The Civil Services Examination, held annually by the Union Public Service Commission of the Union (UPSC), is your ticket to the elite civil service career. The UPSC CSE has three steps, Prelims, Mains, and Interview (Personality Test), this exam is carried out. Ultimately, only about 1000 individuals make it to the final, beginning with a few Lakh candidates. In order to make it to the list, you need to first know how many questions in UPSC prelims are there and how many questions to attempt to get a good ranking.

In UPSC Prelims, the two distinct papers hold negative marking. The paper has 200 marks, meaning the total marks of the UPSC prelims are 400 marks. But it must be remembered that in IAS Prelims, there is a negative marking.

IAS Prelims Exam Pattern

The date for the UPSC Prelims Exam is October 10, 2021. For the Prelims stage, the UPSC test pattern comprises two papers that are administered on the same day. The objective type questions on both exams include multiple-choice solutions.

The prelims test is a screening process that selects applicants for the mains exam. The scores earned at this stage do not contribute toward the final merit list, but applicants should study hard for this test because cut-offs change year to year and are based on the average score.

The following are the UPSC prelims pattern details:

Paper Type No. of questions UPSC Total Marks Duration Negative marks
General Studies I Objective 100 200 2 hours Yes
General Studies II (CSAT) Objective 80 200 2 hours Yes
Total UPSC marks for Prelims 400

UPSC Prelims 2021 Syllabus

Paper-I (General Studies-I)

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 Ecospecialization General Science

Also Read : Life of an IAS Officer: An Insight into the Life after Cracking the UPSC Exam

Detailed UPSC Prelims Syllabus 2021

Check out the subject wise syllabus for UPSC Prelims 2021 in the table below:


Ancient History

Prehistoric Times

Indus Valley Civilization

Rig Vedic Period

Later Vedic Period




Mauryan Period

Post-Mauryan Period

Gupta Period

Harshavardhana Period

Sangam Period (South-Indian Dynasties)

Medieval History

Major Dynasties of Early Medieval India (Pratiharas, Pallavas, Chalukyas, Rashtrakutas)

Cholas and South-Indian Kingdoms

Early Muslim Invasions

The Delhi Sultanate

Afghans, Rajputs & Mughals

Establishment of North-Indian Empire

The Mughal Empire

Marathas and the Other Indian States

The decline of the Mughal Empire

Vijaynagar Empire

Modern History

Advent of Europeans

British Expansion

Administration before 1857

Economic Policies of the British

Impact of British Administration

Revolt of 1857

Administrative Changes after 1857

Development of Civil Services

Development of Education

Development of Press

Socio-Religious Reforms

Peasant Movements

Revolutionary Nationalism

Indian National Movement-I (1905-1918)

Indian National Movement-II (1918-1929)

Indian National Movement-III (1930-1947)

Governors-General and Viceroys of India

Constitutional Development of Indian

Art and Culture




Pottery Tradition


Performing Arts

Religion and Literature

National and Regional Festivals


Evolution of the Constitution

Salient Features of Indian Constitution

Union & Its Territory


Fundamental Rights

Directive Principles of State Policy

Fundamental Duties

System of Governance

Union Executive

Union Legislature

State Executive

State Legislature

Local Government

UT and Special Areas


Constitutional & Non-Constitutional Bodies

Political Dynamics (Political Parties, Election, Pressure Groups)


