IFS Examination Pattern & Syllabus

Since the year 2013 onwards, as per an official notification from the UPSC, the Indian Forest Service Examination will be a 2-tier examination similar to the pattern of the Civil Services Examination. The Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination shall serve as the screening test for both the Indian Forest Service Examination as well as the Civil Services Examination.

There is no change in the eligibility of the candidates in the Indian Forest Service Examination.

The Indian Forest Examination will now consist of:
A) Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination (usually conducted in May every year) - objective type paper
B) Indian Forest Service (Main) Examination (usually conducted in September every year) - (written exam + interview)

A) Civil Services Preliminary Examination

The Civil Services (Preliminary) Exam is an objective type paper which acts as a screening test to select candidates for the Indian Forest Service (Main) Examination.

The preliminary exam consists of two objective type papers (multiple-choice questions) for a total of 400 marks.

Each paper would be of 200 marks each and 2 hours duration each. However, blind candidates would be provided an extra 20 minutes for each paper.

Since this is a qualifying exam, the marks obtained in this test are not counted for determining the final order of merit of a candidate if he qualifies for the main exam as well.

The medium of the question paper would be both English and Hindi. However, Language Comprehension skills of Class X level will be tested through passages from English Language only without any Hindi translation.

Note: There will be negative marking for incorrect answers (as detailed below) for all questions except some of the questions where the negative marking will be inbuilt in the form of different marks being awarded to the most appropriate and not so appropriate answer for such questions.
(i) There are four choices for the answers to every question. For every wrong answer to a question, 1/3rd of the marks allotted to that quested will be deducted.
(ii) Choosing more than 1 answer for a question will also result in a deduction of 1/3rd marks of that question.
(iii) There won't be any negative marking for unanswered questions.

Note: Candidates must write the papers themselves. No candidate, except for blind candidates, can take the help of a scribe to write the exam.

Since there may be common candidates for Civil Services Examination and the Indian Forest Service Examination, after the common Screening Test done through Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination, separate lists will be prepared for the candidates eligible to appear in the Civil Service (Main) Examination and Indian Forest Service (Main) Examination, based on the number of vacancies to be filled through the Civil Services Examination and Indian Forest Service Examination.


Paper I - 200 marks, 2 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, 2 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)
  • English Language Comprehension skills (Class X level)

B) Indian Forest Service (Main) Examination

The Indian Forest Service (Main) Examination is for 1700 marks (1400 marks for written exam and 300 marks for the personality test)

i) Written Examination - The written exam has 6 papers of the conventional essay type for a total of 1400 marks. The question paper would be set only in English and the exam has to be answered in only English as well. each of the six papers would be 3 hours long. An extra 30 minutes per paper would be allowed for blind candidates.

Candidates must write the papers themselves. No candidate, except for blind candidates, can take the help of a scribe to write the exam.

The UPSC has the right to fix qualifying marks in any or all the papers of the examination. Marks can be deducted if a candidate's handwriting is not clear and easy to read.Credit will be given for orderly, effective and exact expression combined with due economy of words in all subjects of the examination.

SI units should be used wherever required. Candidates should use only international form of Indian numerals (e.g. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, etc.) while answering question papers.

Candidates will be allowed the use of Scientific (Non-programmable type)  calculators at the conventional type examinations of UPSC. Programmable type calculators will however not be allowed and the use of such calculators will be considered as equivalent to resorting to unfair means by the candidates. Loaning and interchanging of calculators in the Examination Hall is not permitted.

Paper I

General English

300 marks

Paper II

General Knowledge

300 marks

Paper III

Any 2 subjects to be selected from the

 list of the optional subjects mentioned below.

Each subject will have 2 papers.

200 Marks

Paper IV

200 Marks

Paper V

200 Marks

Paper VI

200 Marks


1400 Marks

List of Optional Subjects:

Agriculture Forestry
Agriculture Engineering Geology
Animal Husbandry & Veterinary Science Mathematics
Botany Mechanical Engineering
Chemistry Physics
Chemical Engineering Statistics
Civil Engineering Zoology

Please note that the candidates can't take the following combination of subjects:

1. Agriculture and Agricultural Engineering
2. Agriculture and Animal Husbandry & Veterinary Science
3. Agriculture and Forestry.
4. Chemistry and Chemical Engineering
5. Mathematics and Statistics
6. Of the Engineering subjects viz. Agricultural Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Civil Engineering and Mechanical Engineering - not more than one subject.


The standard of papers in General English and General Knowledge will be such as may be expected of a Science or Engineering graduate of an Indian University.

The Scope of the syllabus for optional subject papers for the examination is broadly of the honors degree level i.e. A level higher than the Bachelors Degree and lower than the Masters Degree. In the case of Engineering subjects, the level corresponds to the Bachelors Degree.

There will be no practical examination in any of the subjects.

General English - Candidates will be required to write an essay in English. Other questions will be designed to test their understanding of English and workmanlike use of words. Passages will usually be set for summary or precis.

General Knowledge - General Knowledge including knowledge of current events and of such matters of every day observation and experience in their scientific aspects as may be expected of an educated person who has not made a special study of any scientific subject. The paper will also include questions on Indian Polity including the political system and the Constitution of India, History of India and Geography of a nuture which the candidate should be able to answer without special study.

Optional Subjects - There will be 8 questions in each question paper of optional subjects. Each paper will be divided into two parts, viz. Part A and Part B, each part containing four questions. Out of eight questions, five questions are to be attempted. One question in each part will be compulsory. Candidates will be required to answer three more questions out of the remaining six questions, taking at least one question from each Part. In this way, at least two questions will be attempted from each Part i.e. one compulsory question plus one more.

Optional Subjects' syllabus:

Personality Test/ Interview

The candidate will be interviewed by a board of competent and unbiased observers who will have before them a record of his/her career. The object of the interview is to assess the personality of the candidate and evaluate whether he is right for the service. The candidate will be expected to have taken an intelligent interest not only in his/her subjects of academic study but also in events which are happening around him/her both within and outside his/her own state or country, as well as in modem currents of thoughts and in new discoveries which should rouse the curiosity of well educated youth.

The technique of the interview is not that of a strict cross-examination but of a natural, though directed and deliberate conversation which aims to reveal the mental caliber of the candidate.

The Board will pay special attention to assessing the following traits in a candidate:

  • Intellectual Curiosity
  • Critical Powers of Observation and Assimilation
  • Balance of Judgment
  • Alertness of Mind
  • Tact
  • Capacity for Leadership
  • Ability for Social Cohesion
  • Mental and Physical Energy
  • Powers of Practical Application
  • Integrity of Character
  • Topographical Sense
  • Love for Outdoor Life
  • Desire to explore unknown and out of way places

Subscribe to our Newsletter