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UPSC Prelims Syllabus IAS Prelims Syllabus, Civil Services Prelims Syllabus PDF Download

Part A - Preliminary Examination
General Studies Paper I - (200 marks)
Duration: Two hours
  • Current events of national and international importance.
  • History of India and 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, Bio-diversity and Climate Change - that do not require subject specialization.
  • General Science.
General Studies Paper II - (200 marks)
Duration: Two hours
  • 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. — Class X level);
Note 1 : Paper-II of the Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination will be a qualifying paper with minimum qualifying marks fixed at 33%.
Note 1 : The questions will be of multiple choice, objective type.
Note 1 : It is mandatory for the candidate to appear in both the Papers of Civil Services (Prelim) Examination for the purpose of evaluation. Therefore a candidate will be disqualified in case he/she does not appear in both the papers of Civil Services (Prelim) Examination.

Preliminary examination is a bit unpredictable. The aim of prelims is to test candidate's range of information. So you need to read extensively. Segmental readings for the preliminary G.S. paper -I are not fruitful. You need to study whole syllabus with facts and conceptually.

Indian History is one of the most important segments of the General Studies paper -I. Approx 16 to19 questions asked from Indian History. For the preliminary examination, one must get hold of all the three section of Indian History - Ancient, Medieval and Modern.

Ancient History can be divided into three periods -prehistoric, protohistoric and historic. In the first two, i.e. prehistoric and proto-historic, questions are often based in archaeological findings and important sites. This section should also be prepared for some map based questions. For the historic age, more emphasis should be put on socio-cultural aspect. Specifically, this may include social changes literary sources and development of architecture and religious life. You can safely undermine the political aspect of the period. Some important topics of Ancient History are :

  • The Pre-Historic Age
    • Stone Age
    • Mesolithic or Middle Stone Age (1000-7000 BC)
    • Megalith Culture of Iron Age
  • Indus Valley Civilisation
    • The Discovery
    • Features of Harappan Sites
    • Important Harappan Sites
    • Major Characteristics of Harappan Sites
    • Drainage System
    • Social Live
    • Political Life
    • Economic Life
    • Trade, Crafts Technology and Weight and Measures
    • Decline and End of the Harappan Civilisation
  • The Vedic Age
    • Early Vedic Age (1500-1000 BC)
    • Later Vedica Age (1000-600 BC)
  • Pre-Mauryan Age
    • Emergence of New Religious Sects
    • Socio-Economic Developments
    • Jainism
    • Buddhism
    • Other Heterodox Sects
  • Mahajanapadas
    • Emergence of the Mahajanapadas
    • List of the Mahajanapadas and their Capitals
    • The Pre-Mauryan Economic System
    • Iranian or Persian Invasion
    • Alexander’s Invasion (The Greek Invasion)
  • The Mauryan Empire
    • Origin of the Mauryan Rule
    • Chandragupta Maurya (321-298 BC)
    • Bindusara (298-273 BC)
    • Ashoka (273-232 BC)
    • The Mauryan Administration
    • Decline of the Mauryan Empire
  • Post Mauryan Age
    • Northern and Eastern India
    • The Sunga Dynasty (185-75 BC)
    • The Kanva Dynasty (75-30 BC)
    • The Satavahana Dynasty (230 BC-220 AD)
    • Indo-Greeks
    • The Shakas (90 BC-100 AD)
    • The Parthians (247 BC-224AD)
    • The Kushanas (45-73 AD)
    • Impact of Central Asian Contact
    • Development of Art (200 BC to 300 AD)
  • South India
    • The Sangam Era
    • Sangam Administration
    • The Chalukyas (543-753 AD)
    • The Imperial Cholas
    • Chola Administration
    • The Cheras
  • The Gupta Empire (320-550 AD)
    • Rise of the Guptas
    • The Dynastic History of Guptas
    • The Gupta Administration
    • Developments in Science and Technology
  • Post-Gupta Era/Early Medieval
    • North India
    • Harsha

