The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) conducts the Civil Services Exam (CSE) to recruit candidates for various services and posts like the Indian Administrative Service, Indian Foreign Service, Indian Police Service, Indian Railway Protection Force Service (Group ‘A’), Indian Revenue Service (Customs & Indirect Taxes-Group A) etc. IAS is a goal of many young Indians who dream of becoming a ‘Collector’ or SDM someday. It is considered one of the most respectable professions in the country.

The UPSC CSE exam is conducted in various phases, namely the preliminary exam, followed by the main exam and personality test. After the CSE exam, candidates attend training and are on probation, as per the terms and conditions of the Commission. The basic pay of an IAS officer at the entry-level is Rs 56,100 and the current IAS Salary is based on the recommendations of the 7th Central Pay Commission. It keeps changing based on the number of years in service and promotion.

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More information on the UPSC Civil Services exam pattern is given below.

UPSC Civil Services Preliminary Examination

The very first phase of the UPSC CSE  is the preliminary examination. It is of objective type and contains multiple-choice questions. The preliminary exam comprises Paper 1 and Paper 2. Paper 1 deals with topics related to geography, history, economics, science and technology etc. On the other hand, Paper 2 focuses on English, logical reasoning, basic numeracy etc. There is a negative marking in both the papers. One-third (0.33) of the marks assigned to the question is deducted for every incorrect answer. GS Paper II (CSAT) is qualifying in nature and candidates have to score a minimum of 33% in it. The exam pattern of the UPSC preliminary exam is given in the table below.

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UPSC CSE Preliminary Examination Pattern

PaperNo. of QuestionsTotal MarksDuration of the Exam
General Studies Paper I1002002 hours
General Studies Paper II (CSAT)802002 hours

UPSC Civil Services Main Examination

The candidates who clear the UPSC preliminary examination qualify for the main examination. The main examination consists of qualifying papers (English and Indian Language) and papers that are counted for merit i.e. English, general studies I, II, III,  IV and optional papers. All the papers in the UPSC main examination are descriptive in nature. The total marks allotted, duration of the exam etc., are given in the table below.

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UPSC CSE Main Examination Pattern

PaperSubjectTotal MarksDuration
Paper A

(Qualifying)

Indian Language3003 hours
Paper B

(Qualifying)

English3003 hours
Paper IEssay2503 hours
Paper IIGeneral Studies I2503 hours
Paper IIIGeneral Studies II2503 hours
Paper IVGeneral Studies III2503 hours
Paper VGeneral Studies IV2503 hours
Paper VIOptional I2503 hours
Paper VIIOptional II2503 hours

Points to Remember: UPSC CSE Main Examination

  • Paper A and Paper B are qualifying in nature and candidates have to score at least 25% marks on each paper.
  • Paper A, i.e., Indian Language is not compulsory for candidates from the states of Sikkim, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh.
  • For the Indian Language paper, candidates can choose any of the languages given in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution.
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Question Paper Pattern of Indian Language and English

English Indian Language
 (i) Comprehension of Given Passages

(ii) Precis Writing

(iii) Usage and Vocabulary

(iv) Short Essays

(i) Comprehension of Given Passages

(ii) Precis Writing

(iii) Usage and Vocabulary

(iv) Short Essays

(v) Translation from English to the Indian Language and the Indian language to English

General Studies Paper I, II, III and IV

The topics that are part of UPSC main exam General Studies papers are given in the table below.

Topics in UPSC Main General Studies Exam

General Studies PapersTopics
 

General Studies I

 

 

Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society
 

General Studies II

 

 

Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International Relations
 

General Studies III

 

 

Technology, Economic Development, Biodiversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management

 

 

General Studies IV

 

 

Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude
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Optional Subject Papers I & II

For the CSE Main examination, candidates can choose from any of the Optional subjects given in the table below.

Optional Subject Papers for UPSC Main Examination

AgricultureBotanyChemistryEconomicsMedical Science
Animal Husbandry and Veterinary ScienceAnthropologyCivil EngineeringZoologyPublic Administration
Commerce and AccountancyElectrical EngineeringGeographyMathematicsPhilosophy
GeologyHistoryLawPolitical Science and International RelationsStatistics
Mechanical EngineeringPsychologySociologyManagementPhysics
The literature of any one of the following languages can be selected: Assamese, Bengali, Bodo, Dogri, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Maithili, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Odia, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Santhali, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu and English.
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UPSC Civil Services Personality Test

Candidates who pass the Main examination are eligible to attend the interview or the personality test. The objective of the personality test is to evaluate the suitability of the candidate for a career in public service. The interview is conducted by a Board, that tries to understand the mental calibre and social traits of candidates. Some other qualities that the Board looks for 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

Candidates can attend mock interviews to prepare themselves for the interview. They should go through their Detailed Application Form (DAF) before attending the personality test. The main exam and personality test scores will determine the rank of the candidates in the IAS exam.

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The UPSC CSE exam is highly competitive, rigorous and takes almost one year to complete. Therefore, you should prepare well before taking the exam. If you are planning to write the exam in the coming years, then first go through the UPSC syllabus, previous years’ question papers, understand the nature of the exam and then kickstart your preparation.

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