IAS Syllabus 2020 for prelims & mains: Download pdf

Before we know about IAS Syllabus in detail, Let’s us understand the IAS Exam pattern first. Also, download the IAS Syllabus PDF. IAS Exam is conducted in 3 successive stages- Prelims, Main and Interview test. The prelims stage is an objective test of 400 marks whereas Main is subjective paper of 1750 marks followed by personality test of 275 marks. IAS Prelims is qualifying in nature while performance in main and interview round determine the merit of successful candidates.

Both prelims and main exam have different syllabus viz:

  • Stage 1: IAS Preliminary Exam – 2 papers of 200 marks each
  • Stage 2: IAS Main Exam – Written exam (9 papers)  
  • Stage 3: Interview Round – 275 marks

The Indian Administrative Service exam officially called as Civil Services Examination (CSE) is the premier administrative civil service of the Government of India. Hierarchy-wise, IAS is the highest administrative post among the 24 services like IPS, IFS (Foreign), IAAS, IRS, IDAS, CAPF-AF to name a few.

IAS Prelims Syllabus for Paper I

  • Paper I of IAS Syllabus Prelims includes different topics which hold a weight-age of 200 marks.
  • All questions will be objective in nature.
  • Candidates must solve the paper in 2 hours.
  • Marks obtained in Paper 1 will be counted for the merit rank.

IAS Prelims Syllabus 2020

  • UPSC civil services preliminary exam is the first stage of IAS selection process, candidates must clear prelims to qualify for the main exam.
  • It is meant to serve as a screening test only; marks scored in IAS Prelims will not be counted for the final merit list.
  • Preliminary Stage of IAS has two papers viz. General Ability test (GAT) (Paper-1) and the Civil Service Aptitude Test (CSAT) (Paper-2).



Current events of national and international importance

History of India and Indian National Movement

Indian Polity and Governance Constitution, Political System, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, and Rights Issues

Economic and Social Development‐Sustainable Development, Poverty, Inclusion, Demographics, Social Sector Initiatives and General issues on Environmental ecology

General Science

Indian and World Geography-Physical, Social, Economic Geography of India and the World

Biodiversity and Climate Change ‐ that do not require subject specialization and General Science


IAS Syllabus For Paper 1


IAS Prelims Syllabus for Paper 2

  • All questions will be objective in nature.
  • The total weightage of questions in Paper II is 200 marks.
  • The total duration of the Paper II is 2 hours.
  • Marks obtained in Paper 2 will not be counted for the merit rank in Prelims but will be considered as a qualifying Paper.
  • Candidates need 33% marks to clear IAS Mains.

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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)

IAS (Prelims) Exam Pattern

No. of Papers

Two (2) compulsory papers

Type of Questions

Objective (MCQs)

Negative Marking

Yes, one-third (0.33) as a penalty

Total Marks

2 hrs. each (20 mins extra for a candidate with Locomotor Disability & Cerebral Palsy)

Medium of Exam

Bilingual (Hindi and English)

IAS Syllbaus For Paper 2




Paper 1

General Ability Test (GAT)


Paper 2

Civil Services Aptitude Test



2 Papers



IAS Exam


IAS Prelims Syllabus 2020

IAS Prelims Syllabus comprises of two papers- General Studies (Paper I) and Civil Service Aptitude Test (Paper II). These are conducted in two shifts- morning and evening shift. Given below is the brief information of previous year IAS Prelims Exam Analysis:

  • As per the overall IAS prelims exam analysis, the exam was moderately difficult.
  • It had questions from History, Polity, Geography, Agriculture, Science and Technology, Ecology, Environment, Economics, Arts and Culture, Social Welfare and GK. The dominating sections were Current Affairs, Ecology and Environment, Economics and History.
  • Given below is the topic wise weightage of IAS Prelims Paper I
  • CSAT (Civil Service Aptitude Test) was of moderate difficulty. There were questions from Basic Mathematics, Analytical Reasoning, Critical Reasoning, Reading Comprehension and Logical Consistency.
  • Analytical Reasoning, Critical Reasoning and Reading Comprehension dominated this paper. This paper was comparatively easier last year and is expected to be easier this year as well.
  • Here is the topic wise weightage of CSAT paper in IAS Prelims:

IAS Mains Syllabus 2020

  • This paper assesses candidates’ academic expertise in their specialized subject.
  • It also tests their ability to present knowledge in a clear and coherent manner and his overall intellectual traits and understanding of concepts.
  • Interview will be conducted to assess the personal suitability of the candidate for a career in public service by a Board of competent and unbiased observers. The test is intended to judge the mental caliber of candidate.  
  • Number of candidates to be admitted to IAS Main Examination will be about twelve to thirteen times the total number of vacancies to be filled in the year through this examination.
  • The number of candidates to be invited for interview will be about twice of the number of vacancies to be filled.

