The IAS main exam has 9 papers, but only the grades from 7 of them count for the final merit list. The other two papers, English and Indian, are just for qualification (you need a score of 25% or more). To be eligible for the Mains, candidates must do well in the first stage (Prelims) of the IAS exam. The Preliminary exams have only multiple-choice questions, while the Mains have more in-depth questions.
The IAS Exam, a prestigious Civil Service Examination held annually by UPSC, recruits candidates for various government positions in India.
- The Civil Service Preliminary Examination is the first stage, which is objective. It narrows down candidates for the main exam.
- The second major exam (written and oral) selects candidates for different positions, as mentioned in the official notice. The grades from the Preliminary exam don’t count in the final result.
UPSC IAS Mains syllabus
In this part of the UPSC exam, they want to see if you understand things well and if you can express your answers clearly, briefly, and in an organized way within the given time.
Language papers (Indian language and English)
These two parts are just to make sure you pass, but don’t be too happy because if you don’t get at least 25% on either of them, the rest of your answers won’t be checked. Both papers have similar questions, like:
- One essay question worth 100 points. You pick a topic from a bunch they give you.
- About 5-6 reading comprehension questions worth a total of 60 points. You need to write the answers in a specific grid.
- 20 translations from English to a language you choose.
- 20 translations from your chosen language to English, testing basic language skills like grammar and using the right words, worth a total of 40 points.
The UPSC Mains Paper lets you choose topics in different sections. This is good for candidates because it lets them pick what they’re good at and boost their overall score.
The UPSC syllabus for the essay part doesn’t give a specific list of topics. UPSC says candidates should stick to the essay topic, organize their thoughts well, and write in a clear and short way. Using effective and accurate language will be noticed and appreciated.
GS Paper I
Important things about art, literature, and architecture from a long time ago until now.
Modern Indian history
Learning about important events, themes, and people from the mid-18th century until now. Also, understanding the stages and major contributors to the Freedom Struggle, contributions from different regions of the country, and the changes after independence.
Including events like world wars, industrial revolutions, colonization, changing borders, decolonization, and political ideas like communism, capitalism, and socialism since the 18th century.
studying aspects of Indian Society and Diversity, focusing on women’s roles, population issues, poverty, urbanization challenges, and solutions. Examining social empowerment, communism, regionalism, secularism, and how globalization impacts Indian society.
Looking at the distribution of important natural resources globally, including South Asia and the Indian subcontinent. Understanding factors influencing the location of industries worldwide, major geophysical events, changes in geographical features, and notable physical features worldwide.
GS Paper II
- Understanding the history, development, and characteristics of India’s Constitution, including modifications and mandatory provisions.
- Exploring the basic structural theory and comparing India’s Constitutional System with other countries.
- Looking into the tasks and responsibilities of Commonwealth and Federal States, challenges in the federal structure, and the transfer of powers and finances to the local level.
- Examining different bodies, dispute resolution methods, and the separation of powers. Understanding the administrative and judicial structure, organization, and operation.
Exploring Parliament and state legislatures : including their structure, functions, business conduct, and issues related to Power and Privilege.
- Studying government ministries and departments, along with the roles of interest groups and formal/informal groups in politics. Understanding the characteristics of the National Representation Act. Examining constitutionally mandated positions with varying authority levels, responsibilities, and powers in various institutions. Exploring quasi-judicial entities, statutory bodies, and regulatory bodies.
- Looking at the formulation and implementation of government policies for diverse sectors, development processes, and industries. Involvement of NGOs, self-help groups, and other organizations in development. Examining social assistance programs for the most needy citizens in both cities and countries.
- Discussing mechanisms, laws, institutions, and bodies for protecting and improving vulnerable groups. Exploring issues related to the development and management of social sectors such as health, education, and human resources.
- Addressing questions about poverty and hunger.
- Examining key aspects of governance, transparency, and accountability, including e-governance applications, models, achievements, limitations, and possibilities.
- Discussing the Civic Charter, Transparency and Accountability, Institutional Measures. the role of the civil service in a democracy.
