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    UPSC Pre + Mains

    Exam Pattern Of UPSC IAS Civil Services Examination


    The UPSC Exam pattern is set by the conducting body, i.e., the Union Public Service Commission. It is a yearly conducted examination and the paper pattern for the IAS Exam has been the same since 2013. This article aims to give the reader an overview of the UPSC exam pattern and syllabus for CSE 2023.


    The UPSC Civil Services Examination is considered to be the toughest examination in India. It has earned this moniker partly due to the intense competition and partly due to the comprehensive UPSC Syllabus. Apart from that, the exam pattern for UPSC CSE is quite complicated, and a typical examination cycle lasts for almost a year from the preliminary exam until the final results are declared.

    IAS Prelims Exam Pattern

    The Prelims Exam date is 28th May 2023. Visit the link to get free study material and preparation strategy 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. The marks secured at this stage are not counted towards the final merit list, though candidates have to prepare well for this exam as cut-offs are unpredictable and depend on the average score every year. The details of UPSC prelims pattern is given below:


    Civils Exam Pattern – Prelims
    Paper Type No. of questions UPSC Total Marks Duration Negative marks
    General Studies I Objective 100 200 2 hours Yes
    General Studies II (CSAT) Objective 80 200 2 hours Yes
    Total UPSC marks for Prelims 400 (where GS Paper II is qualifying in nature with minimum qualifying marks fixed at 33%)

    To sit for prelims, one has to fill the application using the UPSC Apply Online portal.

    IAS Exam Pattern for UPSC Mains

    The UPSC exam pattern for the Mains stage consists of 9 papers conducted over 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 will be 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. It is an exhaustive phase and the total marks in UPSC mains can directly affect your final scores. Thus, the UPSC exam marks for the mains phase are extremely valuable as it acts as a key factor in merit declaration. The details of UPSC syllabus with marks are given below:

    UPSC CSE Exam Pattern – Mains
    Paper Subject Duration IAS Total marks
    Paper A Compulsory Indian language 3 hours 300
    Paper B English 3 hours 300
    Paper I Essay 3 hours 250
    Paper II General Studies I 3 hours 250
    Paper III General Studies II 3 hours 250
    Paper IV General Studies III 3 hours 250
    Paper V General Studies IV 3 hours 250
    Paper VI Optional I 3 hours 250
    Paper VII Optional II 3 hours 250


    UPSC UPSC CSE Pattern for Interview

    This is the final stage of the 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. From a preparation standpoint, it is considered the third stage as preparation strategies for the written and interview stages are different. As per the IAS exam pattern, this consists of an interview by the UPSC board to assess the candidates’ suitability for a civil services career and associated responsibilities. The board consists of competent and unbiased observers who have a record of the candidates’ career. The board would judge the candidates mental and social traits by asking questions of general interest. Some of the qualities that the board looks for are mental alertness, critical powers of assimilation, clear and logical exposition, a balance of judgement, variety and depth of interest, ability for social cohesion and leadership, intellectual and moral integrity.

    UPSC Interview Total Marks 275


    The total marks of the UPSC interview stage is 275, thus bringing the total marks for UPSC Mains and Interview for the merit list consideration to 2025.

    The whole exam pattern of the UPSC IAS examination is comprehensive, and the competition is intense. One should start preparing in-depth as the examination process lasts for almost a year and not making the cut means starting from scratch the following year.


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