Medieval Indian History as well as, culture segment has a major chunk of questions. You must have a comprehensive list of literature, painting and architectural styles and technological changes introduced during the period. Some important topics of Medieval History are :

  • Later Mughals and the Rise of Autonomous States
    • Bahadur Shah I (1707-12)
    • Rise of Autonomous States
    • Tipu Sultan
    • The Jats
  • European Penetration and the British Conquest of India
    • The Portuguese
    • The Dutch
    • The English
    • The French
    • The British  Occupation of Bengal
    • The Nawabs of Bengal
    • Battle of Buxar (1764)
    • Anglo-Mysore Conflict
    • The Anglos-Maratha Wars
    • The Sikhs
  • The British Administrative Structure and Economic Policies
    • The Structure of the Government
    • Acts and Amendments
    • Different Dimensions of Exploitation
    • During British Rule
  • Peasant and Tribal Movements
  • Labour Movement in India
  • Socio-Religious Reform Movements in India
    • The Brahmo Samaj
    • The PrarthanaSamaj
    • The Arya Samaj
    • The Theosophical Society
    • Reform Movements among Muslims
  • Growth of Press and Education in India
    • The Vernacular Press Act, 1878
    • Development of Modern Education
    • Hunter Commission or Indian Educational Commission, 1882
  • The Revolt of 1857
  • Struggle for Independence First Phase
    • Formation of Indian National Congress (INC), 1885
    • Nationalists (1885-1905)
    • Rise of Extremism in Indian Politics
    • Partition of Bengal, 1905
    • Swadeshi Movement, 1905
    • Surat Split, 1907
    • Revolutionary Activities (First Phase)
  • Struggle for Independence Second Phase (1915-1935)
    • Lucknow Pact, 1916
    • The Gandhian Era in India
    • Jallianwala Bagh Massacre, 1919
    • Khilafat Movement, 1919
    • Non-Cooperation Movement, 1920
    • Civil Disobedience Movement (First Phase)
    • Communal Award, 1932
    • The Poona Pact, 1932
  • Struggle for Independence Third Phase (1935-1947)
    • Government of India Act, 1935
    • Cripps Mission, 1942
    • Quit India Movement, August, 1942
    • Cabinet Mission Plan (March, 1946)
    • Partition of India
  • Governor-Generals and Viceroys of India
    • Some Famous Governor Generals of the Company
    • Governor-Generals of India
    • Viceroys of India
    • Important National Leaders
Suggested Reading Book
  • Ancient India, NCERT class XI,
  • Medieval India, NCERT class XI,
  • Modern India, NCERT class XII,
  • Modern India,  By Yashpal and Grover  (1757 to 1857)
  • Freedom Struggle, NBT publication
  • Indian History, Medieval History, Modern History, Notes  of Vajirao & Reddy Institute

As one perceives, culture can be described as a way of life. The food we eat, the clothes we wear, the language that we speak and the almighty whom we worship, are all aspects of culture. Thus, culture is the embodiment of the way in which we think and do things. At the same time, it is also something that we have inherited as members of the society.

So, whatever a human being learns or inherits as members of social groups can be termed as culture. For instance, art, music, literature, architecture, sculpture, philosophy, religion and science can be seen as aspects of culture. Also, it includes the traditions, customs, festivals and certain ways of living. According to Herskovits “Culture can be defined as part of our environment created by human being.

Some important topics of the Indian art and culture are .

  • Languages and Literature,
  • Religion and Philosophy,
  • Art and Architecture
  • Indian Painting,
  • Music, Dance and Drama,
  • Festivals and Fairs
  • Crafts
  • Indian Cinema
  • Rock-cut caves
  • Historical monuments
Suggested Reading Book
  • Indian culture and civilization - Publication division, Govt. of India
  • Cultural History of India – publication division, Govt. of India.
  • Yojana and Kurukshetra – publication division, Govt. of India.
  • Indian Culture and Civilization – Vajirao & Reddy Institute Notes.

