UPSC Syllabus

UPSC Syllabus 2020

Written by Abhinash Chaudhary · 4 min read >
UPSC Syllabus 2020

Aspirants who are appearing for IAS examination then understanding of UPSC Syllabus is must. Moreover, understanding the IAS Syllabus alone is not enough. You also need to remember it thoroughly. 

So you could exactly know what to read and what not to read. Because, this is something which will decide the fate of your result. Therefore, this is the 1st step or stepping stone of Civil Services Examination preparation. 

UPSC has categorized IAS exam in three stages and broadly subjects are same 1st two stages but there is a difference of exam pattern. 

UPSC Exam Types and Syllabus

Preliminary examination, Syllabus, Marking pattern & Exam Date

UPSC Prelims, the first exam, is an objective exam and Prelims syllabus comprises two papers. We call 1st Paper as General Studies and 2nd paper as CSAT which is also known as Civil Services Aptitude Test. These two papers are known as IAS Prelims. 

However, you just need to qualify marks in the CSAT examination. Let’s understand it with the help of table

Prelims ExamTotal MarksTotal DurationTotal QuestionsPrelims Exam Date
General Studies
(GS)
2002 Hrs10004th Oct’20
CSAT2002 Hrs8004th Oct’20

Check Out the UPSC Exam Calender here and UPSC Syllabus

Paper I General Studies Syllabus

Paper I is to check your knowledge of General Studies. It checks your basic understanding of History, Geography, Governance, General Science, Economics and other subjects.

All Subjects which you need to cover for Prelims General Studies

  • Current Events of Importance across India as well as globe (Current Affairs)
  • Indian Polity and Governance 
  • Constitution,
  • Political System, 
  • Panchayati Raj,
  • Rights Issues,
  • Public Policy , etc.
  • Indian and World Geography
  • Physical Geography, 
  • Social Geography, 
  • Economic Geography of India and the World
  • Economic and Social Development 
  • Sustainable Development, 
  • Poverty, Inclusion, 
  • Demographics, 
  • Social Sector initiatives, etc.
  • General issues on Environmental Ecology, Biodiversity and Climate Change 
  • General Science
  • Indian National Movement and History of India

Paper II CSAT Syllabus

  • Decision-making and problem solving
  • Logical reasoning and analytical ability
  • Comprehension
  • General mental ability
  • Basic numeracy (numbers and their relations, orders of magnitude, etc.), 
  • Data interpretation (Class 10th Level)
  • Interpersonal skills including communication skills

Special Note – As Prelims Exams are objective type in nature, it also has a negative marking system. You need to be very selective while choosing your answers. 33 % marks or ⅓ marks are ducted if you choose the wrong answer. 

You must remember these subject names and refer to good books to prepare for it. This year the government has postponed the exam from the usual date and you have extra time to prepare for it. 

Mains examination, Syllabus, Marking pattern, optional & Literature subjects

Paper II is to check the aspirant’s academic depth and understanding of each subject. First, you need to qualify for the Prelims exam to sit in the Mains paper. This is where most of the students fail and never make it to the mains list. So you need to be very cautious with both exams. 

UPSC Mains exam consists of 7 papers and out of which two papers are optional papers. The Mains exam is of 1750 Marks and descriptive in nature. 

Let’s understand it with table:

Mains Exam PaperSubject NameTotal DurationOptional/Compulsory
Paper IEssay Writing250 Compulsory
Paper IIG.S I 250 Compulsory
Paper IIIG.S II250 Compulsory
Paper IVG.S III250 Compulsory
Paper VG.S IV250 Compulsory
Paper VIOptional Subject I250Optional
Paper VIIOptional Subject II250Optional

Mains Paper Subjects :

General Studies Paper I Subjects –

  • Indian Heritage
  • Culture, 
  • History & Geography of the World & Society

General Studies Paper II Subjects 

  • Governance, 
  • Constitution, 
  • Polity, 
  • Social Justice & 
  • International Relations

General Studies Paper III Subjects 

  • Technology, 
  • Economic Development, 
  • Biodiversity, 
  • Security and Disaster Management

General Studies Paper IV Subjects 

  • Ethics, 
  • Integrity & 
  • Aptitude

Optional Subjects – There is a list of 48 subjects from which you can choose two subjects.

List of all 48 Optional Subjects  

Optional Subjects  for UPSC

UPSC Language Paper Syllabus and Qualifying criteria

Apart from the above subjects, Union Public Service Commission conducts two more papers. These two papers are mainly to check your Language knowledge. Also, these are qualifying papers only. 

Language PaperTotal MarksPassing MarksExam Type
English 30075Qualifying only
Any Indian Language30075Qualifying only

Language Paper Marks Bifurcation 

  • Essay – 100 marks
  • Reading comprehension – 60 marks
  • Precis Writing – 60 marks
  • Translation:
  1. English to compulsory language (e.g. Hindi) – 20 marks
  2. Compulsory language to English – 20 marks
  • Grammar and basic language usage – 40 marks

UPSC Personality Test or Interview test

This is the last stage of you becoming an IAS/IPS officer. Once you qualify Prelims & Mains both then you are allowed to sit in the interview. 

Generally, this interview is of 30-45 minutes and a panel of 5 members conduct this interview. 

Though, there is no defined syllabus for the interview round but overall it checks several life skills of an aspirant. Interviews are asked to fill a questionnaire which is used as a reference document for your interviewees. Many interviewers ask questions revolving around that particular reference paper. So what you write in that questionnaire is very important. 

Below are the few points to give you a brief about interview level:

  1. Interpersonal & communication skills – If you wish to become an IAS officer then you should be able to understand and communicate well. There is a fear amongst students that interviews are to check your English but it’s not ture. UPSC checks your ability to communicate in your own chosen language. 
  1. Decision making ability – Decision making plays an important role in day to day life of an IAS officer. You should be clear, concise and confident with your thought process. Your decisions will impact thousands of lives once you become a civil servant thus, it’s very important your decision making ability is sound. 
  1. Optional Subject Command – There will be an expert of your optional subject sitting in the interview committee. So you may expect a good amount of questions pertaining to your optional subjects. Sometimes, interviewers also ask on what grounds you chose your optional paper. 
  1. Your overall behaviour – This is last but not the least. You need to remember that UPSC doesn’t make IAS, they hire IAS so your overall behaviour should be like a bureaucrat. You are judged psychologically so you should be prepared with all types of questions in the interview test.

To summarise, it’s a test of overall personality as the name suggests but this is a very later stage of the exam. Clearing Prelims and Mains are very tough because of the vast syllabus and never ending current affairs. 

Clearly, you should make a seperate strategy for covering the current affairs because most of the questions in Mains and Interview are asked from recent events of India and World as well. 

You should at least give 30-45 minutes daily on Current affairs and its note preparation. If you cover current affairs well then you are more likely to succeed this exam with ease. There are many toppers who have cleared this exam in just one go with the right set of preparation and strategy. 

Also Read : How to start your UPSC preparation from Scratch 

You should take a 360 degree approach for your UPSC preparation and should not let go of any topic which is relevant to your IAS exam. This is the mantra of success to clear the UPSC exam. 

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Written by Abhinash Chaudhary
Abhinash Chaudhary is a Passionate Blogger, Entrepreneur & Digital Marketer in India. He has been blogging since 2013 & writes about Education, Web Design, Web Development, SEO, and Technology. Profile
UPSC Syllabus

UPSC Syllabus 2019

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