Indian Foreign Service: Exam Syllabus, Pattern, Books & Preparation Tips

September 9, 2022

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

The conducted authority has released UPSC IFS 2021 Syllabus Candidates planning for the UPSC IFS exam must steel themselves against it and must undergo the syllabus intimately. By having a radical check out the syllabus, they’re going to be ready to realize the stages, subjects, and topics which they have to read to qualify for the exam.

The IFS Syllabus is mentioned within the notification PDF and is split into two parts – Prelims and Mains and a serious section are predicated on the overall Studies section which can have questions from Geography, History, Polity, English, Hindi, Regional language, diplomacy, et al.

The syllabus for the IFS exam is that the same as other civil services examinations conducted by UPSC. Candidates making it through the choice procedure which is that the same as other civil services.  After getting selected he/she has got to undergo certain training within the Foreign Service Institute, New Delhi.

UPSC IFS Syllabus

The authority will conduct the exam in 2 stages: Prelim Exam (Objective Type), Main Exam (Written Exam and Interview).

  1. The prelim exam is additionally called the Civil Service Aptitude Test (CSAT). It comprises 2 papers- General Studies (Paper-1), General Studies (Paper-2). Both papers will comprise multiple-choice questions. The questions paper is going to be in both Hindi and English languages. The General Studies (Paper-2) are going to be of qualifying nature. 33% is the minimum qualifying mark. Both papers carry 200 marks and are of two hours each. However, blind candidates get an additional 20 minutes for every paper.
  2. The candidates who crack Prelims sit for the Mains. However, the mains are complete of 1750 marks. Also, the ultimate list is made on the sum of interviews and mains marks. But papers A and B are of 300 marks and therefore the remaining are of 250 marks. Following are the papers within the mains:
  • 1st paper (the candidate chooses the language)
  • 2nd paper (English)
  • 3rd paper (Essay)
  • 4th paper – General Studies I
  • 5th paper – General Studies II
  • 6th paper – General Studies III
  • 7th paper – General studies IV
  • 8th paper – Optional paper 1
  • 9th paper – Optional paper 2
  1. Interview
  • The last and end are that the Interview and it consists of 275 marks. But it should be noted that it’s tough to crack prelims and Mains. Also, the interview stage is far quite just bookish knowledge. The board members evaluate the caliber of the candidate and see if it’s suitable for the work or not. Also, the candidate must realize all the present affairs of the country and therefore the world.
  • On the opposite hand, the candidate should sit for several mock Interviews to organize themselves. Also, if you do not already know, the candidates selected for the Interview are twice as compared to the number of vacancies. Therefore, the candidate is chosen on the idea of the presence of mind and smart answers. the opposite factors that affect the choice are judgment capability, patience, awareness, morals, and far more. The Interview board will test the personality of the applicants and not simply information. These are all tested within the 1st 2 rounds.

Prelim IFS Syllabus


  • General Science
  • Current occasions of public and worldwide significance
  • History of India and Indian National Movement
  • Economic and Social Development-Sustainable Development, Inclusion, Poverty, Demographics, Social Sector Initiatives, and so on.
  • General issues on Environmental biology, Biodiversity, and Climate Change – that don’t need subject specialization.
  • Indian and World Geography-Physical, Economic, Social Geography of India and the World Indian Polity and Governance-Constitution, Panchayati Raj, Political System, Public Policy, Rights Issues, and so on.


  • General mental capacity
  • Interpersonal abilities including relational abilities
  • Logical thinking and logical capacity
  • Basic numeracy (numbers and their relations, significant degrees, and so on), Data translation (diagrams, graphs, tables, information adequacy, and so forth) – Class X level
  • Comprehension
  • Decision making and critical thinking
  • English Language Comprehension abilities (Class X level)

Know More – IFS Foreign Recruitment Important Date & Notifications

Main Syllabus for IFS

Paper A and Paper B – The papers on Indian dialects and English will have questions of class 10th or comparable norm. The example of the papers will be:

  • Reading Comprehension
  • Precis Writing
  • Short Essays
  • Usage and Vocabulary
  • Translation from English to Indian dialects and the other way around

Paper A-Any Indian Language

  • For this exam, applicants need to pick one language from the Languages remembered for the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution.
  • This test isn’t necessary for candidates hailing from the States of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, and Sikkim

Paper B-English

  • This paper is led to test the qualification of applicants and to take a look at the abilities of applicants in the English Language.
  • Aspirants are chosen dependent on certain realities like how they comprehend this language and how they express their thoughts plainly and accurately.


Article – Writing expositions on different subjects in a powerful articulation.