Geography is the main subject of General Studies Paper – I, 14 to 15 questions regularly asked from Geography subject. Some important topic of Geography are .

  • The Universe
  • The Earth
  • Lithosphere
  • Atmosphere
  • Hydrosphere
  • Human Geography : World
  • Natural Resources of the World
  • Agriculture
  • Industries and Industrial Regions
  • Transport and Communication
  • Continents of the World
  • Introduction to Indian Geography
  • Physiography
  • Drainage System
  • Climate
  • Soil and Vegetation
  • Population and Settlement
  • Resources
  • Agriculture
  • Irrigation
  • Industries
  • Transport and Communication
Suggested Reading Book
  • NCERT book for Geography - VI to XII class.
  • Suresh prasad’s intermediate Geography.
  • Physical Geography - Gohcheng Leong (Oxford)
  • One Atlas - Oxford students of Atlas of India
  • India Year book
  • Dictionary of Geography - Penguin
  • India and World Geography Notes – Vajirao & Reddy Institute

In preliminary examination 10 to 12 questions have been asked so far from this section. Both conventional and current development related questions are asked some important topics of the Indian Polity and Governance are.

  • Constitutional Development
  • The Preamble and Salient Features of the Indian Constitution
  • Union and Its Territory
  • Citizenship
  • Fundamental Rights and Fundamental Duties
  • Directive Principles of State Policy
  • Union Executive
  • Parliament of India
  • State Executive
  • The State Legislature
  • The Judiciary
  • Indian Federalism and Centre-State Relations
  • Emergency Provisions
  • Union Territories, Scheduled and Tribal Areas
  • Constitutional Bodies
  • Non-Constitutional Bodies in India
  • Public Service and Tribunals Jammu and Kashmir and Other States
  • Local Self Government
  • Provision for Special Categories and Official Language
  • Political Parties and Electoral System
  • Public Policy in India
  • Constitutional Amendments
  • Governance and Rights Issues
Suggested Reading Book
  • Indian constitution and governance – NCERT         
  • Organs of governance - NCERT 
  • Our Parliament by Subhash Kashyap    
  • Indian constitution by D.D. Basu
  • Indian Administration by S.R. Maheswari (only Panchayati Raj, Community Development)
  • Indian Polity Notes - Vajirao & Reddy Institute

Preliminary as well as in the mains exam, economy has proportionately grate share in the respective distribution of marks. Question will asked both traditional as well as in current nature. Some important topics of Indian Economics subjects are.

  • National Income
  • Planning
  • Population
  • Nature of Indian Economy
  • Unemployment
  • Poverty
  • Land reforms
  • Rural development
  • Poverty alleviation programmes
  • Banking system
  • Agriculture
  • Industrial development
  • Foreign Investment
  • Tax system
  • Devaluation of Currency
  • Service Sector
  • Economic survey
Suggested Reading Book
  • Evolution of the Indian economy – NCERT
  • Indian Economy by Dutta and Sundram or Mishra and Puri
  • The Government documents on five years plan and economic survey
  • News paper - The Hindu or Indian Express
  • Indian Economic Development – NCERT XI.
  • Indian Economy Notes - Vajirao & Reddy Institute

Generalised question asked from Environment and Ecology topics so on these topics specilised studies not required. Some important topics of Environment and Ecology are.

