IAS General Studies Syllabus

You want to become an IAS officer.  You need to score top ranking (within 100) in UPSC Civil Service Exam.

Exam has 3 stages. You need to clear each stage to be eligible to appear for next stage. Failure in any stage, you will have to start all over again. Exam procedure itself is an yearlong[/eikra-vc-text-title]

  • Eligibility
  • How to Apply
  • Prelims Exam
  • Mains Exam
  • Interview
  • After Selection
  • Salary
  • Various Civil Service Posts


Nationality Qualification Age Number of Attempts
Only Indian for IAS, IPS and IFS.

Also PIO / Subject of Nepal or Bhutan eligible for other services

Any graduate or Final year of graduation 21 to 32 years – general category

21- 35 years – obc

21 – 37 years – SC/ST, J&K Domicile, military service personnels

21-42 years for Physically handicapped persons

6 – general category

9 – obc

Unlimited – SC/ ST

Note: OBC – Family income less than 8 lakhs / Class 3 and below govt employees

How to Apply:

https://www.upsconline.nic.in when called to apply

Exam Stage How When Fee
Prelims MCQ June every year 100. No fee for Female/SC/ST/PH Candidates
Mains Answer Writing September – October every year 200
Interview Oral March – April every year NA
Results NA May every year NA
Foundation Training Sessions, Practical and Written September every year NA

Prelims Exam:

Only those who apply for UPSC CSE Prelims can write Prelims exam

Questions Multiple Choice Type. Need to select one correct option among four answer options given for each question

Prelims Exam Papers Importance Maximum Marks Duration No. of Questions Marks given per Correct Answer Marks cut per Wrong Answer Subjects
General Studies You need to score minimum 120+ to qualify to write Mains Exam. 200 2 hours 100 2 0.67 Polity, Economy, Geography, History
CSAT (Aptitude Test) Only Qualifying. You need to score minimum grace marks. Your score does not count for cutoffs. i.e even if you score 200/200 in this paper, you may fail if you don’t get cut off score in GS paper. 200 2 hours 80 2.5 0.83 Aptitude, Comprehension, Reasoning, Data Interpretation

Prelims General Studies I – 200 Marks – 2 Hours – Multiple Choice Questions

SYLLABUS (By heart it) REFERENCE BOOKS(strictly limit to these sources)
Current events of national and international importance Follow any one website or read any one newspaper
History of India and Indian National Movement. Indian History – Bipin Chandra.

NCERTs 11 & 12

Art& Culture – Nithin Singhania

Spectrum – Modern History

Indian and World Geography – Physical, Social, Economic Geography of India and the World. NCERTs 11 & 12

School Atlas

India Year Book

Indian Polity and Governance – Constitution, Political System, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights Issues, etc NCERTs 11 & 12

Indian Polity – Laxmikanth

Economic and Social Development – Sustainable Development, Poverty, Inclusion, Demographics, Social Sector initiatives, etc NCERTs 11 & 12

Budget & Economic Survey

India Yearbook

General issues on Environmental Ecology, Bio-diversity and Climate Change – that do not require subject specialisation General Science NCERT 6 to 12 selectively

Current News

Shankar’s Environment

Prelims General Studies II (Aptitude) – 200 Marks – 2 Hours – Multiple Choice Questions

SYLLABUS REFERENCE BOOKS(Class X level preparation is enough)
Maths, Data Interpretation NCERTs 7 to 11

Fast Track Objective Arithmetic

previous year papers

Reasoning, Arrangement, Blood Relations High level reasoning: Analytical Reasoning by M.K.Pandey (BSC Publication)

Routine Topics: R.S.Aggarwal.

previous year papers

Comprehension, Inferences Analytical Reasoning by M.K.Pandey

Newspaper, Magazines

previous year papers

Decision Making, Communication Skill Not asking recently. Refer previous year papers


Join IAS junior Mentor Program to have a disciplined preparation or

  • Memorize the syllabus.
  • Make a schedule and regularly read from the above references.
  • Understand the concepts clearly. Don’t try to memorize.
  • Take previous year question papers and try answering questions.
  • Solve as many mcqs as you can topicwise.
  • Read, Revise, Retake test over and over again
  • Refer the topics with current events
  • Keep limited resource. Revise at-least 5 times from those resources.

