Have you been thinking of applying for the UPSC CSE 2021? Have you planned on your UPSC 2021 strategy? Want to find out about the vacancies in UPSC 2021? Have you finalised a time-table based on the syllabus for the IAS exam next year? Have you found the resources to help with your preparation yet?

Read this article to find about the syllabus for civil services, UPSC preparation books, the exam pattern, procedure to apply for the exam next year, deciding on the right subjects for you, and importantly if UPSC 2021 will be postponed.

UPSC Exam Syllabus

 The most important part of UPSC preparation is the syllabus. Unless you refer to the syllabus at every step, you cannot be thorough with your preparation. There hasn’t been any official notice yet indicating changes in the syllabus for the next year.

The UPSC exam can be divided into three main sections:


The Preliminary exam has two sections:

Paper 1- General Studies I

The paper includes topics such as History of India, Indian Polity and Governance, Indian and World Geography, Environment and Ecology, and other events of national importance.

Paper 2- CSAT/ General Studies II

The Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT) tests the aptitude of the candidate. The questions are based on interpersonal skills, logical reasoning, decision -making, problem-solving, basic numeracy, and data interpretation.

Also Read- Syllabus for UPSC Prelims CSAT


The UPSC Mains consists of 9 written exams, two of which are qualifying papers and the rest are Merit Based Papers.

Paper 1

The exam has two sections- Paper A and Paper B. The former is an Indian language-based exam while the other is an English language exam, The candidates are tested for their understanding of the languages in these papers.

Paper 2

General Paper I covers concepts of History, Geography, Economy, and culture of India and the world.

Paper 3

General Paper II covers concepts such as Constitution, Governance, International Relations, and Social Justice.

Paper 4

The General Studies Paper III  includes topics such as Technology, Economic Development, Ecology and Disaster Management, Security Issues in India, and Agricultural processes.

Paper 5

The General Studies Paper IV tests the problem-solving skills of the candidate for concepts of ethics, integrity, and aptitude.

Optional Subjects

For Optional Subject I, the candidates can choose any one of the subjects listed for the exam, and for Optional Subject II, the candidates can choose from any one of the Indian languages.

Also Read- Detailed Syllabus for UPSC Mains


The final part of the Mains exam is the interview. Candidates who clear the three stages of the exam are then allotted selected areas for their training period.

How to Choose Optional Subjects?

The Optional Subjects can be an advantage for the candidates if chosen wisely. You can choose your subjects based on the following criteria:


The syllabus as mentioned above is one of the most crucial parts of the Civil Services Examination. You can take a look at the detailed syllabus of the subjects and figure out the ones that have overlapping syllabi. Subjects such as History, Geography, Political Science, Economics, and Public Relations may have some areas where they overlap with each other, This would help you connect information and thus cover your syllabus on time. You can also choose subjects with a concise syllabus so that you can finish it early and focus on the General Studies section.


There would be certain subjects that have ample resources available both offline and online that you can refer to. If you can find enough notes and books that cover an entire paper, then choose a particular subject. A lack of resources might take more time and become difficult to study as well.


Instead of choosing subjects that are more scoring for your peers or the previous year toppers, look for subjects that are convenient for you. A lot of people make the mistake of going for subjects that others score well in. While this may get you a better chance at scoring well, it might not turn in your favour either, You can focus on subjects you are more familiar with so that you can prepare well for it.

Also Read- Most Preferred Optional Subjects in UPSC Mains

Choice of Role

Your choice of subject can also depend upon the kind of role you are applying for. You can choose the kind of subjects that would prove to be more useful for the role you want, like IAS, IPS, IRS, etc. This might increase your chances of getting selected for the role you desire as well.

Apply for UPSC 2021- Vacancy and Exam Dates

One of the frequently asked questions regarding UPSC 2021 is if the exam has been postponed. The UPSC announced in August 2020 that they will not be postponing the exam. They would be releasing the UPSC exam dates by February 10, 2021, along with the vacancies for posts. It is being anticipated that the UPSC Prelims will be conducted at the end of June in 2021.

The anticipated list of vacancies as reported by Northeast Now include:

  • Total number of posts expected- 900
  • Reservation for candidates with blindness or low vision- 8 posts
  • Reservation for candidates who are deaf or hard of hearing- 11 posts
  • Reservation for candidates with a locomotor disability- 15 posts
  • Reservation for candidates with multiple disabilities- 5 posts

Apply for UPSC 2021

The candidates would be able to apply for the exam once the dates are announced in February next year, Here are the steps you can follow to apply-

  1. Visit the official website upsc.gov.in.
  2. Go to the ‘Active Examinations’ section and click on UPSC Civil Services Examination 2021.
  3. Fill the form with your personal, educational, employment, and parental details.
  4. Submit the fee for the exam through offline/ online mode. The male candidates from General, EWS, and OBC categories have to pay a fee of INR 100 while female candidates and those from other categories are exempted from payment.
  5. Select the centre/ city of your choice.
  6. Upload your photograph and signature.
  7. Go through the ‘Declaration’ and select ‘I Agree’.
  8. Review the form before submission.


Now that you are familiar with the IAS 2021 syllabus, you can start your preparation by reading the NCERT books and newspapers. You can also take a look at this blog to find a one-year UPSC strategy for your preparation.

Also Read : IPS Officer Salary: What are the ranks in IPS? What are the duties of IPS Officers?

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Civil Services Exam Syllabus 2021: How to Apply and How to Choose your Subjects
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Civil Services Exam Syllabus 2021: How to Apply and How to Choose your Subjects
Planning on appearing for the Civil Services Exam the next year? Here’s a guide to get you started with UPSC 2021 preparation, steps to apply, and choosing the subjects.
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