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UPSC CIVIL SERVICE-IAS Exam Eligibility, Exam Pattern And Syllabus, Booklist For UPSC CSE Complete Details


UPSC Civil Services – IAS Exam Dates, Eligibility, Exam Pattern And Syllabus, Booklist For UPSC CSE Complete Details by IAS NEXT

About UPSC Civil Services Examination (CSE)

Though popularly known as ‘IAS exam’, the official name of the exam is UPSC Civil Services Exam. There are many who consider this exam as the toughest exam in India (and even at the world-stage!). The exam is attempted by around 5 Lakh candidates each year. UPSC Civil Services exam is conducted in 3 phases: 1) Prelims and 2) Mains 3) Interview. The exam window extends over a year (from June month of a year to June month next year when the results are announced).

UPSC Civil Services Prelims Syllabus
UPSC Civil Services Mains syllabus
Important dates for those Aspirants who aim for UPSC CSE 2024

The official notification will be out on:- February/march 2024

The final date for submitting the application form:- March 2024

Prelims 2024:- May/June 2024
Main Exam 2024:- September/October 2024
Interview/Pt Exam 2024:- Jan/Feb/Mar 2025
Final Results 2024:- Mar/April 2025

Exam Pattern:

UPSC Civil Services exam pattern


  1. Stage I: Preliminary Examination (IAS Prelims)
  2. Stage II: Mains Examination (IAS Mains)
  3. Stage III: UPSC Personality Test (IAS Interview)
Civil Service Prelims Examination

There are two papers in Civil Service Prelims Examination. The questions are objective in nature.

  1. General Studies Paper 1 [which deals with subjects like History, Polity, Economics etc.] 100 Q = 200 marks
  2. General Studies Paper 2 [which deals with subjects like Mental Ability, English Comprehension etc. This paper is popularly known as CSAT – Civil Services Aptitude Test). 80 Q = 200 marks
  • The questions in the IAS Exam (Prelims) are of the objective type or Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs)
    • There is ‘Negative Marking’ in the IAS Exam for each incorrect answer but only in the Prelims stage. The negative marking for incorrect answers will be 1/3rd (0.66) of the allotted marks of that question.
    • The GS Paper II (CSAT) in IAS exam is of qualifying nature and candidates should score a minimum of 33 per cent in this paper to qualify to the next stage of the IAS exam i.e. the Mains.
    • Blind candidates are given an extra time of 20 minutes for each paper in the IAS Exam (Prelims).
    • It is mandatory for the candidates to appear in both the papers of civil services prelims exam for the evaluation.
    • The marks scored by the candidates in the preliminary examination are not counted for the final score. It is only a screening test where candidates not securing the cut-off marks are eliminated.
Civil Service Main Examination

The mains stage is subjective in nature as the answers have to be written on paper. The papers in Civil Service Mains as per revised syllabus are as below.

UPSC Civil Services Main Examination as per revised syllabus consists of 9 papers. Marks of 7 out of these 9 papers will be counted for final ranking, while 2 papers will be of qualifying nature.

Mark-Counted Papers in UPSC Civil Services Mains Exam
  • 1 paper on the essay. (250 marks x 1)
  • 4 papers on from General Studies ( which covers topics like History, Geography Economics, Polity, Technology, Ecology, Ethics etc). (250 marks x 4)
  • 2 papers on one Optional subject – which can be from selected from 25 subjects and 22 languages. (250 marks x 2)
Qualifying Papers in UPSC Civil Services Mains Exam
  • 1 English Language Paper (Comprehension, Precis Writing etc).
  • 1 Regional Language Paper (Comprehension, Precis Writing, Translation etc).

The Civil Service Main Exam marks are calculated out of 1750.

Civil Service Interview

The interview is a face to face process which evaluates a candidate’s potential and commitment to society. The interview is out of 275 marks.
Final ranks are calculated by adding Mains (Out of 1750) and Interview marks (Out of 275) and the rank list will be prepared based on marks scored out of 2025.

Minimum Educational Qualifications to appear for UPSC Civil Services Exam | IAS Exam Eligibility

Any degree (graduation).
  1. any of the Universities incorporated by an Act of the Central or State Legislature in India.
  2. or other educational institutions established by an Act of Parliament.
  3. or declared to be deemed as a University Under Section-3 of the University Grants Commission Act, 1956.
  4. or possess an equivalent qualification.

Note: Final year students can also apply, but should have attained age of 21 years on 1st August of that given year .

Minimum age to appear for UPSC IAS Exam | IAS Exam Eligibility

The minimum age to appear for IAS Exam is 21 years. This means that the candidate must have at least 21 years of age on 1st August of that given year when the exam is held. For example, if the candidate is appearing for 2019 prelims, he/she should be above 21 years of age by Aug 1, 2019.

Upper age limit to appear for UPSC IAS Exam | IAS Exam Eligibility

Upper age limit is also calculated on the date Aug 1. This means if the candidate is appearing for 2020 prelims, he/she should be below the mentioned maximum limit by Aug 1, 2020. Upper age limit is fixed different for different categories, which is as given below.

