Friday , October 22 2021

UPSC Exam: All You Need To Know About

Union Public Service Commission (mainly abbreviated as UPSC) is an Indian Central Recruiting Agency that conducts examinations like Civil Services Exam (CSE). This examination helps to appoint candidates for the top government services such as IAS, IPS, IFS, SCRA, NDA etc.

History of UPSC Examination

The Royal Commission on the Superior Civil Services in India was set up under the chairmanship of Lord Lee of Fareham by British Government in 1923. This consisted of equal numbers of British as well as Indian members. The report of the commission was submitted in 1924 in which it recommended setting up of a Public Service Commission. Then Lee Commission suggested of appointing 40% of British entrants, 40% of Indians recruited and 20% Indians promoted through Provincial Services. This resulted in the establishment of first Public Service Commission on 1 October 1926 under the chairmanship of Sir Ross Barker.

The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) is originated from the Federal Public Service Commission (FPSC). The FPSC was established under the Government of India Act 1935 by the leaders of the freedom movement and Public Service Commission. After the independence, FPSC turned to UPSC. It was given a constitutional status under the Constitution of India on 26th January 1950.

Stages in UPSC Examination

The UPSC Civil Services Examination is conducted in three phases. Candidates are notified for the exam in April and the candidates then go through the following stages:

Stage 1– Known as Preliminary Examination or CSAT (objective section) consists of two papers. Each paper is evaluated for 200 marks. These papers are General Studies Paper-1 and General Studies Paper-2. These papers consist of objective type questions. Preliminary examination marks are only for qualifying the main exam and are not counted for the final ranking. The Preliminary Exam result is disclosed in September.

Stage 2– Known as the Main Examination consists of nine papers among which just seven are considered for the final ranking. This stage consists of written/ subjective papers. The Main Examination is conducted in December while the result is out in February or March.

Interview– After clearing the above two stages, the candidate is selected for the Personality Test which is conducted mostly in March or April. The interview is conducted by a Board who has the career details and record of the candidates and asks questions related to the general interest of the candidates. The final result is disclosed in the month of May or June.

Syllabus for UPSC Examination

Preliminary Syllabus:

Paper-I GS (200 Marks)-

1. Current events of national and international importance.
2. History of India and Indian National Movement.
3. Indian and World Geography-Physical, Social, Economic Geography of India and the World.
4. Indian Polity and Governance-Constitution, Political System, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy.
5. Rights Issues, etc.
6. Economic and Social Development-Sustainable Development, Poverty, Inclusion,
7. Demographics, Social Sector Initiatives, etc.
8. General issues on Environmental ecology, Bio-diversity and Climate Change – that do not
9. require subject specialization.
10. General Science.

Paper-II CSAT (200 Marks):

1. Comprehension;
2. Interpersonal skills including communication skills;
3. Logical reasoning and analytical ability;
4. Decision making and problem-solving;
5. General mental ability;
6. Basic numeracy (numbers and their relations, orders of magnitude, etc.) (Class X level), Data interpretation (charts, graphs, tables, data sufficiency etc. — Class X level).

Main Syllabus

Paper-A & B: (Language)

1. Comprehension of the given passage.
2. Precise Writing
3. Usage & Vocabulary
4. Short Essays
5. Translation from English to the Indian Language & vice-versa.

Paper-I: Essay (250 marks)

Essay: Candidates may be required to 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.

Paper-II: GS-I (250 marks)

General Studies-I: Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society.
1. Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.
2. Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues.
3. The Freedom Struggle — its various stages and important contributors/contributions from different parts of the country.
4. Post-independence consolidation and reorganization within the country.
5. History of the world will include events from 18th century such as industrial revolution, world wars, redraw of national boundaries, colonization, decolonization, political philosophies like communism, capitalism, socialism etc.— their forms and effect on the society.
6. Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India.
7. Role of women and women’s organization, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.
8. Effects of globalization on Indian society.
9. Social empowerment, communalism, regionalism & secularism.
10. Salient features of the world’s physical geography.
11. 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).
12. 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.

Paper-III: GS-II (250 marks)

General Studies- II: Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations.
1. 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.
2. Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.
3. Comparison of the Indian constitutional scheme with that of other countries.
4. Parliament and State legislatures—structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.
5. 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.
6. Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act.
7. Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies.
8. Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.
9. Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
10. Development processes and the development industry —the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders.
11. 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.
12. Issues relating to the development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
13. Issues relating to poverty and hunger.
14. Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.
15. Role of civil services in a democracy.
16. India and its neighbourhood- relations.
17. Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
18. Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.
19. Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate.


General Studies-III: Technology, Economic Development, Biodiversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management
1. Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment.
2. Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.
3. Government Budgeting.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. Food processing and related industries in India- scope’ and significance, location, upstream and downstream requirements, supply chain management.
7. Land reforms in India.
8. Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth.
9. Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.
10. Investment models.
11. Science and technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life.
12. Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.
13. Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, Nano-technology, biotechnology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.
14. Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.
15. Disaster and disaster management.
16. Linkages between development and spread of extremism.
17. Role of external state and non-state actors in creating challenges to internal security.
18. 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.
19. Security challenges and their management in border areas – linkages of organized crime with terrorism.
20. 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 utilize the case study approach to determine these aspects. The following broad areas will be covered :
1. 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.
2. Attitude: content, structure, function; its influence and relation with thought and behaviour; moral and political attitudes; social influence and persuasion.
3. Aptitude and foundational values for Civil Service, integrity, impartiality and nonpartisanship, objectivity, dedication to public service, empathy, tolerance and compassion towards the weaker sections.
4. Emotional intelligence-concepts, and their utilities and application in administration and
5. governance.
6. Contributions of moral thinkers and philosophers from India and the world.
7. 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.
8. 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.

