Know everything you need to know about the UPSC like UPSC syllabus, exams, age limit, books, exam dates and so on.
If your dream career is a prestigious Central Government job like IAS or IPS, you should definitely know about UPSC.
UPSC is the recruiting agency for top-level Central Government jobs.
What is UPSC?
UPSC is India’s central agency which conducts exams like Civil Services Exam (CSE) to recruit candidates into top government services like IAS, IPS, IFS etc. UPSC recruits candidates to both civil services as well as defence services.
What is the full form of UPSC?
The full form of UPSC is Union Public Service Commission.
What are the exams conducted by UPSC for selection into civil services?
- Civil Services Examination (CSE)
- Engineering Services Examination (ESE).
- Indian Forestry Services Examination (IFoS).
- Central Armed Police Forces Examination (CAPF).
- Indian Economic Service and Indian Statistical Service (IES/ISS).
- Combined Geo-Scientist and Geologist Examination.
- Combined Medical Services (CMS).
- Special Class Railway Apprentices Exam (SCRA).
- Limited Departmental Competitive Examination for selection of Assistant Commandant. (Executive) in CISF.
What are the exams conducted by UPSC for selection into defence services?
- National Defence Academy & Naval Academy Examination – NDA & NA (I).
- National Defence Academy & Naval Academy Examination – NDA & NA (II).
- Combined Defense Services Exam – CDS (I).
- Combined Defense Services Exam – CDS (II).
UPSC Exam: What is the UPSC Civil Services Examination?
Civil Services Examination (CSE) is one of the most popular exams conducted by the Union Public Service Commission. It is widely known as ‘IAS exam’ even though CSE is a common exam to recruit candidates to about 24 top government services like IAS, IPS, IFS, IRS etc.
UPSC Civil Services Exam (CSE) consists of 3 stages. The stages are:
- Preliminary Exam (objective)
- Main Exam (written)
- Interview (personality test)
The exam window extends around 10-12 months (usually from June month of a year to June month next year when the results are announced).
What is the UPSC Syllabus for Civil Services Exam?
There are 3 stages in the UPSC Civil Services Exam – (1) Preliminary Exam (Objective Test) (2) Main Exam (Written Test) (3) Personality Test (Interview).
Prelims – The Civil Services Preliminary exam comprises of two compulsory papers of 200 marks each (General Studies Paper-I and General Studies Paper-II). The questions will be of multiple-choice, objective type. The marks in prelims will not be counted for final ranking, but just for qualification for the main exam.
Mains – The written examination (main) will consist of the nine papers, but only 7 papers will be counted for final merit ranking. For the rest two papers, the candidate should secure minimum marks prescribed by the commission each year.
Interview – The candidate will be interviewed by a Board who will have before them a record of his/her career. He/she will be asked questions on matters of general interest.
The marks of the Preliminary Exam is not counted for the final ranking. Prelims is a screening test to select the candidates for the Main Exam. A candidate’s final rank in the Civil Service Exam depends only on the mark scored in the Main exam and Interview. The main exam has 1750 marks while interview has 275 marks. Total marks are calculated out of 2025.
Having said that, it is not easy to clear the Preliminary Exam without sufficient preparation. Only the top 3 out of 100 candidates are selected by the Union Public Service Commission to sit for the Main exam. You can read more about the UPSC syllabus from the link.
What is the UPSC age limit for the IAS Exam?
To attempt the IAS exam, the candidate should have crossed 21 years (by August 1, the year in which he/she attempts the exam).
The upper age limit is 32 for the General Merit category, 35 for the Other Backward Classes (OBC) and 37 for Scheduled Classes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST). Additional relaxations are provided for certain special cases.
Read more about the UPSC age limit here.
What is the educational requirement to attempt the UPSC CSE?
Any graduate can attempt the UPSC Civil Services Examination.
The graduation can be in any stream. It can be a regular degree or distance education. You can understand the eligibility criteria for writing the IAS/IPS exam from the link.
How to prepare for the UPSC Exam?
Success in the Civil Services Examination (CSE) = 50% Knowledge + 50% Skills (Strategies).
We suggest aspirants start from our post – IAS beginner’s guide.
Can I do UPSC Online Preparation?
Yes. In this online age, it is possible to clear the IAS exam by self-study.
Refer to our topper’s interview section to get better insights regarding the exam preparation.
UPSC Exam Dates
Usually, UPSC conducts the Civil Services Preliminary Exam in June. The Main Exam is usually conducted in September. The Personality Test takes almost 3 months to finish. UPSC conducts the CSE interview (or personality test) in the months February – April.
The UPSC Exam cycle for Civil Services Examination 2020 is already started. The dates of the exams are as below:
- UPSC CSE 2020 Prelims Date: October 04, 2020
- UPSC CSE 2020 Mains Date: January 08, 2021
- UPSC CSE 2020 Interview Date: March-May 2021 (expected)
- UPSC CSE 2020 Final Result Date: May End 2021 (expected)
Check UPSC 2020 Exam Calendar for details.
The notification for UPSC Civil Services Examination for 2021 will be published on February 10, 2021. You can apply for the Civil Services Exam 2021 from February 10, 2021, until March 02, 2021.
