The Chemistry paper consists of two papers, paper 1 and paper 2. The subject carries a total of 500 marks, with each paper allotted for 250 marks. Paper 1 focuses on physical and inorganic chemistry. Paper 2 focuses on organic chemistry syllabus.
IAS aspirants who are targeting UPSC 2020, may check the linked article.
UPSC Chemistry Syllabus Paper – I
1. Atomic Structure:
Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, Schrodinger wave equation (time independent); Interpretation of wave function, particle in one-dimensional box, quantum numbers, hydrogen atom wave functions; Shapes of s, p and d orbitals.
2. Chemical Bonding:
Ionic bond, characteristics of ionic compounds, lattice energy, Born-Haber cycle; covalent bond and its general characteristics, polarities of bonds in molecules and their dipole moments; Valence bond theory, concept of resonance and resonance energy; Molecular orbital theory (LCAO method); bonding in H2+, H2, He2+ to Ne2, NO, CO, HF, and CN-; Comparison of valence bond and molecular orbital theories, bond order, bond strength and bond length.
3. Solid State:
Crystal systems; Designation of crystal faces, lattice structures and unit cell; Bragg’s law; X-ray diffraction by crystals; Close packing, radius ratio rules, calculation of some limiting radius ratio values; Structures of NaCl, ZnS, CsCl and CaF2; Stoichiometric and nonstoichiometric defects, impurity defects, semi-conductors.
4. The Gaseous State and Transport Phenomenon:
Equation of state for real gases, intermolecular interactions and critical phenomena and liquefaction of gases, Maxwell’s distribution of speeds, intermolecular collisions, collisions on the wall and effusion; Thermal conductivity and viscosity of ideal gases.
5. Liquid State:
Kelvin equation; Surface tension and surface energy, wetting and contact angle, interfacial tension and capillary action.
Work, heat and internal energy; first law of thermodynamics. Second law of thermodynamics; entropy as a state function, entropy changes in various processes, entropy-reversibility and irreversibility, Free energy functions; Thermodynamic equation of state; Maxwell relations; Temperature, volume and pressure dependence of U, H, A, G, Cp and Cv α and β; J-T effect and inversion temperature; criteria for equilibrium, relation between equilibrium constant and thermodynamic quantities; Nerns theat theorem, introductory idea of third law of thermodynamics.
7. Phase Equilibria and Solutions:
Clausius-Clapeyron equation; phase diagram for a pure substance; phase equilibria in binary systems, partially miscible liquids-upper and lower critical solution temperatures; partial molar quantities, their significance and determination; excess thermodynamic functions and their determination.
Debye-Huckel theory of strong electrolytes and Debye-Huckel limiting Law for various equilibrium and transport properties. Galvanic cells, concentration cells; electrochemical series, measurement of e.m.f. of cells and its applications fuel cells and batteries. Processes at electrodes; double layer at the interface; rate of charge transfer, current density; overpotential; electro-analytical techniques: Polarography, amperometry, ion selective electrodes and their uses.
9. Chemical Kinetics:
Differential and integral rate equations for zeroth, first, second and fractional order reactions; Rate equations involving reverse, parallel, consecutive and chain reactions; branching chain and explosions; effect of temperature and pressure on rate constant; Study of fast reactions by stop-flow and relaxation methods; Collisions and transition state theories.
Absorption of light; decay of excited state by different routes; photochemical reactions between hydrogen and halogens and their quantum yields.
11. Surface Phenomena and Catalysis:
Absorption from gases and solutions on solid adsorbents, Langmuir and B.E.T. adsorption isotherms; determination of surface area, characteristics and mechanism of reaction on heterogeneous catalysts.
12. Bio-inorganic Chemistry:
Metal ions in biological systems and their role in ion transport across the membranes (molecular mechanism), oxygenuptake proteins, cytochromes and ferredoxins.
13. Coordination Compounds:
(i) Bonding theories of metal complexes; Valence bond theory, crystal field theory and its modifications; applications of theories in the explanation of magnetism and electronic spectra of metal complexes.
(ii) Isomerism in coordination compounds; IUPAC nomenclature of coordination compounds; stereochemistry of complexes with 4 and 6 coordination numbers; chelate effect and polynuclear complexes; trans effect and its theories; kinetics of substitution reactions in square-planer complexes; thermodynamic and kinetic stability of complexes.
(iii) EAN rule, Synthesis structure and reactivity of metal carbonyls; carboxylate anions, carbonyl hydrides and metal nitrosyl compounds.