General Studies-I: Indian Heritage and Culture, History, and Geography of the World and Society
  • Indian culture will cover the primary components of Art Forms, Literature, and Architecture from old to introduce times.
  • Modern Indian history from about the center of the eighteenth century until the present-huge occasions, characters, issues
  • The Freedom Struggle – its different stages and significant givers/commitments from various pieces of the country.
  • Post-autonomy union and rebuilding inside the country
  • The history of the world will incorporate occasions from the eighteenth century.
  • Salient Features of Indian Society, Diversity of India
  • The job of ladies and ladies’ associations.
  • Effects of globalization on Indian Society
  • Social Empowerment
  • Salient Features of world’s Physical Geography
  • Distribution of Key Natural Resources Across the world
  • Important Geographical Phenomena


General Studies-II: Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International Relations
  • Functions and obligations of the Union and the States, issues and difficulties of the government structure, devolution of forces and funds up to nearby levels, and difficulties in that.
  • Bilateral, provincial, and worldwide groupings and arrangements including India or potentially influencing India’s inclinations.
  • Effect of approaches and governmental issues of created and non-industrial nations on India’s inclinations, Indian Diaspora.
  • Important International organizations, offices their job, construction, and command.
  • Government approaches and intercessions for advancement in different areas and issues emerging out of their plan and execution.
  • Development measures and the advancement business the job of NGOs, SHGs, different gatherings and affiliations, givers, good cause, institutional and different partners.
  • Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, working, the director of business, powers and advantages, and issues emerging out of these.
  • Statutory, administrative, and different semi-legal bodies.
  • Government Policies and intercessions for advancement in different areas
  • Development measure and the improvement of business
  • Welfare plans for the weak part of the populace by focus and state.
  • Issues identified with the turn of events
  • Issues identifying with destitution and yearning
  • Important parts of Governance
  • Role of Civil Services in a majority rules system


General Studies-III: Technology, Economic Development, Biodiversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management
  • Inclusive development and issues emerging from it.
  • Government Budgeting.
  • Development, Bio-variety, Environment, Security, and Disaster Management.
  • Security challenges and their administration in line regions; linkages of coordinated wrongdoing with psychological oppression.
  • Food handling and related businesses in India-degree and importance, area, upstream and downstream prerequisites, production network the board.
  • Various Security powers and organizations and their order.
  • Indian Economy and issues identifying with arranging, preparation of assets, development, improvement, and business.
  • Conservation, natural contamination, and debasement, ecological effect appraisal.
  • Disaster and calamity the board.
  • Linkages among advancement and spread of radicalism.
  • Land changes in India.
  • Effects of Liberalization on the economy
  • Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, streets, and so on
  • Investment models
  • Science and innovation
  • Achievements of Indian in Science and innovation
  • Awareness in its fields, Space, Computers, and so on
  • Conversation, ecological contamination, and debasement.
  • Disaster and Disaster Management
  • Linkages among improvement and spread of radicalism and so on
  • Role of outer state
  • Challenges of inner security through interchanges organizations
  • Security challenges


General Studies-IV: Ethics, Integrity, and Aptitude
  • Ethics and Human Interface: Essence, determinants, and outcomes of ethics in human activities; measurements of morals; morals in private and public connections.
  • Attitude: content, structure, work; its impact and connection with thought and conduct; good and political perspectives; social impact and influence.
  • Emotional knowledge ideas, and their utilities and application in organization and administration.
  • Contributions of good scholars and thinkers from India and the world.
  • Human Values – exercises from the lives and lessons of extraordinary pioneers, reformers, and managers; the job of family, society, and instructive foundations in instilling esteems.
  • Probity in Governance: Concept of Public Service
  • Case studies on the Above Issues and so forth

Paper-VI and Paper-VII

Paper-VI and VII are of the optional type. Candidates are required to pick one subject for every optional paper. The IFS syllabus for optional subjects is out there within the official notification. Candidates can check an equivalent as per their selected subject.

Candidates must choose any subject from the subsequent optional subjects:

2. Electrical Engineering
3. Physics
4. Agriculture
5. Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science
6. Anthropology
7. Botany
8. Civil Engineering
9. Commerce and Accountancy
10. Economics
11. Geography
13. History
14. Law
15. Management
16. Mathematics
17. Mechanical Engineering
18. Medical Science
19. Philosophy
20. Political Science and International Relations
21. Psychology
22. Public Administration
23. Sociology
24. Statistics
25. Zoology
 26. Literature

Candidates can prepare the IFS syllabus according to the exam pattern.

