The Civil Services Exam is conducted in three stages:

Scheme for the Preliminary
and Main Examination


    The Examination shall comprise of two compulsory papers of 200 marks each.

    • Both the question papers will be of the objective type (multiple choice questions).
    • Paper 1 has 100 questions and has a merit based performance.
    • Paper 2 is CSAT which is qualifying in nature with 33% of marks out of 80 questions.


      Total Marks for written Exam: 1750, Four papers of General Studies + one Optional subject (consisting 2 papers) and one Essay paper. There are two qualifying papers, one is General English and one is from any other language of 8th Schedule of the Indian Constitution. All papers are of 3 hours duration each. The Language Paper 1 on Indian language is not compulsory for students hailing from Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram and Meghalaya.


      • The prelims examination is a qualifying stage for the mains exam.
      • The marks secured at this stage are not counted towards the final merit list.

      The details of CSE Prelims Exam are given below:

      PaperNo. of questionsTypeMarksDurationNegative marks
      General Studies I – History, Geography, Economy, Polity, General Science, Ecology & Current AffairsObjective1002002 Hours1/3rd
      General Studies II – (CSAT)Objective80200 2 Hours1/3rd


      Paper -1 (GS) 200 Marks

      • Current Events : 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 Initiativesetc.
      • General issues on Environmental ecology, Bio-diversity and Climate Change that do not require subject specialization.
      • GeneralScience

      Paper -2 (CSAT) 200 Marks

      • Comprehension 
      • Interpersonal skills including communication skills
      • Logical reasoning and analytic alability
      • Decision making and problem solving
      • General mental ability
      • Basic Numeracy (Numbers and the irrelations, orders or magnitude, etc.) (Class X level) Data interpretation (Charts, graphs, tables, data sufficiency etc. Class X level)

      STAGE 2 – MAINS

      • The Mains stage consists of 9 papers conducted over a period of 5-7 days. 
      • Only those candidates who secure at least the declared cut off in General Studies- I and 33% in General Studies – II  in Prelims are allowed to appear for the Mains Examination.

      As per the exam pattern of UPSC Mains, all of the papers consist of descriptive answer type questions. The details of UPSC Mains Exam are given below:

      PaperSubjectDurationTotal marks
      Language Paper 1Compulsory Indian language One of the Indian languages to be selected by the candidates from the 8th schedule of the constitution.3 hours300
      Language Paper 2English3 hours300
      Paper 1Essay3 hours300
      Paper 2General Studies I – Indian Heritage and Culture, History & Geography of the World & Society3 hours250
      Paper 3General Studies II – Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice & International relations3 hours250
      Paper 4General Studies III– Technology, Economic Development, Biodiversity, Environment, Security & Disaster Management3 hours250
      Paper 5General Studies IV – Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude3 hours250
      Optional Paper 1Optional I – Optional Subject – Paper-13 hours250
      Optional Paper 2Optional II – Optional Subject – Paper-23 hours250
      • All of the mains papers except for the language papers A and B are of a merit ranking nature.
      • Language Paper 1 and Paper 2 are of qualifying nature with 25% of marks while Paper 1 to Paper 5 and Optional Paper 1 and Optional Paper 2 are merit based.
      • Language Paper 1 is not compulsory for candidates from the States of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Sikkim as  well as candidates with hearing impairment provided they can prove that they have been exempted from such 2nd or 3rd language  courses by their concerned board or university.
      • The Indian Language paper covers any of the languages included in the 8th Schedule of the constitution.

      Note: The UPSC Mains syllabus gives a list of 48 Optional Subjects which also includes Literature subjects of different languages. Candidates need to choose any one of the “Optional Subjects’.

      STAGE 3: Interview/Personality Test

      UPSC Syllabus for Interview

      • Interview is of 275 marks
      • The questions asked will be on matters of general interest.
      • The objective of the Interview/Personality Test is to assess the personal suitability of the candidate for a career in public service by a Board of competent and unbiased observers.
      • The Interview/Personality Test is intended to judge the mental calibre of a candidate.
      • In broad terms this is really an assessment of not only intellectual qualities but also social traits and interest in current affairs. Some of the qualities to be judged are mental alertness, critical powers of assimilation, clear and logical exposition, balance  of judgement, variety and depth of interest, ability for social cohesion and leadership, intellectual and moral integrity.

      UPSC Exam – Age Limit

      UPSC has a fixed number of attempts and eligibility criteria concerning age for the UPSC examination. The eligible age is 21 years in all categories. Here’s the category-wise age limit and the number of attempts:

      CategoryUpper age limitNumber of attempts
      General32 years6
      Economically weaker section32 years6
      OBC35 years9
      SC/ST37 yearsUnlimited (Up to age limit)
      Disabled Defense Services Personnel35 years9
      Ex-Servicemen37 years9
      Persons with Benchmark Disability42 years9