(iv) Complexes with aromatic systems, synthesis, structure and bonding in metal olefin complexes, alkyne complexes and cyclopentadienyl complexes; coordinative unsaturation, oxidative addition reactions, insertion reactions, fluxional molecules and their characterization; Compounds with metal-metal bonds and metal atom clusters.
14. Main Group Chemistry:
Boranes, borazines, phosphazenes and cyclic phosphazene, silicates and silicones, Interhalogen compounds; Sulphur – nitrogen compounds, noble gas compounds.
15. General Chemistry of ‘f’ Block Elements:
Lanthanides and actinides; separation, oxidation states, magnetic and spectral properties; lanthanide contraction.
UPSC Chemistry Syllabus Paper – II
1. Delocalised Covalent Bonding:
Aromaticity, anti-aromaticity; annulenes, azulenes, tropolones, fulvenes, sydnones.
2. Reaction Mechanisms:
General methods (both kinetic and non-kinetic) of study of mechanism of organic reactions: isotopic method, cross-over experiment, intermediate trapping, stereochemistry; energy of activation; thermodynamic control and kinetic control of reactions.
(ii) Reactive Intermediates: Generation, geometry, stability and reactions of carbonium ions and carbanions, free radicals, carbenes, benzynes and nitrenes.
(iii) Substitution Reactions: SN1, SN2 and SNi mechanisms; neighbouring group participation; electrophilic and nucleophilic reactions of aromatic compounds including heterocyclic compounds-pyrrole, furan, thiophene and indole.
(iv) Elimination Reactions: E1, E2 and E1cb mechanisms; orientation in E2 reactions-Saytzeff and Hoffmann; pyrolytic syn elimination – Chugaev and Cope eliminations.
(v) Addition Reactions: Electrophilic addition to C=C and C=C; nucleophilic addition to C=0, C=N, conjugated olefins and carbonyls.
(vi) Reactions and Rearrangements:
(a) Pinacol-pinacolone, Hoffmann, Beckmann, Baeyer-Villiger, Favorskii, Fries, Claisen, Cope, Stevens and WagnerMeerwein rearrangements.
(b) Aldol condensation, Claisen condensation, Dieckmann, Perkin, Knoevenagel, Witting, Clemmensen, Wolff-Kishner, Cannizzaro and von Richter reactions; Stobbe, benzoin and acyloin condensations; Fischer indole synthesis, Skraup synthesis, Bischler-Napieralski, Sandmeyer, Reimer-Tiemann and Reformatsky reactions.
3. Pericyclic Reactions
Classification and examples; Woodward Hoffmann rules – electro cyclic reactions, cycloaddition reactions [2+2 and 4+2] and sigma tropic shifts [1, 3; 3, 3 and 1, 5] FMO approach.
4. Preparation and Properties of Polymers:
(i) Organic polymers-polyethylene, polystyrene, polyvinyl chloride, teflon, nylon, terylene, synthetic and natural rubber.
(ii) Biopolymers: Structure of proteins, DNA and RNA.
5. Synthetic Uses of Reagents:
OsO4, HIO4, CrO3, Pb(OAc)4, SeO2, NBS, B2H6, Na-Liquid NH3, LiAlH4, NaBH4, n-BuLi and MCPBA.
Photochemical reactions of simple organic compounds, excited and ground states, singlet and triplet states, Norrish-Type I and Type II reactions.
Principle and applications in structure elucidation:
(i) Rotational: Diatomic molecules; isotopic substitution and rotational constants.
(ii) Vibrational: Diatomic molecules, linear triatomic molecules, specific frequencies of functional groups in polyatomic molecules.
(iii) Electronic: Singlet and triplet states; N→π* and ππ*→ transitions; application to conjugated double bonds and conjugated carbonyls-Woodward-Fieser rules; Charge transfer spectra.
(iv) Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (1H NMR): Basic principle; chemical shift and spin-spin interaction and coupling constants.
(v) Mass Spectrometry: Parent peak, base peak, metastable peak, McLafferty rearrangement.
Also, Check Other UPSC Optional Subject’s Syllabus
Preparation Tips for Chemistry in IAS Mains Exam
Chemistry as a mainstream science related and technical subject is best taken by those with a science background at their graduation level. Before taking our understanding to the next level, first and foremost it is important to understand the nature of questions pertaining to the subject in UPSC paper. The chemistry paper as an optional subject in the mains is mostly filled with a lot of numerical problems, fact based questions and important information based objective type questions too.
