Exam Pattern

Civil Services – Preliminary Examination – Exam Pattern

The Preliminary Examination basically serves as a screening test to shortlist candidates for the next stage, the Main examination.

  • The Preliminary Exam consists of two objective type papers (multiple-choice questions) for a total of 400 marks. Each paper has 200 marks each and two hours allotted. However, blind candidates would be provided an extra 20 minutes for each paper.
  • Since this is a qualifying exam, the marks obtained in this test are not counted for determining the final order of merit of a candidate if he qualifies for the main exam as well.
  • There will be negative marking (of one-third marks for that answer) for wrong answers marked by a candidate in the objective type question papers. Only a black ballpoint pen may be used for both writing and marking answers in the OMR sheet (answer sheet). Pens of any other colour, pencils or ink pens are prohibited.

Civil Services – Main Examination – Exam Pattern

A) Written Exam

From 2013 onwards, certain changes have been introduced to the pattern and scheme of the Civil Services Main Examination as well.

The new and changed scheme of the Main Exam aims to evaluate the overall intellectual capability and level of understanding of candidates, rather than just the range of their information and memory.

The main examination will have the 2 qualifying papers and 7 papers to be counted for merit. All the 9 papers will have essay-type questions.

Qualifying papers

Paper A (300 marks) – One of the Indian Language to be selected by the candidate from the languages included in the 8th Schedule to the Constitution

Paper B (300 marks) – English

The papers on Indian Languages and English (Paper A and Paper B) will be of matriculation or equivalent standard and will be of qualifying nature. The marks obtained in these papers will not be counted for ranking.

Papers to be counted for merit:

Paper – I
Essay 250 Marks
Paper – II
General Studies – I
(Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World & Society)
250 Marks
Paper – III
General Studies – II
(Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations)
250 Marks
Paper – IV
General Studies – III
(Technology, Economic Development, Bio-diversity, Environment, Security & Disaster Management)
250 Marks
Paper – V
General Studies – IV
(Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude)
250 Marks
Paper – VI
Optional Subject – Paper 1 250 Marks
Paper – VII
Optional Subject – Paper 2 250 Marks
Sub Total (Written test) 1750 Marks
Personality Test 275 Marks
Grand Total 2025 Marks

Marks obtained in Paper 1 to Paper 7 will be counted for merit ranking. However UPSC can fix the qualifying marks for any/all of these papers according to its own discretion.

The question paper for each of the seven papers will be of the conventional (essay) type and have three hours allotted. The question paper is set in English and Hindi only (except for the literature of the language paper).

Candidates exercising the option to answer papers in any one of the languages mentioned below may, if they so desire, give English version within brackets of only the description of the technical terms, if any, in addition to the version in the language opted by them.

Candidates should, however, note that if they misuse the above rule, a deduction will be made on this account from the total marks otherwise accruing to them and in extreme cases; their script(s) will not be valued for being in an unauthorized medium.

For the detailed syllabus of each civil services main exam paper, please refer to: http://www.upsc.gov.in/

B) Personality Test/Interview

The interview or personality round is also included as a part of the “Main Examination” and is worth 275 marks, which is added to the grand total.

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.