The Union Public Service Commission subjects according to the Indian Civil Service syllabus generally include all the subjects that we have studied during our school days and graduation time under General studies subject. Candidates need to study those and other additional things. 

The Civil Service examination syllabus provided by the Union Public Service Commission might seem easy from the outside but it’s very complicated from the inside and needs a lot of time to understand and study each compulsory and elective subject and its parts. Read on to learn more about the UPSC exam subject list.

UPSC All Subject List

The Union Public Service Commission subjects in CSE are made to evaluate your knowledge of aspects around you. Only a knowledgeable person can make sharp decisions in civil service. So in this article, we will discuss in detail all the UPSC subject lists including the optional subject list. Read on to learn more.

UPSC Exam Subject List

Given below is the list of subjects for the Civil Service Prelims examination:

UPSC Exam Subject List
Political Science / Civics
General Science – Physics, Chemistry & Biology
Environmental Science

In Preliminary exam Paper 1, all the above mentioned compulsory subjects will come. It is advised you start with studying the NCERT books and go through them properly.

Preliminary Syllabus

The Prelims examination syllabus for Paper-I includes international importance and current events of national, Indian National Movement and History of India, World and Indian Geography – Economic, Physical, Social Geography of the world and India, Indian Polity and Governance – Rights Issues, Political System, Constitution, Public Policy, Panchayati Raj, etc, Social and Economic Development – Social Sector initiatives, Demographics, Poverty, Sustainable Development, Inclusion, etc.,

General issues on Climate Change, Environmental Ecology and Biodiversity and General Science. This implies that all the above subjects for the Civil Service exam need to be covered precisely.

Also Read: UPSC Prelims 2022 Syllabus: Detailed Prelims Syllabus to Ace UPSC CSE

UPSC Exam Mains Subject List

Given below is the list of compulsory subjects for the Civil Service Mains examination.

Compulsory Subject
General Studies
Indian Language

Mains Syllabus

The Civil Service mains exam syllabus for optional subjects is normally of the honours degree level that is in the middle of the master’s degree and the bachelor’s degree. It includes nine papers, in which there are 2 papers for qualifying and 7 papers counted for giving a rank and the syllabus is framed as per the subjects with a sum of 1750 scores.

The mains exam syllabus is broader and the subjects are approximately the same as the preliminary except you need to put more focus on Integrity and Aptitude, Disaster management, government policies and Ethics.

If you are appearing for the Civil Service examination we suggest that you practice the mains syllabus and at the time of revisions you can concentrate only on the syllabus that is mentioned for the preliminary examination. In that way, you will be able to prepare for both papers at the same time.

Also Read: UPSC Mains 2022 Syllabus: Let’s Move a Step Ahead of the Basic UPSC Preparation

UPSC Optional Subject List

Given below is the list of optional subjects. Out of which you have to choose one for the Civil Service Mains exam.

Sl.No. UPSC Mains Optional Subject List
1. Agriculture
2. Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science
3. Anthropology
4. Botany
5. Chemistry
6. Civil Engineering
7. Commerce & 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 & International Relations
21. Psychology
22. Public Administration
23. Sociology
24. Statistics
25. Zoology

List of Literature Optional Subject for UPSC Mains

Given below is the literature optional subject list for the Union Public Service Commission Mains examination. Choose the best suited optional subject for yourself to obtain a good score.

Sl.No. UPSC Mains Literature Optional Subject List
1. Assamese
2. Bengali
3. Bodo
4. Dogri
5. Gujarati
6. Hindi
7. Kannada
8. Kashmiri
9. Konkani
10. Maithili
11. Malayalam
12. Manipuri
13. Marathi
14. Nepali
15. Oriya
16. Punjabi
17. Sanskrit
18. Santhali
19. Sindhi
20. Tamil
21. Telugu
22. Urdu
23. English


The Indian Administrative Service examination (officially called the CSE – Civil Services Examination) is held by the UPSC )Union Public Service Commission) every year.

The aspirants who qualify all the 3 stages of the Indian Administrative Service examination enter into the prominent civil services of the nation and serve as officers in the Indian Foreign Service (IFS), Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Police Service (IPS), and other civil services.

However, considered as one of the hardest examinations in the nation, with the correct strategy and approach, a candidate can qualify for the Indian Administrative Service exam on the very 1st try.

It is crucial for candidates to understand and know the prerequisites of the Indian Administrative Service examination 2021 like the syllabus of UPSC for the Indian Administrative Services Examination (Preliminary and Mains), application procedure, eligibility criteria, pattern and other such important components before beginning with the preparations.

In this article, we will provide you with all the appropriate Union Public Service Commission Examination details for candidates planning to clear the Indian Administrative Service Examination.

Civil Service Examination

Aspirants are recruited by UPSC for one of the 20 – off services that is IAS (Indian Administrative Service). The aspirants need to give the Civil service examination (CSE) commonly known as the UPSC IAS examination also.

Pattern of the IAS Examination

Stage I Preliminary Examination (IAS Prelims)
Stage II Mains Examination (IAS Mains)
Stage III UPSC Personality Test (IAS Interview)

Stage I – Prelims

# The Indian Administrative Service Examination questions (Preliminary) are of the MCQs (Multiple Choice Questions) or objective type.

# In the Indian Administrative Service Examination, there is ‘Negative Marking’ for every wrong answer but just in the Preliminary stage. The negative scoring for wrong answers will be 1/3rd (0.66) of the total score of that question.