Paper-VI & VII: Optional paper: (250+250 marks)

Sl. No. Subjects
1. Agriculture
2. Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science
3. Anthropology
4. Botany
5. Chemistry
6. Civil Engineering
7. Commerce and Accountancy
8. Economics
9. Electrical Engineering
10. Geography
11. Geology
12. History
13. Law
14. Management
15. Mathematics
16. Mechanical Engineering
17. Medical Science
18. Philosophy
19. Physics
20. Political Science and International Relations
21. Psychology
22. Public Administration
23. Sociology
24. Statistics
25. Zoology
26. 26. Literature of any one of the following languages:
Assamese, Bengali, Bodo, Dogri, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Maithili, Malayalam,
Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Odia, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Santhali, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu and English.

UPSC appoints aspirants for both Civil as well as Defense Services

Selection for Civil Services:

  • Civil Services Examination (CSE)
  • Indian Economic Services and Indian Statistical Services (IES/ ISS)
  • Engineering Services Examination (ESE)
  • Indian Forestry Service Examination (IFoS)
  • Combined Geo-Scientist and Geologist Examination.
  • Limited Department Competitive Examination for Selection of Assistant Commandant ( Executive in CISF)
  • Combined Medical Services (CMS)
  • Central Armed Police Forces Examination (CAPF)
  • Special Class Railway Apprentices Exam (SCRA)

Selection for Defense Services:

1. National Defense Academy and Naval Academy Examination -NDA & NDA (1)
2. National Defense Academy and Naval Academy Examination – NDA & NDA (2)
3. Combined Defense Services Exam -CDS (1)
4. Combined Defense Services Exam -CDS (2)

UPSC Exam Eligibility

For these services, a candidate must fulfil the following conditions according to Nationality:

  • The person must be a citizen of India.
  • Any person who has migrated from Pakistan, Uganda, Myanmar, Tanzania, Malawi, Ethiopia, Kenya or Vietnam but wants to permanently settle in India.
  • Any person from the category of Tibetan Refugee who came to India before January 1st, 1962 who wants to permanently settle in India.
  • Indians in different countries can also apply for the examination.
Conditions according to the Age Limit and Attempts:
Category Category Maximum Age Limit Attempts Allowed
General 32 years 6 Attempts
Other Backward Castes (OBC) 35 years(3-year relaxation) 9 Attempts
Economically Weaker Section (EWS) 32 years 6 Attempts
Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe (SC/ST) 37 years (5-year relaxation) Till the age limit
Physically Disabled Candidates 42 years (10-year relaxation) For general and OBC Candidates: 9 Attempts

For SC/ST Candidates: Till age limit.


Educational Qualification for UPSC

Any candidate applying for the examination must have one or more of the following educational qualifications:

  • Degree from a Central, State or any Deemed University.
  • Degree from any Open University.
  • Degree from any correspondence or distance education.
  • Graduation Degree which must be from a Government recognized University. There is no minimum percentage required.

Important books for UPSC Preparation:


1. Indian Polity for Civil Services Examinations by M. Laxmikanth (Polity)
2. Indian Art and Culture by Nitin Singhania (Culture)
3. Certificate Physical and Human Geography by Goh Cheng Leong. (Geography)
4. Oxford School Atlas by Oxford Publishers. (Geography)
5. Indian Economy by Ramesh Singh (Economy)
6. Economic Survey by the Ministry of Finance (Economy)
7. India Year Book
8. A Brief History of Modern India by Rajiv Ahir (Modern India)
9. Current affairs
10. Science & Tech
11. Environment & Ecology


GS Paper 1

1. Indian Heritage and Culture
2. The Wonder That Was India A.L. Bhasham
3. Indian Art and Culture Nitin Singhania
4. India and World History
5. India’s Ancient Past R.S. Sharma
6. History Of Modern India Bipan Chandra
7. India’s Struggle For Independence Bipan Chandra
8. Geography of the World and Society
9. Geography of India Majid Husain (Geography)
10. Oxford School Atlas Oxford (Geography)
11. Certificate Physical and Human Geography Goh Cheng Leong (Geography)

GS Paper 2

1. Indian Constitution at Work (NCERT)
2. Indian Polity by Laxmikanth
3. Introduction to the Constitution of India by D.D. Basu
4. Governance in India by Laxmikanth
5. India Year Book
6. Contemporary World Politics (NCERT)

GS Paper 3

1. Economic Survey
2. Science and Technology in India TMH
3. The Environment for Civil Services Prelims and Mains Khuller
4. India Year Book
5. ARC Report on Disaster Management
6. Indian Economy by Uma Kapila

GS Paper 4

1. Lexicon for Ethics, Integrity, and Aptitude ( Ethics GS4)
2. IAS Mains General Studies Ethics ( Arihant Manual GS4)

Hope, you find this article useful. For any doubt or queries, feel free to ask in the comment section below.

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About Shagun Sharma

Keep your dreams alive. Achieve anything requires faith and belief in yourself, vision, hard work, determination, and dedication. Remember all things are possible for those who believe. Gail Devers

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