IAS Exam Pattern
This page details the pattern of the UPSC Civil Services Exam.
The Civil Services or IAS Exam is conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) every year in three stages:
- The first stage is the Preliminary stage
- The second stage is the Mains stage
- The third stage is the Interview stage
Also Read: IAS Exam Syllabus
UPSC Prelims Pattern
|Paper||No. of Questions||Marks|
|General Studies-II (CSAT)||80||200|
- The prelims stage consists of 2 papers of 200 marks each which are only qualifying in scope and marks are not counted for the purpose for determination of overall merit; that is, marks are not added to the marks scored in the Mains and Interview stages.
- Also, for the purpose of determining the cut-off for the Prelims, only the marks of Paper 1 (General Studies-I) are counted which is scoring in scope. While Paper 2 (General Studies-II) of prelims is only qualifying in scope with minimum qualifying marks of 33% or 66 marks out of 200.
- The questions are of multiple-choice type.
- There is a negative penalty of 1/3rd marks for every incorrect answer except in Decision Making questions of GS Paper 1.
- There is a time limit of 2 hours for each paper.
Also Read: IAS Exam Age Eligibility Criteria
IAS Mains Pattern
Once a candidate clears the Preliminary stage, he or she is invited to fill the Detailed Application Form (DAF) of the UPSC Civil Services Mains exam online. In the Mains stage, there are certain compulsory subjects which are common to all candidates and certain optional subjects that can be selected as per candidate’s preference.
- The Mains and Interview stage consist of 2025 marks.
- The candidate has to select one optional subject, consisting of 2 papers, apart from 4 compulsory General Studies (GS) papers.
- The Paper-III consists of 2 sections: Essay and English Comprehension & English Precis which is also compulsory.
- Marks scored in the qualifying papers are not counted in the overall merit. A candidate has to only obtain the minimum marks in the qualifying papers. However, if a candidate fails to clear the qualifying papers, his or her other papers will not be evaluated by UPSC.
Paper I (Marks 300)
One of the Indian Languages to be selected by the candidates from the Languages included in the eighth schedule of the constitution
Paper II (Marks 300)
Papers to be counted for merit:
Paper Subject Marks Qualifying Paper-A One of the Indian Languages from the languages included in the eighth schedule 300 Qualifying Paper-B English Comprehension and English Précis 300 Paper-III Essay 250 Paper-IV General Studies Paper-I 250 (Indian Heritage and Culture, History, and Geography of the World and Society) Paper-V General Studies Paper-II 250 (Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations) Paper-VI General Studies Paper-III 250 (Technology, Economic Development, Bio-diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management) Paper-VII General Studies Paper-IV 250 (Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude) Paper-VIII Optional Subject-Paper I 250 Paper-IX Optional Subject-Paper II 250 Personality Test (Interview) 275 Grand Total 2025
- The rule of thumb is that 13 times the total number of vacancies in a year qualify the Prelims and get an opportunity to appear for the Mains exam. About 2.5 to 3 times the total number of vacancies then qualify for the 3rd stage which is the Interview stage.
- Suppose there are 800 vacancies in a year. Then going by the above informal rule, approximately 800 x 13 = 10400 candidates will qualify the Prelims and appear for the Mains exam. Out of these, approximately 800 x 3 = 2400 candidates will get a call for the Interview (personality test) from UPSC. And finally, 800 candidates will get shortlisted from the 2400 candidates who have been interviewed by UPSC.