What to Study for IAS?

Every year, lakhs of youngsters take a shot at the UPSC civil services exam, known as the IAS exam in common parlance, in order to try and get into the esteemed Indian civil services. Many people, even from their school days, nurture the IAS dream in their hearts. However, the journey towards realising this dream is far from easy. The civil services is one of the toughest exams in the country and it takes a systematic study approach coupled with hard work to make it through. In this article, we discuss what to study for IAS exam.

The UPSC has a prescribed syllabus for the civil services exam.  This ‘UPSC Syllabus’ is rather vast and diverse. It contains a wide array of subjects and topics that a candidate is expected to cover. Apart from this prescribed syllabus, the UPSC also asks questions based on current affairs. That is, any important news, events, government policies/schemes, etc. which affect us socially, politically, environmentally or otherwise, can be a potential source for questions. This makes IAS preparation a tricky affair, and hence, it is also advisable that you take guidance in your preparation.

The broad subjects that you have to study for the UPSC exam are history, geography, polity, international relations, environment/ecology, economy, society, etc. You may go through the detailed UPSC syllabus given at the end of this article.

The UPSC exam is held in three stages. Read on to know what to study for IAS exam in the three stages.

Stage 1: UPSC Prelims

The first stage in the UPSC scheme of things is the preliminary exam, also known as the Prelims. In this stage, there are two objective type papers, namely the General Studies I and the General Studies II (CSAT). The CSAT is only a qualifying paper where you have to score at least 33%. The GS I paper is counted for merit ranking. In the CSAT paper, you will be asked questions in English comprehension, logical reasoning, analytical ability, problem-solving, decision making, general mental ability, basic numeracy, data interpretation, etc. In the GS Paper I, you will be asked questions on current affairs, history of India, geography (Indian and World), Indian polity and governance, economic and social development, environmental issues and general science.

Stage 2: UPSC Mains

Here, there are 9 papers, all of which are descriptive type. We have briefly talked about what is asked in each of the nine papers:

Essay paper: In this paper, you will have to write two essays on a given few topics. For this, you have to read about contemporary issues and concerns facing the country, trending topics in the newspapers, etc. Practicing on topics that were asked in the previous years will definitely help in the IAS essay paper.

General Studies I: In this paper, you will have to study on Indian heritage and culture, history and geography of the world, and society.

General Studies II: In this paper, you will have to read on polity, governance, the Constitution of India, social justice and international relations.

General Studies III: Here, you will be asked on topics from economy, science and technology, biodiversity, environment, security and disaster management.

General Studies IV: This is also called the Ethics paper as you will be evaluated on ethics, integrity and aptitude. Apart from theory-based questions, you will also be asked to solve case studies based on ethics.

Optional Paper I & II: These papers are based on the optional subject that you choose for the IAS mains. You can get a list of the optional subjects to choose, from the link given at the end of this article.

English Language Paper: This is a qualifying paper on the English language.

Indian Language Paper: This is also a qualifying paper on any Indian language of your choice (the list is given at the end of this article).

Stage 3: Personality Test

The final stage is the interview round where the UPSC board conducts an interview of the candidate. Here, they will assess the overall personality of the candidate. Some of the parameters used to assess candidates are attitude, communication skills, mental strength, ability to handle stressful situations, verbal expression of thoughts, etc. They can also ask questions on your background, work experience, hobbies, etc. In this round, your DAF (Detailed Application Form) which you fill before the mains exam is extremely important.

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