The Civil Services Examination is considered one of the difficult exams to crack in India. The Union Public service Commission is the central agency that conducts exams to various posts in the government of India. The title of ‘the toughest exam’ comes due to its vast syllabus and a long and arduous journey of preparation. Also, the UPSC preliminary syllabus itself is vast. The exam does not want you to be a master of a specific subject or field but seeks a generally aware person who has the interests of society at heart. So, we will be talking about the IAS prelims syllabus and the examination. Also, we will provide information on UPSC prelims syllabus pdf, what books you will need to purchase, and how to start your Prelims journey by decoding the UPSC-CSE prelims syllabus.[speaker-mute] [/speaker-mute]
UPSC Preliminary Exam – IAS prelims syllabus
The UPSC-CSE comprises three stages of exam – Prelims, Mains, and the Interview/Personality test. The Prelims is of qualifying nature whereas the Mains and Interview determine your selection. But, in this case, the Prelims plays a major role in your selection. Why?? Because you have to clear this stage in order to move on to the next. Despite being a qualifying paper, it is considered one of the toughest to crack because there is no specific chapter or subject that will help you clear this exam. Also, nowadays UPSC has shifted its focus to a dynamic approach for the Prelims paper. So, just rote-learning will not do the trick!
In this article, we will talk all about the UPSC preliminary exam – UPSC-CSE prelims syllabus pdf, Prelims exam pattern, and Study material. We will also let you put your hands on some of the tricks on how to clear this exam.
Civil Services Exam – UPSC Preliminary syllabus
We often hear students say that the UPSC-CSE prelims syllabus itself takes a ton of time to understand. It becomes very confusing for candidates to decide what to read and what to skip. It is fairly understandable. This is because the UPSC preliminary syllabus is as comprehensive and extensive as it can get. So, we will break down the syllabus from all the angles. By the time you finish this article, you will know what exactly you have to study and how you should go about it.
Prelims Exam Pattern
The Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination is an objective type paper and is of qualifying nature. Basically, it means that your prelims marks will not be counted in your final addition of marks. Only your Mains and Interview marks decide your ranking. But, it is inevitable that you have to clear the cut-off marks for this paper to move on to the next stage. You will have to mark your answers against the options given in an OMR sheet. Further, the question paper is designed in such a way that it tests your logical thinking and reasoning skill. The Prelims exam consists of two papers –
- General Studies Paper – I
- General Studies Paper-II (CSAT)
|Paper||Subject||Duration||Total questions||Total Marks|
|GS – I||General Studies||2 hours (9:30 AM to 11:30 AM)||100||100*2 = 200|
|GS – II||CSAT||2 hours (2:30 PM to 4:30 PM)||80||80*2.5 = 200|
Further, the UPSC-CSE prelims exam is conducted in one day (morning and evening shift).
IAS prelims syllabus
The UPSC-CSE prelims syllabus consists of all the major subjects including current affairs which has currently been the epicenter of UPSC. Below is a break-up of the IAS Prelims syllabus. You can also download UPSC prelims syllabus pdf for free.
GS (Paper – I)
|Current Events – All the events of National and International Importance||Current Affairs in relation to facts in the past as well as present|
|History – History of India and Indian Freedom Struggle||Ancient History of India|
Medieval History of India
Modern History 1857 to 1947
Indian National Movement
|Geography – Geography of India and Concept of Physical Geography||Physical Geography|
|Polity – Indian Polity and Governance issues||Union Executive|
Federalism in India
|Economy – Indian Economy and Social Development||Basic Principles |
Social Development through Economic Empowerment
|Environment and Ecology – Principles of Environment and Ecology||Fundamentals|
|General Science – Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Technology||General Science|
Latest Scientific and Technological Developments
CSAT – Civil Services Aptitude Test (Paper – II)
- Reading Comprehension
- Interpersonal skills including communication skills;
- Logical reasoning and Analytical ability
- Decision making and problem-solving ability
- General mental ability
- Basic numeracy, Data interpretation (charts, graphs, tables, data sufficiency etc. – Class X level)
- English Language Comprehension skills (Class X level).