Mains Exam:

Only those who can clear prelims are eligible to write mains exam

All Questions are subjective. You need to write answers to the word limit specified in qp.

Total Maximum Marks (qualifying papers should not be considered) = 1750

Mains Exam Papers Importance Maximum Marks Duration Subjects
Compulsory Language Paper Only Qualifying. i.e Marks won’t be counted for Cut Off 300 3 hours Need to choose among 21 languages. Class X level standard qns asked
Compulsory English Only Qualifying. i.e Marks won’t be counted for Cut Off 300 3 hours Class X level standard qns asked
Essay Marks counted for merit 250 3 hours Topic/issue based and generic essays
GS Paper 1 Marks counted for merit 250 3 hours Indian Heritage and Culture, History

and Geography of the World and Society

GS Paper 2 Marks counted for merit 250 3 hours Governance,Constitution,Polity,Social Justice and International relations
GS Paper 3 Marks counted for merit 250 3 hours Technology,Economic Development,Bio-diversity,Environment,Security & Disaster Management
GS Paper 4 Marks counted for merit 250 3 hours Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude
Optional Subject Paper 1 Marks counted for merit 250 3 hours Need to choose one from 26 optional subjects – 2 papers on the same subject
Optional Subject Paper 2 Marks counted for merit 250 3 hours Need to choose one from 26 optional subjects – 2 papers on the same subject




(Subscribe to our mentorship program to avail crisp notes)


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.

Newspaper Editorials

Contemporary Essays for Civil Services Examination – Ramesh Singh

(Only if needed)

General Studies I (Indian heritage and culture, history and geography of India and the World)

  • 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, redrawing 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.
  • NCERTs – 6th to 12th.
  • NIOS Art and Culture.
  • Bipan Chandra’s Struggle For India’s Independence.
  • India Since Independence – Bipan Chandra
  • Mastering Modern World History by Norman Lowe.
  • Social Problems in India – Ram Ahuja
  • Indian Society – Ram Ahuja.
  • Geography of India – Majid Husain.
  • Oxford School Atlas – Oxford.
General Studies II (Governance, constitution, polity, social justice and International relations management)

  • 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; citizen’s 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)

  • 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.
  • NCERTs 6th to 12th
  • Yojana
  • Kurukshetra
  • Budget and Survey
  • Insightsonindia website
  • www.pib.nic.in
  • India Year Book
General Studies IV (ethics, integrity and aptitude)

  • This paper will include questions to test the candidate’s 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 utilize 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 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 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.


For Optional Syllabus, Strategy, Reference books and Previous year papers – refer optional page.

UPSC Optional


  • The number of candidates to be selected for interview will be about two and half times the number of vacancies to be filled.
  • The interview carries 275 marks (with no minimum qualifying marks).
  • Interviews are conducted in UPSC building in Delhi.
  • There will be panel of 4 – 5 members who will be interviewing you. One UPSC member + Retired senior Officers / Experts / Academicians.
  • Your academic and general knowledge is already gauged in mains exam.
  • What will they assess in interview is

–        How alert you are.

–        Leadership quality

–        Do you have a balanced opinion?

–        Your reaction to stress.

–        Your curiosity to current happenings

–        Your innovative but practical solution to social problems

–        Your intellectual and moral integrity

  • How you should prepare

You cannot change your personality completely if it doesn’t have above attributes. However, you can overcome your little weaknesses and mould yourself. To do that, You need to know about yourself first.

  • Tips:

Become a positive and confident person.  ‘To Be Officer’ will be excited not anxious or worried.

Improvise on your communication skills.  Discussions with your peers, friends and family helps.

Prepare well for questions from your hobbies, graduation subject, optional subject, work experience, latest news, native place.

Give truthful and balanced answers.

Don’t beat around the bush. Come straight to the point.

Don’t give readymade answer. Be Yourself and express your true opinion. Smile throughout 🙂


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Check our sample study notes here  https://iasjunior.com/sample-approach/

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