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The Exam Pattern of the UPSC Civil Services IAS Prelims Examination
The Prelims Examination is an Objective type of Examination with Multiple Choice Questions (the candidate has to choose an option from the given options for that question). This examination consists of two papers namely Paper I and Paper II. ThePaper I contains 200 marks and Paper II also contains 200 marks. The Duration forPaper I is 2 hours as well as Paper II is also 2 hours. The exam Pattern of the UPSC Civil Services IAS Prelims Examination is as follows:

Name of the Paper No. of Questions Duration Given Marks.
Paper I: General Studies. 100 2 Hours. 200
Paper II: Aptitude. 80 2 Hours. 200
Total Marks.     400

Note: The marks which are secured in the prelims are only for qualifying the Mains Examination. It is not counted to determine the order of merit. The Qualifying marksfor Paper II: Aptitude is 33%. But the candidates will be promoted to the Mains only based on the Qualifying marks in Paper I: General Studies.

UPSC Exam Pattern of the UPSC Civil Services IAS Mains Examination

The Mains Examination is a written Examination. It consists of 9 Papers out of which 2 are Qualifying in nature namely Paper A and Paper B; remaining 7 papers which are namely Paper I to Paper VII which are based on Ranking. The Questions will beavailable in Hindi as well as English in the Question Papers.

S.No. Name of the Paper. Name of the Subject. Marks.
1. Paper-A. Modern Indian Language. (Qualifying Paper). 300.
2. Paper-B. English (Qualifying Paper). 300.
3. Paper-I. Essay. 250.
4. Paper-II. General studies-I. 250.
5. Paper-III. General studies-II. 250.
6. Paper-IV. General studies-III. 250.
7. Paper-V. General studies-IV. 250.
8. Paper-VI. Optional Subject (Paper-1). 250.
9. Paper-VII. Optional Subject (Paper-2). 250.
Sub-Total. 1750.    
Interview. 275.
Total. 2025.

The Final Ranking of the candidates: This is done based on the marks obtained in theMains and the Interview.

  • Student's Queries
    What is IAS ?
    IAS is the short form of Indian Administrative Service. An officer selected into the Indian Administrative Service gets exposure in very diverse roles like the collector, commissioner, head of public sector units, chief secretary, cabinet secretary etc. Not only the experience and challenges but also the scope of making positive changes in the life of millions in India makes IAS a unique career choice.
    IAS is The Civil Services Exam (CSE) it is a nationwide competitive exam in India conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). It is conducted in three phases - a preliminary examination consisting of two objective-type papers (General Studies Paper I and General Studies Paper II also popularly known as Civil Service Aptitude Test or CSAT), and a main examination consisting of nine papers of conventional (essay) type, followed by a personality test (interview).
    How to clear An IAS Exam ?
    To clear IAS Exam, aspirants are advised to have a long-term strategy. Though most of the serious candidates start preparation 9-12 months before the exam date, there are candidates who successfully achieve top ranks with only a few months of dedicated study.
    I am just an average student. Can I crack the IAS exam ?

    The IAS is a tough exam which contains a huge number of syllabus and scientific temper of the students as well. But it does not mean that average students can't face this exam. Even some exceptional cases have proved that people are able to pass the exam without help as well. If you are in the dilemma that only brilliant students write this exam and there is no space for the average people you are at wrong position. The correct way to see the difficulty of this exam is to compare it with your hard work. If you are passionate and dedicated towards cracking IAS exam nobly can stops you from the IAS exam preparation at any stage.
    the average students have to put some extra hard work to get the taste of success as compared to the other top notch students. But regular hard work and strong motif drive success towards everyone.

    How to choose an optional subject?
    Firstly, it is not mandatory that your optional subject should be from your stream. It may or may not be the subject of your background. If you are too good at your own subject and can easily solve the paper on the same subject asked by UPSC then you should definitely have it as optional subject. But if you are not able to solve then you should switch on to some other subject.
    I applied for the CS (P) Examination but has not appeared at any paper in the CS (P) Examination will it be counted as an attempt?
    No. An attempt is counted only if a candidate has appeared in at least one paper in CS (P) Examination.
    What is the best age to start IAS exams prepration?
    The preparation for IAS exam should start in a focused manner at 20 � 21 years of age. This is the time student is able to focus on the goal properly and is in a position to peak at the right time. Starting too early (immediately after school or early graduation) has the likelihood of aspirant tiring during the course of preparation or loosing focus mid way whereas starting too late has disadvantage in terms of competitive edge of early start. Preferably the preparation should start in a focused manner around 20 years of age. This is the time student is able to focus the goal properly and is in a position to peak at the right time. Starting too early has a likelihood of tiring at the right time or starting very late will disadvantage in terms of competitive edge of early start.
    I choose the Civil Services (Main) Examination in English medium and can i take the interview in Hindi medium or in any other Indian language?

