About the Examination

Civil service, which is the backbone of Indian governance constitutes all ministries and their departments. The Civil service and Forest service exams are conducted by the UPSC. The prestige, power, charm and responsibility that come along with the top jobs such as the IAS, IFS, IPS, etc., are a definite reason for anyone to choose Civil service and Forest service a career option.

Structure of the Examination

Both Civil Service and Forest Service Examination consist of 3 stages as mentioned below:

Stage 1 – Preliminary Exam (Objective Type)

Stage 2 – Mains Exam (Descriptive Type)

Stage 3 – Interview (Oral)

Preliminary Examination (For Civil & Forest Service)

The Preliminary Examination which is common for both Civil services and Forest service is conducted during May or June every year. It consists of two papers – one is held in the forenoon and the other in the afternoon of the same day and both papers consist of a set of multiple choice questions. The forenoon session is General Studies Paper–I where questions are based on general awareness and other topics as mentioned in the syllabus. In afternoon session is CSAT – Paper II where questions based on Quantitative aptitude, Reasoning and Verbal ability as mentioned in syllabus. Candidates should note that there will be a penalty (negative marking) for wrong answers.

Information in the table are based on UPSC Civil Services Examinations 2018.

SubjectNo. of QuestionsMarks
TotalCorrect AnsIncorrect Ans
General Studies Paper – I1002002-.0.66
CSAT Paper – II802002.5-0.83

* For Wrong answers one – third of the marks assigned to that question will be deducted as penalty.


  • Paper I marks is used for the selection of candidates to the mains examination.
  • Paper II marks is qualifying paper with a minimum qualifying marks fixed at 33% (i.e 66 marks).
  • Two set of results are published – one list is for those who qualified for Civil Service Mains Examinations and other list is for those who qualified for Forest Service Mains Examination.
  • This is only a screening test, marks will not be added in calculating final results.

Civil Service Mains Examination

The candidates who qualify for Civil Service Mains Examination have to choose one optional subject which has two papers.

The mains examination is intended to assess the overall intellectual traits and depth of understanding of candidates rather than merely the range of their information and memory.

The nature and standard of questions in the General Studies papers (Paper II to Paper V) will be such that a well-educated person will be able to answer them without any specialized study. The questions will be such as to test a candidate’s general awareness of a variety of subjects, which will have relevance for a career in the Civil Services. The questions are likely to test the candidate’s basic understanding of all relevant issues, ability to analyze and take a view on conflicting socio-economic goals, objectives and demands. The candidates must give relevant, meaningful and succinct answers.

The scope of the syllabus for optional subject papers (Paper VI and Paper VII) for the examination is broadly of the honours degree level i.e. a level higher than the bachelors degree and lower than the masters degree. In the case of Engineering, Medical Science and Law, the level corresponds to the bachelors degree.

In all, the aspirants are to appear in nine papers, details of which are given below:

Indian Language *Paper – A300
English *Paper – B300
EssayPaper – I250
General Studies 1Paper – I250
General Studies 2Paper – II250
General Studies 2Paper – III250
General Studies 4Paper – IV250
Optional SubjectPaper – VI250
Optional SubjectPaper – VII250
* Qualifying Papers – For qualifying, candidates have to secure a minimum of 25% in these papers.

Forest Service Mains Examination

The candidates who qualify for Forest Services Mains Examination have to choose two optional subjects which has two papers each. In all, the aspirants are to appear in nine papers, details of which are given below :

General EnglishPaper – I300
General Knowledge *Paper – II300
Optional Subject – 1Paper – I200
Optional Subject – 1Paper – II200
Optional Subject – 2Paper – I200
Optional Subject – 2Paper – II200
*Answer scripts of only those candidates who have obtained the minimum marks as decided by the Commission for Paper II (General Knowledge) will be evaluated.



Interview for Personality test will be conducted in Delhi for candidates who clear the Mains examination. (Maximum mark : 275)

Final Result

Final Result of both Civil Services and Forest Service exam will be based on Mains examination and Interview marks.