International Relations


General Geography


Earth Evolution


Earth’s Interior

Geology and Rock System

Geomorphic Process

Earthquakes and Volcanism

Distribution of Continents and Oceans

Landforms and their evolution

Landforms across the world



Submarine Relief Features

Temperature and Salinity

Waves, Oceans, Currents, Tides

Marine Resources

Ocean, Deposits and Corals



Inversion of Temperature

Insolation and Heat Budget

Air Mass, Fronts, Cyclones and Jet Streams

Wind and Pressure Belts


Climate Zones of the World


Soil Characteristics

Vegetation Resources

Human and Economic Geography

Demography and Census

Human Development

Economic Activities

Transport and Communication

International Trade


Indian Geography

Physiography of India

Drainage System


Soils in India

Natural Vegetation


Settlements and Urbanization

Land Resource

Mineral Resource

Energy Resource

Agriculture and Basic Terminology

Recent development in agriculture

Productivity of Crops



Recent developments in Industry and Transport

World Regional Geography

Continents, Countries, and Cities

Location in News

Ecology & Environment

Origin of Life Forms

Basic Concepts of Ecology

Ecosystem Functions

Population Ecology

Adaptation of Species and Interactions

Terrestrial Ecosystem

Aquatic Ecosystem

Nutrient Cycling


Basics of Biodiversity

Animal and Plant Diversity

Threats to Biodiversity

Biodiversity Conservation



Coral Reliefs


Resource Degradation and Management

Environmental Pollution

Climate Change

Environmental Governance


Basic Concepts

Macroeconomic Concepts

Microeconomic Concepts

Economic Measurements

National Income & Its Calculation

Economic Growth and Development


Money & Banking

Money Function & Classification

Financial Markets & Its Instruments

Banking Structure in India

Public Finance in India


Fiscal Policy

Center-state Distribution

Tax Structure in India


Meaning, Objective & History

Planning Institutions

Five Year Plans in India

NITI Aayog

Open Economy

Foreign Trade Concepts

International Organizations

Trade Agreements

Recent Development

Economic Sectors


Employment and Unemployment

Government Schemes and Programmes

General Science

Science & Technology in India


IT and Communication

Materials, Nanotechnology and Robotics


Nuclear Technology

Intellectual Property Rights and Other Miscellaneous Issues


Paper-II (CSAT)


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)

Questions for UPSC Prelims Paper 1

The  Union Public Service Commission Paper1 is officially referred to as the General Studies I Paper and is frequently referred to as the General Awareness paper. There will be 100 questions, and you’d have 2 hours to finish it up.

There will be four options for each query, from which you should select the correct answer. It will cost you 1/3rd of the marks allocated to that question for each incorrect answer.

You should rank the cut-off mark (minimum required mark) in this paper as recommended by the commission to clear it.

How Many Questions to Attempt in UPSC Prelims Paper 1?

There will be 100 questions in total so try to aim at solving around 75-85  questions correctly and later on solve 10-15 questions which you know the answer partially. There is no compulsion to answer all the 100 questions. Attempting queries that you are sure of otherwise negative markings can do a lot of harm.

Questions for UPSC Prelims Paper 2

The second paper is called  General Studies Paper-II. It is often referred to as the Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT). There are 80 questions in this article, and you will have 2 hours to complete it. There will be four choices given here again, and you have to pick the right one.

A penalty of 1/3rd of the total marks allocated to that question will be needed for an incorrect answer. You have to score 33 per cent or 66 marks in the exam in the GS paper II.

Try to be in a Safer Zone, Attempt these Many Questions

Since there will be 80 questions, try aiming to solve 40-45 questions at least and work your way through educated guessing. Adopting this method, you can attempt around 70-75 questions which can obtain you a score of 120 out of 200. Do not answer queries that you are clueless about.

Also Read : Important Current Affair Topics for UPSC 2020: Tips to Tackle Current Affairs

UPSC Cutoff 2020

Exam General EWS OBC SC ST PwBD-1 PwBD-2 PwBD-3 PwBD-5
Prelims 92.51 77.55 89.12 74.84 68.71 70.06 63.94 40.82 42.86
Mains 736 687 698 680 682 648 699 425 300
Final 944 894 907 875 876 867 910 675

After the declaration of the UPSC Final Result in the month of May 2022, UPSC IAS cut off 2021 will be issued by the authority. In order to grab the position, applicants have to apply for the cut-off.

UPSC Prelims Expected Cutoff 2021

After the UPSC IAS exam procedure is completed, the official IAS (UPSC CSE) Cutoff 2021 will be announced. The cutoff score reflects the level of competition as well as the complexity of the question paper. After each round of the test, the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) will announce the cutoff score.

