The UPSC Civil Services Preliminary Exam is the first elimination round, comprising 2 papers. And you may even consider  this as the screening stage of the Civil Services Test, which is carried out every year by the Public Services Commission of the Union.

The IAS prelims are for testing only. It is of qualifying nature and the marks scored in the UPSC prelims examination will decide whether or not the candidate will take the mains but will not determine for the final order of merit of the candidate.

If you want to qualify for the prelims, you would need to have a good understanding of the prelims syllabus and since the prelims UPSC 2021 date is 27th June, you need to make sure that you have sufficient knowledge regarding both the papers and their topics. Let’s review the syllabus for  UPSC 2021  and then we will move onto UPSC main syllabus.

UPSC Prelims General Studies Paper 1

The prelims for IAS has two general studies papers both having 200 marks each. In this section, general studies paper 1  topics will be discussed:


Ancient History Medieval History  Modern History 
  • Sources of PreHistory
  • Early Iron Age
  • Indus Valley Civilization
  • Mahajanapadas period
  • Mauryan Empire
  • Jainism & Buddhism
  • Vedic period
  • Sangam Period
  • Major dynasties like Pratiharas, Palas, Senas, Rajaputas
  • Cholas and other South Indian Kingdoms
  • The Deccan and the Mughals
  • The Maratha and Indian states in the 18th century
  • The Delhi Sultanate
  • Society Structure & growth
  • Early Muslim invasions
  • Indian national movement
  • British expansion in India
  • Constitution development of India
  • Personalities like Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Swami Vivekananda
  • Socio-Religious Reforms
  • Peasant & Tribal movements
  • Development of Education


  • Basics like types of economy and sectors
  • Economic measurements like national income, inflation
  • Open economies like foreign trade and its policies
  • Money and Banking like foreign, private banks
  • Public Finance in India like tax structure
  • Economic sectors like health schemes, poverty

Polity & Governance

  • Evolution of the constitution
  • Governance
  • Citizenship
  • Union & its territories
  • Fundamental rights
  • State executive, legislature and Judiciary
  • Political dynamics like elections in India

Science & Technology

  • Policy development of S&T in India
  • Nuclear technology
  • Biotechnology
  • Space
  • Robotics
  • Defense technology
  • IT & Communication
  • General Science(Biology)


  • General geography (universe, solar system)
  • Human and Economic geography (Population growth, Economic activities)
  • Indian geography (resources, physiography of India)
  • Geomorphology (Earth’s surface, landforms)
  • World regional geography (continents, projects)


  • Climate change
  • Environmental pollution
  • Biodiversity
  • Environmental governance
  • Management of resources

Current Affairs

Topics there were trendy in the year 2020 are:

  • Coronavirus pandemic
  • New Education Policy
  • Bihar and Assam Floods
  • Facts related to the Citizenship Amendment Act
  • Drug testing regulation in India
  • 5G technology – Beam formation, Mass MIMO

Also Read: UPSC Study Plan for 2021

UPSC Syllabus for General Studies Paper 2

This prelims paper is of qualifying type and you need to score 33% in order to compete for mains. This paper includes these following concepts:

  • 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)

Brief UPSC IAS Syllabus for Mains

The aim of the Test is to determine the overall intellectual characteristics and comprehension of the concepts, rather than simply to check their knowledge and memory.

There are of total 7 papers which consist of 1750 marks. Here is a list of papers:

  • Paper 1- It is worth 250 marks and you have to write an essay on a special topic
  • Paper 2- It is again worth 250 marks and focuses on Indian history & geography
  • Paper 3- It is of 250 marks and has topics like Governance, constitution, International relations
  • Paper 4- Again worth 250 marks and focuses on economic development, technology, environment, security
  • Paper 5- Worth 250 marks. It tests your knowledge on ethics, integrity and aptitude.
  • Paper 6 & 7- These two papers are based on your optional subject which you have the freedom to choose. They are of a total of 500 marks.

What Are the Passing Marks for Mains?

The passing marks for mains can be figured out if you look at the Cut- off  List  for 2019.

UPSC Cut Off – IAS Mains 2019
Category UPSC Cut Off
General 751
EWS 696
OBC 718
SC 706
ST 699
PwBD-1 663
PwBD-2 698
PwBD-3 374
PwBD-4 561

You can see the minimum marks you need to qualify the IAS exam mains above.


To prepare for the civil service exam 2021 syllabus topics you can take help from NCERT which covers most of the topics in a basic way. Other than that you can take help from other recommended books online. The approach to acing the prelims and mains is time management. You can take coaching but how you dedicate your time and effort to subjects entirely depends on you. Make sure you always keep some time for refreshments. It can be pursuing your hobby like playing football. Refreshing your body will ensure full concentration.

Also Read: Some IAS Tips to Calm you Down

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IAS Syllabus for Prelims and Mains 2021. Find Out the Minimum Marks to Qualify the Mains
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IAS Syllabus for Prelims and Mains 2021. Find Out the Minimum Marks to Qualify the Mains
Detailed prelims syllabus topics for both general papers available. Prelims most important topics that you need to study and find out the passing marks for mains.
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UPSC Pathshala
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