-2024


IAS-2024 (Prelims)

Sunday – 26th May 2024


IAS-2024 (Mains)

20th September 2024 onwards


Apart from NCERT Books (Class 6-12), 10-15 standard reference textbooks are recommended for UPSC preparation.
Some of the best-selling books are:

  • Indian Polity – by M. Laxmikanth & DD Basu
  • Important Acts that Transformed India – by Alex Andrews George
  • Important Judgments that Transformed India – by Alex Andrews George
  • Indian Art and Culture – by Nitin Singhania
  • Ancient and Medieval India – by RS Sharma
  • Modern Indian History – by Bipin Chandra and Rajeev Ahir
  • Certificate Physical And Human Geography – by Goh Cheng Leong
  • Geography of India – by Majid Husain
  • Oxford Student Atlas for India
  • Indian Economy – by Ramesh Singh
  • Indian Economy – by Nitin Singhania
  • Science and Technology – by Ravi P. Agrahari
  • Environment and Ecology –by Vaishali Anand
  • International Relations – by Pavneet Singh
  • Lexicon for Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude – by Niraj Kumar
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