IAS Main Exam Syllabus

For Mains:

Answer Writing is the key to crack UPSC Mains Examination.

Hurdles in Answer Writing Practice:

  • Students think they need to read books first before trying answer writing
  • Students get confused to understand what exactly the Question is demanding
  • Students panic when they read better answers and procrastinate writing practice.
  • Lack of time to read and write answers make them choose reading first.

How to overcome the hurdles:

  • You should not wait to complete reading before practicing answer writing. It will be a blunder if you do that.
  • However less time you have, you have to spare atleast 20% of your daily study time in writing
  • Instead of making notes from the text books, please try to write answers to the questions from that topic.
  • Initially, your answers will not be good. It happens with everyone. But with consistent practice, you will improve a lot. You will know for yourself and that will further boost your confidence which will in turn make you prepare better and enjoy the study journey

If you have a study group, you can exchange answers to know about other person opinions too. You will be less critical about your answers. Initial feedback on your answers will help you improvise faster. You can join our mentorship program to get evaluation feedback from experts

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




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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.
  • Ethics in Governance – Ramesh K Arora.
  • Lexicon for Ethics, Integrity, and Aptitude.
  • Examples from daily newspapers

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

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