Category IAS Prelims Expected Cutoff (out of 200)
General 105+5
EWS 95+5
OBC 100+5
SC 87+5
ST 83+5
PwBD1 55+5
PwBD2 47+5
PwBD3 43+5
PwBD5 65+5

Also Read: IAS Preparation Strategy for Beginners: Boost your UPSC Preparation Today

UPSC CSE Preparation Tips 2021

Cover the Whole Syllabus

The syllabus should be thoroughly covered. Whatever the historical patterns, no portion should be taken for granted. UPSC may favour any section of the vast syllabus, therefore it’s best to stay on the safe side. In UPSC Prelims 2021, too much flavour from the Ancient India section should be a lesson.

Attempt Mock Test

After covering a significant amount of the curriculum, a sufficient number of mock exams should be taken. A suitable number of mocks should be used. Too many tests will sap your vital vitality, while too few will leave you unprepared.

Mocks should only be provided in an exam-like setting. It’s a good idea to just participate in one standard Test Series.

A post-test analysis is a must-do activity. High achievement should not be accompanied by euphoria, and low achievement should not be accompanied by frustration. Simply run the race in order to keep improving.

Proper Revision

The Prelims syllabus is extremely extensive and dispersed. It’s more essential to consolidate the full content than it is to cover it. As a result, revisions should be fair and timely. Coverage of the syllabus and review of the covered section must strike a delicate balance.

The syllabus should be thoroughly examined and prioritised. The part of the curriculum that is more data and fact-based should be reviewed several times before the test. Such sections might be saved for last-minute revision to keep them fresh in your mind.

Make Proper Notes

There is no way to complete the UPSC syllabus in a thorough manner without taking enough notes. Notes should be written in a certain manner to make it easier for candidates to memorise and duplicate them. Notes should not be overly voluminous, and their function should always be kept in mind.

Don’t Add Topics in the Last Month

Unless it’s really extraordinarily necessary, the last month prior prelims should not be used to cover any new material. The entire month should be dedicated to revision. Mains can be taken concurrently with Prelims, however, only a fraction of the time spent on each should be explained.

Take CSAT Seriously

The previous month’s prelims should not be utilised to cover any new content unless it’s absolutely essential. The month should be devoted entirely to revision. Mains and Prelims can be taken at the same time, but just a percentage of the time spent on each should be mentioned.

UPSC 2021 Related Queries

#1. How many Marks are Needed to Clear IAS Prelims?

Candidates need to clear each paper separately to clear UPSC CSE prelims as follows:

# Prelims Paper I: It is important to secure the minimum cut off marks declared by UPSC.

# Prelims Paper II: 33% of the overall points, or roughly 66 points.

#2. How to Increase Marks in UPSC Prelims?

Instead of reading every Union Public Service Commission preparation book that comes your way, keep the data sources restricted to a few reliable ones. To improve quality, practice, and consistently evaluate your results. Throughout the planning, stay concentrated and relaxed as a hurried preparation technique ends up doing more harm.

#3. What is the Education Qualification for IAS?

An undergraduate degree or equivalent from a recognized university either by full-time education or distance education is the educational eligibility for IAS. The university must be approved by the UGC or set up by a central or state legislature act.


Last but not least, to test your abilities, you should take mock tests available all over the web. The practise tests will let you know when you stand and which areas you need to focus on. The first paper requires you to perform well only then will you be qualified for Paper-II so gear up and give your best in the first go!

Check out the courses and videos on UPSC Pathshala now and crack your exam on the first attempt.

Also Read: Last Minute Preparation for UPSC Prelims 2020: Here’re Some IAS Tips to Calm you Down

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Prelims is the first stage of the UPSC exam. But do you know about the pattern, questions and marks of this stage? Get all the details that you need to know about Prelims here.
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Shilpa is a professional web content writer and is in deep love with travelling. She completed her mass communication degree and is now dedicatedly playing with words to guide her readers to get the best for themselves. Developing educational content for UPSC, IELTS aspirants from breakthrough research work is her forte. Strongly driven by her zodiac sign Sagittarius, Shilpa loves to live her life on her own notes and completely agrees with the idea of ‘live and let live. Apart from writing and travelling, most of the time she can be seen in the avatar of 'hooman' mom to her pets and street dogs or else you can also catch her wearing the toque blanche and creating magic in the kitchen on weekends.

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