UPSC CSE Prelims Exam Syllabus 2020


UPSC Civil Services Exam:

The Union Public Service Commission conducts the Civil Services Preliminary Examination (UPSC CSE Prelims Exam) every year, which is common for all candidates applying for the Civil Services Examination and Indian Forest Service Examination. This exam acts as an elimination test for the selection of candidates for the Civil Services (Main) Examination.
Approximate fourteen to fifteen times candidates of total vacancies to be filled in the year in the various Services and Posts to be admitted to Main Examination.

Civil Services Exam 2020:

CSE Prelims exam 2020 (UPSC CSE Prelims Exam) have been put on a hold in view of the COVID-19 crisis. The notification will be issued on 12th February 2020 and the last date for receipt of applications would be 3rd March 2020. Candidates are advised to check their eligibility criteria before going to apply. The primary criteria are that candidates must have a Bachelors’s degree in any discipline from a recognized university. Candidates those are appearing in the final year exams can also apply. According to the latest schedule announced by the Commission website, the UPSC mains will be held in January. The CSE main examination has been scheduled for January 8, 2021.
The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) conducts the Civil Services Exam every year. The Civil Services Examination (CSE) is widely considered one of the toughest and most prestigious examinations conducted in India. Nevertheless, it requires rigorous preparation and commitment from the aspirants.

UPSC  Prelims Exam Syllabus:

To understand the UPSC CSE Prelims Exam, you need to understand the CSE syllabus first. It helps to eliminate wasteful efforts like reading unnecessary topics leading to a loss of time. It keeps one strictly aligned to the expectations of the UPSC from day one. The CSE syllabus 2020 can be found at the UPSC official website or scroll down to download the CSE syllabus as Pdf for both Prelims and Mains.

The UPSC CSE Exam was conducted in three phases:

Phase 1: Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination (Objective Type)

Phase 2: Civil Services (Mains) Examination (Descriptive Type)

Phase 3: Personal Interview (Personality Test)

Phase 1: UPSC Prelims Exam

Here are important details of the Preliminary Examination according to the latest announcement made by the UPSC.

The Examination will be of two compulsory papers of 200 marks each.

Paper-I: General Studies (GS)

Paper-II: Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT)

PaperSubjectsTotal MarksDuration
IGeneral Studies (GS)2002 hours (9:30 AM to 11:30 AM)
IICivil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT)2002 hours (2:30 PM to 4:30 PM)


  • Broadly, the Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination consists of two papers of objective type, each of 200 marks (hence totaling 400 marks) and of two hours duration. To qualify for the Civil Services Mains, a candidate must attempt both the papers.
  • Paper-II of the Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination will be a qualifying paper with minimum qualifying marks fixed at 33%.
  • Further, the UPSC General Studies (GS) paper consists of 100 questions, while the CSAT paper consists of 80 questions. Both papers have negative marks for wrong answers marked to the tune of 1/3rd of the total marks assigned to that question.
  • Similarly, in the CSAT paper, since we have 80 questions for 200 marks, correctly answered CSAT question would attract 2.5 marks each, while every wrongly marked question would attract a penalty of 0.833 for each such wrong answer, which will be deducted from the total.
  • No negative marks for unattempted questions.
UPSC CSE Prelims Exam Syllabus:

A. Syllabus for GS Paper (Prelims Paper-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 Ecology, Biodiversity and Climate Change – that do not require subject specialization
        • General Science

B. Syllabus for CSAT Paper (Prelims Paper-II)

    • 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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