30th September 2023

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IAS Preliminary Exam Syllabus

The Preliminary Examination of Union Public Service Commission for Civil Services Examination is popularly called CSAT or Civil Services Aptitude Test. The CSAT is actually the second paper of General Studies introduced in 2011. The CSAT was introduced to end the use of scaling system for varying subjects in the General Studies paper.

The benefit of introducing aptitude tests in the civil exam is that it assesses your logical reasoning and thinking performance. It is based on multiple choice questions answered in exam conditions. No subject influences, or can have an effect on an aptitude test.

Some changes are made in the format of Civil Services Examination since 2013. It’s for the first time the Indian Forest Service (IFS) aspirants were combined with the Civil Services aspirants and are made to take the preliminary examination. Those Indian Forest Service aspirants who may eventually clear the Preliminary examination have to write separate exams for their Mains Indian Forest Service examination.

There is also a change in the pattern of the Civil Services Mains examination from 2013. Now there are four compulsory papers of General Studies, and only one optional subject instead of two, one compulsory essay paper is also there. Besides, English and one language paper is of only qualifying nature.
Some changes have been done in 2014, in this year civil services preliminary exam was conducted on 24-08-2014 had 80 questions but only 74 questions were evaluated for the cut off marks. Questions related to English language comprehension skills was not countable or its marks were not added in the final merit list to decide cut-off for prelims – CSE 2014. Thus CSAT comprises 185 marks only. From this year English comprehension is excluded from the CSAT syllabus.

From 2015 G.S Paper-II (CSAT) was only a qualifying paper and minimum qualifying marks of 33% required.

UPSC Preliminary Examination

The UPSC Preliminary Examination shall comprise two compulsory papers of 200 marks each.

Paper I – (200 marks) Duration : Two hours

  • Current events of national and international importance.
  • History of India and Indian National Movement.
  • Indian and World Geography – Physical, Social, Economic Geography of India and the World.
  • 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.
  • General issues on Environmental Ecology, Bio-diversity and Climate Change – that do not require subject specialization.
  • General Science.
  • Paper II- (200 marks) Duration: Two hours


  • 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).

Note  : The questions will be of multiple choice, objective type.