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UPSC Prelims Syllabus and Detailed Exam Pattern

Understanding UPSC 2019 Prelims Syllabus and Detailed Exam Pattern

Prelims stage in the UPSC examination is the first qualifying round. Every IAS candidate is responsible to learn about Prelims Syllabus and paper pattern carefully. The prelims exam is also known as CSAT. CSAT stands for Civil Services Aptitude Test. In this blog post, we have focused on prelims UPSC Exam Syllabus in detail. Aspirants tend to confuse between these different terms. However, the second round of prelims is technically known as CSAT. Understanding the IAS Exam Pattern plays an excellent role to determine your success.

The scaling system embedded in various subjects of General Studies Paper was the main concern. From 2011 onwards, the panel board introduced the CSAT in UPSC Exam Syllabus. You must be aware of the fact that Prelims Exam Syllabus is only for qualification purpose. An IAS aspirant should score at least 33% to get qualified in this round.

The quality of your planning depends on how well you have understood the IAS Exam Pattern. Prelims exam is the most important phase for every IAS aspirant. Keeping this in mind, here is the complete information about Prelims Syllabus and exam pattern.

When Does 2019-2020 Preliminary Exam Start?

Even though the marks obtained in the prelims round does not affect the final ranking, it is extremely important to learn about IAS Exam Pattern. Generally, the number of candidates is 15 times more than the number of vacant civil service posts every year. The 2019 UPSC Exam Syllabus and updates proclaim that the exam is on June 2. The mains exam phase will commence from September 29 (2019).

Overview of Detailed Prelims Syllabus


The prelims IAS Exam Pattern comprises two distinct compulsory papes. They are General Studies Paper I and General Studies Paper II. Each of these papers has a total of 200 marks. As per the IAS Exam Pattern, all the questions are in the form of multiple questions and objective.

General Studies Paper 1 – UPSC Exam Syllabus

Based on the prelims syllabus, the most prominent topics on which questions asked are Indian National Movement, Basic Economic Understanding, Indian Politics, and Geography

The above topics are considered as static in UPSC Exam syllabus. There are some dynamic topics taken into consideration during the IAS exam. The preparation strategy demands continuous knowledge updates. It includes general knowledge and current affairs. The appearance of such questions makes the IAS Exam Pattern vast.

Current Affairs Prelims Syllabus

Analyze the daily news consistently from the first day of exam preparation. Keep the reference of UPSC Exam Syllabus during your preparation. Current affairs topic is a mandatory part of IAS preparation. IAS aspirant must dedicate at least 2 hours per day to learn about this topic.

You can refer the newspapers and magazines. The Indian Express or The Hindu are the two recommended newspapers. Note down the summary points based on the IAS Exam Pattern. It helps you to get a high score in prelims.

History of India Prelims Syllabus

Do you have a sound knowledge about the UPSC Prelims Exam Syllabus? Consider studying about Indian national struggle and all the way to independence win. Comparatively, this portion of prelims syllabus seems to be easy. Ancient and medieval India is the most challenging topic. It would be better if you focus more on Indian art and culture. Your systematic plan will help you to attain cent percent success.

Polity and Governance Prelims Syllabus

Under Indian Polity, you must majorly learn about the constitution, rights issues, political system, public policy, Panchayati Raj, and much more. Research for the one good book and read from page to page. Some students read multiple times to grasp the concepts perfectly. As a result, you will not miss out any important topic during your preparation. Always keep referring the UPSC Exam Syllabus. Do not waste time on unimportant topics. The structured study plan helps you to reach success faster.

India and World Geography Prelims Syllabus

NCERT books are the best reference to study this topic. Go through both the 11 and 12-grade books. Some students also refer to 9-grade and 10-grad NCERT books. Do not kill your time only on static subjects. Plan your time for current affairs. You must be good in both areas. If you are confident about UPSC Exam Syllabus, nobody can disturb your preparation.

Biodiversity and Environment Prelims Syllabus

A few years back, CSE prelims and IFoS prelims got merged. Later, this subject became important. IAS aspirants must learn the environment and biodiversity well. Research for the good book and plan your study well. It is possible for you to buy too many books. It will only lead you to confusion. Take a deep look at UPSC Prelims Exam Syllabus and then purchase the book.

Social Development and Indian Economy Prelims Syllabus

IAS aspirants panic about Indian economy too often. You need to go deep into the evolution of organizations. Just make sure to take a quick grasp of present Indian economy. NCERT books are enough to make good preparation. In fact, the previous candidates proclaim this to be true. Only winners can understand the importance of UPSC Exam Syllabus.

General Studies Paper 2 – UPSC Exam Syllabus

The paper 2 is basically the aptitude test as depicted from UPSC Exam Syllabus. The dynamic nature of general studies paper II requires focused preparation. The topics in the Syllabus includes reasoning, mathematics, analytical ability, and interpersonal skills. All these subject areas require the candidate to have on spot mental ability. The CSAT paper tests your skills in 6 major areas. They are:

  • Decision Making and Problem Solving Ability
  • Comprehension Solving
  • Analytical and Logical Reasoning Ability
  • General Mental Ability
  • Data Interpretation and Basic Numeracy
  • Communication and Interpersonal Skills

Comprehension and communication Prelims Syllabus

These questions test your power of visualization. Good readers must understand and interpret well. Every IAS candidate would have cultivated the habit of reading newspapers. It will also kick start your preparation for the English language. In addition, practice a lot of reading. You can put novels and magazines under your reading list. The best way is to solve previous year question papers. By doing so, you will get an idea of the IAS Exam Pattern. Solving the standard questions helps you to understand Syllabus better.