Know More – IFS Foreign Admit Card

IFS Exam Pattern

The exam will be led in 2 phases:

  • Prelim Exam (Objective Type)
  • Main Exam (Written Exam and Interview)

The prelim test is likewise called the Civil Service Aptitude Test (CSAT). It includes 2 papers as follows:

PapersSubjectsTime DurationMaximum Marks
Paper-1General Studies2 hours200 marks
Paper-2General Studies2 hours200 marks
  • Both papers will comprise multiple-choice questions.
  • The questions paper is going to be in both Hindi and English languages.
  • The General Studies (Paper-II) are going to be of qualifying nature. The officials fixed 33% as the minimum qualifying marks.
  • Negative Marking – Negative marking is applicable for the wrong response. 1/3rd of the marks assigned to the question is going to be deducted for each wrong response. If a candidate marks quite one answer, it’ll even be treated as a wrong response albeit one among the answers is correct. No marks are going to be awarded or deducted for questions left unanswered.

The officials fixed a written exam and interview test for the Main exam. The written exam consists of 9 papers. All the papers are going to be of conventional essay type. Here is the small print of the papers:

PapersMaximum Marks
Qualifying Papers
Paper-A (One language to be selected by the languages included in 8th Schedule of the Constitution)300 marks
Paper-B (English)300 marks
Papers Counted for Merit
Paper-I (Essay)250 marks
Paper-II (General Studies-I)250 marks
Paper-III (General Studies-II)250 marks
Paper-IV (General Studies-III)250 marks
Paper-V (General Studies-IV)250 marks
Paper-VI (Optional Subject – Paper-1)250 marks
Paper-VII (Optional Subject – Paper-2)250 marks
Sub Total1750 marks

Total Marks of the Main Exam

Main Exam PhasesTotal Marks
Written Test Marks1750
Personality Test (Interview) Marks275
Grand Total2025

Know More – IFS Foreign Exam Result & Cut off Marks

No preparation is completed without the support of the simplest books. During this section on the way to steel oneself against IFS 2021, we’ll be sharing a number of the simplest books. Candidates can check the simplest books recommended by toppers and experts who have qualified within the IFS exam from the below table. The list of a number of the simplest books is shared here.

Nitin Singhania’s Indian Art and CultureKhullar’s India- A Comprehensive Geography
Sanjiv Verma’s Indian EconomyMinistry of Social Welfare’s & Social Welfare Magazine
Subhash C. Kashyap’s Our ConstitutionScience Reporter’s CSIR Magazine
UPSC: IFS (Paper I & II) Main Exam GuideUPSC-IFS Main Examination Guide: A Complete Book for Paper I and Paper II
Ram Ahuja’s Social ProblemD.D. Basu’s Indian Constitution
Bipin Chandra’s Modern IndiaNational Journal – Down to earth

Note: To qualify for the exam and do better preparations, candidates must ask the IFS question papers. The UPSC IFS sample papers, given in-depth preparations, a thought about previous year question trends, know the problem level of the question papers, etc. candidates must practice sample papers to spot their weak areas and prepare accordingly.

IFS Preparation Tips

  • Start from the fundamentals, attend online websites and YouTube tutorials to understand each piece of data about IFS intimately. Stay awake so far with current affairs, solve previous year’s question papers, make your concept clear for subjects that need deep understanding.
  • Download & solve previous year’s IFS question papers. This is often one of the foremost common and most advised tips candidates will get on the way to steel themselves against IFS 2021. The question papers help candidates realize the problem level of the exam. UPSC releases the question paper of UPSC IFS on the official website.
  • Before starting the IFS preparations, candidates must undergo the exam pattern and syllabus to understand the sections, stages, marking scheme, subjects on which the IFS question paper is going to be based.
  • It is advised to remain hydrated, eat healthy food, exercise, and meditate a touch.
  • Time Management. While solving the question papers use a timer. this may help candidates in increasing their speed and efficiency. Applicants should solve these questions within the time limit.
  • Revision is that the key. Yes, and not only for IFS but any exam. Revise whatever you read before getting to bed. It’s also advised to form short notes while preparing for the IFS exam of whatever belongings you read, keep those notes with yourself all the time, and skim whenever there’s a while.

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Q.1 How to get ready for IFS 2021?

Ans. Ask about the exam pattern and syllabus of IFS.

  1. Download and solve previous year’s IFS Question Papers.
  2. Make a correct IFS Study Plan.
  3. Solve IFS Test Series.
  4. Stay Healthy and calm.
  5. Time Management.
  6. Revision is that the key.

Q.2 Who qualifies for IFS?

Ans. Candidate should have an academic qualification of a baccalaureate or any equivalent from a recognized institute or university.

Q.3 Can an MBBS student become IFS?

Ans. No, MBBS candidates aren’t allowed/eligible for IFS.

Q.4 Where does the IFS Training happen?

Ans. The IFS preparation begins at LBSNAA, Mussoorie. Afterward, they’re moved to FSI in Delhi for 1 year.

Q.5 Is it possible for an IFS officer to try a start-up alongside his job?

Ans. a person having a government job in India isn’t allowed to interact in any business or pursue another job. This restriction is also applicable to IFS officers.