Compulsory Subjects for UPSC Exam

By K Balaji|Updated : September 6th, 2022

Compulsory Subjects for UPSC Exam are mandatory subjects for the candidates to attempt in the IAS exam. Candidates need to prepare for all these compulsory subjects to clear the exam. Apart from Compulsory Subjects for UPSC Exam, candidates will get to choose some optional subjects in UPSC Mains as well. The UPSC compulsory subjects are designed to test your understanding of things around you as only an informed person can make informed decisions as a civil servant.

In this article, we have mentioned all the Compulsory Subjects for UPSC Prelims and Mains. Candidates need to prepare the whole syllabus for every compulsory subject to clear the examination.

Compulsory Subjects for UPSC Exam

As you know, there are three stages of the UPSC Exam- UPSC Prelims, UPSC Mains, and Interview round. The first stage of the UPSC Exam, i,e, UPSC Prelims, has two papers, namely General Studies-1 and General Studies-2 (CSAT). All the subjects in the UPSC Prelims are compulsory in nature.

After clearing the UPSC Prelims, candidates will be eligible for the UPSC Mains exam. The UPSC Mains comprises 9 papers, two of which are optional papers. Candidates can choose one optional subject from the list of 48 Optional Subjects for UPSC. Apart from the two optional papers, the other 7 papers will be compulsory. However, in Paper A, candidates will get an option to choose their choice of Indian Language.

Compulsory Subjects for UPSC Prelims Exam

The UPSC Prelims is the screening test, and the selected ones will be qualified for the UPSC Mains. The duration of the exam will be two hours, and it carries 200 marks. The questions will be multiple choice objective types. The UPSC Prelims Syllabus is divided into two papers: General Studies-1 and General Studies-2 (CSAT). Below we have provided the UPSC compulsory subjects for each paper in the UPSC Prelims.

Compulsory Subjects for UPSC Prelims (General Studies-1)

➙Current events of national and international importance.

➙General issues on Environmental Ecology, Biodiversity and Climate Change – that do not require subject specialisation

➙History of India and Indian National Movement.

➙Indian Polity and Governance – Constitution, Political System, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights Issues, etc.

➙General Science

➙Indian and World Geography-Physical, Social, Economic Geography of India and the World.

➙Economic and Social Development – Sustainable Development, Poverty, Inclusion, Demographics, Social Sector initiatives, etc.

Compulsory Subjects for UPSC Prelims (CSAT)

  • Logical reasoning and analytical ability
  • General mental ability to solve problems
  • Basic numerical problems that include numbers and their relations, orders of magnitude, etc. up to Class X level and Data Interpretation including charts, graphs, tables, data sufficiency, etc. up to class X level
  • English Language Comprehension skills (Class X level).

UPSC Compulsory Subjects in Mains

The UPSC Mains is the second stage of the UPSC exam, and the candidates who clear UPSC Prelims get to appear in the Mains exam. The UPSC Mains Syllabus consists of four General Studies papers. All the subjects mentioned in the general studies papers are compulsory. Candidates also get two optional papers as well in the UPSC Mains. Below we have mentioned all the compulsory subjects for the UPSC Mains exam.




Essay (can be written in the medium of the candidate’s choice)


General Studies – I (Indian Heritage & Culture, History & Geography of the World & Society)


General Studies – II (Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice & International Relations)


General Studies – III (Technology, Economic Development, Biodiversity, Security & Disaster Management)


General Studies – IV (Ethics, Integrity & Aptitude)

How to Prepare for Compulsory Subjects for UPSC Exam?

It is mandatory for the candidates to appear in the Compulsory Subjects for UPSC Exam. However, many candidates find it difficult to secure good marks on these papers. That’s why we have prepared a strategy that would help to clear these compulsory subjects in both UPSC Prelims and UPSC Mains Exam.

Preparation for Compulsory Subjects for UPSC Exam Prelims

As we have mentioned above, the UPSC Prelims include two papers, General Studies-1 and General Studies-2 (CSAT). To prepare for General Studies for Prelims, candidates must follow the strategy given below.

  • Candidates need to give their time to News Paper reading and Magazine reading. Magazines like Yojana and Kurukshetra are a must for the aspirants.
  • Candidates need to go through the UPSC Previous Year Question Paper to understand the kind of questions asked in the prelims exam and the way UPSC has been framing the questions.
  • Not making your own hand-written notes would be a big mistake. That’s why it is highly recommended to make notes during preparation.
  • For Prelims, candidates must strengthen their foundation with the help of NCERT Books for UPSC. The NCERT textbooks are easy to understand and written in simple language that would be helpful for the candidates.
  • Once you complete the syllabus, test your preparation level by taking mock tests.

Preparation Strategy for UPSC Compulsory Subjects for Mains

There are four general studies papers, one essay paper, two qualifying papers, and two optional papers in the UPSC Mains exam. To secure fruitful results in the UPSC Mains, candidates need to ace the General Studies papers that are compulsory in nature. Below we have prepared a strategy to ace these compulsory subjects of the UPSC Mains Syllabus.

  • As the papers in UPSC Mains are subjective in nature, candidates need to practice essay writing.
  • Candidates get limited time for the examination, so they must complete their papers on time. Practicing previous year’s question papers and giving mock tests would help the candidates to finish their papers on time.
  • The answers should be interesting and must grab the attention of the examiner to score well.
  • Candidates need to have access to some advanced level UPSC Books for the UPSC Mains.
  • Candidates must be dependent on credible sources. They shouldn’t just trust any source and choose the best UPSC Books for preparation.


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FAQs on Compulsory Subjects for UPSC Exam

  • The Compulsory Subjects for UPSC Exam are the subjects that candidates have to appear in both UPSC Prelims and Mains.

  • There are a total of 9 papers are in the UPSC Mains exam. Out of them,  Paper-A (Compulsory Indian Language); Paper –B (English) are qualifying in nature, and papers like  Essay, General Studies Papers I, II, III, and IV, and Optional Papers I and II are considered for the final ranking. Apart from the two optional papers, other papers are compulsory in nature.

  • In UPSC Prelims, the compulsory subjects are Indian Polity and Governance, General Science, History, Geography, Economic and Social Development, etc. Both the papers- GS 1 and GS 2 (CSAT) are compulsory papers, but CSAT is qualifying in nature while GS 1 is merit ranking in nature.

  • No, candidates get the option to choose the optional subject. The options subject doesn’t depend on the graduation subject. However, a small part of biology overlaps with the General Studies Papers.

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