The Indian Administrative Services Examination is one of the most prestigious examinations in the country. It is conducted by the Union Public Service Commission of India for the recruitment of officers of the All India Administrative Civil Services.

The first step towards preparing for the IAS exams is to understand and familiarize yourself with the pattern of the examination.

The Exam Syllabus is divided into three sections:

  • Prelims
  • Mains
  • Personality Tests

The Prelims

The Prelims are designed to evaluate the aspirants’ understanding of current affairs and evaluate their aptitude in a short duration of time. The Preliminary Examination is a compulsory and qualifying paper. The aspirants have to clear the prelims exam in order to qualify for the next stage of the exam. The next stage is the Mains Examination.

There are two papers in the Preliminary Examinations-Paper I and Paper II.

Paper I tests the aspirants on General Studies and Paper II is a test of their aptitude. Note that qualifying in Paper I makes you eligible for the Mains Examination. Paper II is more of a qualifying nature. The marks obtained in Paper II are not added to the overall merit of the Exams.

Paper I General Studies

200 Marks

Duration: 2 Hours

Number of Questions: 100

Paper II Aptitude

200 Marks

Duration: 2 Hours

Number of Questions: 80

Mains Examination commonly known as Mains

The Mains consists of a written examination of a descriptive nature. The syllabus for optional paper is mostly of the honors level of the graduate and post-graduate course. The Mains has 9 papers which consist of two qualifying papers and seven other papers counted which will be used for ranking. The syllabus is designed and framed according to the subjects with total of 1750 marks.

Personal Interview

The personal interview has no prescribed syllabus and the aspirants are interviewed by a board qualified and competent members. Interview questions are based on general interests and the candidate will be evaluated on the basis of several factors other than their intellectual abilities. Social traits, mental alertness, problem solving skills, interests in current affairs, critical power of adaptation, rational thinking, balance of judgment, social skills and interactions and leadership, logical reasoning and moral uprightness.

Knowing the syllabus is an important aspect of preparing for the IAS Examination

Paper I Syllabus-General Studies

  1. Current Affairs- Events of national and international relevance and importance.
  2. Indian History and Indian National Movements
  3. Indian and World Geography – Physical, Economic and geography of India and the World.
  4. Indian Polity and
  5. Economic and Social Development
  6. General studies of Environmental Ecology, climate change and bio-diversity.
  7. General Science

Paper II Syllabus

  1. Comprehension
  2. Interpersonal skills and communication skills
  3. Logical reasoning and analytical abilities
  4. Decision making and problem solving skills
  5. General mental abilities
  6. Basic numeracy -Class X level
  7. English Language Comprehension skills -Class X level.
  8. English Language Comprehension of Class X level.

IAS Exam General Studies is made up of a vast number of subjects and it is of prime importance to master this paper as it is the ticket to the Mains. The official syllabus does not give full details of the topics under each subject hence it is important to know that the level should be below the graduation but above the high school level.

The number of questions to be answered in two hours is 100. Each question carries two marks. It means there is approximately 80 seconds to answer each question. So speed and accuracy is of great importance in order to tackle this examination. Note that there is negative marking also in this paper. The correct answer will fetch you 2 marks, a wrong answer means a loss of 0.66 marks.

The 100 questions are divided into three categories:

  1. Multiple Choice Questions – single response correct
  2. Multiple Choice Questions – multiple response correct
  3. Multiple Choice Questions – Matching type

Make sure to go through the previous years’ question papers. But please make a note that UPSC does repeat any of its questions so mugging up questions won’t help. What needs to be understood is that the ‘type’ of questions may be repeated.

Aspirants need to remember that preparation for the IAS Examination is not about hard work it is all about smart work.