How to start preparation for Civil Services Examination? Syllabus and Strategy. Reference books. How to prepare for UPSC Examinations?

How to start preparation for Civil Services Examination? Syllabus and Strategy. Reference books. How to prepare for UPSC Examinations?

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What is Civil Service?

Following 21 services are called civil services. These Services are directly consern with day to day life of civilians of the nation. These services are reputed sirvices. These are the administrative services.
(i) Indian Administrative Service
(ii) Indian Foreign Service
(iii) Indian Police Service
(iv) Indian Audit and Accounts Service, Group ‘A’
(v) Indian Civil Accounts Service, Group ‘A’
(vi) Indian Corporate Law Service, Group ‘A’
(vii) Indian Defence Accounts Service, Group ‘A’
(viii) Indian Defence Estates Service, Group ‘A’
(ix) Indian Information Service, Group ‘A’
(x) Indian Postal Service, Group ‘A’
(xi) Indian P&T Accounts and Finance Service, Group ‘A’
(xii) Indian Railway Protection Force Service, Group ‘A’
(xiii) Indian Revenue Service (Customs & Indirect Taxes) Group ‘A’
(xiv) Indian Revenue Service (Income Tax) Group ‘A’
(xv) Indian Trade Service, Group ‘A’ (Grade III)
(xvi) Indian Railway Management Service, Group ‘A’
(xvii) Armed Forces Headquarters Civil Service, Group ‘B’ (Section Officer’s Grade)
(xviii) Delhi, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli
Civil Service (DANICS), Group ‘B’
(xix) Delhi, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli
Police Service (DANIPS), Group ‘B’
(xx) Pondicherry Civil Service (PONDICS), Group ‘B’
(xxi) Pondicherry Police Service (PONDIPS), Group ‘B’

Who conducts the Civil Services Examination?

UPSC conducts the Civil Services Examination in India. The full form of UPSC is UNION PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION.

Eligibility Conditions:

(I) Nationality

(1) For the Indian Administrative Service, the Indian Foreign Service and the Indian Police Service, a candidate must be a citizen of India.
(2) For other services, a candidate must be either:—
(a) a citizen of India, or

(b) a subject of Nepal, or
(c) a subject of Bhutan, or
(d) a Tibetan refugee who came over to India before 1st January, 1962 with the intention of permanently settling in India, or
(e) a person of Indian origin who has migrated from Pakistan, Burma, Sri Lanka, East African countries of Kenya, Uganda, the United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Zaire, Ethiopia and Vietnam
with the intention of permanently settling in India. Provided that a candidate belonging to categories (b), (c), (d) and (e) shall be a person in whose favour a certificate of eligibility has been issued by the Government of India. A candidate in whose case a certificate of eligibility is necessary, may be admitted to the examination but the offer of appointment may be given only after the necessary eligibility certificate has been issued to him/her by the Government of India.

(II) What is the age limits to appear for Civil Services Examinatins:

(1) A candidate must have attained the age of 21 years and must not have attained the age of 32 years.

(2) The upper age-limit prescribed above will be relaxable:
(a) up to a maximum of five years if a candidate belongs to a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe;
(b) up to a maximum of three years in the case of candidates belonging to Other Backward Classes who are eligible to avail of reservation applicable to such candidates;
(c) up to a maximum of three years in the case of Defence Services Personnel, disabled in operations during hostilities with any foreign country or in a disturbed area and released as a consequence thereof;
(d) up to a maximum of five years in the case of ex-servicemen including Commissioned Officers and Emergency Commissioned Officers (ECOs)/ Short Service Commissioned Officers (SSCOs) who have rendered at least five years Military Service as on present year and have been released:
(i) on completion of assignment (including those whose assignment is due to be completed
within one year from present year, otherwise than by way of dismissal or discharge on
account of misconduct or inefficiency); or
(ii) on account of physical disability attributable to Military Service; or
(iii) on invalidment.
(e) up to a maximum of five years in the case of ECOs/SSCOs who have completed an initial period of assignment of five years of Military Service as on present year and whose assignment has been extended beyond five years and in whose case the Ministry of Defence issues a certificate that they can apply for civil employment and that they will be released on three months notice on selection from the date of receipt of offer of appointment.
(f) up to a maximum of 10 years in the case of candidates belonging to Persons with Benchmark Disabilities (PwBD) categories viz.
(i) blindness and low vision;

(ii) deaf and hard of hearing;
(iii) locomotor disability including cerebral palsy, leprosy cured, dwarfism, acid attack victims and muscular dystrophy;
(iv) autism, intellectual disability, specific learning disability and mental illness;
(v) multiple disabilities from amongst person under clauses (i) to (iv) including deaf-blindness.

