Where can I find notification for UPSC Civil Services Examination?

You can find the notification on UPSC official website ( somewhere around January every year. 


What is the age limit for the exam?

  1. A candidate must have attained the age of 21 years and must not have attained the age of 32 years on the 1st of August of the year in which one attempts prelims exam.
  2. Up to a maximum of 5 years if a candidate belongs to a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe.
  3. Up to a maximum of 3 years in the case of candidates belonging to Other Backward Classes.
  4. Up to a maximum of three years in the case of Defence Services Personnel, disabled in operations during hostilities with any foreign country or in a disturbed area and released as a consequence thereof.
  5. Up to a maximum of three years in the case of Defence Services Personnel, disabled in operations during hostilities with any foreign country or in a disturbed area and released as a consequence thereof.
  6. Up to a maximum of 10 years in the case of (a) blindness and low vision; (b) deaf and hard of hearing; (c) locomotor disability including cerebral palsy, leprosy cured, dwarfism, acid attack victims and muscular dystrophy; (d) autism, intellectual disability, specific learning disability and mental illness; and (e) multiple disabilities from amongst persons under clauses (a) to (d) including deaf-blindness.
  7. Up to a maximum of five years if a candidate had ordinarily been domiciled in the State of Jammu and Kashmir during the period from the 1st day of January, 1980 to the 31st day of December, 1989.

What all is the syllabus for the preliminary exam?

Paper I - (200 marks)                                                                                                   Duration: Two hours

  1. Current events of national and international importance.
  2. History of India and Indian National Movement.
  3. Indian and World Geography-Physical, Social, Economic Geography of India and the World.
  4. Indian Polity and Governance-Constitution, Political System, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights Issues, etc.
  5. Economic and Social Development-Sustainable Development, Poverty, Inclusion, Demographics, Social Sector Initiatives, etc.
  6. General issues on Environmental ecology, Bio-diversity and Climate Change - that do not require subject specialisation.
  7. General Science.

Paper II-(200 marks)                                                                                                 Duration : Two hours

  1. Comprehension; Interpersonal skills including communication skills;
  2. Logical reasoning and analytical ability;
  3. Decision making and problem solving;
  4. General mental ability;
  5. 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 : Paper-II of the Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination will be a qualifying paper with minimum qualifying marks fixed at 33%.

Note 2 : The questions will be of multiple choice, objective type.

Note 3 : 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)


What is the syllabus for mains examination?

For details of the syllabus, please refer to UPSC notification.

Paper Subject Duration Total marks
Paper A Compulsory Indian language 3 hours 300 (Qualifying)
Paper B English 3 hours 300 (Qualifying)
Paper I Essay 3 hours 250
Paper II General Studies I – Indian Heritage & Culture, History & Geography of the World & Society 3 hours 250
Paper III General Studies II – Governance, Constitution, Welfare Initiatives, Social Justice & International Relations 3 hours 250
Paper IV General Studies III – Technology, Economic Development, Agriculture, Biodiversity, Security & Disaster Management 3 hours 250
Paper V General Studies IV – Ethics, Integrity & Aptitude 3 hours 250
Paper VI Optional Subject – Paper I 3 hours 250
Paper VII Optional Subject – Paper II 3 hours 250

Which books one must study for UPSC Civil Services Examination?

We at UPSC MENTOR have been consistently trying to create original content that is precise, relevant, comprehensive and structured. As such, aspirants won't need to read anything else that the content available here. However, till the time we are in progress you can follow the below sources.

    1. Ancient India from Poonam Dalal Dahiya’s ANCIENT AND MEDIEVAL INDIA.
    2. Medieval India from NCERT 11th or Satish Chandra.
    3. SPECTRUM by Rajiv Ahir for Modern India
    4. Bipin Chandra’s STRUGGLE FOR INDIA’S INDEPENDENCE (selective reading)
    1. NITIN SINGHANIA Indian Art and Culture
    2. NCERT fine arts
    3. Upinder Singh Ancient and early medieval india (selected reading)
    1. NCERT 11th and 12th
    2. Physical Geography by GC LEONG
    3. Indian Geography by Khullar/Majid Hussain (selective reading)
    4. Economic Survey
    5. Current Affairs
    2. Current Affairs- HINDU
    3. ARC Reports
    1. Current Affairs- HINDU
    1. Environment by SHANKAR
    2. Economic Survey
    3. Current Affairs-HINDU
  8. CSAT:
    1. Previous years question papers.
    2. Quantitative Aptitude : RS Aggarwal
    1. THE HINDU

What are some books that I should read to get an edge over other UPSC CSE aspirants?

Unfortunately there is no such book. Every serious candidate would read the books that are good and relevant. However, the difference comes from how well you grasp from these books. For that you need to understand what to study from such books and what not to. And finally revise and give as many mock tests followed by analysis as you can. You have to be in continuous competition with yourself to succeed.


How do I analyse the UPSC syllabus with previous years question papers of what to read and what not to read?

This is a good question. It’s a time consuming process but very important for preparing strategy. From previous year question papers (atleast last ten years), you get to know:

  1. Subject wise distribution of questions.
  2. Books from where questions have been asked (median 80%). A few questions are always asked from specialist books. These can be ignored.
  3. Chapter wise distribution in subjects.
  4. Topic wise distribution in chapters.

Identify at max two books per subject in GS from which maximum questions could be answered. Now you know the books you will be reading, you know which chapters to focus more and within chapters which topics to focus more. Also you learn what type of questions are framed. So you read and prepare notes accordingly. Imagine starting preparing without doing this exercise, and just think where you would have been going.


Would it be possible to clear UPSC Mains without coaching?

A better word than coaching would be guidance, and that is definitely needed for mains preparation since you need to learn how to write answers from UPSC point of view where you need to not just evaluate your knowledge base but your stamina for sitting and writing for such long durations, your ability to recall and express knowledge in the form of relevant answers, and your time management. Without guidance you might live in illusion of having done good preparation. With guidance you will evaluate your strengths and weaknesses and strategise your efforts better. If you have people and resources (outside coaching) who can guide you, or you know how to use internet to get right direction, you are all set. If not, get some coaching (online or offline is your choice) that can set your direction right.


Is it bad to read too many books?

It isn't bad to read too many books. Infact it is good. But it is bad to read too many books and not be able to gain out of them. The whole point of reading is to learn new things and gain new perspectives. But like Economics, reading too follows the law of diminishing returns, especially when you try reading so many things simultaneously. For e.g. of late UPSC has been asking tough questions in Ancient History, the answers to which you will not find in standard text books. So you can think of reading Upinder Singh, a thick book for those who take History as their optional. But reading some 700+ pages for two questions might not be a good idea. However, if you expand your reading timeframe, it's definitely going to help. This means you must be reading out of interest and not compulsion. That is why people reading for their keen interest in the subject often know much more than those preparing for competitions. Here word ‘keen’ is important. Simply reading to kill time or as a part time activity doesn't help much. You read and then you forget. Reading a lot but with interest and observation and interlinking it with your existing knowledge base, definitely helps you learn more. But for this you need to start preparing quite early to be able to read and grasp the subjects in depth. Also it is important you read the right books that help you more to understand the concept rather than you having to cram it. Often good books are thicker and that's why you need to make good notes to be able to recall whatever you have read.


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PERFORMANCE BASED: Students who qualify CSE Prelims will be eligible to get their subscriptions extended free of cost till that years' interview stage.


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