Syllabus of the Examination
Civil Services Examination

Preliminary Examination Syllabus (for Civil and Forest Services)

Paper – I


  • Current events of national and international importance.
  • History of India and the Indian National Movement
  • Indian and World Geography-Physical, Social and 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.

Paper – II


  • Comprehension
  • Interpersonal skills including communication skills
  • Logical reasoning and Analytical ability
  • Decision-making and Problem-solving
  • General mental ability
  • Decision-making and Problem-solving
  • Basic numeracy (numbers and their relations, orders of magnitude, etc.) (Class X level), Data interpretation (charts, graphs, tables, data sufficiency etc.(Class X level).

Note 1: The questions will be of multiple choice, objective type.

Note 2: It is mandatory for the candidate to appear in both the Papers of Civil Services (Prelim) Examination for the purpose of evaluation. Therefore a candidate will be disqualified in case he/she does not appear in both the papers of Civil Services (Prelim).

Note 3: Appearing in any one of the papers on the examination day will be counted as an attempt.

Note 4: If a candidate has applied but not appeared for the examination, it will not be counted as an attempt.

Civil Service Mains Examination Syllabus


  • Essay : Candidates will be required to write essays on specific topics given in the examination.
  • They will be expected to keep closely to the subject of the essay to arrange their ideas in an orderly fashion and to 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 of India.

  • Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.
  • Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities and issues.
  • The Freedom Struggle – its various stages and important contributors /contributions from different parts of the country.
  • Post-independence consolidation and reorganization within the country.
  • History of the world will include events from 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 effect on the society.
  • Salient features of the 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 the Indian society. Social empowerment, communalism, regionalism and secularism.
  • Salient features of world’s physical geography.
  • Distribution of key natural resources across the world (including South Asia and the Indian subcontinent); 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, cyclone etc., geographical features and their location- changes in critical geographical features (including water bodies 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, 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 Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.
  • Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
  • Issues relating to poverty and hunger.
  • Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, andpotential; citizenscharters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.
  • Role of civil services in a democracy.
  • India and its neighborhood-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, Bio-diversity, 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; etechnology 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
  • Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.
  • Awarenessinthefieldsof 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, 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

  • This paper will include questions to test the candidates’ attitude and approach to issues relating to integrity, probity in public life and his 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; 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, dedicationtopublicservice, empathy, toleranceandcompassion 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 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 above issues.

Paper – VI & Paper VII

Optional Subject : Papers I and II

  • Candidates may choose any optional subject from amongst the list of subjects given in the UPSC Notification.
Forest Services Examination

The standard of papers in General English and General Knowledge will be such as may be expected of a Science or Engineering graduate of an Indian University. The scope of the syllabus for optional subject papers for the examination is broadly of the honours degree level i.e. A level higher than the bachelors degree and lower than the masters degree. In the case of engineering subjects, the level corresponds to the bachelors degree. There will be no practical examination in any of the subjects.


Candidates will be required to write an essay in English. Other questions will be designed to test their understanding of English and workmanlike use of words. Passages will usually be set for summary or precise.


General Knowledge including knowledge of current events and of such matters of everyday observation and experience in their scientific aspects as may be expected of an educated person who has not made a special study of any scientific subject. The paper will also include questions on Indian Polity including the political system and the Constitution of India, History of India and Geography of nature which the candidate should be able to answer without special study.


List of optional subjects :
(i) Agriculture
(ii) Agricultural Engineering
(iii) Animal Husbandry & Veterinary Science
(iv) Botany
(v) Chemistry
(vi) Chemical Engineering
(vii) Civil Engineering
(viii) Forestry
(ix) Geology
(x) Mathematics
(xi) Mechanical Engineering
(xii) Physics
(xiii) Statistics
(xiv) Zoology

Provided that the candidates will not be allowed to offer the following combination of subjects :(a) Agriculture and Agricultural Engg.
(b) Agriculture and Animal Husbandry & Veterinary Science.
(c) Agriculture and Forestry.
(d) Chemistry and Chemical Engg.
(e) Mathematics and Statistics.
(f) Of the Engineering subjects viz. Agricultural Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Civil Engineering and Mechanical Engineering—not more than one subject;