List of Compulsory Subjects for UPSC Exam: UPSC Subjects for Prelims and Mains

One of India’s most prominent and demanding exams is the UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) exam, which is extremely significant. Its goal is to choose candidates for various government civil service positions.

In order to effectively study for the exam, aspirant candidates must become familiar with the mandatory subjects for both the Prelims and Mains stages. The goal of this page is to provide a thorough list of UPSC subjects that are required of all applicants.

Candidates must attempt a specific set of required subjects in order to pass the UPSC exam, often known as the CSE exam. As it is essential for civil officials to have the ability to make educated decisions, these topics are intended to gauge the applicants’ knowledge of various elements of the world. General Studies Paper 1 in the Prelims, CSAT, General Studies Papers 1 through 4 in the Mains, an Essay paper, and two Language papers make up the list of subjects that must be covered for the UPSC.

Candidates must study for all of these required subjects in order to pass the UPSC exam. Candidates must furthermore select an elective subject for the Mains. An extensive list of the subjects that must be studied in order to pass the UPSC exam is provided in this article. 

List of Compulsory Subjects for UPSC Exam

In the first stage of the UPSC Exam, which is the Prelims, there are two compulsory papers: General Studies-1 and General Studies-2 (CSAT). These papers cover various subjects and are mandatory for all candidates.

Once candidates clear the Prelims, they become eligible for the Mains examination. The UPSC Mains consists of 9 papers, out of which two are optional papers. Candidates can choose one optional subject from a list of 48 Optional Subjects for UPSC. However, it’s important to note that the remaining 7 papers are compulsory for all candidates.

One of the compulsory papers is the Compulsory Indian Language Paper. In this paper, candidates have the option to choose their preferred Indian language. They can select the Indian language they are most comfortable with and attempt the paper in that language.

Additionally, there is also a Compulsory Hindi Paper in the UPSC Mains. This paper focuses on testing candidates’ proficiency in the Hindi language.

By including these language papers, the UPSC aims to assess candidates’ language skills and their ability to effectively communicate and express themselves in multiple languages.

In summary, in the UPSC Mains examination, candidates need to attempt the compulsory Indian Language Paper where they have the option to choose their preferred Indian language, along with the Compulsory Hindi Paper, which evaluates their proficiency in Hindi.

Compulsory Subjects for UPSC Prelims Exam

The UPSC Prelims is a screening examination, and those who pass will advance to the Mains. The test has a two-hour time limit and 200 possible points. The questions are of the objective multiple-choice variety. There are two papers in the UPSC Prelims Syllabus: General Studies-1 and General Studies-2 (CSAT).

The UPSC Subject List for each paper of the UPSC Prelims is provided here. 

UPSC Subjects List for Prelims (General Studies-1)

The topics covered in the UPSC civil services exam are carefully selected to test candidates’ knowledge and their capacity for making wise decisions while serving the public. The following subjects are UPSC Prelims Paper-1 requirements:

1. Current Affairs: National and worldwide issues that are pertinent to the present-day environment.

2. Environment, Ecology, and Biodiversity: General environmental, ecological, and biological challenges that don’t call for subject specialisation.

3. Study of Indian history, including its prehistoric, mediaeval, and modern periods, as well as the freedom movement and the contributions of different leaders.

4. An understanding of Indian politics and governance, including the country’s constitution, political system, Panchayati Raj (local self-government), public policy, and human rights concerns.

5. General Science and Technology: Knowledge of fundamental scientific and technological concepts, including current events and their effects.

6. Indian and World Geography: This subject examines the physical, social, and economic geography of India and the rest of the world, as well as significant geographical traits, resources, and regional differences.

7. Economic and Social Development: Knowledge of ideas relating to poverty, inclusiveness, demographics, social sector efforts, sustainable development, and other elements influencing economic and social advancement.

The UPSC seeks to gauge applicants’ entirety knowledge and awareness of the various facets of the world by evaluating their comprehension of these subjects. It makes it possible to choose people who can work well as civil employees and help to implement policies and make well-informed decisions.

UPSC Subjects for CSAT

The CSAT (Civil Services Aptitude Test) paper aims to assess an applicant’s interpersonal and communication skills, as well as their capacity for logical reasoning. The CSAT syllabus covers the following subjects/topics:

1. Logical reasoning and analytical ability: This section evaluates candidates’ ability to analyze and logically deduce conclusions based on given information.

2. General mental ability: Candidates’ problem-solving skills and general mental aptitude are tested in this section.

3. Basic numerical problems: This includes questions related to numbers, their relations, orders of magnitude, and other basic numerical concepts up to the level of Class X.

4. Data Interpretation: Candidates are expected to interpret data presented in the form of charts, graphs, tables, and solve questions based on data sufficiency up to the level of Class X.

5. English Language Comprehension Skills: This section assesses candidates’ understanding of the English language at the level of Class X. It includes comprehension passages and questions based on them.

Through the CSAT paper, the UPSC aims to gauge candidates’ aptitude in logical reasoning, problem-solving, data interpretation, and English language comprehension. These skills are essential for effective communication, decision-making, and problem-solving abilities, which are crucial for a career in the civil services.

