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IAS Exam Pattern for UPSC Mains

  • Categories
    Exam Pattern & Syllabus
  • Published
    9th Jul, 2021

Mains Exam Pattern

The pattern for the UPSC Mains Exam is quite different from prelims stage. The nature of mains exam is purely subjective. There are total 9 papers in the IAS Mains exam that are conducted over 5-7 days. Only those candidates are eligible to appear in this stage who qualifies the UPSC Prelims Exam. The details regarding types of papers and their allocated marks in UPSC Mains Exam have been mentioned below:

Paper

Subject

Duration

Total marks

Paper A

Compulsory Indian language

3 hours

300

Paper B

English

3 hours

300

Paper I

Essay

3 hours

250

Paper II

General Studies I

3 hours

250

Paper III

General Studies II

3 hours

250

Paper IV

General Studies III

3 hours

250

Paper V

General Studies IV

3 hours

250

Paper VI

Optional I

3 hours

250

Paper VII

Optional II

3 hours

250

All of the mains papers except for the language papers A and B are of a merit ranking nature. Paper A and B are qualifying in nature and candidates are required to score at least 25% in each.  However, Paper A is not compulsory for candidates from the States hailing from Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Sikkim as well as candidates with hearing impairment, provided they provide proof that they have been exempted from such 2nd or 3rd language courses by their concerned board or university. The Indian Language paper covers any of the languages included in the 8th Schedule of the Constitution.

General Studies Papers in Mains Exam cover the following sections:

General Studies I

General Studies II

General Studies III

General Studies IV

Indian Heritage and Culture

Governance

Technology

Ethics

History and Geography of the World

Constitution

Economic Development

Integrity

Society

Polity

Bio-diversity

Aptitude

Social Justice

Environment

International relations

Security and Disaster Management

The Optional subjects for Paper VI and VII of the mains examination have to be any one of the subjects from the following list:

Agriculture

Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science

Anthropology

Botany

Chemistry

Civil Engineering

Commerce and Accountancy

Economics

Electrical Engineering

Geography

Geology

History

Law

Management

Mathematics

Mechanical Engineering

Medical Science

Philosophy

Physics

Political Science and International Relations

Psychology

Public Administration

Sociology

Statistics

Zoology

The 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.

All the papers except the Language papers A and B can be answered in English or any of the languages listed in the 8th Schedule of the Constitution of India. The optional papers can be answered in English even if none of the other papers has been answered by the candidate in English.

Mains Syllabus Pattern

  1. PAPERI: (ESSAY) 250 MARKS.
  • In Essay Paper, candidates may be required to write essays on multiple topics. Candidates are required to express their ideas on any topic given in the paper. The purpose of essay is to examine the analytical skills and ideas of the students produced on the paper.
  1. PAPER2: (GENERAL STUDIES 1) 250 MARKS.
  • 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.
  1. PAPER3: (GENERAL STUDIES 2) 250 MARKS.
  • 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 Polity.
    • 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 the 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 neighbourhood- relations.
    • Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
    • Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian Diaspora.
    • Important International institutions, agencies and fore- their structure, mandate.
  1. PAPER4: (GENERAL STUDIES 3) 250 MARKS.
  • Technology, Economic Development, Biodiversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management.
    • Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.
    • 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 growth.
    • 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 technology.
    • Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nanotechnology, biotechnology 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, the 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.
  1. PAPER5: (GENERAL STUDIES 4) 250 MARKS.
  • Ethics, Integrity, and Aptitude. Details of the syllabus as provided by UPSC is as below: 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.
    • 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 the 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 the above issues.
  1. PAPER6: (OPTIONAL SUBJECT PAPER 1) 250 MARKS.
  2. PAPER7: (OPTIONAL SUBJECT PAPER 2) 250 MARKS.

QUALIFYING PAPERS – NOT COUNTED FOR FINAL RANKING:

  • Paper  A – Indian Language – Syllabus. (One of the Indian Languages to be selected by the candidate from the Languages included in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution. This paper will not be compulsory for candidates hailing from the States of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Sikkim.) 300 Marks.
  • Paper B – English Language – Syllabus. 300 Marks.
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