UPSC Syllabus for Civil Services Examination [2017-2018]

UPSC Syllabus  for Civil Services Examination for the year 2017-2018:

UPSC Syllabus for Civil service Examination consists of different subjects. Here is the complete list of subjects and topics prescribed by UPSC for preparing UPSC Prelims and UPSC Mains Examination. We have brought information regarding the Important dates like issue of UPSC Civil Service notification 2017, the eligibility conditions to apply for UPSC Civil Service Examination, the complete pattern and marking system followed in Prelims and Mains Exam and a complete syllabus manual.

UPSC conducts the Civil Service Examination in three stages

  1. Preliminary Examination
  2. Mains Examination
  3. Personality Test/Interview

important-date-iconUPSC Civil Services Examination 2017 - Important Dates

  • Release of UPSC Civil Services Exam Notification 2018: 07/02/2018
  • Last Date of Receipt of Applications: 06/03/2018
  • UPSC Preliminary Examination 2018: 03/06/2018
  • UPSC Mains Examination 2018: 01/10/2018
  • UPSC Mains Examination 2017: 28/10/2017

important-notes-iconEligibility for the UPSC Civil Services Examination

  • 1. Indian Citizen, Subject of Nepal or Bhutan
  • 2. Age : 21-32
  • 3. Number of Attempts : General Category -6 [ Relaxation allowed for Reserved Categories.]
  • 4. Candidate must hold a degree of any of the Universities incorporated by an Act of Central or State Legislature or declared deemed under University Grants Commission Act 1956 or possess equivalent qualification.
  • 5. A candidate who is appointed to the Indian Administrative Service or the Indian Foreign Service on the results of an earlier examination and continues to be a member of that service will not be eligible .

pattern-syllabus-iconPattern of UPSC Civil Service Examination- At a Glance

UPSC Preliminary Examination Questions DurationMarksNature of Exam
Paper I – General Studies1002 Hours200Compulsory
Paper II – Aptitude802 Hours200Compulsory and Qualifying [66.66/200]
TOTAL400Not Added for Final Marks [Just a qualifying exam to write UPSC Mains Examination]
UPSC Mains ExaminationQuestionsDurationMarksNature of Exam
English Varies3 Hours300Compulsory and Qualifying [75/300]
Regional LanguageVaries3 Hours300Compulsory and Qualifying [75/300]
General Essay83 Hours250Compulsory
General Studies 1 (Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society)203 Hours250Compulsory
General Studies 2 (Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations)203 Hours250Compulsory
General Studies 3 (Technology, Economic Development, Bio-diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management)203 Hours250Compulsory
General Studies 4 (Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude) Varies3 Hours250Compulsory
Optional Paper 183 Hours250Compulsory
Optional Paper 283 Hours250Compulsory
SUB TOTAL [Written Test]1750
TOTAL MARKS [Final Rank List]2025

table-of-content-iconTable of Content

Preliminary Examination

  • What is Preliminary Examination or CSAT?
  • Scheme of UPSC Preliminary Examination
  • UPSC Syllabus for Prelims 2017
  • Evaluation & Marks System
  • Cut off Marks in Previous UPSC Preliminary Examinations

Civil Service Examination is no plain sailing. Dedication, Perseverance and staying focused are the keywords one should add to their lexicon while preparing for the Examination.

Civil Service Examination follows a Three Tier System. Preliminary Examination the First Tier, Mains Examination the Second Tier and Interview/Personality Test the Third Tier. Preliminary Examination has two Papers; General Studies Paper I and General Studies Paper II. Both the Papers are mandatory. General Studies Paper I deal with ‘General Awareness and Current Affairs’ and General Studies Paper II is the ‘Aptitude’ Paper. The Exam is conducted on a ‘Merit-Based System’, with objective type questions. There will be a penalty for each wrong answer.

This examination is meant to serve as a screening test only; the marks obtained in the Preliminary Examination by the candidates who are declared qualified for admission to the Main Examination will not be counted for determining their final order of merit. The number of candidates to be admitted to the Main Examination will be about twelve to thirteen times the total approximate number of vacancies to be filled in the year through this examination. Only those candidates who are declared by the Commission to have qualified in the Preliminary Examination in the year will be eligible for admission to the Main Examination of that year provided they are otherwise eligible for admission to the Main Examination.