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Main Examination
Main Examination

Mains Examination – The written exam will consist of the following papers:

Qualifying Papers

Paper A (Indian Language)
Paper B (English)

Paper to be counted for Merit

Paper I – Paper VII


Personality Test


IAS Syllabus for Mains

Detailed Syllabus of IAS papers included in the scheme of IAS Mains are given as follows:



IAS Mains History Syllabus

IAS Mains Medical Science Syllabus

IAS Mains Geography Syllabus

IAS Mains Philosophy Syllabus

IAS Mains Electrical Engineering Syllabus

IAS Mains Law Syllabus

IAS Mains Economics Syllabus

IAS Mains Mathematics Syllabus

IAS Mains Geology Syllabus

IAS Syllabus for Main
IAS Syllabus for Main

Paper I

  • It consists of questions to test the writing skills of the candidate. Thus, it is purely subjective with no objective type questions.
  • The language for the paper is English thus candidates have no option of answering in any other language.
  • Total marks awarded to this paper are 250.






Candidates have to write an essay on a specific topic. It must be kept close to the subject of the essay to arrange the ideas in an orderly fashion and to write concisely. Credit is given for effective and exact expression

Paper I

Paper II

  • The candidates have to answer the questions based on Indian Heritage along with the History and Geography of the World in Paper II.
  • The total weightage of the Paper II is 250 marks.







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






Indian culture, aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times, Modern Indian history and major personalities

The Freedom Struggle, important contributors /contributions from different parts of the country, Post‐independence consolidation and reorganization within the country

History of the world, industrial revolution, world wars, re-drawl of national boundaries, colonization, decolonization, political philosophies, capitalism, socialism, Salient features of Indian Society and Diversity of India

Role of women and women’s organization, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, Effects of globalization on Indian society, Social empowerment, communalism, regionalism & secularism, world’s physical geography,

Natural resources, factors responsible for the location of primary, secondary, and tertiary sector industries, Important Geophysical phenomena, earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone, 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 II
Paper II

Paper III

  • Paper III comprises questions on Constitution, Social Justice and International relations of India.
  • The questions hold a total weightage of 250 marks.











General Studies III: Technology, Economic Development, Bio diversity, 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, 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.

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, Nano-technology, 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.

Paper III
Paper III

Paper V

  • Candidates are asked questions based on Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude
  • The questions hold a weightage of 250 marks. 












General Studies IV: Ethics, Integrity, and Aptitude










Issues relating to integrity, probity in public life. 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 and foundation 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 Study

Paper V
Paper V

Paper VI and VII

  • Paper VI and Paper VII are optional subjects for Paper I and Paper II of UPSC Main.
  • Candidates have to attempt both the Papers separately.
  • Each Paper holds a weightage of 250 marks. 







Optional Subject- Paper 1 and 2



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

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



250+250 (500)


Paper VI and VII


IAS Interview/ Personality Test

  • All candidates who successfully clear IAS Prelims and Main will be called for the interview round. Check IAS Cutoff
  • This stage is of total 275 marks.
  • Candidates will be asked some general interest questions.
  • Candidates can also choose one language in which they wish to be interviewed.
  • This interview will test a candidate’s mental calibre, 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 and his personal suitability.
  • Candidates must secure at least 55% in this round.
  • A candidate securing 60% and above will most likely get a service of his choice.
  • Marks obtained by a candidate in IAS Interview will be added in the Main stage. This will form the basis of the final merit list.


IAS (Mains) Exam Facts

No. of Papers

Two (2) – written test (9 papers) and an Interview test

Types of Question


Total Marks

Written Test: 1750 marks | Interview Test: 275 marks (with no qualifying marks)

Duration of Exam

3 hrs Each

Medium of Exam

Hindi and English (other than the literature of language papers)

Civil Services (Main) Exam Facts
Civil Services (Main) Exam Facts

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IAS Mains Exam Pattern 2020

  • IAS Main has 9 papers out of which 7 Papers are compulsory and 2 are optional papers that candidates have to choose. 
  • Out of the 7 papers, 2 are language papers (A and B).
  • For paper A, candidate has to choose one of the Indian Language that is included in the 8th Schedule of the Constitution. Paper B will have questions from English.
  • Questions will be subjective in nature.
  • Each paper is of 250 marks while language papers are of 300 marks each. 
  • The marks obtained in the language papers are not counted in the formation of IAS Merit List as they are qualifying  in nature.
  • The total time duration of IAS Main exam is 3 hours.
  • Blind candidates will be given 20 minutes extra for each paper.

Here is the brief about all the papers in IAS Mains:





Essay Writting



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



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



General Studies III Technology, Economic Development, Bio‐diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management



General Studies IV Ethics, Integrity, and Aptitude



Optional Subject – Paper 1



Optional Subject – Paper 2


Interview Round

Personal Interview


Grand Total


IAS Main Exam Pattern
IAS Main Exam Pattern

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