Syllabus For UPSC CSE Exam – Prelims, Mains & Interview

syllabus for UPSC CSE exam

Syllabus For UPSC CSE Exam – Prelims, Mains & Interview

The syllabus for UPSC exam is vast. The UPSC CSE exam has three stages – Prelims, Mains, and the Interview. The prelims exam is the first stage which is then followed by the mains exam and then comes the final stage, i.e. the interview.

In this blog, we will discuss the syllabus and the pattern of the UPSC CSE exam in detail. 


The Preliminary Exam 


When you are looking at the syllabus for UPSC exam you will find this is the first step. The prelims exam is objective in nature. i.e. it has questions with multiple-choice questions. Being multiple choice in nature, there are also negative marking for every wrong answer. Therefore when selecting an answer, one should do it with full confidence. 

The prelims exam marks do not get carry forward in the total scorers of the candidate. Meaning, the prelims exam is only meant to filter serious candidates for the Mains exam which is the second stage of the UPSC CSE exam. 

Note: If you do not select any answer for a particular question, you will get a penalty for that question. You will be given penalty even if you select two answers instead of one for a question. Even if one of the marked responses is correct, it will be marked incorrectly. 



UPSC Prelims Exam Pattern


You should remember in the syllabus for UPSC exam, the prelims exam comprises two exams that are compulsory in nature where both the papers are of 200 marks each. There is General Studies Paper 1 and General Studies Paper 2. GS paper 1 and 2 are qualifying papers. Where GS paper 1 tests your general knowledge of topics in and around the world, GS paper 2 tests your aptitude, analytical, reasoning, comprehension, and interpersonal skills. GS paper 2 is also called the CSAT paper. CSAT stands for Civil Services Aptitude Test. The GS paper 2 has a minimum qualifying mark of 33%. 


UPSC Prelims Syllabus

According to the syllabus for UPSC exam 2023, the UPSC prelims syllabus is:


GS Paper 1


  1. World and national current events.
  2. Indian History
  3. World Geography
  4. Indian Geography
  5. Indian Polity and Governance
  6. Economic, Social, and Sustainable Development 
  7. Social Demographics
  8. Environmental Events and Climate Change
  9. General Science


GS Paper 2


  1. Class 10 level mathematics
  2. Logical reasoning
  3. General Mental Maths
  4. Data Interpretation – graphs, maps, and tables
  5. Comprehension


The Mains Exam

The UPSC Mains Exam is really tough. Prelims exam whose purpose is to serve as the screening test, only on passing through will you get qualified to sit for the Mains exam. The mains exam is designed to assess candidates’ in-depth understanding of several themes such as Indian and foreign affairs, geographical elements of India, global issues, etc.


UPSC Mains Exam Pattern


The UPSC mains exam consists of 9 papers. The first paper is your language paper, it tests your command over your preferred language and your English. The Paper A is of your preferred compulsory Indian language, Paper B of the language exam is compulsory English.  And then there is the essay paper. The next 4 papers are your general studies papers that test your knowledge, view, opinion, and understanding of different subjects. 

The GS paper 1 is for topics related to Indian Heritage, History, Geography, and Societies in the country and world. 

GS paper 2 is for topics that are related to Polity, Governance, Constitution, and International Relations.

The GS paper 3 is for topics that are related to Science and Technology, Environmental, Social, and Economic Development. Also Disaster Management. 

GS paper 4 deals with topics like Ethics, Integrity, and Aptitude.

The last two papers are for your optional subjects. You can choose a subject from the list of 48 subjects The last two exams will be two papers on your selected subject.


Note: Each paper carries 250 marks making the Mains Examination total marks of 1750.



UPSC Mains Syllabus


Essay GS Paper 1 GS Paper 2 GS Paper 3 GS Paper 4 Optional 
The candidate should prepared to write on a variety of topics with proper follow of the format. Apart from this, you can expect questions like:

  • Comprehension
  • Short Writings
  • Short Essays
  • Vocabulary
  • World History & Modern Indian History starting from the 18th century.
  • Indian freedom struggle and its post-independence.
  • Role of women, Indian society, and the diversity in India.
  • Developmental challenges in the society, Urbanization, and globalization and its impact. 
  • World geography, Natural phenomenons, distribution in the industrial sectors. 
  • Indian constitution, polity, governance, and distribution of powers. 
  • Comparison of the Indian government system with that of other countries. 
  • Structure and functioning of three major government bodies, Government policies, and Representation of People’s Act.
  • Developmental and role of – NGOs, SHGs, associations, donors, etc.
  • Poverty and hunger
  • India and its International relations.
  • Effects of policies and implementations in different levels of India.
  • International institutions and their agencies.
  • Indian Economy and the different challenges it faces.
  • Budget
  • Learning about irrigationonal pattern, storage system, transportation, and marketing.
  • Farmer subsidies, Food processing scopes and functions in India.
  • Land reforms, Liberalization and its effects.
  • Infrastructure, Investment models, Science and Technology developments and challenges.
  • Relation between development and extremism along with it. 
  • External state and non-state actors’ roles
  • Internal security threats posed by communications networks, the role of media and social networking sites in internal security, the fundamentals of cyber security, and money laundering
  • Consequences of Ethics and Human Interface.
  • Function, effect, and relationship with mind and behavior, moral and political attitude.
  • Aptitude and core beliefs for civil service. Public service dedication, empathy, tolerance, and compassion
  • Concept and utility of emotional intelligence.
  • Moral thinkers & Philosophers.
  • Work culture, code of conduct, public funds, corruption, and its issues
Syllabus for this you can check on the official website of UPSC. – 

Note: This table talks about the syllabus in brief. To know about it in detail, visit the official UPSC website – Official UPSC CSE Pdf 



The candidate will be interviewed by a panel of people who have worked in the same field that they are applying for. The goal of this interview phase is to determine whether or not the candidate has the personality and mental fortitude to act under pressure. The following qualities are examined in the exam:

  • Mental Acuity
  • Knowledge of topics
  • Thinking critically
  • Balance of judgment
  • Leadership skills
  • Moral integrity
  • Logical reasoning

The questions are straightforward and natural in order to determine the candidate’s biases and judgmental abilities.
The crucial thing to remember is that this test is not designed to assess your general knowledge, but rather your awareness of society and your ability to make decisions based on your information.

How To Cover The Syllabus For UPSC CSE Exam With Plutus IAS?


Plutus IAS is the best IAS coaching center in Delhi and is branched out in many different areas all over India. We have over 20 years of experience in teaching candidates for the UPSC CSE exam. With India’s best UPSC CSE teachers now only in Plutus IAS, we assure you that you will be in good hands. 

As you can see above in the syllabus for civil services, the syllabus is quite vast. A lot of time it is seen that candidates end up losing their focus. This is where coaching institutes come to aid mostly. Apart from this coaching institutes also acts as the torchlight for students who are preparing for the UPSC CSE exam with no background for the very first time. 

Teachers like Dr. Huma Hassan, Dr. Bijendra Jha, Dr. Jitendra Kumar, etc are famous UPSC teachers in Delhi. Guess what, they are all faculty teachers in Plutus IAS. Studied from India’s top institutions like – IIT, BHU, JNU, DU,etc they bring expertise to the table.

Here at Plutus IAS, you will get expert advice, one one-on-one interaction, UPSC pdf notes, pendrive course, comprehensive study material, and test series that mimic the UPSC exam.





UPSC CSE syllabus is undoubtedly scary to look at. The first question that pops up in mind is “ Will I be able to complete the syllabus in a year?” The answer is a big yes! Plutus IAS provides different course structures which you can enroll to depending on what suits you best. 


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