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UPSC Civil Services Exam Pattern | Prelims, Mains And Interview

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Every year the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) conducts the Civil Services Examination every year for recruitment to various prestigious positions in the Government of India. This article aims to give the reader an overview of the UPSC exam pattern and syllabus.

Overview of Civil Services/UPSC Exam Pattern

Name of the examCivil Services Exam- IAS
Conductiong authorityUnion Public Service Commission
Mode of examOffline
Number of StagesPrelims
Mains Exam
Interview
Number of papersPrelims: 2
Mains :9
Prelims marking schemePaper 1: +2 marks per question
Paper 2: +2.5 marks per question
Negative marking: One-third of marks allotted to each question
DurationPrelims: 2 hours (Each paper)
Mains: 3hours (Each paper)
Type of QuestionsPrelims: Objective type
Mains: Subjective type
Post1000 approximate (Tentative)

List of Optional Subjects for Mains Exam 

Candidates can choose any one optional subject from the list below:

  1. Agriculture
  2. Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science
  3. Anthropology
  4. Botany
  5. Chemistry
  6. Civil Engineering
  7. Commerce and Accountancy
  8. Economics
  9. Electrical Engineering
  10. Geography
  11. Geology
  12. History
  13. Law
  14. Management
  15. Mathematics
  16. Mechanical Engineering
  17. Medical Science
  18. Philosophy
  19. Physics
  20. Political Science and International Relations
  21. Psychology
  22. Public Administration
  23. Sociology
  24. Statistics
  25. Zoology
  26. The literature of any one of the following languages: Assamese, Bengali, Bodo, Dogri, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Maithili, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Odia, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Santhali, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu and English.

UPSC Exam Pattern 2021

The pattern of UPSC examination is officially divided into two stages called Preliminary and Main Examination while in practice, it is a three-stage exam.

As per the IAS exam pattern, candidates who clear the Prelims are eligible for Mains, and candidates who clear the Main reach the interview stage.

The three stages of the IAS exam are Prelims, Mains and Personality Test.

IAS exam pattern for UPSC Prelims

The UPSC exam pattern for the Preliminary stage consists of two papers, conducted on one day. Both the papers comprise objective type questions with multiple choice of answers. The prelims examination is a qualifying stage to filter candidates for the mains exam. 

PaperTypeNo. of questionsMarksDurationNegative marks
General Studies IObjective1002002 hoursYes
General Studies II (CSAT)Objective802002 hoursYes

Paper I – (200 marks) Duration : Two 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, Biodiversity and Climate Change – that do not require subject specialization
  • General Science.

Note: There will be a penalty (negative marking) for wrong answers

Paper II- (200 marks) Duration: Two hours

  • Comprehension
  • Interpersonal skills including communication skills.
  • Logical reasoning and analytical ability
  • Decision-making and problemsolving
  • General mental ability
  • Basic numeracy (numbers and their relations, orders of magnitude, etc.) (Class X level), Data interpretation (charts, graphs, tables, data suffi ciency etc. – Class X level).
  • English Language Comprehension skills (Class X level).

Note 1: Questions relating to English Language Comprehension skills of Class X level (last item in the Syllabus of PaperII) will be tested through passages from English language only without providing Hindi translation thereof in the question paper.

Note 2: The questions will be of multiple choice, objective type.

IAS Exam Pattern for UPSC Mains

IAS mains is an offline exam. UPSC Mains stage consists of 9 papers conducted over 5-7 days. every paper is of 3 hours and extra 30 minutes extra is given to blind students. 1750 is the total marks for the main examination.

Qualifying Paper

  1. Paper A – One of the Indian languages included in the VIII Schedule in the Constitution 300 Marks.
  2. Paper B – The 2nd exam is an English paper. And it also carries 300 marks.
PaperSubjectDurationTotal marks
Paper ACompulsory Indian language3 hours300
Paper BEnglish3 hours300
Paper IEssay3 hours250
Paper IIGeneral Studies I3 hours250
Paper IIIGeneral Studies II3 hours250
Paper IVGeneral Studies III3 hours250
Paper VGeneral Studies IV3 hours250
Paper VIOptional I3 hours250
Paper VIIOptional II3 hours250

OPTIONAL SUBJECTS

AgricultureAnimal Husbandry and Veterinary ScienceAnthropologyBotanyChemistry
Civil EngineeringCommerce and AccountancyEconomicsElectrical EngineeringGeography
GeologyHistoryLawManagementMathematics
Mechanical EngineeringMedical SciencePhilosophyPhysicsPolitical Science and International Relations
PsychologyPublic AdministrationSociologyStatisticsZoology

UPSC Interview

final stage of the UPSC/IAS Exam before the final results are declared. Officially it is called the Interview/Personality Test and counted as a part of the Mains Examination for merit ranking purposes. 

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