Which date of Birth is accepted by UPSC?

(3) The date of birth, accepted by the Commission is that entered in the Matriculation or Secondary School Leaving Certificate or in a certificate recognised by an Indian University as equivalent to Matriculation or in an extract from a Register of Matriculates maintained by a University which extract must be certified by the proper authority of the University or in the Higher Secondary examination certificate or an equivalent examination certificate. The certificate in support of the date of birth is required to be submitted by a candidate only at the time of applying for the Civil Services (Main) Examination. No other document relating to age like horoscopes, affidavits, birth extracts from Municipal Corporation, Service records and the like will be accepted.

What is the minimum educational qualification is required to appear the civil services examinations?

Minimum Educational Qualification:
A candidate must hold a Graduate degree of any of the Universities incorporated by an Act of the central or State Legislature in India or other educational institutions established by an Act of Parliament or declared to be deemed as a University under Section 3 of the University Grants Commission Act, 1956 or possess an equivalent qualification.

What is the maximum number of attempts to appear for civil services examinations?

Every candidate appearing at the examination, who is otherwise eligible, shall be permitted six (6)
attempts at the CSE. However, relaxation in the number of attempts will be available to the SC/ST/OBC
and PwBD category candidates who are otherwise eligible. The number of attempts available to such
candidates as per relaxation is as under:



PwBD- 09 for GL/EWS/OBCUnlimited for SC/ST

Restrictions on applying for the Civil Services Examination:

(1) A candidate who is appointed to the Indian Administrative Service or the Indian Foreign Service based on the results of an earlier Examination and continues to be a member of that Service will not be eligible to appear at the Civil Services Examination-2023. In case such a candidate is appointed to the IAS or IFS after the Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination-2023 is over and the candidate continues to be a member of that Service, the candidate shall not be eligible to appear in the Civil Services (Main) Examination-2023 notwithstanding having qualified in the Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination-2023. If such a candidate is appointed to the IAS or IFS after the commencement of the Civil Services (Main) Examination-2023 but before the result thereof is declared by the Commission and continues to be a
member of that Service, the candidate shall not be considered for appointment to any Service/Post on the basis of the result of the CSE-2023.
(2) A candidate who is appointed to the Indian Police Service based on the results of an earlier Examination and continues to be a member of that Service shall not be eligible to opt for the Indian Police Service on the basis of the result of the CSE-2023.

Medical and Physical Standards:

Candidates must be physically fit according to physical standards for admission to Civil Services Examination, 2023 as per guidelines given in Appendix-III of Rules for Examination published in the Gazette of India Extraordinary dated 1st Feb, 2023.


Candidates (Except Female/SC/ST/Persons with Benchmark Disability Candidates who are exempted from payment of fee) are required to pay fee of Rs. 100/- (Rupees One Hundred only) either by remitting the money in any Branch of State Bank of India by cash or by using Net Banking facility of any bank or by using Visa/Master/RuPay/Credit/Debit Card/UPI Payment.

How to Apply for the Civil Services Examinations? :

(a) Candidates are required to apply online by using the website It is essential for the applicant to register himself/herself first at One Time Registration (OTR) platform, available on the Commission’s website, and then proceed for filling up the online application for the examination. OTR has to be registered only once in life time. This can be done anytime throughout the year. If the candidate is already registered, he/she can proceed straightway for filling up the online application for the examination.


The Civil Services Examination comprises two successive stages:

(i) Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination (Objective Type) for the selection of candidates for Civil
Services (Main) Examination; and
(ii) Civil Services (Main) Examination (Written and Interview/Personality Test) for the selection of
candidates for the various Services and posts.

The Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination

The Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination will consist of two papers of Objective type (multiple choice questions) and carry a maximum of 400 marks in the subjects set out in sub-section (A) of Section II. This examination is meant to serve as a screening test only; the marks obtained in the Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination by the candidates who are declared qualified for admission to the Civil Services (Main) Examination will not be counted for determining their final order of merit. The number of candidates to be admitted to the Civil Services (Main) Examination will be about twelve to thirteen times the total approximate number of vacancies to be filled in the year through this Examination. Only those candidates who are declared by the Commission to have qualified in the Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination in the year will be eligible for admission to the Civil Services (Main) Examination of that year provided they are otherwise eligible for admission to the Civil Services (Main) Examination.The Examination shall comprise of two compulsory Papers of 200 marks each.