A good preparation slot for the mains is required. Minimum 5 months prior to the mains exam, an aspirant needs to set time for preparation. After knowing the time frame required for preparation, next step should be to write down what to study.
Keep the syllabus handy and follow every bit of it. Apart from the syllabus, make a quick note, an elaborate one of the most important and must-study topics. Some of the elementary topics not to be missed are atomic structure, chemical bonding, solid state chemistry, thermodynamics, chemical kinetics, photochemistry, electro chemistry, co-ordination chemistry and related ones. Next bifurcate topics and get to know where theory plays a more important role and where you need to prioritise on problems.
In case of gaseous state theories and solid state chemistry, you can expect lot of numerical problems. Thermodynamics and chemical kinetics are also heavy areas where majority of the problems are placed. Paper 2 which mainly covers organic chemistry is one of the key areas where most of the fact-based and information based questions are asked from.
Basics like atomic structures, chemical bonding, co-ordinate chemistry and similar topics are where most of the theory and lengthy questions are concentrated. Thus, you now have a fairly good idea of what to study, how to approach your studies and how to prioritise too.
After this step, the next necessary step that’ll take you forward into your next level of preparation is the selection of the right kind of books that’ll help you out. Check out this list which is only suggestive in nature:
- A Text Book of Physical Chemistry (Volume IV) – K.L. Kapoor (for photochemistry)
- Theoretical Principles of Inorganic Chemistry – G.S. Manku
- A Text Book of Organic Chemistry – Bahl & Bahl
- Bonding and shape of organic molecules, Stereochemistry of carbon compound – Reactions and reagents – O.P. Agarwal
There are anther important reference books and online videos and material to help you with the subject. Just make sure you don’t pile up too much of it and end up getting overwhelmed. Do not get misguided by others opinions. Some of the other important reference books that could be useful are listed here:
- Concise Inorganic Chemistry by J D Lee
- Principles of Physical Chemistry by Puri, Sharma & Pathway
- Selected topics in inorganic chemistry by Malik
- A guide to mechanism in organic chemistry by Peter Sykes
- Spectroscopy of Organic Compounds By P. S. Kalsi
- Organic Chemistry By Stanley H. Pine
Take peer reviews and discus with experts who’ve been there and done that previously. Make a good habit of writing notes every time you read and prepare for the exam. IT could be helpful for your revision or any other time too.
Select a suitable preparation methodology to begin your preparation straight without much thinking here and there.
Opt for a strategy that suits your preparation method. Be sure to collect exhaustive data about whatever you are studying. That means, you need to have an in-depth knowledge of your study topics. Start with the basics. Without the most basic understanding, you cannot conquer the higher levels.
For chemistry, these three important tools will come to your rescue. Make short and crisp, clear notes about whatever theory based topic you study. Include flow charts in your notes. This is a must. Chemistry is all about chemical reactions and changes and you need to know what happens to a substance at every stage of the process. So, it’s important to indicate all these in a flowchart.
Thereby, you are using visual representation methods to improve your study techniques. Also, if you indicated the same in the exam paper as well, the examiner will find it easy to understand your answer and may be, you’ll fetch more marks too! The third most important tool again is diagrams, labelled and correctly described. Do not leave any diagram without labelling them appropriately.
Figures, chemical equations, flowcharts, diagrams and numerical take up most of this subject, hence a major chunk of your preparation time should also be allocated to these only.
This covers the core of your preparation and majority part comes here, Apart from this, you also need to study up the latest developments in the field, economic impacts and sustainable aspects of every topic under study.
You can check out government websites pertaining to chemistry to be updated about latest developments. Annual reports from these government websites are very important and must be a part of your preparation process.
Check out previous year question papers to get a good idea of what kind of questions have appeared before, variety of questions and also what kind of questions are asked by examiners. You need to analyse the trend set in the question papers to help yourself with better studying practices.
The question of whether coaching is essential for the subject or not is debatable. Some people prefer coaching as it helps them get to the depth of the subject. Others find it easy to manage the subject without taking up coaching.
Either ways, you have to be methodical in your approach to do really well. To score well in chemistry, you also need to master impeccable accuracy in the subject.
Practice and solve as many problems as you can. Take example problems for suggestion and indication from NCERT text books and your graduation level books. List out all basic and critical information as a ready reckoner. Take good study breaks and revise well before you attempt the actual exam.
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