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Structure of The Examination:

UPSC provides the opportunity for the civil service aspirants to serve as a bureaucrat for the largest democratic nation every year. There are about 24 services offered through this civil service examination. So it is very important to know about civil service exam pattern.This competitive exam tests the candidate to measure their potential through following three successive stages:

Civil Service Exam Pattern

  • Civil Services – Preliminary Examination – Objective Type (Qualifier)
  • Civil Services- Main Examination – Written Test
  • Interview / Personality Test

The prelim exam held in May/June, Main in November/December & Interview in April/May every year. So the whole exam stretches for complete one year.

Minimum Educational Qualification:

The candidate must hold a degree of any of Universities or possess an equivalent qualification which must be approved by the Central or State Legislature in India.

Eligibility Criteria:

  • For IAS and IPS, the candidate must be an Indian citizen.
  • Apart from IAS and IPS, for other service positions, candidates must be a citizen of India, or a subject of Nepal, or a subject of Bhutan, or a Tibetan refugee who came over to India before 1st January, 1962.
  • Or a person of Indian origin who has migrated from Pakistan, Burma, Sri Lanka, East African countries of Kenya, Uganda, the United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Zaire, Ethiopia and Vietnam with the intention of permanently settling in India.
  • Certificate of eligibility must have been issued by the Government of India for the Non-Indians.
  • Candidates who are subject of Nepal, subject of Bhutan, Tibetan refugee will not be eligible for appointment to the Indian Foreign Service.

Age Limits:

Those who are educationally qualified must check their age limit before applying for this examination. Though there is generalized age limit vary from 21-32 years but there is some age relaxation for all other category of candidates except the General category.

  • 21-32 years for General Candidates
  • 21-37 years for SC/ST
  • 21-35 years for OBC
  • 21-37 years for ex-servicemen including Commissioned Officers and ECOs/ SSCOs.
  • 21-42 years for blind, deaf-mute and orthopedically handicapped candidates.

Number of Attempts:

The number of attempts to appear for this exam varies for different categories. These are

  • 6 for General
  • 9 for OBC
  • No restriction for the SC/ST candidates. So they can attempt till the eligible age limit.
  • A physically handicapped candidate will get as many attempts as are available to other non-physically handicapped candidates of his or her community, subject to the condition that a physically handicapped candidate belonging to the General Category shall be eligible for nine attempts.

Physical Standards:

Candidates must be physically fit according to physical standards for admission to Civil Services Examination.


Candidates other than Female/SC/ ST/PH candidates are required to pay fee of Rs. 100/- through both online and offline mode.

How To Apply:

Candidates are required to apply online using the website http://www.upsconline.nic.in. Detailed instructions for filling up online applications are available on in the mentioned website.

Posts To Be Filled Through This Exam :

1. Indian Administrative Service (IAS)
2. Indian Foreign Service (IFS)
3. Indian Police Service (IPS)
4. Indian P & T Accounts & Finance Service, Group ‘A’
5. Indian Audit and Accounts Service, Group ‘A’
6. Indian Revenue Service (Customs and Central Excise), Group ‘A’
7. Indian Defence Accounts Service, Group ‘A’
8. Indian Revenue Service (I.T.), Group ‘A’
9. Indian Ordnance Factories Service, Group ‘A’ (Assistant Works Manager, Administration)
10. Indian Postal Service, Group ‘A’
11. Indian Civil Accounts Service, Group ‘A’
12. Indian Railway Traffic Service, Group ‘A’
13. Indian Railway Accounts Service, Group ‘A’
14. Indian Railway Personnel Service, Group ‘A’
15. Post of Assistant Security Commissioner in Railway Protection Force, Group ‘A’
16. Indian Defence Estates Service, Group ‘A’
17. Indian Information Service (Junior Grade), Group ‘A’
18. Indian Trade Service, Group ‘A’ (Gr. III)
19. Indian Corporate Law Service, Group “A”
20. Armed Forces Headquarters Civil Service, Group ‘B’ (Section Officer’s Grade)
21. Delhi, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli Civil Service, Group ‘B’
22. Delhi, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli Police Service, Group ‘B’
23. Pondicherry Civil Service, Group ‘B’
24. Pondicherry Police Service, Group ‘B’

