UPSC Prelims Syllabus 2020 | Exam Pattern & Detailed Syllabus for UPSC Prelims

UPSC Prelims Syllabus 2020. The Preliminary Examination of the UPSC Civil Service Examination serves as the first elimination round with the success rate of only about 3%. Hence, it is extremely important to have complete information on UPSC Prelims Syllabus as well as exam pattern.

The exam consists of two papers namely General Studies I paper and General Studies-II (CSAT) paper. While the score in GS Paper determines whether or not you qualify the cut off prelims, CSAT is qualifying in nature. You only need to score more than 33% or 66 marks for CSAT paper. Altogether, prelims is qualifying in nature. Thus, the score does not add up to the final merit.

In this article, we will discuss the exam pattern as well as UPSC Prelims Syllabus 2020. The duration of each paper viz General Studies and CSAT is 2 hours. Here is the exam pattern of UPSC CSE Prelims 2020:

Name of the Paper No of Questions Marks Negative Marking Type of Paper Nature of Paper
General Studies 100 200 Yes. (1/3rd mark is deducted for every wrong answer). Objective The score is considered for cutoff
CSAT 80 200 Yes. (1/rd mark is deducted for every wrong answer.) Objective Qualifying. Candidates need to score more than 33%

The UPSC CSE Prelims 2020 is scheduled for October 4th, 2020. Both General Studies Paper and CSAT will be held on the same day. There is a gap between the two papers. Hence, the students are advised to prepare in such a way that they are able to solve each paper efficiently. To ensure that, it is important to solve mock tests in the exact same schedule as that of the Prelims Paper.

Here are a few important highlights regarding the Prelims that every candidate should know:

  • It is mandatory to appear for both General Studies and CSAT to qualify the Prelims.
  • There is 1/3rd negative marking for each wrong answer.
  • Each question of General Studies paper is of 2 marks. Thus, there is a negative marking of 0.66 marks for each incorrect answer in GS Paper
  • Each question of CSAT is of 2.5 marks. Hence, there is a negative marking of 0.833 marks for each incorrect answer in CSAT paper.
  • CSAT is qualifying in nature. It is required for each candidate to score at least 66 marks in CSAT paper failing which they would not qualify for Prelims.
  • Altogether, UPSC CSE Prelims is qualifying in nature which means the score will not add up in the final merit.

Now, let us look at UPSC Prelims Syllabus 2020

UPSC Prelims Syllabus of Paper-I (General Studies-I)

  • 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, Bio-diversity and Climate Change - that do not require subject specialisation General Science

UPSC Prelims Syllabus of Paper-II (CSAT)

  • 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)

Subject-wise Detailed UPSC Prelims Syllabus


Indian Heritage & Culture- Indian Art Forms, Literature, Architecture

Modern Indian History

The Freedom Struggle- The Revolt of 1857, Growth of Nationalism in India (1858–1905), Growth of Militant Nationalism & Revolutionary Activities (1905–18), Beginning of Mass Nationalism (1919–39), Towards Freedom & Partition (1939–47)

Post-Independence Consolidation: Nation Building, Foreign Policy

History of the World: Industrial Revolution, World War I, World Between the Two Wars,  World War II, Decolonization & Redrawing of National Boundaries, Concept, Types,and Social Impact of Political Philosophies


Constitutional Framework, System of Government, Central Government, State Government, Union Territories & Local Government, Constitutional Bodies, Non-Constitutional Bodies, Emergency Provisions


Salient Features of World's Physical Geography

Distribution of Key Natural Resources Across the World

Factors Responsible for the Location of Industries

Important Geophysical Phenomena

Geographical Features and their Location


Indian Economy & Issues Relating to Planning, Mobilization of Resources, Growth, Development & Employment

