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

PaperTypeNo. of questionsMarksDuration 
General Studies IObjective1002002 hours 
General Studies II (CSAT)Objective802002 hours 

For a detailed syllabus Click here: IAS Prelims detailed syllabus


UPSC CSE Mains Exam Pattern

PaperSubjectDurationTotal marks
Paper ACompulsory Indian language3 hours300
Paper BEnglish3 hours300
Paper IEssay3 hours250
Paper-IIGeneral Studies I3 hours250
Paper IIIGeneral Studies II3 hours250
Paper IVGeneral Studies III3 hours250
Paper VGeneral Studies IV3 hours250
Paper VIOptional I3 hours250
Paper VIIOptional II3 hours250

For a detailed syllabus Click here: IAS Mains detailed syllabus


  • 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.
  • Candidates may choose any optional subject from amongst the list of optional subjects for Paper VI and Paper VII (kindly refer to UPSC CSE notification for the list).
  • Aspirants can write the mains paper in any of the Indian languages mentioned in Schedule 7 of the constitution of India.


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 caliber. Basically, the interview is an assessment of not only intellectual qualities but also social traits and interests 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 judgment
  • variety and depth of interest
  • the 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 that aims to reveal the mental caliber of the candidate.

3. The interview test is not intended to be a test either of the specialized 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 arouse the curiosity of well-educated youth.

Marks obtained by candidates in the Main Examination (written part as well as interview) will determine the 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.