UPSC Prelims 2023 - Exam Pattern, Syllabus, Important Books

UPSC Prelims 2023 - Exam Pattern, Syllabus, Important Books
The Civil Services Examination comprises two successive stages:

  1. Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination (Objective Type) for the selection of candidates for Civil Services (Main) Examination; and
  2. Civil Services (Main) Examination (Written and Interview/Personality Test) for the selection of candidates for the various Services and posts.

The Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination will consist of two papers of Objective type (multiple choice questions) and carry a maximum of 400 marks in the subjects set out in sub-section (A) of Section II.
This examination is meant to serve as a screening test only; the marks obtained in the Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination by the candidates who are declared qualified for admission to the Civil Services (Main) Examination will not be counted for determining their final order of merit. The number of candidates to be admitted to the Civil Services (Main) Examination will be about twelve to thirteen times the total approximate number of vacancies to be filled in the year through this Examination. Only those candidates who are declared by the Commission to have qualified in the Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination in the year will be eligible for admission to the Civil Services (Main) Examination of that year provided they are otherwise eligible for admission to the Civil Services (Main) Examination.
Note I : The Commission will draw a list of candidates to be qualified for Civil Services (Main) Examination based on the criterion of minimum qualifying marks of 33% in General Studies Paper-II of Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination and total qualifying marks of General Studies Paper-I of Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination as may be determined by the Commission.
Note II : There will be negative marking for incorrect answers as detailed below :

  1. There are four alternatives for the answers to every question. For each question for which a wrong answer has been given by the candidate, one-third (0.33) of the marks assigned to that question will be deducted as penalty.
  2. If a candidate gives more than one answer, it will be treated as a wrong answer even if one of the given answers happen to be correct and there will be same penalty as above for that question.
  3. If a question is left blank i.e. no answer is given by the candidate, there will be no penalty for that question.

Scheme and Subjects for the Preliminary Examination
The Examination shall comprise of two compulsory Papers of 200 marks each.

  1. Both the question papers will be of the objective type (multiple choice questions) and each will be of two hours duration.
  2. The General Studies Paper-II of the Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination will be a qualifying paper with minimum qualifying marks fixed at 33%.
  3. The question papers will be set both in Hindi and English.

Syllabi for the Examination
Paper I (200 marks) Duration: Two hours

  • 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 specialization.
  • General Science.

Paper II (200 marks) Duration : Two hours

  • 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);

Note 1 :Paper-II of the Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination will be a qualifying paper withminimum qualifying marks fixed at 33%.
Note 2 :The questions will be of multiple choice, objective type.
Note 3 :It is mandatory for the candidate to appear in both the Papers of Civil Services (Prelim) Examination for the purpose of evaluation. Therefore a candidate will be disqualified in case he/she does not appear in both the papers of Civil Services (Prelim) Examination.

What are books that we have to refer to for prelims?


  • Newspapers: Hindu, Business Line, Financial Times, Indian Express (any two)
  • Monthly current affairs: IAS Gazette
  • IAS GYAN website
  • Down to earth, science reporter


  • NCERTs 9th, 10th (for basic understanding)
  • Acts/Bills, judgements-PRS website
  • Constitution of India at Work (Class XI) NCERT Publication
  • Indian Polity by Laxmikant
  • Introduction to Indian Constitution – D.D.Basu
  • From Government to Governance by Kuldeep Mathur
  • Ethics in Governance, ARC Report
  • NITI Aayog reports, Government reports
  • Governance in India by M.Karthikeyan


  • Human Development Report & World Development Report
  • Panchayati Raj in India by Kuldeep Mathur


  • Ancient History of India: Old NCERT by RS Sharma/ TN class 11 th book
  • Medieval History of India: Old NCERT by Satish Chandra/ TN class 11 th book
  • Modern History
    • NCERTs
    • Plassey to Partition Book
    • Spectrum
    • India’s Struggle for Independence – Bipan Chandra (Selective Reading)
  • Indian Art and Culture
    • An Introduction to Indian Art – Class XI NCERT
    • Chapters related to culture in Ancient and Medieval India NCERTs
    • Centre for Cultural Resource and Training (CCRT) material
    • Heritage Crafts: Living Craft Traditions of India -NCERT
    • Nitin Singhania book (optional)


  • Shankar IAS Book
  • Biology 12th NCERT last 4 chapters


  • Fundamentals of Physical Geography XI NCERT
  • India: Physical Environment XI NCERT
  • Fundamentals of Human Geography XII NCERT
  • India: People and Economy XII NCERT
  • Certificate Physical and Human Geography: GC Leong
  • OXFORD Atlas


  • Indian Economy by Ramesh Singh
  • Microeconomics, Macroeconomics – NCERT Class XI, XII
  • Indian Economic Development – NCERT Class XI
  • Indian Economy by Sanjiv Verma
  • Economics Dictionary published by Collins & Penguin


  • NCERT-Class 6th to 10th
  • NCERT-Biology-11th (Unit IV & V only - read basic concepts not technical details)
  • NCERT-Biology-12th (Chapters 4, 5 and rest from 7 to 16)
  • NCERT-Biology-12th (OLD) - Chapter 9 onwards
  • NCERT-Physics-11th (Chap 1,5 & 8) and 12th (Chap 15 only)
  • NCERT-Chemistry-11th (Chap 1 & 14 only) and 12th (Chap 14 & 16 only)