(i) Both the question papers will be of the objective type (multiple choice questions) and each will be of two hours duration.

(ii) The General Studies Paper-II of the Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination will be a qualifying paper with minimum qualifying marks fixed at 33%.

(iii) The question papers will be set both in Hindi and English.

Syllabi for Civil Services Preliminary Examination.

Part A—Preliminary Examination

Paper I – (200 marks)

Duration: Two hours
 1. Current events of national and international importance.
 2. History of India and Indian National Movement.
 3. Indian and World Geography-Physical, Social, Economic Geography of India and the World.

 4. 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.
 5.General issues on Environmental ecology, Bio-diversity and Climate Change – that do not require subject specialization.
 6. General Science.

Paper II-

(200 marks) Duration : Two hours
 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);

The Civil Services (Main) Examination

The Civil Services (Main) Examination will consist of a Written Examination and an Interview/Personality Test. The Written Examination will consist of 9 papers of conventional essay type in the subjects set out in sub-section (B) of Section-II out of which two papers will be of qualifying in nature. [Also see Note (ii) under Para-I of Section II-(B)]. Marks obtained for all the compulsory papers (Paper-I to Paper-VII) and Marks obtained in Interview/Personality Test will be counted for ranking.

The Written Examination will consist of the following papers:—

Qualifying Papers:

(One of the Indian Language to be selected by the candidate from the Languages included in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution). 300 Marks
English 300 Marks

Papers to be counted for merit :

Paper-I Essay 250 Marks
Paper-II General Studies-I 250 Marks
(Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society)
Paper-III General Studies -II 250 Marks
(Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations)
Paper-IV General Studies -III 250 Marks
(Technology, Economic Development, Bio-diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management)
Paper-V General Studies -IV 250 Marks
(Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude)
Paper-VI Optional Subject – Paper 1 250 Marks

Optional Subject – Paper 2 250 Marks
Sub Total (Written test) 1750 Marks

Personality Test 275 Marks

Grand Total 2025 Marks

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) Literature of any one of the following languages: Assamese, Bengali, Bodo, Dogri, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Maithili, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Odia, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Santhali, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu and English.

Syllabi for Civil Services Main Examinations:

The aim of the paper is to test the candidates’ ability to read and understand serious discursive prose,

and to express ideas clearly and correctly, in English and Indian language concerned.
The pattern of questions would be broadly as follows :
(i) Comprehension of given passages.
(ii) Precis Writing.
(iii) Usage and Vocabulary.
(iv) Short Essays.

Indian Languages

(i) comprehension of given passages.
(ii) Precis Writing.
(iii) Usage and Vocabulary.
(iv) Short Essays.
(v) Translation from English to the Indian Language and vice-versa.

PAPER-I Essay:

Candidates may be required to write essays on multiple topics. They will be expected to keep closely
to the subject of the essay to arrange their ideas in orderly fashion, and to write concisely. Credit will be
given for effective and exact expression.

PAPER-II General Studies-I: Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society.

Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, literature and Architecture from ancient to
modern times.
 Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant
events, personalities, issues.
 The Freedom Struggle — its various stages and important contributors/contributions from different
parts of the country.
 Post-independence consolidation and reorganization within the country.
 History of the world will include events from 18th century such as industrial revolution, world wars,
redrawal of national boundaries, colonization, decolonization, political philosophies like communism,
capitalism, socialism etc.— their forms and effect on the society.
 Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India.
 Role of women and women’s organization, population and associated issues, poverty and
developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.
 Effects of globalization on Indian society.

 Social empowerment, communalism, regionalism & secularism. Salient features of world’s physical geography.
 Distribution of key natural resources across the world (including South Asia and the Indian subcontinent); factors responsible for the location of primary, secondary, and tertiary sector industries in various parts of the world (including India).
Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc.,
geographical features and their location-changes in critical geographical features (including water-bodies
and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes.

PAPER-III General Studies- II: Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations.

