Decoding the Syllabus of Civil Services Prelims Examination

Before you start the preparation or select the books, it is important to understand the syllabus, so you can make the right decision. If you look at the syllabus of civil services prelims examination, then you will find that there are two papers consisting of 200 marks each. While the marks of paper – 1 will be counted in the merit list of prelims whereas the paper – 2 is of qualifying nature.

It is simple to cover the paper 2 of prelims syllabus with a single book but most of the aspirants are confused with the topics of paper 1 in prelims, that’s why we have provided the breakdown of these topics and accordingly selected the materials.

UPSC Syllabus for Paper I – (200 marks) Duration: Two hours (Counted for the merit rank in the Prelims)

Topics Broad Meaning
Current events of national and international importance. Here you need to look at the newspaper and divide the Important events as national & international. Check example here
History of India and Indian National Movement. History of India is a broad term, which means you have to cover Ancient, Medieval and Modern Indian History. Indian national Movement is the part of Modern Indian History. It also includes the culture and Society.
Indian and World Geography-Physical, Social, Economic Geography of India and the World. We think this one is simple to understand because they have clearly mentioned the three important branches of both India and World Geography.
Indian Polity and Governance – Constitution, Political System, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights Issues, etc. For this you need to focus on two things, the first one is the static portion of Indian Polity and Governance, the second source will be current affairs.
Economic and Social Development Sustainable Development, Poverty, Inclusion, Demographics, Social Sector initiatives, etc. This topic can be covered with the help of NCERT books for Economics, books on Economic Geography, Human Geography and Current Affairs. So here the two main source of preparation will be NCERT books and Current Affairs.
General issues on Environmental Ecology, Bio-diversity and Climate Change – that do not require subject specialization. For this section current affairs are really important, you have to pick up the popular and trending issues related to this topic from newspaper and work on those concepts. For covering those concepts and static portion NIOS materials will be really helpful. Although there are study materials in the market which we have suggested below. But self-made notes will be the best option.
General Science For this portion again two sources are really important. First, one is NCERT books on Science & Tech and second on is Current Affairs. NCERT books will clear your basic concepts which you have already learned in the school. Current topics of science and tech will keep you updated on the happenings, which is really important for the examination.

UPSC Syllabus for Paper II- (200 marks) Duration: Two hours (Not counted for the merit rank in Prelims but a qualifying Paper; just needs 33% marks)

  • 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).

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