UPSC Civil Services Examinations is one of the most prestigious competitive examinations in our country. The examination pattern is devised so as to test the capabilities and substance of a candidate thoroughly. To begin with, UPSC Civil Services Examinations is segregated into three stages: Preliminary, Mains and Interview.
While the preliminary stage, better known as prelims, is in place so as to separate the good apples from the bad ones in a rather relaxed manner, Mains aims to judge the proficiency of a candidate in the subject of his or her liking. Interview stage basically reveals the overall personality and character of a candidate.
The syllabus is fairly vast and it doesn’t just check one’s ability to mug up things but also, one’s ability to understand and present the facts and figures in a more holistic manner.
Mains Examination contains 9 papers and each subject has its own specific syllabus as such. Those who successfully ace the written Prelims and Mains, become eligible to appear for the Interview.
UPSC Civil Services Examinations (CSE) schedule 2020
It is advisable that students first check out the schedule of the UPSC Civil Services Examinations, which has been postponed due to the COVID-19 crisis. Check out the official website of UPSC regularly for fresh updates.
UPSC Civil Services Examinations Syllabus 2020
UPSC CSE Prelims Syllabus
Prelims is more like the qualifying stage of the UPSC Civil Services Examinations. However, it is still quite necessary to know thoroughly about the syllabus and the pattern of the prelims examination and proceed accordingly.
Prelims has basically two general studies papers:
Paper 1: Paper 1 consists of 100 questions and is of 200 marks. The time limit for the paper set is 2 hours. It checks the general aptitude of the students in the field of History, Geography, Current Affairs and related disciplines.
Paper 2: General Studies paper 2 of UPSC Preliminary Examinations is known as the Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT). The students should secure at least 33% marks in this paper to be eligible for the next stage of evaluation. The paper 2 is of 200 marks and contains 80 questions. The time duration for the paper is 2 hours.
We now move forward with the syllabus of the Preliminary Examinations.
UPSC Prelims Syllabus 2020 for General Studies Paper 1:
Current events of national and international importance
History of India and Indian National Movement
Indian and World Geography-Physical, Social, Economic Geography of India and the World.
Indian Polity and Governance-Constitution, Political System, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights Issues, etc.
Economic and Social Development-Sustainable Development, Poverty, Inclusion, Social Sector Initiatives, etc.
General Issues on Environmental Ecology, Bio-diversity and Climate Change- that do not require subject specialization.
UPSC Prelims Syllabus 2020 for General Studies Paper 2:
Interpersonal skills including communication skills
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)
UPSC CSE Mains Syllabus
Once the candidates go through their Prelims Examinations, the commission short-lists the candidates for the next stage of UPSC Civil Services Examinations, Mains. Mains examinations is rather the most important stage of UPSC Civil Services Examinations and the competition on each vacancy is pretty high and tight. Thus, it becomes crucial that the students adhere to the syllabus provided by the UPSC religiously and work accordingly.
Mains basically tests a candidate’s ability to comprehend and retain a certain piece of information and present it in the most suitable and sophisticated way possible.
Mains examination can be a taxing stage for many as it has 9 papers out of which two are qualifying and 7 are conventional descriptive papers.
The breakdown of the 9 papers of UPSC Mains Examinations is provided below:
Paper A- This is a qualifying paper. It is worth 300 marks and is based on an Indian Language. Students need to select any of the Indian Languages mentioned in the eight schedule of the Indian Constitution.
Paper B- This is a qualifying paper as well. This is based on English and is worth 300 marks.
Paper I- This is an essay type paper of 250 marks.
Paper II- The weightage of this paper is 250 marks. It is the first General Studies paper and covers Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society.
Paper III- This is the second General Studies paper. It also carries 250 marks and covers Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations.
Paper IV- The third General Studies paper. Carries 250 marks. It encompasses Technology, Economic Development, Bio-diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management.
Paper V- The fourth and final General Studies paper. Worth 250 marks. It basically consists of Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude.
Paper VI- This is the first Optional Paper and carries 250 marks.
Paper VII- The second Optional paper, carries 250 marks as well.
We now move onto the mains syllabus for 2020, as mentioned by UPSC:
Indian Language and English
The aim of the paper is to test the candidates’ ability to read and understand serious discursive prose, and to express his ideas clearly and correctly, in English and Indian language concerned.
The pattern of questions would be broadly as follows:
Comprehension of given passages
Usage and Vocabulary
Comprehension of given passages
Usage and Vocabulary
Translation from English to the Indian Language and vice-versa.
Note: The syllabus for Indian Language and English will be of matriculation or equivalent standard. These papers are of qualifying nature and marks obtained will not be counted for final merit. Aspirants should answer the English and Indian Languages papers in English and the respective Indian language (except where translation is involved).
UPSC CSE Mains Essay – Paper-I
Aspirants should write essays on multiple topics. They will be expected to keep closely to the subject of the essay to arrange their ideas in orderly fashion, and to write concisely. Credit will be given for effective and exact expression.
UPSC CSE Mains General Studies-I Syllabus – Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society
Indian Heritage:Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.
Modern Indian History: 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.
World History: 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.
Indian 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.
Geography: 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.
UPSC CSE Mains General Studies-II Syllabus – 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, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein.
Indian Polity: 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.
Social Justice: 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.
Indian Governance: 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.
International Relations: 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.
IAS Mains General Studies-III Syllabus – Technology, Economic Development, Bio-diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management
Indian Economy: 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; issue 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: 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.
Environment & Bio-diversity: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.
Disaster Management: Disaster and disaster management.
Security: 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.
UPSC CSE Mains General Studies-IV Syllabus – Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude
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: 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: 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.
UPSC CSE Mains Optional Subject Syllabus Candidates may choose any optional subject from amongst the list of optional subjects. Aspirants can also choose one Indian language as an optional subject amongst the list.
One can find the detailed syllabus of all the optional subjects on the official UPSC Website.
UPSC Interview Syllabus
The third and the final stage of the UPSC Civil Services Examinations happens to be the Interview stage, wherein the overall personality and character of a candidate is judged. Only those candidates who successfully go through the Mains Examinations are eligible for appearing in the Interview round. The Personality Test or the Interview holds 275 marks.
The basic qualities which the interviewers are after is the mental retentivity and the ability to use the knowledge stored in the mental reservoirs comprehensively. Questions ranging from the candidates personal interests to career are put forward and only those who dish out the most coherent, honest and logical answers are selected.
According to the official UPSC site, “The technique of the interview is not that of a strict cross-examination but of a natural, though directed and purposive conversation which is intended to reveal the mental qualities of the candidate. The interview test is not intended to be a test either of the specialised or general knowledge of the candidates which has been already tested through their written papers. Candidates are expected to have taken an intelligent interest not only in their special subjects of academic study but also in the events which are happening around them both within and outside their own State or Country as well as in modern currents of thought and in new discoveries which should rouse the curiosity of well-educated youth.”
Also, note that there is no strict syllabus for the interview round. Final merit list is decided upon the basis of cumulative marks of the Interview and the Mains Examinations.