UPSC Exams

All you need to know about UPSC Exams in one place!

Know more

UPSC Civil Services Exam 2021 Syllabus:


The UPSC CSE exams have been widely regarded as one of the most challenging tests in India. Every year, millions of aspirants dream of passing the UPSC Civil Services Examination and being selected for those prestigious jobs. Hence, applicants should plan their schedule and strategy following the exam pattern and syllabus. It is recommended that you thoroughly read the UPSC syllabus 2021 before beginning your preparation.

The UPSC exam stages and UPSC syllabus for the Civil Services Examination are listed below:

It comprises 3 stages:

Preliminary Examination (Objective Type)

Mains Examination (Descriptive Type)

Personal Interview (Personality Test)

UPSC Syllabus 2021: Prelims

The Prelims examination consists of two papers:

  • General Studies Paper - 1

  • General Studies Paper - 2 (CSAT)

The UPSC Prelims syllabus has been provided below:

Paper Subjects Total Marks Duration
1 General Studies (GS) 200 2 hours
2 CSAT 200 2 hours

The General Studies Paper- 1 covers the following topics:

  • Current events of national and international importance

  • History of India and the 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, Biodiversity, and Climate Change that do not require subject specialization.

  • General Science.

The CSAT paper covers the following topics:

  • 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.) (Clas X level)

UPSC Syllabus 2021: Mains

The second phase of the UPSC examination is the CSE Mains, which a candidate can attempt only after clearing the Prelims examination.

The main objective of this section is to assess the academic knowledge of the candidate and their ability to present their understanding of the given topic in the stipulated time.

The UPSC Mains syllabus is given below for your reference.

Paper Subject Marks
Paper - Ⅰ Essay 250
Paper - Ⅱ General Studies – I 250
Paper - Ⅲ General Studies – II 250
Paper - Ⅳ General Studies – III 250
Paper - Ⅴ General Studies – IV 250
Paper - Ⅵ Optional Subject – Paper I 250
Paper - Ⅶ Optional Subject – Paper II 250


Essay: Candidates will be required to write an essay on a specific topic. The choice of subjects will be given. 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.

General Studies I: Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society.

  • Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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

General Studies II: Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

General Studies III: Technology, Economic Development, Biodiversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management.

  • 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; issues 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 - 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, nanotechnology, biotechnology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.
  • Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.
  • 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

General Studies IV: Ethics, Integrity, and Aptitude                                                                                                 

  • This paper will include questions to test the candidates’ 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:
  • 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 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 - 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.

Civil Services Exam Syllabus for Optional Subjects

Agriculture Botany
Commerce and Accountancy Geography
Law Mechanical Engineering
Physics Public Administration
Zoology Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science
Chemistry Economics
Geology Management
Medical Science Political Science and International Relations
Sociology Anthropology
Civil Engineering Electrical Engineering
History Mathematics
Philosophy Psychology
Statistics Literature in selected languages

UPSC Personality Test/Interview

The UPSC personality test is the final stage of the Civil Service Examination. Aspirants who work hard and persevere through the other stages should maintain their motivation and confidence in order to make their dreams a reality. Here are some insights about the UPSC Personality test/ Interview:

  • Candidates who clear the UPSC Prelims and Mains are qualified for the final phase of the UPSC Personality Test/Interview.

  • The objective of interview is to assess the suitability of the candidate for a career in the Civil Services Sector.

  • The interview will be for 275 marks while the written examination is for 1750, which sums up to 2025 marks, based on which the candidate would be selected for a career in the Civil Services.

Generally, a set of seasoned UPSC board members will review a candidate's personal interview based on general awareness, personality traits, logical responses, and so on. On the other hand, veterans and expert panellists look for competencies and characteristics that indicate a candidate's potential to be deserving of coveted ranks. Some of them have been mentioned below.

  • Decision-making capability

  • Stress management

  • General Alertness

  • Logical Reasoning

  • Unbiased observations

  • Depth of knowledge

Reference Videos

Here is a link to the best UPSC Personality Test guidance from our toppers and faculties:

    • Strategy to Ace UPSC Personality Test By Shabbir Sir : Video link

    • UPSC Topper Gunjan Singh’s (AIR-16) Interview: Video link

Explore Courses

Have questions about a course or test series?

unread messages    ?   
Ask an Expert


Help us make sure you are you through an OTP:

Please enter correct Name

Please authenticate via OTP

Resend OTP
Please enter correct mobile number
Please enter OTP

Please enter correct Name
Resend OTP
Please enter correct mobile number

OTP has been sent.

Please enter OTP