UPSC Main Exam Syllabus 2020

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UPSC Main Exam Syllabus 2020:

UPSC Prilims exam 2020 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 exam will be held in January. The UPSC main exam has been scheduled for January 8, 2021.

Important Fact:

The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) conducts the Civil Services Examination. 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.

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.

UPSC Main Exam Syllabus 2020:

To understand the UPSC main exam syllabus, 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 Civil services exam is 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 2: UPSC Mains Exam (1750 Marks)

The Mains examination constitutes the 2nd phase of the Civil Services Examination. Only after successfully qualifying in the prelims exam would the candidates be allowed to write the IAS Mains.

The main examination is intended to assess the overall intellectual traits and depth of understanding of candidates rather than merely the range of their information and memory.

The nature and standards of questions in the General Studies paper ( paper-II to paper-V) require a well-specialized study. The questions will be such as to test a candidate s general awareness of a variety of subjects, which will have relevance for a career in Civil Services. The questions are likely to test the candidate’s basic understanding of all relevant issues, and the ability to analyze and take a view on conflicting socio-economic goals, objectives, and demands. The candidates must give relevant, meaningful and sufficient answers.

The scope of the syllabus for optional subject papers (Paper VI and Paper VII) for the examination is broad of the degree and lower than the masters’ degree. In the case of Engineering Medical Science and law, the level corresponds to the bachelors’ degree.

UPSC Main Exam Syllabus are given as follow :

The UPSC Main Exam Syllabus  consists of 9 papers of conventional essay type in the subjects out of which two papers are of qualifying in nature. Marks obtained in compulsory papers (Paper-I to Paper-VII) and in Interview for Personality Test are counted for ranking The two qualifying papers in the Main examination are

(i) Paper A: One of the Indian Language to be selected by the candidate from the Languages included in the Eighth Schedule to the Indian Constitution.

(ii) Paper B: English.

Structure of the language papers:

The types of questions asked are –

  1. Essay – 100 marks
  2. Reading comprehension – 60 marks
  3. Precise Writing – 60 marks
  4. Translation:
  • English to compulsory language (exp. Hindi) – 20 marks
  • (exp. Hindi) Compulsory language to English – 20 marks
  1. Grammar and basic language usage – 40 marks
The papers to be counted for merit are:
Paper-IEssay250 Marks
Paper-IIGeneral Studies -I: Indian Heritage and Culture, History, and Geography of the World and Society250 Marks
Paper-IIIGeneral Studies-II: Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations250 Marks
Paper-IVGeneral Studies-III: Technology, Economic Development, Biodiversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management250 Marks
Paper-VGeneral Studies- IV: Ethics, Integrity, and Aptitude250 Marks
Paper-VIOptional Subject- Paper-I250 Marks
Paper-VIOptional Subject – Paper-II250 Marks


Prelims General Studies paper and main General Studies paper are comparatively the same. The only difference in the question pattern. In the prelims question asked objective type and the question asked in the main exam descriptive type. So when you are preparing for Prelims, you are also preparing for the Mains.

Please check the detailed UPSC Mains General Studies Syllabus here.

The UPSC Main exam syllabus gives a list of 48 Optional Subjects which include Literature of different languages. Candidates need to choose any one of the ‘Optional Subjects’ from the list of subjects given below:

List of optional subjects for Main Examination :

(i) Agriculture

(ii) Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science

(iii) Anthropology

(iv) Botany

(v) Chemistry

(vi) Civil Engineering

(vii) Commerce and Accountancy

(viii) Economics

(ix) Electrical Engineering

(x) Geography

(xi) Geology

(xii) History

(xiii) Law

(xiv) Management

(xv) Mathematics

(xvi) Mechanical Engineering

(xvii) Medical Science

(xviii) Philosophy

(xix) Physics

(xx) Political Science and International Relations

(xxi) Psychology

(xxii) Public Administration

(xxiii) Sociology

(xxiv) Statistics

(xxv) Zoology

(xxvi) The literature of any one of the following languages:


(b) Bengali

(c) Bodo

(d) Dogri

(e) Gujarati

(f) Hindi

(g) Kannada

(h) Kashmiri

(i) Konkani

(i) Maithili,


(k) Manipuri

(l) Marathi

(m) Nepali

(n) Odia

(o) Punjabi

(p) Sanskrit

(q) Santhali

(r) Sindhi

(s) Tamil

(t) Telugu

(u) Urdu

(v) English

Phase 3: IAS Interview/UPSC Personality Test (275 Marks)

The judgment of the Personality Test:

  1. The candidate will be interviewed by a Board who will have before them a record of his career. He will be asked questions on matters of general interest. The object of the interview is to assess the personal suitability of the candidate for a career in public service by a Board of competent and unbiased observers. The test is intended to judge the mental caliber of a candidate. In broad terms, this is really an assessment of not only his intellectual qualities but also social traits and his interest in current affairs. Some of the qualities to be judged are mental alertness, critical powers of assimilation, clear and logical exposition, the balance of judgment, variety, and depth of interest, ability for social cohesion and leadership, intellectual and moral integrity.
  2. The interview test is not intended to be a test either of the specialized or general knowledge of the candidates which has been already tested through their written papers. Candidates are expected to have taken an intelligent interest not only in their special subjects of academic study but also in the events which are happening around them both within and outside their own State or Country as well as in modern currents of thought and in new discoveries which should arouse the curiosity of well-educated youth.
Evolution of Personality Test or Interview:
  • Candidates who qualify the UPSC Mains Civil Service Exam will be called for the ‘Personality Test/Interview’. These candidates will be interviewed by a Board appointed by the UPSC.
  • The objective of the interview is to assess the personal suitability of the candidate for a career in the civil services by a board of competent and unbiased observers.
  • The Interview test will be of 275 marks and the total marks for written examination is 1750. This sums up to a Grand Total of 2025 Marks based on which the final merit list will be prepared.
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