Exam Pattern & Syllabus

Pattern of Civil Services Exam

The UPSC Civil Services Exam comprises of three stages: Preliminary Examination, Mains Examination and Interview. Prelims exam takes place towards end of May end or beginning of June. The mains examination takes place in September/ October and Interview timings are in the month of February/ March.

Preliminary Examination - The First Stage

The preliminary examination comprises two objective type papers: General Studies and Civil Services Aptitude Test.
Paper Subjects No of Questions Total Marks Negative marks Duration>
I General Studies (GS) 100 (Each Question of 2 marks) 200 1/3 negative mark for wrong answer(0.66 marks) 2 hours (9:30 AM to 11:30 AM)
II CSAT 80 (Each Question of 2.5 marks) 200 1/3 negative mark for wrong answer (0.833 marks) 2 hours (2:30 PM to 4:30 PM)

Syllabus for Prelims Exam

Cut-off For Prelims Exams

About 5 lakh students appear in the preliminary examination every year and the number of students who make it into mains constitute nearly 12 to 13 times the number of seats announced by UPSC. So if there are 1000 seats announced by UPSC, approximately 13000 students will clear preliminary examination and will write mains examination. Just have a look at cut-off of preliminary examination.
Category 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015
General 98.00 98.00 105.34 116 107.34
EWS 90.00
OBC 95.34 96.66 102.66 110.66 106
SC 82.00 84.00 88.66 99.34 94
ST 77.34 83.34 88.66 96 91.34

Mains Examination - The Second Stage

The mains examination is entirely subjective and comprises two set of papers- qualifying papers and the papers that will be counted for merit. In the qualifying papers, the student needs to write two papers- one of any Indian language and second of English language. The papers that count for merit include Essay Paper, General Studies Paper and Optional Paper. There will be one paper of Essay Exam, four papers of General Studies and two papers of optional subject. Just have a look at cut-off and average marks obtained by students in the mains examination.
Category 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015
General 98.00 98.00 105.34 116 107.34
EWS 90.00
OBC 95.34 96.66 102.66 110.66 106
SC 82.00 84.00 88.66 99.34 94
ST 77.34 83.34 88.66 96 91.34

Mains Examination - The Second Stage

The mains examination is entirely subjective and comprises two set of papers- qualifying papers and the papers that will be counted for merit. In the qualifying papers, the student needs to write two papers- one of any Indian language and second of English language. The papers that count for merit include Essay Paper, General Studies Paper and Optional Paper. There will be one paper of Essay Exam, four papers of General Studies and two papers of optional subject. Just have a look at cut-off and average marks obtained by students in the mains examination.
Qualifying Papers
Paper A (Any Indian Languages included in the 8th Schedule to the Constitution). 300 Marks
Paper B English 300 Marks
Papers to be counted for Merit
Paper-I Essay 250 Marks
Paper-II General Studies-I(Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society) 250 Marks
Paper-IIIGeneral Studies -II (Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations) 250 Marks
Paper-IVGeneral Studies -III (Technology, Economic Development, Bio-diversity, Environment, Security & Disaster Mgt) 250 Marks
Paper-VGeneral Studies -IV(Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude) 250 Marks
Paper-VI Optional Subject – Paper 1 250 Marks
Paper-VII Optional Subject – Paper 2 250 Marks
Sub Total (Written test) 1750 Marks
Personality Test 275 Marks
Grand Total 2025 Marks

Cut-off for Mains Examination

The mains examination is entirely subjective and comprises two set of papers- qualifying papers and the papers that will be counted for merit. In the qualifying papers, the student needs to write two papers- one of any Indian language and second of English language. The papers that count for merit include Essay Paper, General Studies Paper and Optional Paper. There will be one paper of Essay Exam, four papers of General Studies and two papers of optional subject. Just have a look at cut-off and average marks obtained by students in the mains examination.
Category UPSC Mains Cut off Marks(out of 1750) 2019 UPSC Mains Cut off Marks (out of 1750)2018
General 751 774
OBC 718 732
SC 706 719
ST 699 719

Interview - The Third Stage

Interview is the test of your personality. The intention of the interview board is not is not to test your knowledge as it has already been tested in preliminary and mains examinations. The main purpose of interview is to judge your personality and questions are asked about your native place, educational background, hobbies and sometimes certain case based questions are also asked to judge your emotional intelligence.

Total Average Marks (Mains+ Interview) of successful candidates for last few years
Category Marks

(out of 2025)

General 982
OBC 938
SC 912
ST 912
PwBD – 1 899
PwBD – 2 908
PwBD – 3 754
PwBD – 5 718