- Questions relating to English Language Comprehension skills of Class X level (last item in the Syllabus of Paper-II) will be through passages in the English language only. there will not be any Hindi translation)
To get the UPSC prelims syllabus pdf , you can visit the official website of UPSC.
There is negative marking in the Preliminary paper. So, 1/3rd of marks will be deducted for every wrong answer. That means, for every wrong answer. 0.66 marks will be deducted for General Studies Paper – I. Likewise, 0.83 marks will be deducted for General Studies Paper-II.
Study Material – UPSC preliminary syllabus
You will need these books to cover the IAS Prelims syllabus –
- Indian Polity by M. Laxmikanth
- Indian Economy by Ramesh Singh
- Indian Economic Development – NCERT Class XI
- Macroeconomics – NCERT Class XII
- Economic Survey (Selective reading from Prelims perspective)
Ancient History – Old NCERT by RS Sharma
Medieval History – Selective reading of Old NCERT by Satish Chandra
- A Brief history of Modern India- Spectrum Publications
- India’s Struggle for Independence – Bipan Chandra (Selective Reading)
- NCERT by Bipan Chandra (For the period 1700s to 1857)
Indian Art and Culture
- An Introduction to Indian Art – Class XI NCERT
- Heritage Crafts: Living Craft Traditions of India -NCERT
- Culture in Ancient and Medieval India related NCERTs
- Centre for Cultural Resource and Training (CCRT) study material
Environment and Biodiversity
- Shankar IAS book
- Class IX and X CBSE standard books
- Read ‘The Hindu’ for current scientific and technological developments
- Fundamentals of Physical Geography Class XI NCERT
- India: Physical Environment Class XI NCERT
- Fundamentals of Human Geography Class XII NCERT
- India: People and Economy Class XII NCERT
- GC Leong: Certificate Physical and Human Geography
- The Hindu/The Indian Express
- Newspaper analysis in various websites like VisionIAS, etc.
How to prepare for UPSC Prelims w.r.t. IAS prelims syllabus
The best time to start CSE preparation is as early as possible to cover maximum syllabus. Besides, this gives you abundant time to think, reflect, and decide how to go about it.
For General Studies, you can start your preparation in the following manner –
You have to be thorough with the syllabus. In fact, memorize it. The IAS prelims syllabus is the prime aspect of understanding the demand of the Prelims question paper. Download the UPSC Prelims Syllabus pdf and take a print out of it so you can refer to it as and when required.
Previous Year Questions
Since the UPSC does not follow a pattern of asking questions, your only guide is Previous Year Question Papers. It will help you read the mind of the examiner. It means that you will be able to spot what details of a subject or topic is important to study and what is to be left out. Keep the syllabus and PYQs with you while studying. Also, you can download Previous Year Questions here.
Daily Newspaper reading
Read the newspaper daily – The Hindu/ Indian Express or both if you have time. The dynamic portion of the paper can only be covered through newspaper reading. Make notes as you read because you will not have time to read the paper again. Prepare notes based on keywords. It will help you revise maximum in the least amount of time. Check out ‘The Hindu’ analysis .
NCERTs – These are government-sanctioned books that form the base of your entire preparation. These books will help you understand advanced books. Also, UPSC has started asking direct questions from these books. Make sure to complete these basic books first. You can also download NCERTs for free.
Reference Books + Magazines
Once you have completed reading the NCERTs (static portion), you can further move on to reference books. Eg. Polity by M. Laxmikanth. Also, read magazines like Yojana or Kurukshetra to supplement your studies. You may download the UPSC prelims syllabus pdf to understand which reference books to buy.
A comprehensive approach (Prelims + Mains) note-making strategy should be adopted. This will not only help you with the continuity of various topics but aid you in having a wholesome outlook of the subjects. Remember: Do not use long sentences. Only use keywords because you will have lesser material to revise.
