UPSC Civil Services Exam Pattern

The Civil Services Examination (CSE) Selection Procedure has 3 stages.

Stage I – Preliminary Examination (Objective Papers.It is conducted in May/June, results by August)
Stage II – Main Examination (Subjective Papers. It is conducted around November, results by February/March)
Stage III – Interview (is conducted over March/April, final results announced a few days before the next preliminary exam)

UPSC CSE Prelims Exam Pattern

Paper Type No. of questions Marks Duration Negative marks
General Studies I Objective 100 200 2 hours Yes
General Studies II (CSAT) Objective 80 200 2 hours Yes

UPSC CSE Mains Exam Pattern

Paper Subject Duration 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


  • All the Papers are subjective
  • Paper A and B are of qualifying nature only and candidates must score at least 25% in each. Their Scores would not be calculated in the final merit list.

UPSC CSE Interview Process

The interview or personality round is also included as a part of the “Main Examination” and is worth 275 marks, thus bringing the total marks for the merit list consideration to 2025.

1. The candidate will be interviewed by a panel that will have before them the candidate’s career and academic record. He/she will be quizzed by this board on matters of general interest with the aim to assess suitability for a career in public service. This personality test intends to judge the candidates’ mental calibre. Basically, the interview is an assessment of not only intellectual qualities, but also social traits and interest in current affairs. Some of the qualities that will be judged by the interview panel 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

2. The technique of the interview is not that of a strict cross-examination but of a natural, though directed and deliberate, conversation which aims to reveal the mental calibre of the candidate.

3. The interview test is not intended to be a test either of the specialised or general knowledge of the candidate, which has already been tested through their written papers. Candidates are expected to have taken an intelligent interest not only in their special subjects of academic study but also in the events which are happening around them both within and outside their own state or country as well as in modern currents of thought and in new discoveries which should rouse the curiosity of a well-educated youth.

Marks obtained by candidates in the Main Examination (written part as well as interview) will determine final ranking. Candidates will be allotted to the various Services, keeping in view their ranks in the examination and the preferences expressed by them for the various Services and posts.