UPSC Syllabus 2020: IAS Syllabus for Prelims & Mains Exam

The UPSC 2019 mains examination is over. So it is high time for the candidates who are aiming for the UPSC 2020 examination. The candidates from this year who could not make this year would try this coming year with a lot more preparation and homework. 

Since the UPSC examination is one of the toughest examinations in India, the IAS exam syllabus is a little bit complicated. In this write-up, we are going to disclose the IAS exam syllabus for you so that you can start your preparation as soon as possible.

But before we start, here is brief and basic information regarding the examination:

Important dates


12th February of the year 2020

The notification of the UPSC examination will be officially announced

12th February of the year 2020

On that very same date, the examination forms will be available too

3rd march of the year 2020

The last date of submission of forms

June of 2020 (tentative)

The admit cards for the preliminary examination will be available online

31st May 2020

The UPSC IAS examination date for prelims

The month of September of 2020

Admit cards for the main examination will be available

18th September to 22nd September

These five days of September would be engaged for the main examination

Exam attempts granted:

The candidates are allowed for appearing for the UPSC examination within a restricted period.

  • General candidates are allowed to attempt for six times
  • The OBC candidates are allowed for nine attempts
  • There is no such restriction for the SC and ST candidates

Criteria for appearing the examination:

  • The candidate should own an Indian citizenship
  • In case the candidate has migrated from Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Uganda, Kenya etc, he or she has to be from an Indian origin
  • The candidate should be a minimum of 21 years age and a maximum of 32 years of age
  • There is age relaxation for the backward candidates. The sc and st candidates get 5 years of age relaxation whereas the OBCs get 3 years
  • Ex-serviceman of commissioned personnel or defense service officers owe five and three years of age relaxation respectively
  • The candidates must hold a graduate degree from any recognised university of India

Examination charges:

  • The examination fees for the general and OBC candidate is near about 200 rupees
  • The SC and ST candidates are not charged for appearing the examination

We all know that the IAS examination is conducted in three steps as mentioned below:

  • Preliminary examination
  • Mains
  • Interview

Each of the steps has its curriculum as mentioned below:

IAS syllabus:

Preliminary examination syllabus carrying 200 marks for each paper

  • General studies paper –I:

    1. Current events of national and international importance
    2. Syllabus of History of India and the heroes of ancient India, Indian national movement
    3. Indian and World Geography- it includes every aspect of geography including physical, social, economic geography across the world
    4. Indian Politics and governance and its history – right from the Indian constitution to our political system that covers the areas of Panchayati raj, public policy, Rights issues, etc.
    5. Economic and social development of India as well as the world economy– the economic history of India as well as world history of economic and its interrelations. The important topics that should be highlighted include sustainable development, poverty, inclusion, demographics, social sector initiatives etc.
    6. General issues regarding the current situation of environmental ecology, our bio-diversity and climate change. It does not require subject specialised studies. An overview of the subject and clear concepts can do well.
    7. General Science.
  • Aptitude Syllabus:

    1. Comprehension skills
    2. Interpersonal skills including communication skills and management
    3. Logical reasoning and analytical ability
    4. Decision making and problem-solving (it has no negative marking)
    5. General mental ability to solve problems
    6. Basic numerical problems that include numbers and their relations, orders of magnitude etc up to Class X level and Data Interpretation including charts, graphs, tables, data sufficiency etc up to class X level
    7. English Language Comprehension skills and writing ability (Class X level).

Mains examination syllabus:

This examination consists of seven papers and the evaluation is based on the writing of conventional and essay type questions. Each of the paper carries 250 marks. Some of them are compulsory and some of them are optional.

Paper A: (optional language paper) (300 marks)

Paper B: English (300 marks)

Paper I: essay writing

Paper-II: general studies regarding Indian and world history, geography, culture and heritage (250 marks)

Paper III: Indian constitution and its policy, social justice and rights, international relations (250 marks)

Paper IV: environment study, bio-diversity, security and disaster management, technology (250 marks)

Paper V: ethics, integrity, and aptitude (250 marks)

Paper VI: optional subject (250 marks)

Paper VII: optional subject (250 marks)

Some of the optional subjects include:

  • Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science
  • Anthropology
  • Botany
  • Chemistry
  • Civil Engineering
  • Commerce and Accountancy
  • Economics
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Geography
  • Geology etc.


After the selection is done from the main exams, the qualified ones are called for the interview that carries 275 marks. Questions asked in the interview mainly test the candidates' personality that includes:

  • Mental alertness
  • Clear mind
  • Logical thought
  • Ability to lead
  • Balance of judgement
  • Intellects
  • Moral senses etc.

So, this is the whole IAS exam syllabus to let you know that it is the high time for gearing up the preparation for the upcoming examination in 2020. Go through the syllabus thoroughly and plan a study map so wisely that you can reach out to your desired destination before time. Wish you all the best!