The Civil Services Examination (CSE) is a National level competitive examination in India, conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) for the recruitment to various Civil Services of the Government of India.

Civil Service Examination Pattern

The pattern of Civil services examination has been designed to test the academic expertise of a candidate and that candidate's ability to present himself/herself in a systematic and coherent manner. The examination pattern intends to assess the overall intellectual traits and understanding level of the candidates.

Eligibility Criteria


  • Candidate must be a citizen of India

  • Candidate must be a citizen of Nepal or a subject of Bhutan
    Candidate must be a Tibetan Refugee who came to India before January 1, 1962, to be settled permanently in India

  • Candidate must be a person of Indian Origin who has migrated from Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Myanmar, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Uganda, Vietnam, Zaire, or Zambia with an intention of permanently settling in India


Educational Qualification:

Candidate applying for the Civil Services 2020 exam is required to fulfill the following criteria:

  • Candidate must hold a Bachelor's Degree from any of the recognized universities.

  • Candidates who have appeared for the qualifying examination and are awaiting results or those who are yet to appear for the qualifying examination are also eligible for the Preliminary Examination. Such candidates have to produce proof of passing the said examination along with the application for the Main Examination

  • Candidates with professional and technical qualifications recognized by the Government or its equivalent are also eligible to apply.

  • Candidates who have passed the final year of MBBS or any Medical Examination but are yet to complete the internship can also appear for the Main Examination.


However, they must submit a certificate from the concerned University that they have passed the final professional medical examination


Age Limit:

A candidate should be a minimum of 21 years and maximum 32 years old as on August 01, 2020. But he/she must have been born not earlier than August 02, 1988 and not later than August 01, 1999. Necessary action will take to make corresponding changes in respective Rules/Regulations pertaining to various services.

Additional Relaxation for the upper age limit prescribed above is given to the following candidates:

  • 5 Years - Scheduled Caste/ Scheduled Tribe (SC/ST)

  • 3 Years - Other Backward Classes (OBC)

  • 3 Years - Defence Services personnel

  • 5 Years - ex-servicemen including Commissioned Officers and ECOs/SSCOs who have rendered at least 5 years Military Service as on August 01, 2020.

  • 5 Years in the case of ECOs/SSCOs 10 Years - Blind, deaf-mute, and orthopedically handicapped persons

  • 5 Years -  In the case of ECOs/SSCOs who have completed an initial period of assignment of five years of Military Service as on 1st August 2019 and whose assignment has been extended beyond five years and in whose case the Ministry of Defence issues a certificate that they can apply for civil employment and that they will be released on three months’ notice on the selection from the date of receipt of the offer of appointment.

Number of attempts:

Restriction on the maximum number of attempts is effective since 1984:

  • For General Candidates: 6 attempts (Up to 32 Years)

  • Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe Candidates (SC/ST): No Limits (Up to 37 Years)

  • Other Backward Classes (OBC): 9 attempts (Up to 35 Years)

  • Physically handicapped- 9 attempts for general and OBC, while unlimited for SC/ST.


Scheme and subjects for the Preliminary and Main Examinations 2020 are as follows:


The UPSC Civil Services Exam 2020 is conducted in three phases:

  • Phase 1: Preliminary Examination (Objective Type)

  • Phase 2: Mains Examination (Descriptive Type)

  • Phase 3: Personal Interview (Personality Test)


Phase 1: Prelims Exam                          (400 Marks)

There are two components:

  1. General Studies

  2.  Aptitude Test (CSAT)


Prelim Exam     Subject                               No Of Questions       No of Marks            Duration

Paper-I            General Studies (GS)               100                              200                  120 min. (2 Hrs.)

Paper-II           CSAT                                           80                              200                  120 min. (2 Hrs.)

Total                                                                  180                              400                   240 min (4 Hrs.)


This is also called Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT) and is a common test for all applicants. This is basically the Qualifying Test.

  • Both the question papers are of the objective type (multiple choice questions) of two hours each

  • The question papers will be set in both Hindi and English. However, questions related to English Language Comprehension skills would be provided only in English.

  • Blind candidates would be allowed an extra 20 minutes of time for each paper.


IAS Prelims Syllabus 

The Preliminary Examination is the first round of the selection process. Aspirants should appear for two papers of the Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination. They should note that General Studies Paper-II is also known as Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT) is a qualifying paper with minimum qualifying marks fixed at 33%. 

  • IAS Prelims Syllabus for GS Paper (Prelims 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 specialization.

    • General Science 

  • IAS Prelims Syllabus for CSAT Paper (Prelims 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). 

Phase 2:  Mains Exam                            (1750 Marks)

The Preliminary syllabus is mainly designed to assess a candidate's comprehension of current affairs and aptitude within the stipulated time. The preliminary paper is a compulsory and qualifying paper.

The Mains syllabus is basically designed to judge a candidate's academic expertise in his/her specialized subject. The syllabus also focuses on testing aspirants' ability to present knowledge in a clear and coherent manner. 

The UPSC Mains Exam Candidates who qualify Preliminary exam are eligible for the Main exam and on the basis of marks secured in the Main exam, they will be called for Interview.

The UPSC Mains exam consists of 9 papers, out of which two are qualifying papers of 300 marks each.

The two qualifying papers are:

  • Any Indian Language

  • English Language Paper

The total marks of the Main exam and Interview sum up to produce the final result.

