GS For UPSC: Guidelines, Marks & Other Details

The emphasis of UPSC Main exam has changed from Optional subject to the four General Studies papers which are obligatory. Respective General Studies paper is featuring 250 marks and going over them will involve 1000 marks within 1750 targets in the exam. It signifies that the General Studies develops in the central of IAS Mains exams and its score has a large part putting together the merit list of the exam results.

General Studies Guidelines

  • The questions appearing in the general studies papers are an analysis of straightforward consideration of students on a range of subjects. The type of questions will be in a way that well-equipped applicant can respond to them easily.
  • Though, simply solving them is not sufficient as it is intended to be the assessment of student’s skill to gauge and consider their view on the subject.
  • The answer must be adapted to aptitude to associate with the career in the Civil Services. Consequently, the civil service candidates must contribute applicable, evocative and concise replies to excite the examiner.
  • If you study the syllabus specified below, it’s very vague, but then again there is no alternative save for dedicating an enormous time in its research.
  • Paper-1 and 2 are same as old one. One can pick up further details on them by going through the previous syllabus.
  • The new addition to General studies is Paper 3. It deals with Technology, Economic Development, Bio-diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management etc. Even though it sounds vague, it requires a thorough preparation in each of its content.
  • Another new addition to general studies is Paper-4. This is of general nature and deals with Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude. It may sound easy, but it requires serious preparation, and due importance must be given to this paper.
  • At this time, students must read the comprehensive syllabus of the General Studies papers and applicants are recommended to look through them with cognizance before switching on their preparation.

The Prelims Exam consists of two papers namely General Studies (GS) Paper I and General Studies (GS) CSAT Paper II.

1 Paper – I: General Studies 2 Hours 100 200 Marks
2 Paper – II: General Studies (CSAT) QUALIFYING NATURE 2 Hours 80 200 Marks
TOTAL 100 200 Marks
  • The questions in the UPSC Prelims Exam will be featuring in objective type or Multiple-Choice Questions (MCQs) type.
  • For the respective improper answer, Negative Marking applies in prelims exam. The negative marking for inappropriate answers is 1/3rd or 0.66 marks of the assigned marks of a particular question.
  • The GS Paper 2 (CSAT) is of qualifying kind and applicants ought to get at least 33 per cent in this paper to clear the exam and move to next stage of the exam.

UPSC Mains for General Studies Papers (4 papers)

Sl. No. Paper Subjects
1 General Studies- I Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society
2 General Studies- II Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations
3 General Studies- III Technology, Economic Development, Bio-diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management
4 General Studies- IV Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude

 Paper- 1

General Studies -I 250 Marks

(Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society)

  • 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, issues.
  • The Freedom Struggle – its various stages and important contributors or 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 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 Indian Society, Diversity of India.
  • Role of women and women’s organization, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.
  • Effects of globalization on Indian society.
  • Social empowerment, communalism, regionalism & 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 waterbodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes.


General Studies -II: 250 Marks

(Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations)


  • Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges about the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein.
  • Separation of powers between various organs disputes redressal mechanisms and institutions.
  • Comparison of the Indian constitutional scheme with that of other countries.
  • Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, the 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 or 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, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.
  • Role of civil services in a democracy.
  • India and its neighbourhood- relations.
  • Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and 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.


General Studies -III 250 Marks

(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; e-technology in 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.
  • Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nanotechnology, biotechnology 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, the 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.


General Studies -IV 250 Marks

(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 utilise 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; the 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, dedication to public service, empathy, tolerance and compassion 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.