UPSC Prelims

UPSC Prelims 2023 - Exam Pattern, Syllabus, Notes, Strategy

As per the UPSC 2023 calendar, the IAS prelims and main exams are scheduled to take place on May 28, 2023 and September 15, 2023 respectively. Candidates who plan to take the UPSC CSE 2023 should start their preparation at the earliest.

The UPSC Prelims 2022 was successfully conducted on June 5 2022 and the UPSC Prelims Result 2022 was declared on June 22, 2022.

The UPSC Mains exam came to an end on September 25, 2022. Aspirants can download the UPSC Mains Question Papers 2022 from the linked page.

Candidates who are preparing for other UPSC exams can refer to the UPSC Calendar 2023.

Are you preparing for the Civil Services Examination? Check your UPSC Eligibility Criteria now!

Check the following links to complement your preparation to crack the examination in the first attempt!

  1. IAS Questions & Answers
  2. Topic-Wise UPSC Prelims Questions PDF
  3. Download PDFs of UPSC IAS Prelims 2022 Question Papers for GS1 and CSAT
  4. Check UPSC Prelims 2022 Answer Keys
  5. NCERT Notes for UPSC
  6. Current Affairs
  7. This Day in History

For details on IAS Exam, refer to the linked article.

UPSC Prelims Syllabus –

UPSC Prelims 2023 – Exam Pattern

The UPSC Prelims exam pattern as per the UPSC 2023 notification is given below. Any changes made in the forthcoming UPSC CSE Prelims exam pattern will be updated here after the release of the CSE 2023 notification. The UPSC CSE 2023 notification was released on February 1, 2023.

The UPSC Prelims comprises two objective type papers (General Studies I and General Studies II or CSAT) for a total of 400 marks. Both papers are usually held on the same day in two sessions via offline mode (pen-paper).

The Prelims Admit Card would be released on the official website of UPSC 2-3 weeks before the date of the exam.

UPSC Prelims Exam Pattern General Studies I General Studies II or CSAT
Number of questions 100 80
Negative Marking Yes (1/3rd of the maximum marks for the question)

-0.66 marks for every incorrect answer

Yes (1/3rd of the maximum marks for the question)

-0.83 marks for every incorrect answer

Duration of exam 2 hours 2 hours
UPSC Prelims 2022 Date of exam 5th June 2022 5th June 2022
Language of exam English/Hindi English/Hindi
Maximum marks 200 200
Cut Off marks Counted for Merit. Cut-off varies every year. 33% qualifying criteria (66 marks)

The official cut-off for the Prelims 2022 is yet to be released . The Prelims 2021 cut-off for the General category candidates was 87.54. For UPSC Cut Off, check the linked article.

Candidates should refer to the linked page on UPSC Prelims Previous Year Question Papers before starting their preparation.

Visit the linked page to download UPSC Prelims Answer Keys from 2016 through 2022.

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UPSC Prelims 2023 – Syllabus

The detailed UPSC Prelims syllabus for 2023 exam is given below:

General Studies Paper-1 Syllabus:

  • Current events of national and international importance.
  • History of India and Indian National Movement.
  • Indian and World Geography-Physical, Social, 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, Biodiversity and Climate Change- that do not require subject specialization.
  • General Science.

General Studies Paper-2 (CSAT) Syllabus:

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

You can find the in-depth syllabus for UPSC Prelims here.

Preparation Strategy for UPSC Prelims

The Civil Services (CS) 2023 Prelims exam is scheduled to be held on  May 28, 2023.

The following strategy will help candidates to score well in the exam.

  • Current Affairs are an important part of UPSC Prelims. Ideally, candidates should prepare 12 to 15 months’ worth of current affairs.
  • Important sources for current affairs preparation for UPSC exam 2023 are:
    1. Yojana Magazine
    2. Newspapers (The Hindu/The Indian Express)
    3. Press Information Bureau (PIB)
    4. Economic and Political Weekly (EPW)
  • Candidates should prepare for UPSC Prelims and UPSC Mains simultaneously as there is a syllabus overlap. Check the complete IAS Syllabus 2023.
  • For CSAT or General Studies Paper-II in UPSC Prelims, go through the previous years’ question papers to gauge your level. As such, there is not much preparation needed for CSAT, however, only you can take that call. For complete information on CSAT including books, strategy and trend analysis, refer to the link.
  • Focus Areas for different subjects in UPSC Prelims
    1. Indian Independence movement:
      • Main congress sessions with the year, president and important resolutions
      • Significant viceroys and their period with important decisions
      • The Government of India Acts 1909, 1919, 1935 and charter acts
    2. Ancient history:
      • Hindu philosophy, Buddhism and Jainism
      • Mauryan and Gupta Period
      • Art, architecture and scientific development during that period
    3. Medieval history:
      • Important kings such as Sher Shah, Akbar, etc.
      • Delhi Sultanate
    4. Polity:
      • Here, importance should be given to current events, such as any changes in the constitution, new acts or amendments, and schemes
      • Fundamental Rights, Fundamental Duties, Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP)
      • Committee system, parliament, and parliamentary proceedings
      • Judiciary
      • Constitutional bodies
    5. S&T:
      • For basic science concepts, refer to NCERT books selectively as in-depth knowledge is not needed
      • Focus on current affairs part
    6. Environment and Ecology
      • Important declarations, conventions
      • IUCN’s Red List
      • Biosphere Reserves, Tiger Reserves etc.
      • International bodies
    7. Geography:
      • Solar system
      • Latitudes and longitudes
      • Layers of the atmosphere
      • Global atmospheric wind, cyclones
      • Pressure belts
      • Revolution, rotation and seasons
      • Monsoons
      • Types of rainfall
      • Koeppen classification
      • Jet streams, ocean currents
      • El Nino, La Nina
      • India’s physical geography (NCERT)
      • Rivers, hills, soil (India)
      • Mineral resources (India), Geological history of India
      • Basics of agriculture (NCERT)
      • Maps
    8. Economy:
      • Importance should be given to current events like new bills and important committees
      • focus on basic and fundamental concepts like:
        • Growth and development, poverty, unemployment, inflation
        • State of the national and global economy
        • Major committees and bills
        • Latest budget and economic survey

