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.

PaperSubjectsNo of QuestionsTotal MarksNegative marksDuration
IGeneral Studies (GS)100

(Each Question of 2 marks)

2001/3 negative mark for wrong answer

(0.66 marks)

2 hours (9:30 AM to 11:30 AM)
IICSAT80

(Each Question of 2.5 marks)

2001/3 negative mark for wrong answer

(0.833 marks)

2 hours (2:30 PM to 4:30 PM)

Syllabus for Prelims Exam

  • 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 Polityand 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 specialisation.
  • General Science
  • 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)
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 Polityand 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 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)

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.

Category20192018201720162015
General98.0098.00105.34116107.34
EWS90.00
OBC95.3496.66102.66110.66106
SC82.0084.0088.6699.3494
ST77.3483.3488.6696

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 English300 Marks
Papers to be counted for Merit
Paper-I Essay250 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 1250 Marks
Paper-VII  Optional Subject – Paper 2250 Marks
Sub Total (Written test) 1750 Marks
Personality Test 275 Marks
Grand Total 2025 Marks

Cut-off for Mains Examination

CategoryUPSC Mains Cut off Marks

(out of 1750)

2019

UPSC Mains Cut off Marks

(out of 1750)

2018

General751774
OBC718732
SC706719
ST699719

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

CategoryMarks

(out of 2025)

General982
OBC938
SC912
ST912
PwBD – 1899
PwBD – 2908
PwBD – 3754
PwBD – 5718

Get In Touch

Learn Something wherever you are