The statistics published by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) reveals the level of competition involved. For the year 2015; there were 1100 vacancies available. According to UPSC, 4.6 lakh candidates attempted the Preliminary Exam of which 15008 candidates made it to the Mains Examination. The percentage of the candidate who made it to the Mains Examination is only 3-4% of the total number. The probability of a candidate making it to the service is mere 0.2%.

With the level of competition exceeding all aspirations, every candidate will be required to deliver their best to be successful. In this quest, we strive to create a reliable and consistent pathway which will bring within the grasp of every diligent student all essential ingredients that make for assured success in the examination. The logic is simple. “Learn what matters, Learn it your way,  and Learn it smart.”

Paper I – General Studies2 Hours100200
Paper 2-CSAT/ Aptitude Test2 Hours80200

Paper I

  • 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 specialisation
  • General Science.

Paper II

  • 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)

For Previous Year Questions and Preparation Strategy How to Prepare for UPSC Preliminary Exam.

Paper I

  • Each Question carries 2 marks each.
  • Each wrong answer will cause a penalty of one-third of the marks assigned to that question [ i.e., 0.66 marks or 33.3% of 2 marks].
  • No penalty for ‘unanswered question’.
  • If the candidate gives more than one answer to a question, it will be considered as a wrong answer.

Paper II

  • Each question carries 2.5 marks each.
  • Each wrong answer will cause a penalty of one-third of the marks assigned to that question.[ 0.83 marks or 33.3% of 2.5 marks].
  • No penalty for ‘unanswered question’.
  • Since Preliminary Examinations,2015, this paper is only a qualifying paper. The candidate must secure 33% marks or 66.6 marks out of 200 marks to qualify the paper.
  • If the candidate gives more than one answer to a question, it will be considered as a wrong answer.
  • Once the candidate score the minimum marks required to qualify Paper II, it is the score of Paper-I that decides his eligibility to write Mains Examination.
YearGeneralOBCSCSTMax Marks

Mains Examination

  • Introduction to Civil Services Mains Examination
  • Scheme of UPSC Mains Examination
  • UPSC Syllabus for Mains 2016
  • Evaluation & Marks System
  • Cut off Marks in Previous UPSC Mains Examinations

The Objective of the “Mains Examination is to assess the overall intellectual traits and depth of understanding of the candidate rather than merely the range of their information and knowledge”-(UPSC).

Civil Service Mains Examination includes 9 descriptive papers of which 2 are mandatory in nature and will not be added to the final marks scored by the candidate. Being said that the candidate needs to obtain qualifying marks in both the mandatory Papers. Rest of the 7 descriptive paper constitute 1750 marks with 250 marks for each paper. The 7 Papers are 4 General Studies Paper ( GS I – IV), 1 Optional Paper(Paper I and Paper II ) and 1 General Essay Paper.

Nature and standard of questions will be such that a well-educated person will be able to answer them without any specialized study( Except for the Optional Paper, which requires a thorough understanding of the subject). Analysis and perspective are the traits UPSC is looking for in a candidate while answering the Questions.

English3 Hours300Qualifying [25% Marks] -75/300
Regional Language 3 Hours300Qualifying [25% Marks]- 75/300
General Essay3 Hours250Added to final Marks
General Studies 1 (Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society)3 Hours250Added to final Marks
General Studies 2 (Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations)3 Hours250Added to final Marks
General Studies 3 (Technology, Economic Development, Bio-diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management)3 Hours250Added to final Marks
General Studies 4 (Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude)3 Hours250Added to final Marks
Optional Paper 13 Hours250Added to final Marks
Optional Paper 23 Hours250Added to final Marks
Total (Written test)1750 Marks


The aim of the paper is to test the candidate’s ability to read and understand serious discursive prose, and express his ideas clearly and correctly, in English and Indian Language concerned.

The Papers on Indian Languages and English will be of Matriculation or equivalent standard and will be of qualifying nature only. The marks obtained in these papers will not be counted for ranking

The pattern of questions would be broadly as follows :-

English language

(i) Comprehension of given passages
(ii) Precis Writing
(iii) Usage and Vocabulary
(iv) Short Essays

Indian Languages :- (i) Comprehension of given passages
(ii) Precis Writing
(iii) Usage and Vocabulary
(iv) Short Essays
(v) Translation from English to the Indian language and vice-versa.

PAPER-I Essay:

Candidates may be required to 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.

PAPER-II General Studies- I:

Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society.

