How to Crack UPSC – Union Public Service Commission

How to Crack UPSC - Union Public Service Commission

What is UPSC ?

The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) is the government agency for recruiting officers into the civil services of the country. The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) conducts exams and the selection of candidates is based on pre-selected criteria. The civil services include the  Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Foreign Service (IFS) and Indian Police Service (IPS)  that form a part of India’s civil services the backbone of the country’s administration.

Know more about UPSC

The civil services include three types of services, All India Services, Group A and Group B Central Services. The services that come under each of these types are mentioned below:

All India Services:

  1. Indian Administrative Service (IAS)
  2. Indian Foreign Service (IFS)
  3. Indian Police Service (IPS)

Group ‘A’ services:

  1. Indian Revenue Service
  2. Indian P & T Accounts & Finance Service
  3. Indian Customs and Central Excise Service
  4. Indian Audit & Accounts Service
  5. Indian Ordnance Factories Service
  6. Indian Defence Accounts Service
  7. Indian Postal Service
  8. Indian Defence Estates Service
  9. Indian Civil Accounts Service
  10. Indian Railway Account Service
  11. Indian Railway Traffic Service
  12. Indian Railway Personnel Service
  13. Railway Protection Force
  14. Central Industrial Security Force

Group ‘B’ services:

  1. Delhi and Andaman & Nicobar Islands Civil Service
  2. Delhi and Andaman & Nicobar Islands Police Service
  3. Central Secretarial Service
  4. Armed Forces Headquarters Civil Service
  5. Railway Board Secretariat Service
  6. Custom Appraisers Service
  7. Pondicherry Civil Service

UPSC Exam Eligibility 2022 – UPSC Age Limit

The prescribed eligibility criteria for UPSC exam are that the candidate should be a graduate and must have attained the age of 21 years. The upper age limit and the number of attempts is restricted based on the candidate’s caste category. Normally, the upper age limit is 32 years, but the commission gives an age relaxation for OBC / SC / ST and PWD candidates. 

CategoryUpper Age Limit for UPSCNo. of Attempts
Economically Weaker Section (EWS)326
SC / ST37Unlimited (Up to age limit)
Defence Services Personnel359
Persons with Benchmark Disability359

How the attempts are Calculated in UPSC Civil Services Exams ?

The attempts are counted when you appear for the Prelims Examination. Even if you’ve appeared in any one of the Exams, your attempt will be counted. This may be one of the major reasons for absenteeism in the Prelims Exam. Only about 50% of the applicants who fill the Online Application form appear for the Examination. After filling out the Online Examination form and do not appear for the exam, your attempt will not be counted.

Candidates who have already joined the services of an IAS or IFS as an officer cannot write the Examination again. However, an IPS Officer can write the Examination to compete for the IAS Rank.

UPSC Exam Eligibility 2022 – Educational Qualification

The candidate must hold a Graduation Degree from a government-recognized university. Candidates who are in their final year of Graduation or Awaiting results are also eligible to appear for UPSC preliminary Examination.

UPSC Exam Eligibility Criteria – Exam Pattern

The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) exam is held in three stages. The three stages are Preliminary Exam (objective), Main Exam (written) and Interview (personality test),. The Preliminary Exam consists of two papers of objective type questions. The Main Exam consists of nine descriptive type papers. The last stage consists of an interview round with the UPSC board. Candidates should clear each round in order to qualify for the subsequent round.

Name of the PaperNo of QuestionsMarks AllottedTime AllottedNature of Exam
Paper I: General Studies (Objective-type)1002002 hoursThe score will be considered for Cut-off
Paper-II: General Studies-II (CSAT) (Objective-Type)802002 hoursQualifying in Nature – Candidates will have to score 33% to qualify for CSAT.
PaperSubjectDurationTotal MarksNature of PaperType of Paper
Paper ACompulsory Indian Language3 hours300QualifyingDescriptive
Paper BEnglish3 hours300QualifyingDescriptive
Paper IEssay3 hours250MeritDescriptive
Paper-IIGeneral Studies-I3 hours250MeritDescriptive
Paper IIIGeneral Studies-II3 hours250MeritDescriptive
Paper IVGeneral Studies-III3 hours250MeritDescriptive
Paper VGeneral Studies -IV3 hours250MeritDescriptive
Paper VIOptional-I3 hours250MeritDescriptive
Paper VIIOptional-II3 hours250MeritDescriptive

The UPSC also conducts various other exams apart from the civil services. Some of them are Engineering Services Exam, Combined Medical Services Exam, Indian Forest Service Exam, Combined Defence Services Exam, Indian Statistical Service, etc.

UPSC Exam Syllabus

General Studies Paper-I : 

The IAS Syllabus for UPSC Prelims Exam includes the following topics:

  • 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

General Studies Paper-II

The General Studies Paper-II in UPSC Prelims is also known as CSAT or Civil Services Aptitude Test. The following topics are included in the IAS syllabus for this paper:

  • 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).

UPSC Exam Syllabus For Main Examination

PAPER-I Essay:

Candidates may be required to write essays on multiple topics like previous year exams. They will be expected to arrange their ideas in an orderly fashion and 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 & 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 re-organization within the country.
  • History of the World will include events from the 18th century, such as the Industrial Revolution, World Wars, redrawal of national boundaries, colonization, decolonization, political philosophies like communism, capitalism, socialism, etc., – their forms and effects on the society.
  • Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India. Role of women and women’s organizations, 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 the world’s physical geography.
  • Distribution of key natural resources across the world (including South Asia and the Indian sub-continent); 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, cyclones, etc., geographical features and their location – changes in critical geographical features (including waterbodies 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, the 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 Center and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.
  • Issues related to development and management of Social Sector/Services in the field of Health, Education, Human Resources.
  • Issues related 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 fora- their structure, mandate.
PAPER-IV General Studies-III: 
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 Achievement of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.
  • 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, 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
PAPER-V General Studies- IV: Ethics, Integrity, and Aptitude
Paper-V will include questions to test the candidates’ attitude and approach to issues relating to integrity, probity in public life and their problem-solving approach to various issues and conflicts faced by him in dealing with society. Questions may utilize 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; the 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.
Paper-VI and VII: Optional Paper-I and Optional Paper-II
  • Optional Subject -Paper I and Paper-II (250 Marks Each)

Interview/Personality Test (275 Marks)

  • Candidates who are selected after the UPSC Mains Exam move to the next and final phase of the IAS Exam called Personality Test/Interview. Here, the candidates are interviewed by a competent and unbiased board. This board will have the candidate’s DAF (Detail Application Form) with them.
  • The interview round is held to assess the candidate’s social traits and his interest in current affairs. The motive of the board is to analyze the personal aptness of the candidate for a career in public service
  • Candidates can give interviews in their preferred language as UPSC will make arrangements for the translators.


The IAS exam is tough. This is a fact. But it is also a fact that this exam is not insurmountable. With a systematic approach, hard work and dedication, you can come out with flying colours and land your dream job!

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