- UPSC CSE 2021 Prelims Date: June 27, 2021
- UPSC CSE 2021 Mains Date: September 17, 2021
- UPSC CSE 2021 Interview Date: January-March 2022 (expected)
- UPSC CSE 2021 Final Result Date: April 2022 (expected)
Check UPSC 2021 Exam Calendar for details.
Latest UPSC Notifications
Be updated with the latest UPSC notifications.
Also, refer the below links:
Books for UPSC
Apart from NCERT Books (Class 6-12), 10-15 standard reference textbooks are recommended for UPSC preparation.
Some of the best-selling books are:
- Indian Polity – by M. Laxmikanth
- Important Acts that Transformed India – by Alex Andrews George
- Important Judgments that Transformed India – by Alex Andrews George
- Indian Art and Culture – by Nitin Singhania
- Ancient and Medieval India – by Poonam Dalal Dahiya
- Modern Indian History – by Sonali Bansal and Snehil Tripathi
- Certificate Physical And Human Geography – by Goh Cheng Leong
- Geography of India – by Majid Husain
- Oxford Student Atlas for India
- Indian Economy – by Ramesh Singh
- Indian Economy – by Nitin Singhania
- Science and Technology – by Ravi P. Agrahari
- Environment and Ecology –by Vaishali Anand
- International Relations – by Pavneet Singh
- Lexicon for Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude – by Niraj Kumar
Check UPSC Books section of ClearIAS online shopping of recommended books.
UPSC Mock Exams
Do first things first! Not last!
If you have decided that self-study and online preparation is your choice for the Civil Service Exam – then the first step you should make is to join ClearIAS Prelims Online Mock Test Series.
Timetable for IAS Exam Preparation
As a beginner who does not know what to study and how to study – ClearIAS Timetable can be the best pathfinder.
We recommend taking ClearIAS Mock Exams right from the time you begin IAS exam preparation. Ideally, you should study what we mention in the timetable for a week, and then take a mock exam on weekends. By adopting this approach, you will never go deviated and will get a quick idea of the Civil Services Exam requirements.
The Importance of the Right Strategy!
To crack IAS in the first shot, you need the right strategy. Candidates often find Civil Services Exam a hard nut to crack not due to lack of hard-work or potential, but due to lack of right strategy.
ClearIAS has written a lot of articles on this website covering useful strategies for the IAS exam. Regularly check our blog.
ClearIAS TTT Approach
The core concept of the ClearIAS TTT Approach is to invest in 3 ‘T’s – Text-books, Test Series, and Techniques.
These three ‘Ts’ are the tools for you to succeed in the Civil Services Exam.
Regarding books, ideally, you should start your preparation from NCERT books and then move on to standard reference text-books.
Mock Test Series is very important for the UPSC Preliminary Exam (Objective) and Main Exam (Written).
ClearIAS Test Series integrates the text-books and techniques into the model exams, which makes it unique.
UPSC Civil Services Exam demands not just knowledge but certain exam-skills too.
ClearIAS has developed various techniques to clear the Civil Services Exam with ease. Some of those:
How much advance preparation is needed before the Prelims?
It varies from candidate to candidate. Most of the serious candidates start at-least 1 year in advance. However, there are many who cleared with less than 6 months of preparation.
If you are a late starter, we recommend you to adopt ClearIAS Test-based approach, to learn faster.
Also, refer the below posts:
- Civil Service Prelims 6 Month Strategy – How Can You Clear Prelims in 6 Months?
- CSAT – What is the best strategy to prepare for the CSAT?
- 100-Days Action Plan to Clear IAS Prelims
UPSC Online Application
Are you wondering how to apply online for UPSC Exams? Once the details of exams are notified in the official website of UPSC – upsc.gov.in – you need to apply online.
There is a website for UPSC online applications – https://upsconline.nic.in/.
Once the application window for an exam opens (usually in Feb for UPSC CSE), you can apply online.
NB: We have addressed 50+ common queries and concerns of aspirants regarding UPSC Online Application process here.
UPSC Exam Results
Results of all exams conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (as well as notifications for future exams) will be published on the homepage of the official website itself. For future reference, you can check the same from the UPSC exam results page on ClearIAS.com.
UPSC Previous Year Question Papers
Previous Year Question Papers of various exams conducted by UPSC are available online. Check the link to download previous year question papers of UPSC as PDF.
Union Public Service Commission Report
UPSC submits an annual report on the work done by it to the president. The president places the report of the commission before the parliament along with a memorandum with regard to the cases where the advice of the commission was not accepted and the reasons for such non-acceptance.
Interesting Facts about Union Public Service Commission
- The Commission consists of a maximum of 11 members, including the Chairman.
- The Union Public Service Commission has been established under Article 315 of the Constitution of India.
- The Commission traces its origin to the first Public Services Commission established in 1926 and the Federal Public Services Commission established in 1935.
- Union Public Service Commission conducts exams to recruit candidates to both civil services as well as defence services.
If you have questions in your mind, just go through our article ‘frequently asked questions on IAS exam preparation‘.