  • IASGYAN Prelims Xpress Compilation
  • IASGYAN Daily Prelims test
  • IAS GYAN Mock tests

Special features of Aptiplus’s test series:

  • RESEARCHED CONTENT: The content is based on latest examination pattern which extensively covers the entire syllabus.
  • BEST PREPARATORY TOOLS: Subject wise & topic wise Questions based on latest pattern, in addition to previous year question papers.
  • DEVELOPS TEMPERAMENT: will develop real time exam temperament of students before actual competition.
  • ADVANCE LEVEL: Problems are of advance level which will increase the solving ability of the student.
  • DETAILED ANALYSIS: will provide systematic assessment & feedback of student’s performance which will help them in identifying their strengths and weaknesses.
  • Material and tests prepared by pool of expert faculties.

UPSC CSE related mocks:

UPSC Prelims 2023 Trial Test: (free of cost)
With a legacy of 16 years, Aptiplus has given aspirants an unmatched learning experience with an unbeatable edge. Through its dynamic, innovative and integrated teaching methodology-focused learning environment and technology enabled-education, Aptiplus provides cutting-edge educational solutions that help aspirants to excel.In continuation of this, Aptiplus has launched various initiatives for CSE 2023 Prelims. Aptiplus is providing all the CSE 2023 aspirants with 2 Full-Length Tests (FLTs) absolutely free of cost.

Why you should attempt the test?

It will help the aspirants to do a complete systematic assessment of their current level of preparation. At the same time, it will introduce the aspirants to the high quality and exam-centric standards of Prelims Tests Aptiplus is known for. These tests build on the mantra of ‘Learn, Revise, Evaluate, Improve and Succeed’ help aspirants compete nationally and decimate UPSC CSE Prelims with ease. The package for CSE 2023 Prelims includes 60 All India UPSC Mock Tests (31 Sectional Tests + 5 PYQ Based Tests+7 Current Affairs Tests+10 GS Full-Length Tests+7 CSAT Tests).

Online test series for UPSC Prelims 2023:

Apti Plus Academy’s Online test series for UPSC Prelims 2023 is a stepping stone to crack the UPSC Prelims examination

Learn, Revise, Evaluate, Improve and Succeed by evaluating yourself before UPSC evaluate you!

Decimate UPSC CSE Prelims 2023 with full length tests, tests on PYQs and current affair tests. Curated by India's most adroit professionals & renowned academicians with vast experience in UPSC. Increase marks through in-depth analysis & corrective measures and Detailed Test Report with All India Ranking. Full flexibility as aspirants can take Tests anytime and anywhere. Closely Aligned to UPSC Syllabus Understand requirements & prepare effectively according to the demands of the examination Don’t miss out any topics of the Syllabus & get complete coverage.

Also available are subjectwise tests under the STEP UP Programme 2023

Daily Prelims Mini Test:
Aptiplus provides this Programme known for its codified objective criteria, uniform standards and timely, constructive, personalised and practical inputs on all aspects of answer writing. Daily one question is uploaded by 10: 00 am with equal coverage of the four GS papers. Both static and dynamic portions are covered.

Daily Mains Mini Test:
Aptiplus provides this Programme known for its codified objective criteria, uniform standards and timely, constructive, personalised and practical inputs on all aspects of answer writing. Daily one question is uploaded by 10: 00 am with equal coverage of the four GS papers. Both static and dynamic portions are covered.

Mains Answer Writing:
Apti Plus through its Mains Program offers that kind of conducive 360-degree platform that meets every requirement of the 'LEARN, REVISE & PRACTICE, TEST, IMPROVE, SUCCEED' mantra. One can 'Revise, Practice & Improve' and stay ahead of the curve with the Mains Answer Writing Evaluation Programme.

Aptiplus’s Mains Test Series-The Best Test Series For Upsc Civil Services Exam:
This BEST TEST SERIES FOR UPSC CIVIL SERVICES EXAM has been designed to ensure not only content development and enhanced answer writing skills for the aspirants but also to enable them to develop multi-dimensional analytical perspectives across all themes.  The mantra of ‘LEARN-REVISE-TEST-SUCCEED’ is followed. Programme focuses on building a strong foundation by starting from scratch and then achieving a step-by-step systematic and thorough coverage of the entire syllabus of the Main Exam.

Aptiplus’s Integrated Test Series-The Best Test Series For Upsc Civil Services Exam:
Choosing the right Test Series Programme is crucial for success in the UPSC examination. Integrated Testing accommodates all the phases of UPSC under the same roof and inculcates a deeper understanding of the syllabus. They easily fit in our pockets and provide effective results too. Keeping this in view, APTI PLUS Academy has meticulously structured its Integrated Test Series (ITS) Program for CSE 2023 in order to provide a real-time exam experience to the aspirants. With an in-depth coverage of the syllabus, the tests have been designed to cover the entire static and current portions comprehensively. The tests strictly adhere to the latest UPSC trends and patterns.