Compulsory Subjects in UPSC Mains

Candidates who successfully pass the Prelims examination are qualified to take the UPSC Mains, which is the second level of the exam. There are four General Studies papers in the UPSC Mains syllabus, and applicants must attempt all of the topics covered in these tests. Candidates must select an additional paper from the list of optional papers for the UPSC Mains test in addition to the General Studies papers.

Paper-IEssay (can be written in the medium of the candidate’s choice)
Paper-IIGeneral Studies – I (Indian Heritage & Culture, History & Geography of the World & Society)
Paper-IIIGeneral Studies – II (Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice & International Relations)
Paper-IVGeneral Studies – III (Technology, Economic Development, Biodiversity, Security & Disaster Management)
Paper-VGeneral Studies – IV (Ethics, Integrity & Aptitude)

IAS Subjects List for UPSC Mains

Candidates should focus their attention on the prescribed IAS Subject List for the UPSC Mains examination, which consists of the list of Indian Languages for Paper A, as well as the two compulsory papers and the optional subjects. It is essential to be familiar with the UPSC Mains Subject List, which includes:

  1. Governance
  2. Geography
  3. Security
  4. Disaster Management
  5. Society
  6. Biodiversity
  7. Social Justice
  8. Economic Development
  9. Ethics
  10. Aptitude
  11. International Relations
  12. History
  13. Environment
  14. Science and Technology
  15. Integrity
  16. Polity
  17. Art and Culture

These subjects cover a wide range of topics that are crucial for aspiring civil servants to have a comprehensive understanding of. It is important for candidates to dedicate ample time and effort to prepare for each subject within the UPSC Mains Subject List in order to excel in the examination.

UPSC Prelims Subjects – Preparation Tips

To effectively prepare for the General Studies papers in UPSC Prelims, candidates should follow the following strategy:

1. Newspaper and Magazine Reading: Allocate time for reading newspapers and magazines regularly. Focus on renowned UPSC magazines like Yojana and Kurukshetra, which provide valuable insights into current affairs and relevant topics.

2. Previous Year Question Papers: Analyze and study the previous year’s UPSC question papers to understand the pattern and types of questions asked in the Prelims. This will help in familiarizing yourself with the exam format and the approach taken by the Commission.

3. Handwritten Notes: It is crucial to make your own handwritten notes during preparation. This aids in retention and serves as a quick reference guide. Make concise notes based on the information gathered from various sources, including textbooks, newspapers, and magazines.

4. NCERT Books: Strengthen your foundation by referring to the NCERT books for UPSC. These books are highly recommended as they provide a clear and comprehensive understanding of the basic concepts across various subjects. Start with NCERT books and gradually move on to advanced reference materials.

5. Mock Tests: Test your preparation level by taking UPSC mock tests. Join reputable online coaching platforms that offer mock tests specifically designed for UPSC Prelims. Mock tests simulate the actual exam environment and help identify strengths and weaknesses, allowing you to focus on areas that require improvement.

By following this strategy, candidates can enhance their understanding of the General Studies subjects, stay updated with current affairs, and develop the necessary skills to excel in the UPSC Prelims examination.

How to Prepare Compulsory Subjects for UPSC Mains?

In the UPSC Mains examination, there are four compulsory General Studies papers, one essay paper, two qualifying papers, and two optional papers. Excelling in compulsory subjects is crucial for a successful outcome in the Mains exam. To achieve this, candidates can adopt the following strategy:

1. Essay Writing Practice: Given the subjective nature of the papers in UPSC Mains, candidates must practice essay writing regularly. This will help enhance their writing skills, ability to articulate ideas effectively and structure their essays in a coherent and logical manner.

2. Time Management: Time management is crucial in the Mains exam due to the limited time allotted for each paper. Candidates should practice solving UPSC Mains question papers within the stipulated time frame and take mock tests to improve their speed and efficiency in completing the papers on time.

3. Engaging and Impactful Answers: To score well, candidates should aim to make their answers interesting and engaging to capture the examiner’s attention. They should use examples, illustrations, and relevant case studies to substantiate their arguments and present their ideas in a coherent and convincing manner.

4. Utilize Advanced UPSC Books: Candidates should refer to advanced-level UPSC books specifically designed for the Mains examination. These books provide in-depth coverage of the subjects and help candidates gain a comprehensive understanding of the topics.

5. Rely on Credible Sources: It is essential to rely on credible and authentic sources of information while preparing for the compulsory subjects. Candidates should avoid relying on unreliable or unverified sources and focus on reputable books, journals, government reports, and reliable online platforms.

By following this strategic approach, candidates can effectively prepare for the compulsory subjects in UPSC Mains, enhance their knowledge and writing skills, and increase their chances of securing favourable results in the examination.


  1. Is maths compulsory for the IAS exam?
  • One of the most popular optional subjects for the UPSC Main Exam is mathematics. However, only those who have taken this course for their mathematics degree should think about choosing it. One advantage of choosing maths as an optional course is that: UPSC Mathematics Optional has a static syllabus.
  1. What are the 5 compulsory subjects in UPSC?
  • All of the following are required subjects: history, geography, Indian politics and administration, general science, and economic and social development.
  1. How many subjects are there in the UPSC exam?
  • All applicants have the entire opportunity to choose their subject from the list of optional subjects listed in the IAS notice each year, thanks to UPSC. There are 25 disciplines to choose from, including 23 in literature languages.

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