  1. Upper age limit for General category: 32 years.
  2. Upper age limit for OBC: 35 years.
  3. Upper age limit for SC/ST: 37 Years.
  4. Upper age limit for Defense Services personnel disabled in operations during hostilities with any foreign country or in a disturbed area and released as a consequence thereof: 35 years.
  5. Upper age limit for Ex-servicemen including Commissioned Officers and ECOs/SSCOs who have rendered at least five years Military Service: 37 years.
  6. Upper age limit for blind, deaf-mute and Orthopaedically handicapped persons (general category): 42 years.

Apart from the mentioned limits, OBC/ SC/ ST candidates will get the benefit of cumulative age relaxation. This means age relaxations gets added in special cases, say, for example, if the person is OBC + Ex-servicemen, he will get an extension of 3 + 5 = 8 years, ie his upper age limit now stands at 40 years.

How are attempts for Civil Service Exam calculated? Civil Services Exam?

A general category candidate has an age limit of 32 years, but that doesn’t mean that he can write this exam as many times as he wishes. There are some restrictions on the number of times this exam can be taken, which again is different for different categories.

  1. The number of attempts for IAS exam: General Category: 6 attempts till 32 years of age.
  2. The number of attempts for IAS exam: OBC: 9 attempts till 35 years of age.
  3. The number of attempts for IAS exam: SC/ST: unlimited attempts till 37 years of age.

NB: Physically Handicapped /disabled candidates belonging to General category will get the benefit of 9 attempts till the age prescribed by UPSC — 42 years.

How are attempts for Civil Service Exam calculated?

If you appear for any of the papers of the Civil Services Preliminary Exam, your attempt is counted. If you fill-up the UPSC application form but didn’t go to take the Preliminary Exam, your attempt will NOT BE COUNTED.

IAS Prelims Syllabus:

IAS Prelims Syllabus 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, Demographics, Social Sector Initiatives, etc.

General issues on Environmental ecology, Bio-diversity and Climate Change – that do not require subject specialization. General Science

IAS Prelims Syllabus For General Studies Paper 2

Comprehension 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).

IAS Mains Syllabus:

Indian Language & 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 Precis Writing Usage and Vocabulary Short Essays Indian Languages Comprehension of given passages Precis Writing Usage and Vocabulary Short Essays 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).

IAS 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.

IAS 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.

IAS 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, Biodiversity, 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.


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.


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.

IAS 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.


content, structure, function; its influence and relation with thought and behaviour; 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:

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.

IAS Mains Optional Subject Syllabus-

Candidates may choose any one optional subject from amongst the list of optional subjects with two papers , each of 250 marks.

Optional Subjects for UPSC Civil Services Main Exam:

This is the complete list of optional subjects for the Civil Services Main examination. You have to opt for any one subject out of 26 subjects. Optional paper consists of two papers of 250 marks each. Click on the subject name to view its syllabus.

  1. Agriculture
  2. Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science
  3. Anthropology
  4. Botany
  5. Chemistry
  6. Civil Engineering
  7. Commerce and Accountancy
  8. Economics
  9. Electrical Engineering
  10. Geography
  11. Geology
  12. History
  13. Law
  14. Management
  15. Mathematics
  16. Mechanical Engineering
  17. Medical Science
  18. Philosophy
  19. Physics
  20. Political Science and International Relations
  21. Psychology
  22. Public Administration
  23. Sociology
  24. Statistics
  25. Zoology
  26. Literature of any one following language: Assamese, Bengali, Bodo, Dogri, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Maithili, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Santhali, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu, English

The question papers are of conventional (essay) type. Each paper is of three hours duration.

Recommended book list by Toppers
Recommended book list by Toppers

Basic/Foundation- Read all NCERTs of class 6–12th social science and NCERTs of class 6–10th General science.

Polity- M Laxmikanth

Economy – Ramesh singh or (11th and 12th Ncert Economics)

Geography – Ncert 6–12th, Gc leong and map

Environment – Shankar Ias

Ancient History – R S Sharma

Medieval History – Satish chandra

Modern History – Spectrum

Arts and culture – 11th ncert or nitin singhania

Current affairs – daily newspaper reading ( any National Newspaper like Indian Express, The Hindu, Times of India, Dainik Jagran)

How To Start Preparation?

Category-wise UPSC Prelims Cut off Last 5 Years

UPSC last year 5  cut-off marks
Last five year cut-off of UPSC CSE Examinations

*year 2022 expected cutoff is differ from 95-105 for general category ( till now upsc prelims 2022 official cutoff is not released by upsc)

List of IAS Toppers in last 6 years:

2022 UPSC Topper– Ishita Kishore (Marks in Mains + Interview = 1094)

2021 IAS Topper- Shruti Sharma (Marks in Mains + Interview = 1105)

2020 IAS Topper- Shubham Kumar (Marks in Mains + Interview = 1054)

2019 IAS Topper- Pradeep Singh (Marks in Mains + Interview = 1072)

2018 IAS Topper– Kanishak Kataria (Marks in Mains + Interview = 1121)

2017 IAS Topper– Anudeep Durishetty (Marks in Mains + Interview = 1126)

2016 IAS Topper– Nandini KR (Marks in Mains + Interview = 1120)

2015 IAS Topper– Tina Dabi (Marks in Mains + Interview = 1063)

2014 IAS Topper– Ira Singhal (Marks in Mains + Interview = 1082)

Please share and comment which year you are appearing for UPSC CSE in Comment like – Yes UPSC 2023

For any doubt comment below.

All The Best For UPSC Civil Services Examinations 2023

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