Preliminary Exam:

Preliminary exam is an elimination round to filter out the large no. of comparatively weak candidates. This is held just to land the candidate in the Main exam. The marks you get here will NOT be added in the final score of this exam. This exam comprises of two compulsory papers of 200 marks each and the question pattern will be of multiple choice questions and four alternatives will be there for each of the question to answer. The duration shall be of 2 hrs. for each of the paper. Below see the details.

Paper I – (200 marks) Duration: Two hours

  • 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 Polity and 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, Bio-diversity and Climate Change – that do not require subject specialization.
  • General Science.

Paper II- (200 marks) Duration: Two hours

  • 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)
  • English Language Comprehension skills (Class X level).

Penalty for Wrong Answers:

  • For each question for which a wrong answer has been given by the candidate, one third (0.33) of the marks assigned to that question will be deducted as penalty.
  • If a candidate gives more than one answer, it will be treated as a wrong answer even if one of the given answers happens to be correct and the penalty will be the same as mentioned above for that question.
  • If a question is left blank, i.e. no answer is given by the candidate; there will be no penalty for that question.

Main Exam:

The main examination is conducted to judge the overall aptitude and in-depth understanding of the candidates in various subjects. The marks obtained in this main examination will be counted for determining the candidate’s final order of merit. The main exam is of 1750 marks. If the candidate qualifies the preliminary exam, then only he/she will be called once again to appear this Main exam.

From the total of 9 papers in the Main exam, only 7 papers will be counted for final merit ranking. For the rest two papers (Qualifying Paper), the candidate should secure minimum marks prescribed by UPSC each year. See the details below:


One of the Indian Languages to be selected by the candidate from the 18 languages included in the 8th Schedule to the Constitution (Qualifying Paper) — 300 Marks


English (Qualifying Paper) — 300 Marks


Essay — 250 Marks

Papers IV, V, VI & VII

General Studies (250 Marks for each paper) — 1000 Marks

Papers VIII & IX

Any one Optional subject (which contains 2 papers) to be selected from the prescribed optional subjects (250 marks for each paper) — 500 Marks

Total Marks for Written Examination — 1750 Marks

Interview / Personality Test:

Interview/Personality test is the last round if this exam. This test carries 275 marks and there is no minimum qualifying marks. Then total marks secured by the candidates both from Main Examination as well as interview (Total of 1725+275=2025 Marks) would determine their final score. Candidates will be posted to different posts according to their final scores in the examination and the preferences set by them for various Services and Posts. Below see some of the basic guidelines set by UPSC.

  • The candidates who qualify in the Main Examination will be interviewed by a Board who will have before them, a record of his/her career.
  • The object of the interview is to assess the personal suitability of the candidate for a career in public service by a Board of competent and unbiased observers.
  • He/she will be asked questions on matters of general interest.
  • The test is intended to judge the mental calibre of a candidate.
  • In broad terms, this is really an assessment of not only his intellectual qualities, but also social traits and his interest in current affairs.
  • Some of the qualities to be judged 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.
  • The technique of the interview is not that of a strict cross-examination, but of a natural, though directed and purposive conversation which is intended to reveal the mental qualities of the candidate.
  • The interview test is not intended to be a test either of the specialised or general knowledge of the candidates which has been already 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 well-educated youth.

We hope now after reading this article you have complete understanding of Civil Service Exam Pattern

Note 1: The above mentioned points are meant to provide an overview of the whole UPSC examination patterns mostly followed every year which may or may not be same year by year.
Note 2: The information presented here is not all-inclusive in nature. For details and exact information, please read the exam notification every year by UPSC. For Civil Services Exam, 2015, please visit http://upsc.gov.in/exams/notifications/2015/CSP_2015/CSP_2015_eng.pdf for complete details.

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