  • Environment
  • Ecology and Ecosystem
  • Environmental Pollution
    • Air Pollution
    • Water Pollution
    • Noise Pollution
    • Soil Pollution
    • Marine Pollution
    • Marine Pollution
    • Radioactive Pollution
    • e-Waste Pollution
    • Solid Waste Pollution
  • Natural Hazards and Disaster Management
    • Natural Disaster
    • Man-Made Disaster
    • Disaster Management
    • Disaster Management in India
  • Biodiversity
    • Biodiversity Conservation
    • Biosphere Reserves
    • Conservation in India
    • Biodiversity Conservation
  • Climate Change and Global Warming
  • Sustainable Development
Suggested Reading Book
  • IGNOU material on environmental concerns
  • India Year Book
  • Yojana and Kurukshetra - selected issues and environment
  • News paper for current update on environment ecology
  • Important publications by ministry of environment and forest
  • Ecology and Environment , biodiversity Notes - Vajirao & Reddy Institute

General Science is mainly concerned with preliminary examination. General Science comprises of physics, chemistry and biology. But in the preliminary examination you are required to concentrate on the life science topics. The questions on General Science can be broadly classified into following categories.

  • Physics :
    • Physical properties of matter and its states
    • Mass, volume & density
    • Work, Power & Energy
    • Sound and waves
    • Pressure & Volume
    • Force
    • Ligh
    • Sound
    • Heat
    • Atomic Physics
    • The working Principles of Simple pendulum, simple pulley, Siphon, lever, balloon, pump, hydrometer, pressure cooker, gramophone, telegraph, telephone, telescope, microscope, dynamo, motor, transformer, loud speaker etc.
  • Chemistry
    • The state of matter
    • The physical & chemical changes
    • Hydrogen, Oxygen, nitrogen & carbon dioxide gas
    • Oxidation & Reduction
    • Acids, Bases & salts
    • Atom
    • Catalysts
    • Petroleum
    • Fertilizer
    • The general procedure of preparation of soap, comb, ink, cement, paint, match box, gun powder & alum etc.
  • Biology
    Important area of Life Science for Preliminary Test are enlisted below :
    • The cell
    • Plant Physiology
    • Circulatory system
    • Respiratory system
    • Excretory system
    • Nervous system
    • Reproductive system
    • Endocrine system
    • Fundamental of Genetics
    • Health organization
    • Nutrition : carbohydrates, protein, fats, vitamins etc. and deficiency diseases
    • Muscles and joints
    • Health and Disease: Cancer, T.B. polio, Leprosy
    • Animal husbandry
Suggested Reading Book
  • Science and Technology – NCERT class IX & X.
  • what, why & how books by CSIR
  • The Human Machine (NBT) – Bijlani and Manchanda
  • ABC of Science - Holly Faith
  • General Science Notes -Vajirao & Reddy Institute

Current Affairs questions are asked from the core disciplines or say subjects, for example, science and technology, Polity, History, Geography, Economics, and environment. So, we must give importance to current affairs from all perspectives, i.e. subjects, Prelim, Main and Personality Test.

These questions can be asked based on Government Initiatives/Policies, policies of India which have international importance i.e. - Look East Policy, International Institutions – IMF, WB, UNSC, etc. International Agreement- Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), etc. Human Rights Issues, Social Sector Initiatives, Sustainable Development etc.

Generally you can call those events important, which –

  • become the headlines of the newspaper and editorial and written
  • Which have a negative/positive effect on the society
  • Which remain in discussion amongst the people for a long time.
  • Which find a place in newspaper for a long time
  • Bilateral Relation

Areas to be covered for Current Affairs .

  1. Economy – budget, economic survey and latest data
  2. Science – Health, Space, computers, Bio-technology, nuclear science, Defence etc.
  3. Political and Social issues
  4. Demography
  5. The information about – the United Nations, World, Bank, & World Trade Organizations.
  6. Information relating to development programs
Suggested Reading Book
  • News Paper - The Hindu
  • News Paper – India Express
  • Yojana – Publication division Government of India
  • Kurukshetra – Publication division Government of India
  • Year Book – Publication division Government of India
  • Standard Magazine on current affairs
  • Everyday Current events Articles and multiple choice question on current affairs by Vajirao & Reddy Institute