Analytical and Logical Reasoning Ability Prelims Syllabus

These questions test your ability to interpret the number of sequences and patterns. You will also need to understand the relationship between shapes. Prelims Syllabus includes these questions to test your abstract reasoning ability. Get some idea by solving previous year question papers. The objective of the paper 2 IAS Exam Pattern is to test your logical ability. You need absolute time management in this section. If you do not practice well, it kills all your time. Take help for coaching institutes if needed.

Decision Making and Problem Solving Ability Prelims Syllabus

The questions in this section test your ability to take correct decisions in a short time. This IAS Exam Pattern ensures you to speed up your problem-solving process. However, very few questions appear in the exam. Do not get stuck while solving these questions. You might need a decent practice to hit the best score. With consistent practice, you will find an organized approach. Guidelines to solve these questions indicate the right path. Make sure you do not limit your thinking only to guidelines. Solve this part of UPSC Exam Syllabus with caution.

Data Interpretation and Basic Numeracy Prelims Syllabus

The questions in this part of UPSC Exam Syllabus tests your calculation and approximation skills. You can be perfect only through regular practice. How well can you interpret the data in a given time? Logical reasoning is an integral part of the aptitude test. It tests your basic common sense. Practice the few standard questions that appear repeatedly. In fact, it is a skill that can be learned through strategic practice. Analyze the UPSC Exam Pattern before you begin the preparation. This holds you on the right track.

The question papers are available in both English and Hindi languages. Increase your self-confidence by learning about IAS Exam Pattern in detail.

Check out: Best Coaching for IAS Exam and its Pattern

IAS Exam Pattern for The Preliminary Exam

The IAS Exam Pattern has two compulsory papers. They are General Studies Paper I and General Studies Paper II. GS Paper I is also known as general ability test. GS Paper II is also known as a civil service aptitude test. Paper 2 examines the analytical ability of IAS candidates. IAS Exam Pattern depicts that the questions are objective type. Candidates appearing for the exam will have 4 options for each question. In other words, the questions are multiple choice type.

IAS Exam Pattern will have questions in two languages. They are Hindi and English. UPSC Exam Syllabus tests your comprehension skills. You need to have a class 10 level comprehension skill. Hence, the English passage will not have a Hindi translation. IAS Exam Pattern provides translation to all other questions.

IAS Exam Pattern expects the candidate to score only qualifying marks in prelims. The qualifying score is 33 percent. As a result, an IAS aspirant can attend the mains exam. Moreover, it is like a screening round. You must attend the civil services exam in offline mode. How many questions are there in each prelims paper?

Paper 1 comprises of 80 multiple choice questions. Paper 2 comprises of 100 multiple choice questions. Prelims IAS Exam Pattern depicts the total marks of 400. The candidates are given 2 hours for each paper. The IAS Exam Pattern announces 20 minutes extra for blind students. In paper 1, each question will fetch you 2 marks. In paper 2, each question will fetch you 2.5 marks. The preparation according to UPSC Exam Syllabus is a strict rule.

Stop Making These Mistakes During Prelims Exam Preparation

In the first place, working hard is not the key to success in IAS Prelims. Many of the IAS aspirants has this wrong interpretation. There might be flaws in your preparation. The primary mistake is to neglect the IAS Exam Pattern. Candidates assume that good preparation starts with advanced books. No, is wrong! You should never neglect the basic books recommended in Prelims Syllabus. Be strong in your fundamentals. Or else, you will waste much of your time. As explained above, start with NCERT books and focus more on UPSC Exam Syllabus. In the second stage, you can refer to advanced books.

Make summary notes of whatever you learn. The Syllabus is huge and candidates tend to lose the track. If you make this a practice, you will understand the importance. It is not at all a tedious task. In the last few days, the notes will help you recall quickly. Reading the newspaper and current affairs is the central focus of UPSC Exam Syllabus. Along with magazines and other resource materials, newspapers take the primary role. You should understand the current issues rather than just mugging up.

All your strategies and planning begins from UPSC Exam Syllabus. Working hard without proper direction is equal to doing nothing. You must know what is important and what is negligible. If not, you will lose concentration and end up in a confusion. Are you practicing the question papers with time management? Prelims Syllabus lets you make an amazing study plan. Keep your focus always towards the smart study instead of hard work. Working 20 hours without a plan is nothing but wasting time.

Final Words

If you plan to take up the civil services exam, plan your studies at least one year before. If you have more time, then you can study strategically. Shortage of time leads to stress and confusion. In this blog post, here is the complete information about Syllabus and exam paper pattern.

The tips to prepare for each topic is also covered. Understand the distribution of questions in Paper 1 and Paper 2 of prelims. Plan your time accordingly and not leave out any topic mentioned in the syllabus. Commit yourself to the process of learning and prepare well for the IAS exam.

Useful Resource to Check out:-

  1. List of Best IAS Coaching in Delhi
  2. Top 10 IAS Coaching in Bangalore
  3. Top IAS Coaching Institutes in Mumbai