- India and International Relations
- Understanding India’s interests
- Impact of policies from developed and developing countries on the Indian diaspora
- Exploring significant international bodies and institutions
- Studying their structures and mandates
GS Paper III
- Government budgeting
- Inclusive growth and associated issues/challenges
- Economic impact of liberalization since 1991
- Changes in industrial policy and their impact on industrial growth
- Infrastructure, including energy, ports, roads, airports, rail, etc.
- Investment models like PPP (Public-Private Partnership), etc.
- Main cropping patterns across regions
- Various types of irrigation and irrigation systems
- Storage, transportation, and marketing of agricultural products in different regions
- Issues and related restrictions in agriculture
- Electronic technology benefiting farmers
- Livestock economy
- Concerns about direct and indirect agricultural subsidies and minimum support prices
- Understanding the Public Distribution System (PDS): purpose, features, limitations, and revisions
- Buffer stock issues and their relation to food security
- Technology mission in agriculture
- Land reform in India
Science and technology
- Recent developments, applications, and effects in daily life
- Achievements in science and technology in India
- Domestic production and development of new technology
- General awareness in IT, space, computers, robotics, nanotechnology, and biotechnology
- Intellectual Property questions
- Environmental degradation and pollution
- Environmental impact assessment
- Disaster management, including laws and acts
- Internal security challenges involving external state and non-state actors
- Relationship between the development and spread of extremism
- Internal security challenges related to communication networks
- The role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges
- Fundamentals of cybersecurity
- Money laundering and its prevention
- Security challenges in border areas and how to address them
- The relationship between organized crime and terrorism
- Overview of various security forces and agencies and their powers
GS Paper IV
This ethics dissertation in the UPSC Core Curriculum has questions meant to find out how test takers feel and think about honesty, integrity, and solving problems related to social issues in public life. The questions might use case studies to understand these aspects, and the exam covers the areas mentioned in the syllabus below.
Ethics and human interface:
- Understanding ethics and its influences on human interactions.
- Exploring different aspects of ethics.
- Examining ethics in both private and public relationships.
- Drawing lessons on human values from the lives and teachings of great leaders, reformers, and administrators.
- Recognizing the role of family, society, and educational institutions in teaching moral and ethical values.
- Content, structure, and function of postures.
- Effects of attitudes on thoughts and actions.
- Relationship between attitudes, thoughts, and actions.
- Moral and political attitudes.
- Social influence and persuasion.
- Suitability for public service and core values.
- Fairness and equity.
- Commitment to public service.
- Empathy, tolerance, and compassion for the weaker segments of society.
- Emotional intelligence concept.
- Usefulness of emotional intelligence.
- Application of emotional intelligence in management.
- Application of emotional intelligence in governance.
Contributors of philosophers and thinkers:
- Contributions of Indian moral thinkers to moral concepts.
- Contributions of world moral thinkers and philosophers to moral concepts.
Civil service values and ethics in public administration
- Status and related issues.
- Ethical concerns and dilemmas in government and private institutions.
- Laws, rules, and conscience as sources of ethical orientation.
- Accountability and ethical leadership.
- Enhancing ethical and moral values in governance.
- Ethical issues in international relations and finance.
- Corporate governance.
Probity in governance:
- Public service concept.
- Philosophical foundations of governance and integrity.
- Information sharing and transparency in government.
- Information rights.
- Code of ethics.
- Rules of conduct.
- Civil rights.
- Work culture.
- Quality of service delivery.
- Use of public funds.
- Corruption issue.
UPSC IAS Mains Optional subject (two papers)
Candidates need to pick one subject (out of a total of 48 subjects). You can get a total of 500 points for two papers. It’s important to carefully choose the best theme for your UPSC exam.
UPSC IAS Mains Exam Pattern
The IAS core syllabus covers a lot, and the questions in the CSE need not just understanding but also the skill to answer well. The UPSC Main Curriculum has both fixed and changing parts. So, it’s important for IAS candidates to keep up with current affairs and organize them under the right topics according to the UPSC Core Syllabus.
The Mains exam is worth a total of 1750 points (7 tasks x 250 points). If you pass this stage, you move on to the interview (UPSC personality test). Your interview score (out of 275) is added to your UPSC main grades to make the final recommended candidate merit list.