    The candidates, who opt for an Indian Language medium to write Civil Services (Main) Exam, may choose either the same Indian Language or English or Hindi as the medium for the interview.

    The candidates, opting to write the Civil Services (Main) Examination in English, may choose as the medium for interview either English or Hindi or any other Indian Language opted by them for the compulsory Indian Language Paper.

    However, the candidates, who are exempted from the compulsory Indian Language Paper, will have to choose either English or Hindi as medium of Interview of Personality Test.

    What is the latest syllabus for IAS exam ?

    The UPSC prescribes a common syllabus pattern for services such as the Indian Administrative Service, Indian Foreign Service, Indian Police Service, Indian Revenue Service (Customs and Central Excise) to name a few.

    The Civil service exam is conducted in three phases:

    Phase 1:Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination (Objective Type)

    Phase 2:Civil Services (Mains) Examination (Descriptive Type)

    Phase 3: Personal Interview (Personality Test)

    Phase 1: Preliminary Examination:

    The Preliminary Examination is composed of two components:

    1) General Studies

    Paper Subjects Total Marks Duration
    I General Studies (GS) 200 2 Hours (9:30AM to 11:30 AM)
    II CSAT 200 2 Hours (2:30PM to 4:30PM)

    2) Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT)

    • Broadly, the Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination consists of two papers of objective type, each of 200 marks (hence totalling 400 marks) and of two hours duration. In order to qualify for the Civil Services Mains, a candidate must attempt both the papers.
    • Further, the General Studies (GS) paper consists of 100 questions, while the CSAT paper consists of 80 questions. Both papers have negative marks for wrong answers marked to the tune of 1/3rd of the total marks assigned to that question.
      • To further illustrate this, each correctly answered GS question will be awarded 2 marks. So, 0.66 marks would be deducted from the total for every question that is wrongly marked.
      • Similarly, in the CSAT paper, since we have 80 questions for 200 marks, correctly answered CSAT question would attract 2.5 marks each, while every wrongly marked question would attract a penalty of 0.833 for each such wrong answer, which will be deducted from the total.
    • Questions that are not attempted will not attract any negative marks.

    1) General Studies (Generally conducted between 9:30 AM to 11:30 AM)

    The General Studies test is the first paper of the preliminary examination. This test is intended to test the general awareness of a candidate in a wide range of subjects that include: Indian Polity, Geography, History, Indian Economy, Science and Technology, Environment and Ecology, International Relations and associated current affairs.

    2) Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT)

    (Generally conducted between 2:30 PM to 04:30 PM)

    • This test is intended to assess the aptitude of the candidate in solving ‘Reasoning and Analytical’ questions, apart from ‘Reading Comprehension’ and the occasionally asked ‘Decision Making’ questions.
    • The ‘Decision Making’ based questions are generally exempt from negative marks.
    • The preliminary examination is only meant for screening a candidate for the subsequent stages of the exam.
    • The marks obtained in the Prelims will not be added up while arriving at the final rank list.

    Syllabus for GS Paper (Prelims Paper I)

    • 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 specialisation General Science

    Syllabus for CSAT Paper (Prelims Paper II)

    • 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)

    Phase 2: Civil Services (Mains) Examination Syllabus

    • The Mains examination constitutes the 2nd phase of the Civil Services Examination. Only after successfully qualifying the prelims examination would the candidates be allowed to write the Mains examination.
    • The Mains examination tests the candidate’s academic talent in depth and his/her ability to present his/her understanding according to the requirements of the question in a time bound manner.
    • The UPSC Mains exam consists of 9 papers, in which two are qualifying papers of 300 marks each:

    I. Any Indian Language

    II. English Language Paper

    Criteria for qualifying the Language Paper:

    The papers on Essay, General Studies and Optional Subject of only such candidates who attain 30% marks in Indian Language Paper and 25% marks in English Language Paper as a minimum qualifying standard in these qualifying papers, will be taken cognizance of, for evaluation.

    In case a candidate does not qualify in these language papers, then the marks obtained by such candidate will not be considered or counted.

    Structure of the language papers:

    The type of questions asked are �

    1. Essay � 100 marks

    2. Reading comprehension � 60 marks

    3. Precis Writing � 60 marks

    4. Translation :

    • English to compulsory language (e.g. Hindi) � 20 marks
    • Compulsory language to English � 20 marks

    5. Grammar and basic language usage � 40 marks

    The rest of the seven papers can be written in any of the languages mentioned under the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution of India or in English.