The written examination consists of the following papers:

Paper                                             Subject                                                                        Marks

Paper-A (Qualifying Paper)       Indian Language (One of the Indian                               300

                                                    Language to be selected by the candidate

                                                    from the Languages included in the Eighth

                                                    Schedule to the Constitution)

Paper-B (Qualifying Paper)       English                                                                               300

Paper-I                                        Essay                                                                                  250

Paper-II                                       General Studies-I (Indian Heritage and Culture,            250

                                                    History and Geography of the World and Society)

Paper-III                                      General Studies -II (Governance, Constitution,              250

                                                    Polity, Social Justice and International relations)

Paper-IV                                      General Studies -III (Technology, Economic                   250

                                                    Development, Bio-diversity, Environment,

                                                    Security and Disaster Management)

Paper-V                                       General Studies -IV (Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude)     250

Paper-V                                       Optional Subject - Paper 1                                              250

Paper-VII                                     Optional Subject - Paper 2                                              250

Sub Total                                     Written Test                                                                    1750  


                                                     Personality Test (Interview)                                              275

                                                     Grand Total                                                                     2025 


IAS Mains Syllabus 

The Commission will release the list of candidates shortlisted for the Civil Services Main Exam based on merit and reservation. Around 12-13 times the total number of vacancies will be shortlisted to take the Main Exam. Aspirants should understand that the Main Exam is the crucial phase in the IAS selection procedure. This phase tests the candidates on various subjects. The Main Exam consists of nine conventional (descriptive) papers out of which two are qualifying. 

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 the translation is involved).

IAS Mains Essay – Paper-I 

Aspirants should write essays on multiple topics. They will be expected to keep close to the subject of the essay to arrange their ideas in an 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 the 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 the 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 the 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, Bio-diversity, 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; the 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. Infrastructure: 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.

Security: 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, the role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges, basics of cybersecurity; 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.

Attitude: content, structure, function; its influence and relation with thought and behavior; moral and political attitudes; social influence and persuasion.

Aptitude: 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 the 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 the above issues. 

IAS Mains Optional Subject Syllabus 

Candidates may choose any optional subject from amongst the list of optional subjects. Aspirants can also choose one Indian language as an optional subject amongst the following list.   


  1. Agriculture

  2. Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science

  3. Anthropology

  4. Botany Chemistry

  5. Civil Engineering

  6. Commerce and Accountancy

  7. Economics

  8. Electrical Engineering

  9. Geography

  10. Geology

  11. History

  12. Law

  13. Management

  14. Mathematics

  15. Mechanical Engineering

  16. Medical Science

  17. Philosophy

  18. Physics

  19. Political Science and International Relations

  20. Psychology

  21. Public Administration

  22. Sociology

  23. Statistics

  24. Zoology

IAS Interview Syllabus 

Candidates who have qualified in the Civil Services Main Examination will be called for the final stage of the selection process, i.e., Personality Test (Interview). It will carry a total of 275 marks. The number of candidates will be called shortlisted for an interview is twice the number of vacancies. The board will test the candidates in various areas starting from his/her career to general interest. 

The assessment will be on the intellectual qualities along with their social traits and his interests in current affairs. It will also assess the candidate's mental caliber. The qualities to be judged are mental alertness, critical powers of assimilation, clear and logical exposition, balance of judgment, variety and depth of interest, ability for social cohesion and leadership, intellectual and moral integrity. 

The official CSE notification reads, “The technique of the interview is not that of a strict cross-examination but of a natural, though directed and purposive conversation which is intended to reveal the mental qualities of the candidate.”

It also added, “The interview test is not intended to be a test either of the specialized or general knowledge of the candidates which has been already tested through their written papers. Candidates are expected to have taken an intelligent interest not only in their special subjects of academic study but also in the events which are happening around them both within and outside their own State or Country as well as in modern currents of thought and in new discoveries which should arouse the curiosity of well-educated youth.”

Note: There is no specific syllabus for IAS Interview, hence, we advise candidates to work more on their personality. The final merit will be based on marks obtained in the Main Examination and Personality Test.

Roles and Responsibilities

The role of IAS officers is very venerable, demands a great deal of responsibility and reverence. It is also important that an officer is physically and mentally fit and healthy to handle the work pressure without giving in. The following are the roles and responsibilities that an IAS officer is deputed:

Handling affairs of government that involve framing and implementation of policy in consultation with the concerned Minister.

Implementing policies through supervision and also traveling to the places where the approved policies will be implemented.

Implementing policies comprises the disbursement of funds through personal supervision.

Answerable to the Parliament and State Legislatures for any violation of rules while on duty.

Functions and responsibilities differ at different levels of career.

Initially, IAS officers join the state administration at the sub-divisional level, resuming their services as sub-divisional magistrates, and look after law and order, general administration and development work in the area assigned to them.

The post of the District Officer also known as District Magistrate, District Collector or Deputy Commissioner is the highly respected and responsible post the IAS officers enjoy.

At the district level, an IAS officer deals with district affairs, including the implementation of developmental programs.

The officers may also be appointed in the State Secretariat or they may serve as Heads of Departments or in Public Sector Undertakings.

They may serve in different positions from the State to the Centre and vice versa. This happens through deputation.

At the Centre, IAS officers serve at the highest position as the Cabinet Secretaries, Secretaries/Additional Secretaries, Joint Secretaries, Directors, Deputy Secretaries and Under Secretaries. They are appointed to these posts based on seniority.

At the Centre, the IAS officers play a key role in the formulation and implementation of policies related to a particular area; for instance, finance, commerce, etc.

During the formulation of a policy and decision making, IAS officers serving at different levels i.e. joint secretary, deputy secretary give their valuable inputs.

The policy takes its final shape through a final decision the minister concerned or the cabinet, depending on the seriousness of the situation.


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