Inclusive Growth & Issues Arising From It

Government Budgeting

Land Reforms in India

Effects of Liberalization on the Economy

Changes In Industrial Policy & their Effects on Industrial Growth


Investment Models

Major Crops Cropping Patterns in Various Parts of the Country

Different Types of Irrigation & Irrigation Systems Storage

Transport & Marketing of Agricultural Produce & Issues & Related Constraints

E-Technology in the Aid of Farmers, Technology Missions

Issues Related to Direct & Indirect Farm Subsidies & Minimum Support Prices

Public Distribution System Objectives, Functioning, Limitations, Revamping

Issues of Buffer Stocks & Food Security

Economics of Animal-Rearing

Food Processing & Related Industries in India

General Science

Developments & their Applications & Effects in Everyday Life

Achievements of Indians in Science & Technology

Indigenization of Technology & Developing New Technology

Awareness in Different Fields

Issues Relating to Intellectual Property Rights

Universe – Big Bang, Redshift, Blueshift

Star Formation – Stellar Evolution, Life Cycle of A Star

Solar System Formation – Nebular Theory of Laplace

Solar System – Planets, Inner Planets, Outer Planets

Sun – Internal Structure, Atmosphere

Nuclear Fission, Nuclear Reactor Types

India’s Three-Stage Nuclear Power Programme

Cell Organelles – Plant Cell vs. Animal Cell

Carbohydrates – Monosaccharides, Polysaccharides

Proteins – Amino Acids, Enzymes

Vitamins and Minerals – Deficiency Diseases

Fats – Healthy Fats and Unhealthy Fats

Animal Tissues – Epithelium, Connective Tissues

Human Digestive System – Digestive Glands

Respiratory System – NCERT General Science

Endocrine Glands and Hormones

Human Neural System – Human Brain

Muscular and Skeletal System

Nucleic acids – DNA and RNA, Recombinant DNA

Mitosis – Cell Cycle, Cell Division, Meiosis – Mitosis – Meiosis Comparison

Inheritance – Mendel’s Laws of Inheritance, Chromosomal Theory, Human Genome Project

Sex Determination – Genetic Disorders

Diseases Caused by Microorganisms

Microbes in Human Welfare – Useful Microbes

Immunity – Human Immune System

AIDS, Cancer – causes

Drugs and Alcohol Abuse

Diseases – Acute, Chronic, Communicable Diseases

Blood – Blood Groups – Formed Elements

Circulatory System, Double Circulation

Excretory System – Kidney, Urine Formation

Origin and Evolution of Life on Earth

Biological Classification

Five Kingdom Classifications of Plants and Animals

Plant Parts and Their Functions

Plant Kingdom – Halophytes, Bryophytes

Plants with Seeds – Gymnosperms and Angiosperms

Plant Tissue – Simple, Complex Permanent Tissue

Plant Nutrition – Photosynthesis, Nitrogen Cycle, Fixation

Sexual and Asexual Reproduction in Plants

Classification of Animal Kingdom (Animalia)

Classification of Vertebrata (Phylum Chordata)

Human Reproductive System

Biotechnology – Genetic Engineering – Processes and Applications

Atomic Theory – Structure of an Atom

Check out the detailed UPSC Prelims syllabus and preparation strategy for each of these subjects in the linked articles!

How To Prepare For UPSC Prelims Syllabus 2020?

Here are a few sources and tips that you can consider for the preparation of UPSC CSE Prelims:

  • Read the syllabus carefully and make a study plan to ensure you cover each and every part of the syllabus.
  • To make your foundation strong and get the basic concepts of General Studies right, read NCERTs of relevant subjects (History, Polity, Economy, Geography, Art& Culture) from 8th-12th class. Alternatively, you can join our NCERT program to get complete coverage of these NCERTs.
  • Also read through basic books for each subject. Read the complete booklist here.
  • For current affairs, read our daily current affairs analysis and monthly magazine analysis to keep yourself updated on the latest developments.

To know more about the UPSC Exam Pattern, click here.

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Current Affairs analysis