Mains Exam

There are 9 papers in the UPSC Mains: Essay, General Studies (GS1, GS2, GS3, GS4), Optionals, English & Indian Language Papers. Notably, the English & Indian Language papers are qualifying in nature while all the other papers count towards the preparation of the merit list.

The first two papers (Indian Language – Paper A & English – Paper B) are qualifying in nature carrying 300 marks each with a duration of 3 hours per paper.

English (Paper A)

I. Comprehension II. Precis Writing III. Vocabulary IV. Short Essays

Indian Language (Paper B)

I. Comprehension II. Precis Writing III. Vocabulary IV. Short Essays V. Translation

The following papers (Essay – Paper I, General Studies I, GS II, GS III, GS IV, Optionals I & II) carries 250 marks each with a duration of 3 hours per paper.

Thus, the total marks for Mains is 1750. Those who are shortlisted in the Mains will proceed to the Personality Test or Interview that carries 275 marks. This leads to the grand total of 2025 marks.

Now let us elaborately look into each paper.


There are two sections in the Essay paper. The candidate must choose one essay from each section therefore writing 2 essay in total. Essay questions can range across multiple disciplines.

General Studies I

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

History – Art forms, Literature, Architecture (Ancient to Modern) | History Mid – 18th Century – Present (Events / Personalities / Issues) | Freedom Struggle (Stages & Contributors) | Post-Independence | 18th Century Events | Political Philosophies (Socialism, Communism, Capitalism) and their effects.

Social Science – Indian Society | Diversity of India | Poverty | Role of Women | Population | Urbanisation | Globalisation | Social Empowerment (Communalism, Regionalism, Secularism)

Geography – World Physical Geography, Natural Resources, Geophysical Phenomena (Earthquakes / Tsunami / Volcanoes / Cyclones) | Geographical Features and Location.

General Studies II

Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International Relations

Polity & Governance – Constitution (Evolution, Amendments, Basic Structure) | Comparison of Indian Constitutional Scheme with other countries | Functions and Responsibilities of the Union and the States | Ministries and Departments | Executive , Judiciary | Constitutional Bodies.

Welfare of Weaker Section – Government Policies & Interventions | Development Processes & Development Industry (NGOs, SHGs, Groups & Associations, Donors, Charities, Institutional and Other Stakeholders) | Welfare Schemes | Social Sector & Social Services | Poverty & Hunger Issues.

Governance – Important aspects of governance, Transparency and accountability, E-Governance, Citizens Charter, Role of Civil Services in a democracy.

International Relations – Relations (India & its Neighbourhood) | Bilateral, Regional, Global Groupings & Agreements | Effect of Policies | International Institutions, Agencies.

General Studies III

Technology, Economy Develoment, Bio-Diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management.

Economy & Agriculture – Indian Economy | Government Budgeting | Major Crops across the nation | Farm Subsidies and MSP | PDS | Agro-Produce | E-Technology | Animal-Rearing | Food Processing & Related Industries | Land Reforms | Liberalisation and its effects | Changes in Industrial Policies and its effect on industrial growth | Infrastructure | Investment Models.

Science & Technology – Developments | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, Robotics, Nanotech, Biotech, IPR | Achievements in the field of Science & Technology.

Environment & Disasters – Conservation, Pollution and Degradation | Disaster Management

Internal Security – Role of Media and Social Networking Sites in internal security challenges | Fundamentals of Cyber Security | Money laundering & Prevention | Borders (Security Challenges & Management) | Organised Crime & Terrorism | Security Forces and Agencies.

General Studies IV

Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude

Theory – Ethics, Dimensions of Ethics, Ethics in Public and Private relationship | Human Values Emotional Intelligence | Contributions of Great Thinkers & Philosophers

Society & Behaviour – Role of Family, Society and Educational Institutions in inculcating values | Public Service | Ethics in Public Administration | Laws, Rules, Regulations

Governance – Accountability and ethical governance, Moral Values | Corporate Governance, RTI, Code of Ethics, Codes of Conduct, Work Culture, Utilization of Public Funds | Challenges of Corruption

Optional Subjects

A candidate is expected to choose any one optional subject test. The test consists of two papers of 250 marks.

AgricultureElectrical EngineeringMalayalam (Literature)Psychology
Animal Husbandry & Vet ScienceEnglish (Literature)ManagementPublic Administration
AnthropologyGeographyManipuri (Literature)Pubjabi (Literature)
Assamese (Literature)GeologyMarathi (Literature)Sanskrit (Literature)
Bengali (Literature)Gujarati (Literature)MathematicsSanthali (Literature)
Bodo (Literature)Hindi (Literature)Mechanical EnggSindhi (Literature)
BotanyHistoryMedical ScienceSociology
ChemistryKannada (Literature)Nepali (Literature)Statistics
Civil Engineering Kashmiri (Literature)Oriya (Literature)Tamil (Literature)
CommerceKonkani (Literature)PhilosophyTelugu (Literature)
Dogri (Literature)LawPhysicsUrdu (Literature)
EconomicsMaithilli (Literature)Political ScienceZoology
© 2022 The Dawn Publishers.
All Rights Reserved.