UPSC-CSE Exam - Eligibility, Qualification, Syllabus & Books

In this article we will discuss everything related to UPSC Civil Services Examination popularly known as UPSC CSE or UPSC IAS. Here is a complete guide on eligibility, required qualification, age limit, number of attempts, syllabus, exam pattern, prelims and mains details and nature of questions asked.

This particular article and subsequent articles mentioned below in links will walk you through each and every aspect of most prestigious exam in India, so called UPSC CSE/IAS.

What is UPSC and CSE/IAS exam ?

Union Public Service commission or widely known as UPSC is a constitutional body of India, tasked with conducting exams to fill top positions is various government departments and administration.

To fill top administrative and other posts of the country, UPSC conducts CSE and many other exams every year, the notification and exams dates are known pretty much earlier.

Post and Services offered by UPSC CSE/IAS exam

Apart from IAS, IFS and IPS, UPSC CSE exam offers various top positions in different government departments based on candidate rank and choice, all the posts offered by UPSC CSE exam in different departments are listed below:

(1) Indian Administrative Service.
(2) Indian Foreign Service.
(3) Indian Police Service.
(4) Indian P & T Accounts & Finance Service, Group A.
(5) Indian Audit and Accounts Service, Group A.
(6) Indian Revenue Service (Customs and Central Excise), Group A.
(7) Indian Defence Accounts Service, Group A.
(8) Indian Revenue Service (I.T.), Group A.
(9) Indian Ordnance Factories Service, Group A (Assistant Works Manager, Administration).
(10) Indian Postal Service, Group A.
(11) Indian Civil Accounts Service, Group A.
(12) Indian Railway Traffic Service, Group A.
(13) Indian Railway Accounts Service, Group A.
(14) Indian Railway Personnel Service, Group A.
(15) Post of Assistant Security Commissioner in Railway Protection Force, Group A
(16) Indian Defence Estates Service, Group A.
(17) Indian Information Service (Junior Grade), Group A.
(18) Indian Trade Service, Group A (Gr. III).
(19) Indian Corporate Law Service, Group A.
(20) Armed Forces Headquarters Civil Service, Group B (Section Officer's Grade).
(21) Delhi, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli Civil Service, Group B.
(22) Delhi, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli Police Service, Group B.
(23) Pondicherry Civil Service, Group B.
(24) Pondicherry Police Service, Group B.

Eligibility or Qualification for UPSC CSE exam

To appear in UPSC CSE examination one should fulfil certain eligibility and must posses required qualification, qualification needed and eligibility for UPSC CSE is listed below:

1) He/She must be a citizen of India.
2) He/She must posses a bachelor degree in any subject from UGC recognised university. There is no minimum marks criteria. A person having degree in any subject can also opt for any other or same subject in mains.
3) Number of attempts and age is restricted based on category a person belongs to by UPSC to appear in the exam.

Age Limit and Number of attempts for UPSC CSE exam

Number of attempts and age is restricted based on category a person belongs to by UPSC to appear in the exam, details are shown below.

CategoryAge LimitAttempts
General21 to 32 years6
OBC21 to 35 years9
SC/ST21 to 37yearsUnlimited
Ex-serviceman5 years relaxationUnlimited
Blind, Hearing Impaired & Orthopaedically Handicapped10 years relaxationUnlimited

UPSC CSE exam pattern

UPSC CSE exam is conducted in three stages, Preliminary, Mains and Interview, Preliminary is just a shortlisting stage, while Mains and Interview marks collectively determines final merit and rank, more details below:


Preliminary exam consists of two papers, each 200 Marks and 2 Hour duration, marks obtained in this stage are not considered for final rank. Here only GS paper 1, determines qualification of a candidate for mains exam while GS paper 2 is qualifying in nature, one has to score 33% marks in it.

PaperMax MarksDurationSyllabusNature
GS Paper 12002 HoursSyllabusDetermines entry for mains
GS Paper 22002 HoursSyllabusQualifing in nature, need to score 33% marks only


Mains exam consists of a total of 9 papers, Essay, GS1, GS2, GS3, GS4, Optional 1, Optional 2, Indian Language Paper and English language Paper. The main exam has 1750 marks.

PaperMax MarksSyllabusNature
Paper - A - Indian Language300 MarksOne of the Indian Languages to be selected by the candidate from the Languages included in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution. This paper will not be compulsory for candidates hailing from the States of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Sikkim.Qualifing
Paper- B - English Language300 MarksEnglish LanguageQualifing
Paper-I Essay250MarksWrite essays on multiple topicsCounted for merit ranking
Paper-II General Studies I250MarksIndian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and SocietyCounted for merit ranking
Paper-III General Studies II250MarksGovernance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relationsCounted for merit ranking
Paper-IV General Studies III250MarksTechnology, Economic Development, Bio-diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster ManagementCounted for merit ranking
Paper-V General Studies IV250MarksEthics, Integrity and AptitudeCounted for merit ranking
Paper-VI Optional Subject - Paper 1250MarksSyllabusCounted for merit ranking
Paper-VII Optional Subject - Paper 2250MarksSyllabusCounted for merit ranking


The interview is a face to face process which evaluates a candidate?s potential and commitment to the society. The interview is out of 275 marks. Final ranks are calculated by adding Mains (Out of 1750) and Interview marks (Out of 275) and the rank list will be prepared based on marks scored out of 2025.


UPSC CSE/IAS Syllabus is devided into three parts 1) Prelims syllabus for paper 1 and 2, 2) Mains Syllabus for GS, Essay and Qualifying Subjects and 3) Mains Optional Subjects syllabus .

UPSC CSE/Prelims Syllabus

UPSC CSE/IAS Prelims Syllabus

UPSC CSE Mains syllabus

UPSC CSE Mains GS Syllabus
UPSC CSE Mains Optional Subjects Syllabus

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