IAS Coaching



The Civil Services Examination (CSE) is a national competitive examination in India conducted by the Union Public Service Commission for recruitment to higher Civil Services of the Government of India, including the Indian Administrative Service, Indian Foreign Service, and Indian Police Service. In simple terms it is referred as UPSC examination, and is conducted in three phases: a preliminary examination consisting of two objective-type papers (General Studies Paper I and General Studies Paper II also popularly known as Civil Service Aptitude Test or CSAT), and a main examination consisting of nine papers of conventional (essay) type, in which two papers are qualifying and only marks of seven are counted followed by a personality test (interview). A successful candidate sits for 32 hours of examination during the complete process spanning around one year.

Each year, thousands of people take the Union Public Service Commission's Civil Services Examination in the hopes of realising their dreams of serving their country and obtaining a coveted position in the Indian government. However, sufficient guidance, appropriate planning, and a sound approach are needed to ace the exam.

Exam pattern of UPSC-CSE Examination

The UPSC Exam pattern is set by the conducting body, i.e., the Union Public Service Commission. It is a yearly conducted examination and the paper pattern for the IAS Exam has been the same since 2013. This article aims to give the reader an overview of the UPSC exam pattern and syllabus for CSE 2023.

The UPSC Civil Services Examination is considered to be the toughest examination in India. It has earned this moniker partly due to the intense competition and partly due to the comprehensive UPSC Syllabus. Apart from that, the exam pattern for UPSC CSE is quite complicated, and a typical examination cycle lasts for almost a year from the preliminary exam until the final results are declared.

UPSC Exam Pattern 2023

The UPSC civil services exam pattern is officially divided into two stages called Preliminary and Main Examination while in practice, it is a three-stage exam. The third being Personality Test/Interview.

As per the IAS exam pattern, candidates who clear the Prelims are eligible for Mains and candidates who clear the Main reach the interview stage.

Stage 1: UPSC CSE Prelims Exam Pattern

The UPSC exam pattern for the Preliminary stage consists of two papers, conducted in a single day. Both the papers comprise objective type questions with multiple choice of answers. The prelims examination is a qualifying stage to filter candidates for the mains exam. The marks secured at this stage are not counted towards the final merit list, though candidates have to prepare well for this exam as cut-offs are unpredictable and depend on the average score every year. The details of UPSC prelims pattern is given below:


Paper Type No. of questions UPSC Total Marks Duration Negative marks
General Studies I Objective 100 200 2 hours Yes
General Studies II (CSAT) Objective 80 200 2 hours Yes
Total UPSC marks for Prelims 400 (where GS Paper II is qualifying in nature with minimum qualifying marks fixed at 33%)

To sit for prelims, one has to fill the application using the UPSC Apply Online portal.

Stage 2: UPSC CSE Mains Exam Pattern

The UPSC exam pattern for the Mains stage consists of 9 papers conducted over 5-7 days. Only those candidates who secure at least the declared cut off in General Studies I and 33% in General Studies II in Prelims will be allowed to appear for the Mains Examination.

As per the exam pattern of UPSC Mains, all of the papers consist of descriptive answer type questions. It is an exhaustive phase and the total marks in UPSC mains can directly affect your final scores. Thus, the UPSC exam marks for the mains phase are extremely valuable as it acts as a key factor in merit declaration. The details of UPSC syllabus with marks are given below:


Paper Subject Duration Total marks Time Allotted Nature of paper Type of Paper
Paper A Compulsory Indian language 3 hours 300 3 hours Qualifying Descriptive
Paper B English 3 hours 300 3 hours Qualifying Descriptive
Paper I Essay 3 hours 250 3 hours Merit Descriptive
Paper-II General Studies I 3 hours 250 3 hours Merit Descriptive
Paper III General Studies II 3 hours 250 3 hours Merit Descriptive
Paper IV General Studies III 3 hours 250 3 hours Merit Descriptive
Paper V General Studies IV 3 hours 250 3 hours Merit Descriptive
Paper VI Optional I 3 hours 250 3 hours Merit Descriptive
Paper VII Optional II 3 hours 250 3 hours Merit Descriptive

All of the mains papers except for the language papers A and B are of a merit ranking nature. Paper A and B are of qualifying nature and candidates must score at least 25% in each for the marks from their Paper I – Paper VII to be given weightage.