Appear for multiple mock tests. Enroll yourself into a good Prelims Test series. This will help you to analyze your progress.
For CSAT paper, you can buy or download the following books –
- Cracking the CSAT Paper 2 – Arihant Publications
- Analytical Reasoning – M. K. Pandey
- Verbal & Non-Verbal Reasoning – R. S. Aggarwal
Tricks to clear UPSC Prelims
Every serious IAS aspirant works hard and burns the midnight oil. But, not everyone makes it through the exam. Well, of course, the seats are limited. The other reason is that UPSC does not require you to do hard work blindly. You have to put in smart work because time is limited and the human brain cannot keep up with everything till the day of the exam. We are sharing a few tricks with you so you increase your chances of success. You can thank us later!
If you are just starting out, do not read the newspaper all by yourself. Rather, follow a page or videos and mark the important points in the newspaper/e-newspaper. Doing so for even 1-2 months will give you the idea of what to read and what to skip. Remember – Do not read everything that you see. Most of the time, it’s useless information from the exam point of view. Also, keep a print out of the syllabus and Previous Year Questions on your study table at all times.
Very important books but you do not have to read and memorize every line. For beginners or someone who hasn’t read the NCERTs even once in their life, you may read these books thoroughly. These will help you further understand difficult topics. But as a school student, you must have come across the matter in these books at least once. In this case, speed reading will do the trick. you will save tons of time with this.
Supplement your studies with material from government websites like Policy Research Studies, UPSC, etc. The material on these websites will always give you an edge over other copied material.
Read fewer books. You must be confused here. What it means is that you must focus on reading limited books based on the subjects. Do not read all the books that toppers tell you to. They had prepared a proper booklist for themselves and so should you. Follow the principle of Read minimum and Revise Maximum!
Keep your notes very short and make them frequently. As soon as you read something, prepare a small note out of it. It will take you a long way till the final day of your exams.
Make 60% of your preparation about reading, making notes and the next 40% should be only about revising what you read. Multiple revisions will ensure that you are way ahead in your preparation journey than who gives very little/no time to revision.
Practicing this paper once a week is more than enough for the Prlims examination.
So, before you start your preparation journey, make a time table that is conducive to your lifestyle. Finally, have faith in yourself, trust your journey, indulge in recreations at times and exercise well because “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”.
Further, you can visit our website to know about IAS preparation at home.
Frequently Asked Questions – UPSC-CSE prelims syllabus
Absolutely not. Reading the newspaper for Prelims can be tricky because everything seems to be important in the first go. As a beginner, you will have to take some guidance at your coaching or from websites that provide newspaper analysis. Also, you can watch analysis videos and learn to pick out the important topics from the exam point of view. Otherwise, you can keep the syllabus in handy so you know you are studying according to the IAS Prelims syllabus.
The most important portion of the UPSC Preliminary syllabus is the dynamic portion i.e. Current Affairs. UPSC has started asking more questions about the current events of national and international importance. Therefore, you have to invest your time in newspaper reading and also the static portion related to those news events. Always read your static portion in relation to the current events.
The CSAT paper in the UPSC preliminary syllabus plays a minimal role. You just have to secure 33% to qualify for this paper and your marks will not be counted. So, 4-6 hours per week is a good amount you can devote depending on your speed and analytical ability. Towards the end, you can give mock tests to polish your speed and easily cross the minimum marks.
Yes. you can download the UPSC prelims syllabus pdf for free from the official website of UPSC.
COVID-19 Update | UPSC Prelims Syllabus
Covid-19 pandemic has affected everybody’s lives. This includes the lives of aspiring students who were on the verge of making a career. The Civil Services examination was postponed due to this deadly virus. As a silver lining, students got extra time to prepare for the exam. The candidates can prepare for the upcoming Prelims exam from home through online classes. You can follow the mentioned tips for study material and tricks for a smart study plan to increase your chances of success.