# The General Studies Paper-II (Civil Service Aptitude Test) in the IAS examination is of clearing nature and aspirants must score at least 33 % in this stage to proceed to the next level of the Indian Administrative Service examination that is the Mains.

# Physically disabled (blindness) aspirants are provided with an additional duration of 20 mins for every paper in the Indian Administrative Services Examination (Preliminary).

# The aspirants should appear in both the papers of the UPSC preliminary examination for evaluation.

# The scores secured by the aspirants in the prelims exam are not computed for the ultimate score. It is just a screening exam where aspirants not securing the cut-off scores are removed.

Stage II – Mains

The stage-II of the Indian Administrative Service Examination is known as the UPSC Mains Examination, which is a written descriptive exam and contains nine papers. The nine papers in Indian Administrative Service Examination (Mains) are as follows:

Paper-A (Compulsory Indian Language)
Paper –B (English)
General Studies Papers I, II, III, and IV,
Optional Papers I and II


# The aspirants can choose their medium of writing the Union Public Service Commission Civil Services IAS Mains Examination as English or Hindi or any other regional language listed in the Indian Constitution 8th Schedule.

# The aspirants who secure above the given cut-off marks in the Indian Administrative Service examination (Mains) will get qualified for the Personality Test (final phase of the Indian Administrative Service exam).

# The ultimate ranking of the aspirants is based on the scores attained by them in the Main Exam and Interview Round/Personality Test of the Indian Administrative Service examination.

Stage III – Interview

Aspirants who clear the Mains phase of the Indian Administrative Service examination with the mandatory cut-off scores qualify for the last stage of the IAS examination, which is the Interview round or Personality Test with the Union Public Service Commission Board Members.

The aspirants who reach the last stage (Interview) will be sent an e-summon by the UPSC for a direct face to face interview round with the members of board. In this stage, the board members examine the personality characteristics of the aspirants and questions will be raised on situation questions, current affairs, hobbies, general knowledge, etc. to assess if they are suitable for a job in the civil services or not.

The Civil Service personality test will be conducted only in the Union Public Service Commission Bhavan in New Delhi.

UPSC Exam Eligibility Criteria and Attempts

In the UPSC exam, there are certain eligibility criteria that a candidate needs to fulfil. If the aspirant wishes to appear for the Indian Administrative Service exam he/she needs to fit all requirements like age, nationality, educational qualification and number of attempts.

The aspirants need to be Indian citizens or POI, for the category of general aspirants. Should have a degree of graduation, need to be between 21 to 32 of age, and the candidate won’t be eligible if he/she has appeared for the Indian Administrative Service examination six times. But there are specific relaxations and different conditions to the above.

UPSC Preparation

Given below are the UPSC preparation strategy, it will help you with your preparation and make it more effective.

Understand the Trend

In both the Preliminary and Mains stages of the Indian Administrative Service exam, more questions are asked based on current events. Choose only reliable references like Yojana, PIB, The Hindu, etc. and align the current affairs according to the syllabus of IAS examination. For the Indian Administrative Service exam, current events generally include affairs of international and national significance in the last ten to twelve months.

Check Previous Year Question Papers

Go through the last years’ Indian Administrative Service examination questions to estimate the amount of practice required from your end.

Go through the NCERT books and create your own notes. You need to make a minimum of 2 sets of notes that are short notes for Preliminary and for UPSC Mains descriptive notes.

Also Read: Last 25 Years UPSC Prelims Question Papers with Answers: Check this to Boost Your CSE Preparation

Prelims and Mains Preparation Duration

The Preliminary and Mains preparation need to be done together as the syllabus is very similar,  but before the Preliminary exam, you should focus fully on the preliminary syllabus. Start it one to two months before the date of the Preliminary examination. Check the syllabus of Prelims and Mains and find out the topics that are similar and pay attention to those topics first.

It will help you a lot during your Prelims paper because you don’t have to study extra.

Choose Optional Subject Carefully

Choose an Optional subject for the Indian Administrative Service examination based on your experience, aptitude and interest. Some optional papers have a similar syllabus with the General Studies syllabus in the Mains exam. But the syllabus of the Optional Paper is very vast so choose carefully which will be good to score for you.

IAS Books for Preparation

Check out the standard books for every paper. Find the Indian Administrative Service exam book list, NCERT notes, Current Event notes and other information. You can join UPSC Pathshala to obtain more information.

Don’t Underestimate Any Paper

Don’t take the Civil Service Aptitude Test paper lightly in Preliminary and Ethics subjects in Mains. Also, in the Mains exam, 2 qualifying language subjects are very important. If you fail to score a minimum of 25 per cent in this paper you won’t be able to proceed further and will straight away eliminate you from the Indian Administrative Service examination procedure.

Practice MCQs

Make some time for solving Multiple Choice Questions for Preliminary and for mains answer writing practice. Revise as many times as you can or will help you understand the topic in a better way, be up to date about current affairs and jot down notes when you are studying.

Also Read: Time Table for UPSC Preparation 2021-22: Step by Step Guide to Crack The UPSC Exam


In this article, we gave you detailed information about the Union Public Service Commission subject list including the optional subjects. This will help you choose the best subject for your examination. You should opt for the subjects in which you are good at and have some knowledge about in that way you will be able to perform well in the exam. That will ultimately result in good scores in the Civil Service examination. For the best advice on which subject to opt for, join UPSC Pathshala, where you will be guided by trained professionals.

Also Read: UPSC 2022 Application Form: Last Date of Notification & Guide on How to Fill the Form

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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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