Indian Constitution—historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions
and basic structure.
 Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the
federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein.
 Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.
 Comparison of the Indian constitutional scheme with that of other countries.
 Parliament and State legislatures—structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges
and issues arising out of these.
 Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary—Ministries and
Departments of the Government; pressure groups and formal/informal associations and their role in the
 Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act.
 Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions and responsibilities of various
Constitutional Bodies.
 Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.
 Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of
their design and implementation.
 Development processes and the development industry —the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and
associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders.
 Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the
performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection
and betterment of these vulnerable sections.
 Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health,
Education, Human Resources.
 Issues relating to poverty and hunger.
 Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models,
successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.
 Role of civil services in a democracy.
 India and its neighborhood- relations.
 Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s
 Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian
 Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate.

PAPER-IV General Studies-III: Technology, Economic Development, Bio diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management

Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and
 Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.
 Government Budgeting.
 Major crops-cropping patterns in various parts of the country, – different types of irrigation and
irrigation systems storage, transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related
constraints; e-technology in the aid of farmers.
 Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices; Public Distribution
System- objectives, functioning, limitations, revamping; issues of buffer stocks and food security;
Technology missions; economics of animal-rearing.
 Food processing and related industries in India- scope’ and significance, location, upstream and
downstream requirements, supply chain management.
 Land reforms in India.
 Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial
 Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.
 Investment models.
 Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life.
 Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new
 Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues
relating to intellectual property rights.
 Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.
 Disaster and disaster management.

 Linkages between development and spread of extremism.
 Role of external state and non-state actors in creating challenges to internal security.
 Challenges to internal security through communication networks, role of media and social networking
sites in internal security challenges, basics of cyber security; money-laundering and its prevention.
 Security challenges and their management in border areas – linkages of organized crime with terrorism.
 Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate.

PAPER-V General Studies- IV: Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude

This paper will include questions to test the candidates’ attitude and approach to issues relating to
integrity, probity in public life and his problem solving approach to various issues and conflicts faced by
him in dealing with society. Questions may utilise the case study approach to determine these aspects.
The following broad areas will be covered :
 Ethics and Human Interface: Essence, determinants and consequences of Ethics in-human actions;
dimensions of ethics; ethics – in private and public relationships. Human Values – lessons from the lives
and teachings of great leaders, reformers and administrators; role of family society and educational
institutions in inculcating values.
 Attitude: content, structure, function; its influence and relation with thought and behaviour; moral and
political attitudes; social influence and persuasion.
 Aptitude and foundational values for Civil Service, integrity, impartiality and non-partisanship,
objectivity, dedication to public service, empathy, tolerance and compassion towards the weaker-sections.
 Emotional intelligence-concepts, and their utilities and application in administration and governance.
 Contributions of moral thinkers and philosophers from India and world.
 Public/Civil service values and Ethics in Public administration: Status and problems; ethical concerns
and dilemmas in government and private institutions; laws, rules, regulations and conscience as sources
of ethical guidance; accountability and ethical governance; strengthening of ethical and moral values in
governance; ethical issues in international relations and funding; corporate governance.
 Probity in Governance: Concept of public service; Philosophical basis of governance and probity;
Information sharing and transparency in government, Right to Information, Codes of Ethics, Codes of
Conduct, Citizen’s Charters, Work culture, Quality of service delivery, Utilization of public funds,
challenges of corruption. Case Studies on above issues.

PAPER-VI & PAPER V Optional Subject Papers I & II

Candidate may choose any optional subject from amongst the List of Optional Subjects given in Para 2.

Interview/Personality Test

Candidates who obtain such minimum qualifying marks in the written part of the Civil Services (Main) Examination as may be fixed by the Commission at their discretion, shall be summoned by them for an Interview/Personality Test, vide sub-section (C) of Section-II. The number of candidates to be summoned for Interview/Personality Test will be about twice of the number of vacancies to be filled. The Interview/Personality Test will carry 275 marks (with no minimum qualifying marks)

The candidate will be interviewed by a Board who will have before them a record of the candidate’s career. The candidate will be asked questions on matters of general interest. The object of the Interview/Personality Test is to assess the personal suitability of the candidate for a career in public service by a Board of competent and unbiased observers. The Interview/Personality Test is intended to judge the mental calibre of a candidate. In broad terms this is really an assessment of not only intellectual qualities but also social traits and interest in current affairs. Some of the qualities to be judged are mental alertness, critical powers of assimilation, clear and logical exposition, balance of judgement, variety and depth of interest, ability for social cohesion and leadership, intellectual and moral integrity.

The technique of the Interview/Personality Test is not that of a strict cross-examination but of a natural, though directed and purposive conversation which is intended to reveal the mental qualities of the candidate.

The Interview/Personality 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 rouse the curiosity of well-educated youth.

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