UPSC Prelims – Trend Analysis

UPSC has established itself to be predictably unpredictable. So, candidates should only see the trends as a reference and not draw too much inference. In the table given below, we have broken down the UPSC Prelims 2019, UPSC Prelims 2020 and UPSC Prelims 2021 GS 1 papers:

UPSC Prelims 2021 GS Paper 1 Subject-Wise Analysis
Subject Number of questions
History 20
Economy 10
Polity 14
Environment & Ecology 11
Geography 10
Science & Technology 08
Current Affairs 27
Total 100
UPSC Prelims 2020 GS Paper 1 Subject-Wise Analysis
Subject Number of questions
History 18
Economy 14
Polity 16
Environment & Ecology 17
Geography 10
Science & Technology 10
Current Affairs 15
Total 100

The commission released the UPSC Prelims Result 2020 on 23rd October.

UPSC Prelims 2019 GS Paper 1 Subject-Wise Analysis
Subject Number of questions
History 17
Economy 14
Polity 15
Environment & Ecology 11
Geography 14
Science & Technology 7
Current Affairs 22
Total 100

For a similar analysis and comparison of subject-wise weightage in UPSC Prelims from 2011 to 2021, check the link.

UPSC Prelims – Study Material for IAS preparation

A big part of UPSC preparation is selecting the right study material. Studying from the best Civil services Prelims Books will be both efficient and effective. For both, UPSC Prelims and Mains, NCERTs are a must because of their credibility and easy to understand language.

From the links given below, IAS aspirants can download/view the NCERT books needed for UPSC Prelims preparation.

Free History NCERT Books PDF Download for UPSC Exam Free Geography NCERT Books PDF Download for UPSC Exam
Free Polity NCERT Books PDF Download Free Science NCERT Books PDF Download for UPSC
Free Economics & Social Issues NCERT Books PDF Download Complete List of NCERT Books needed for IAS Exam Preparation

Check the list of UPSC Books here.

Candidates who clear the UPSC IAS Prelims have to fill the Detailed Application Form (DAF) before they can take the Mains Exam.

For 2023, the UPSC Mains exams are expected to take place on September 15, 2023 tentatively. Aspirants can check the linked article for more details on UPSC Mains.

UPSC Prelims Related Articles:

UPSC Exam Pattern UPSC Notification

Frequently Asked Questions on UPSC Prelims Exam

Q 1. Is the UPSC prelims exam only qualifying in nature?

Ans. Yes, the IAS prelims exam is only qualifying in nature. For the General Studies Paper-1, the cut off varies from year to year. However, for the CSAT paper, 33% is the qualifying criteria.

Q 2. What is the syllabus for the UPSC prelims exam?

Ans. The syllabus for GS Paper 1 is current affairs, History of India and Indian National Movement, Indian and World Geography, Economic and Social Development, Environmental Ecology, Biodiversity and Climate Change, and General Science. As for the CSAT paper, it tests the analytical skills, reasoning ability and Interpersonal skills of the candidate. To get the UPSC Prelims 2023 Detailed Syllabus, visit the linked article.

Q 3. How many exams are there in UPSC Prelims?

Ans. There are two papers in the IAS preliminary examination: GS Paper 1 and GS Paper 2 (CSAT). The maximum marks for each of these papers is 200 and the number of questions asked is 100 and 80, respectively.

Q 4. What is the educational qualification to apply for the civil services prelims exam?

Ans. To apply for the civil services exam, the applicant must possess a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree in any discipline.

Q 5. Is the IAS prelims an offline or online paper?

Ans. The UPSC prelims exam is conducted through offline mode, i.e., the pen and paper mode.

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