    Let us take a look at these papers:

    Paper Subject Marks
    Paper - I Essay (Can be written in the medium or language of the candidate's choice) 250
    Paper-II General Studies- I (Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society) 250
    Paper-III General Studies- II (Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations) 250
    Paper-IV General Studies- III (Technology, Economic Development, Bio-diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management) 250
    Paper-V General Studies- IV (Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude) 250
    Paper-VI Optional Subject - Paper I 250
    Paper-VII Optional Subject - Paper II (A Candidate can also take up literature as an optional subject and candidate need not be a graduate in that language’s literature.) 250

    Candidates may choose any one of the ‘Optional Subjects’ from the list of subjects given below:

    Optional Subjects Literature Language
    Agriculture Assamese
    Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science Arabic
    Anthropology Bengali
    Botany Bodo
    Chemistry Dogri
    Civil Engineering French
    Commerce and Accountancy German
    Economics Gujarati
    Electrical Engineering Hindi
    Geography Kannada
    Geology Kashmiri
    History Konkani
    Law Maithili
    Management Malayalam
    Mathematics Manipuri
    Mechanical Engineering Marathi
    Medical Science Nepali
    Philosophy Oriya
    Physics Persian
    Political Science and International Relations Punjabi
    Psychology Russian
    Public Administration Sanskrit
    Sociology Santhali
    Statistics Sindhi
    Zoology Tamil







    Phase 3: Interview/Personality Test (275 Marks)

    • Candidates who qualify the UPSC Mains Exam will be called for the ‘Personality Test/Interview’. These candidates will be interviewed by a Board appointed by the UPSC.
    • The objective of the interview is to assess the personal suitability of the candidate for a career in the civil services by a board of competent and unbiased observers.
    • The interview is more of purposive conversation intended to explore the mental qualities and analytical ability of the candidate.
    • The Interview test will be of 275 marks and the total marks for written examination is 1750.This sums up to a Grand Total of 2025 Marks based on which the final merit list will be prepared.
    What is the difference between IAS Officer and PCS Officer?

    IAS Officer is a person appointed by the President of India for the state and PCS Officer is a person appointed by the Governor for the state services.

    Eligibility criteria for IAS exam
    The educational qualification needed to appear in UPSC CSE is a degree (graduation) in any subject. Final year students can also apply.
    Age limit for IAS
    The minimum age to appear for UPSC Civil Services Exam is 21 years. Upper age limit for General category is 32 years, for OBC it is 35 years while for SC/ST it is 37 years.
    how to prepare for IAS exam after 12th?

    The Indian Administrative Service (IAS) is a branch of the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). Positions within the IAS provide stature within the community and open pathways to success as a government official.

    Step 1:- Become familiar with the syllabus for each exam. Read over the topics on the syllabus for each part of the preliminary exam. The General Studies Paper consists of 100 questions and the General Ability Test contains 80 questions.

    Step 2:- Understand the competitive nature of the exam. Each year 5-10 lakh aspirants register and sit for the exam. Less than 1% of the number of aspirants are chosen for the IAS.

    Step 3:- Begin your test preparation early. Check the current year�s schedule for the dates of the preliminary exams. Several months of preparation should be done to ensure that you are ready for the variety of questions that may be asked.

    Step 4:- Choose an optional subject for which you have passion and familiarity. You will need to become intimately knowledgeable about your optional subject. Begin studying this topic early, and continue to keep up with the information through the end of the mains and interview.

    Step 5:- Read the newspaper every day. Stay informed about current events from the local to the international level. Focus on the economic and political sections without worrying about the entertainment news as much.

    Step 6:- Study a variety of subjects. The IAS exams cover a broad range of topics. You need to be well versed in a number of subjects to be successful. Here are a few focus areas included in the Preliminary Papers

    • Geography: both Indian and World Geography are important areas.
    • History: knowledge of key events and social movements is required.
    • Polity: the structure of the Indian Constitution, judicial processes, and international relations are all included.
    • Economics: micro and macro aspects of the Indian economy should be understood.
    • Environmental Science: Climate, agricultural issues, and pollution should be studied in depth.
    • Arts and Culture: historical and contemporary study of Indian music, dance, literature, architecture, and painting are all covered during the exam.

    Step 7:- Review previous years' exam questions. Read over questions from old tests and familiarize yourself with the types of questions being asked. The content and distribution of questions will change from year to year, but the general format remains largely the same.

    Step 8:- Polish your language and communication skills. Although the mains can be taken in a number of languages, preliminary papers are given in Hindi and English. It is important for aspirants to be well studied in Hindi and English.

    Step 9:- Read as many books as you can find. Because the IAS exams cover so many varied topics, reading books on almost any subject can be helpful.[6] Review book lists from previous toppers. Read classic literature. Study non-fiction books of various topics such as historical biographies or

    Step 10:- Take practice tests. Find practice tests online to prepare yourself for the time limits and formatting of the test. When you take a practice test, try to make the environment like the one you will experience on test day.[7] Find a quiet place where you won�t be disturbed. Set a timer. Take the entire test in one sitting. Review the answers when you are finished to learn from your mistakes.

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