  1. Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.
  2. Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues
  3. The Freedom Struggle – its various stages and important contributors /contributions from different parts of the country.
  4. Post-independence consolidation and reorganization within the country.
  5. 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.
  6. Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India.
  7. Role of women and women’s organization, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.
  8. Effects of globalization on Indian society.
  9. Social empowerment, communalism, regionalism & secularism.
  10. Salient features of world’s physical geography.
  11. 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)
  12. 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.

PAPER-III General Studies- II:

Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations.

  1. Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.
  2. 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.
  3. Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.
  4. Comparison of the Indian constitutional scheme with that of other countries.
  5. Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.
  6. 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.
  7. <span”>Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act.
  8. Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies.
  9. Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.
  10. Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  11. Development processes and the development industry- the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders
  12. 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.
  13. Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
  14. Issues relating to poverty and hunger.
  15. Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.
  16. Role of civil services in a democracy.
  17. India and its neighborhood- relations.
  18. Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
  19. Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.
  20. Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate.

PAPER-IV General Studies-III:

Technology, Economic Development, Bio diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management.

  1. Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.
  2. Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.
  3. Government Budgeting.
  4. 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
  5. 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.
  6. Food processing and related industries in India- scope and significance, location, upstream and downstream requirements, supply chain management.
  7. Land reforms in India.
  8. Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth.
  9. Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.
  10. Investment models.
  11. Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life .
  12. Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.
  13. Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.
  14. Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.
  15. Disaster and disaster management.
  16. Linkages between development and spread of extremism.
  17. Role of external state and non-state actors in creating challenges to internal security.
  18. 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
  19. Security challenges and their management in border areas. Linkages of organized crime with terrorism
  20. Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate

PAPER-V 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 utilise the case study approach to determine these aspects.

The following broad areas will be covered.

  1. 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.
  2. Attitude: content, structure, function; its influence and relation with thought and behaviour; moral and political attitudes; social influence and persuasion.
  3. 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.
  4. Emotional intelligence-concepts, and their utilities and application in administration and governance.
  5. Contributions of moral thinkers and philosophers from India and world.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Case Studies on above issues.

PAPER-VI & PAPER VII Optional Subject Papers I & II Candidates may choose any optional subject.

Regional Languages

  1. Assamese
  2. Bengali
  3. Gujarati
  4. Hindi
  5. Kannada
  6. Kashmiri
  7. Konkani
  8. Malayalam
  9. Manipuri
  10. Marathi
  11. Nepali
  12. Oriya
  13. Punjabi
  14. Sanskrit
  15. Sindhi
  16. Tamil
  17. Telugu
  18. Urdu
  19. Bodo
  20. Dogri
  21. Maithili
  22. Santhali

List of optional subjects for Main Examination:

  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. <span”>Political Science and International Relations
  21. Psychology
  22. Public Administration
  23. Sociology
  24. Statistics
  25. Zoology
  26. Literature of any one of the following languages: Assamese, Bengali, Bodo, Dogri, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Maithili, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Santhali, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu and English.

For Previous Year UPSC questions and Preparation strategy. 

Evaluation and Marks System

  • General Essay paper contain a total of 8 questions with four question each in Part A and Part B.
  • The candidate is supposed to answer one each from both Sections, and each essay carries 125 marks each.
  • General Studies 1-4 Papers contain 20 questions each, and each question carries 12.5 marks.
  • The Word Limit of 200 words is prescribed for each question in General Studies papers 1-4.
  • Optional Papers I and II contains eight questions each, and the candidate is expected to attempt five questions.
  • The question no. 1 and 5 are compulsory for both the Papers.
YearGeneralOBCSCSTMax Marks

Personality Test

  • What is UPSC Civil Services Personality Test?

First of all, the interview in the UPSC Civil Services Exam is officially called a Personality Test. The interview is not primarily a test of knowledge of any particular subject, what is perhaps tested more closely is the candidate’s understanding and appreciation of the application and relevance of any particular subject in the life of ordinary people. Another equally important aspect of the interview is assessing the candidate’s attitude to issues that may be agitating the minds of people and finding out whether the candidate has a mature and balanced view about how such issues could be dealt with by the government or by society in general.

Candidates who obtain minimum qualifying marks in the written part of the Main Examination as may be fixed by the Commission at their discretion, shall be summoned by them for an interview for a Personality Test. The number of candidates to be summoned for interview will be about twice the number of vacancies to be filled. The interview will carry 275 marks (with no minimum qualifying marks).

Marks thus obtained by the candidates in the Main Examination as well as interview would determine their final ranking. Candidates will be allotted to the various services keeping in view their ranks in the Examination and the preferences expressed by them for the various services and posts.

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