Paper A is not compulsory for candidates from the States of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Sikkim as well as candidates with hearing impairment, provided they can prove 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.

The subjects which are covered by the General Studies Papers in Mains Exam are:

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.

Stage 3: UPSC CSE Pattern for Interview

This is the final stage of the IAS Exam before the final results are declared. Officially it is called the Interview/Personality Test and counted as a part of the Mains Examination for merit ranking purposes. From a preparation standpoint, it is considered the third stage as preparation strategies for the written and interview stages are different. As per the IAS exam pattern, this consists of an interview by the UPSC board to assess the candidates’ suitability for a civil services career and associated responsibilities. The board consists of competent and unbiased observers who have a record of the candidates’ career. The board would judge the candidates mental and social traits by asking questions of general interest. Some of the qualities that the board looks for are mental alertness, critical powers of assimilation, clear and logical exposition, a balance of judgement, variety and depth of interest, ability for social cohesion and leadership, intellectual and moral integrity.

UPSC Interview Total Marks 275

Complete Book List For UPSC IAS Preparation

The UPSC Syllabus for Civil Services Prelims and Mains examination is comprehensive and requires a lot of information sources to adequately address the challenges of the UPSC question paper. Here, we are giving the list of books for IAS Examination.

. NCERT Textbooks 1. NCERT Text Books from Class 6 – 12th. NCERTs (also OLD NCERTs) are the first step towards IAS preparation. Download them for free here.

2. Or check our free NCERT notes section.

Indian History and Culture

1. India’s Ancient Past – R.S. Sharma.

2. History Of Medieval India – Satish Chandra

3. History Of Modern India – Bipan Chandra.

4. India’s Struggle For Independence – Bipan Chandra. (For Mains only)

5. The Wonder That Was India – A.L. Bhasham (Ancient India and Culture)

6. Indian Art and Culture – Nitin Singhania. (For Prelims – Culture)

7. A Brief History of Modern India – Spectrum (For Prelims)

Indian Geography and World Geography

1. Oxford School Atlas or any good quality Atlas

2. Geography of India – Majid Husain.

3. World Geography – Majid Husain

4. Certificate Physical and Human Geography – Goh Cheng Leong. (Physical and Human Geography)

Indian Polity and Constitution

1. Indian Polity for Civil Services Examinations – M. Laxmikanth. (ESSENTIAL FOR UPSC)

2. Introduction to the Constitution of India – D. D. Basu (only for Mains)

Indian Economy

  1. Indian Economy – Ramesh Singh
  2. Often questions on Indian Economy are linked with Current Affairs; more on Current Affairs prep later

Science and Technology

1. Science and Technology in India – Ravi P Agrahari.

2. Read NCERTs for S&T topics selectively and follow Current Affairs

Environment – Ecology, Biodiversity and Climate Change

  1. Environment for Civil Services Prelims and Mains – Khuller.

Current Affairs

1. India Year Book

2. Yojana Magazine

3. Kurukshetra Magazine

4. Economic and Political Weekly

5. Science Reporter

6. The Hindu/ The Indian Express


8. Press Information Bureau


1. Analytical Reasoning – M. K. Pandey

2. Verbal & Non-Verbal Reasoning – R. S.Aggarwal


Other important reference books

1. Essays for Civil Services – Pulkit Khare

2. India After Gandhi – Ramchandra Guha

3. Mastering Modern World History – Norman Lowe

4. Social Problems In India – Ram Ahuja.

5. Governance in India – Laxmikanth.

6. India and the World by Surendra Kumar.

7. Challenges to Internal Security of India – Ashok Kumar.

8. Lexicon for Ethics, Integrity, and Aptitude – Niraj Kumar.

List of Important IAS Books for UPSC Exam

In the table below, we have listed the most relevant IAS Exam study material in Hindi for candidates who are going to take the CSE exam of UPSC in Hindi, sorted by subjects:

IAS Subject IAS Book Name Relevant For IAS Exam Paper
  1. Prarambhik Bharat Ka Parichay by Ram Sharan Sharma
  2. Madhyakaleen Bharat – Rajniti, Samaj Aur Sanskriti by Satish Chandra
  3. Bharat Ka Rashtria Aandolan by Bipan Chandra
  4. Adhunik Bharat Ka Itihas OR Spectrum (Hindi) by Rajiv Ahir
  5. Bharatiya Kala, Sanskriti Evam Virasat: Civil Sewa Pariksha Hetu by Meenakshi Kant
  6. Bharat: Gandhi Ke Baad by Ram Chandra Guha
  7. Samkaleen Vishwa Ka Itihas 1890 – 2008 by Arjun Dev
  1. Prelims/GS
  2. Prelims
  3. Prelims/GS 1/Essay
  4. GS 1/ Essay
  5. Prelims/GS
  6. GS 1/ Essay
  7. Prelims/GS
  1. Bharat Ki Rajvyavastha by M. Lakshmikanth
  2. Bharat Ka Samvidhan: Ek Parichaya by DD Basu
  3. Hamari Sansad by Subhash Kashyap
  4. Bharat Ki Videsh Niti by VN Khanna
  1. Prelims/GS 2
  2. GS 2/ Polity Optional
  3. GS 2
  4. GS 2/ Essay
  1. Bharat Ka Bhugol by Spectrum
  2. Bharat Evam Viswa Ka Bhugol by Majid Hussain
  3. Bhautik Bhugol by Majid Hussain
  4. Orient Blackswan (Vishwa Atlas Laghu Sanskaran)
  1. Prelims/ GS 1
  2. GS 1
  3. Prelims/GS 1
  4. Prelims
  1. Bhartiya Arthvyavastha by Ramesh Singh
  1. Prelims/GS 3/Essay
Indian Society/Sociology
  1. Samajik Samasyayein by Ram Ahuja
  2. Samaj Ka Bodh (NCERT class 11)
  3. Samajshastra Parichaya (NCERT Class 11)
  4. Bhartiya Samaj (NCERT Class 12)
  5. Bharat Main Samajik Parivartan Aur Vikas (NCERT Class 12)
  1. GS 1/Essay
  2. GS 1/Essay
  3. GS 1/Essay
  4. GS 1/Essay
  5. GS 1/Essay
  1. Paryavaran Evam Paristhitiki: Civil Sewa Pariksha Hetu by Majid Hussain
  2. Paryavaran Evam Parishthiti by K Siddhartha
  1. Prelims/ GS 3
  2. Prelims/ GS 3
Science & Technology
  1. Vigyan Evam Prodhyogiki Ka Vikas – TMH – Sheelwant Singh
  1. Prelims/ GS 3
  2. Prelims/ GS 3
  1. Bharat Ki Aantrik Suraksha Aur Mukhya Chunautiyan by Ashok Kumar
  1. Prelims/GS 3
  1. IAS Mukhya Pariksha Samanya Addhyan Paper 4 Nitishastra, Satyanishtha Aur Abhiruchi by Arihant
  1. GS 4/Essay

UPSC Books in Hindi for IAS Current Affairs

The books listed above are preferred by candidates preparing for the IAS and other UPSC exams. These UPSC books in Hindi are helpful for both Prelims and Mains stage of the CSE. Apart from the above list, a candidate should also prepare for the Current Affairs part of the UPSC exam.

Listed below are a few more IAS books in Hindi for GK/Current Affairs:

  • Lucent’s Samanya Gyan
  • Manorama Year Book 2019 – Hindi
  • Bharat 2020 – Publication Division (GOI)
  • IGNOU books
  • Yojana magazine/Kurukshetra (Hindi)