UPSC’s main exams check your academic knowledge and your ability to present it well. They aim to test your general intellectual aptitude and understanding. The main civil service exams want to see if you’re good at science and can present your knowledge clearly and coherently.
Important points to remember
- Indian language and English papers (Paper A and Paper B) are inherently eligible and do not count towards ranking.
- Papers in Indian and English (Paper A and Paper B) must meet admission standards or equivalent.
- Essays, General Studies, and Electives are considered only for candidates meeting the minimum eligibility criteria of 25% points in ‘Indian’ and 25% in ‘English’ for these qualifying papers.
- Only grades for papers I-VII contribute to the merit ranking.
- Assignment sheets for this exam are traditional (short essay), 3 hours each.
- Candidates can answer all questions, except for the qualifying language papers (Paper A and Paper B), in any language listed in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution of India or English.
- Questionnaires (excluding literature on language courses) are in Hindi and English only.
- For blind and motor-impaired candidates, compensation time of 20 minutes per hour is allowed if the dominant limb is impaired to the extent of at least 40%.
- Completing a UPSC Mains dissertation is challenging, and candidates often fail due to poor time management.
- Candidates are advised to start writing their answers before the exam to practice and plan their time.
- Basic knowledge needs to be built before starting to write answers, and candidates can review previous year UPSC papers to understand the types of questions.
- Candidates can begin Answer Writing exercises 3-4 months before the UPSC Mains Exam to develop response writing skills, even if lacking confidence initially.
Some things to remember while writing the mains answer
- Your response should impress reviewers and convey the impression of a future administrator.
- Answer questions concisely, clearly, orderly, descriptively, and beautifully.
- Examiners expect different answers for electives and majors.
- Electives require a thorough understanding of concepts, showcasing selected subjects.
- GS thesis requires a good understanding, presented multi-dimensionally, applicable to various fields.
- Leading questions contain specific key phrases called “directives” guiding the answer.
- Presentation: Write responses in clear, legible handwriting with headings, subheadings, tables, and figures as needed.
- Simple language: Write in simple, error-free language, avoiding jargon and ambiguity for better grades.
- Periods or paragraphs: Follow your comfort level, adhering to the specified number of characters.
- Practice: Practice writing answers in all subjects for IAS Main preparation. Utilize comprehensive news analysis daily and post answers in the comments section.
- This article covers every part of the UPSC Mains syllabus in detail.Writing good answers on the main IAS exams is as important as preparing the subject matter.
- The art of writing the best and most appropriate answers is crucial for success.
FAQs about UPSC IAS Mains Syllabus
1. What is the UPSC IAS Mains syllabus?
The UPSC Mains syllabus covers a wide range of subjects, including compulsory papers like Indian Language, English, Essay, and General Studies, along with optional subjects chosen by the candidates.
2. How is the UPSC IAS Mains syllabus structured?
The UPSC Mains syllabus is structured into two categories: Compulsory Papers (Indian Language, English, Essay, and General Studies) and Optional Subject Papers (candidates choose two optional subjects).
3. What subjects are covered in the General Studies papers of UPSC IAS Mains?
The General Studies papers in UPSC Mains cover a variety of subjects, including Indian Heritage and Culture, Governance, Polity, Social Justice, International Relations, Technology, Economic Development, Environment, and Disaster Management.
4. How many Optional Subject papers are there in UPSC IAS Mains?
In UPSC Mains, candidates have to choose two Optional Subject papers from the list of 48 optional subjects provided by UPSC.
5. How can I effectively cover the UPSC IAS Mains syllabus?
To cover the UPSC Mains syllabus effectively, create a study plan, focus on understanding concepts, practice answer writing, and stay updated on current affairs. Refer to standard books and resources for each subject.
6. Is the UPSC IAS Mains syllabus the same for all candidates?
The compulsory papers in the UPSC Mains syllabus are the same for all candidates. However, the choice of optional subjects allows candidates to specialize in areas of their interest.
7. How does the UPSC IAS Mains syllabus contribute to the final selection?
The UPSC Mains syllabus plays a significant role in the final selection. The marks obtained in the Mains exam, along with the Interview stage, contribute to the final merit list. The Mains syllabus assesses the candidate’s in-depth knowledge and analytical abilities.
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