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UPSC Exam Pattern 2021 For Prelims, Mains & Interview

UPSC Exam Pattern 2021 For Prelims, Mains & Interview

Exam Pattern Of UPSC IAS Civil Services Examination – Prelims, Mains, Interview

High in prestige and famous for being the toughest competitive examination all over the country, the IAS exam has a great following, and students from all corners of the country appear for the exam to fulfill their dreams and achieve their goals. The exam is conducted by UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) every year and conducts tests in 3 phases: Preliminary phase, Mains, and Interview. The proper understanding of the exam pattern of the exam is crucial as without the proper understanding of it students would not be able to plan their strategy. The exam pattern of the IAS exam is comprehensive and with the rising competition and proper understanding of the exam pattern is needed.

The exam pattern is divided into three parts – Preliminary, Mains, and Interview for a candidate to become a Civil Service Officer all three of the phases must be cleared with great marks. The UPSC releases the dates of the exams on their official website every year ( To further explain the exam pattern we have provided detailed tables that will help you understand the exam pattern in full detail.

IAS Exam Pattern For UPSC Prelims

The Prelims consists of two papers known as General Studies Paper (GS-1) and Civil Service Aptitude Test (CSAT), both of these papers are qualifying papers, and candidates who clear these papers are eligible for the next phase of the IAS exam which is the Mains exam. The minimum passing mark for both the tests is 33% and candidates who fail to achieve at least the minimum marks are not allowed to appear for the next exam.

Sl. No. Name of the Paper Nature of the Paper Type Duration of the Exam Questions Marks
1. IAS Exam Paper – I: General Studies Merit Ranking Nature Objective  2 Hours 100 200 marks
2. IAS Exam Paper – II: General Studies (CSAT) Qualifying Nature Objective 2 Hours 80 200 Marks

IAS Exam Pattern for UPSC Mains

The mains exam is the second phase of the IAS exam and consists of 9 papers, out of these 9 papers 2 papers are qualifying papers. All of the papers a descriptive type papers and the minimum passing marks to be achieved for all the papers to be able to move to the next stage is 33% failure to do so will result in the candidate not being allowed to appear for the last stage of the IAS exam which is the Interview. 

IAS Exam Paper Name of Paper Duration of the Exam Marks
Paper-A (Qualifying Paper) Indian Language (One of the Indian Language to be selected by the candidate from the Languages included in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution) 3 Hours 300
Paper-B (Qualifying Paper) English 3 Hours 300
Paper-I Essay 3 Hours 250
Paper-II General Studies-I

● Indian Heritage

● Modern Indian History

● World HIstory

● Indian Society

● Geography

3 Hours 250
Paper-III General Studies-II

● Indian Constitution

● Indian Polity

● Social Justice

● Indian Governance

● International Relations

3 Hours 250
Paper-IV General Studies-III

● Indian Economy

● Science and Technology

● Environment & Biodiversity

● Disaster Management

● Security

3 Hours 250
Paper-V General Studies-IV

● Ethics and Human Interface

● Attitude

● Aptitude

● Emotional Intelligence

● Public/Civil service values and Ethics in Public administration

● Probity in Governance

3 Hours 250
Paper-VI Optional Subject – Paper 1 3 Hours 250
Paper-VII Optional Subject – Paper 2  3 Hours 250
Sub Total 1750
Personality Test (Interview) 275
Grand Total 2025

Here is a list of all of the subjects which are covered in General Studies – I, II, III, and IV.

General Studies – I General Studies – II General Studies – III General Studies – IV
Indian Heritage and Culture Governance Technology Ethics
History and Geography of the World Constitution Economic Development Integrity
Society polity Bio-diversity Aptitude
Social justice Environment
International relations Security and Disaster Management

Here is a list of all of the optional subjects:

Agriculture Zoology
Animal Husbandry & Veterinary Science Assamese (Literature)
Anthropology Bengali (Literature)
Botany Bodo (Literature)
Chemistry Dogri (Literature)
Civil Engineering Gujarati (Literature)
Commerce & Accountancy Hindi (Literature)
Economics Kannada (Literature)
Electrical Engineering Kashmiri (Literature)
Geography Konkani (Literature)
Geology Maithili (Literature)
History Malayalam (Literature)
Law Manipuri (Literature)
Management Marathi (Literature)
Mathematics Nepali (Literature)
Mechanical Engineering Odia (Literature)
Medical Science Punjabi (Literature)
Philosophy Sanskrit (Literature)
Physics Santhali (Literature)
Political Science & International Relations Sindhi (Literature)
Psychology Tamil (Literature)
Public Administration Telugu (Literature)
Sociology English (Literature)
Statistics Urdu (Literature)

All of the papers except Paper A & B can be written in English or any of the languages listed in the 8th Schedule of the Constitution of India.

UPSC Interview

The last stage of the IAS exam the Interview is also known as the Personality test is conducted in the UPSC office premise in Delhi, candidates who have learned both the Prleiianry stage and the Mains stage are then summoned by the UPSC into their office in Delhi and a personality tests/ Interview is conducted to judge their basic knowledge and questions are asked about the current affairs, quick thinking, hobbies, etc. A board of competent officers conducts the Interview and candidates are then selected based on their thinking skills and their ability to answer questions asked to them. The board judges a candidate’s mental and social traits by asking them general questions, the board askes questions to candidates so that it can shortlist the best candidates for several Civil Services positions. Candidates who possess great mental alertness, critical thinking powers, clear and logical explanations, the balance of judgment, moral integrity type of qualities are most favored. 


Related Article

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Read the Complete UPSC CSE Syllabus (click here)

UPSC Syllabus 2021: Download IAS Syllabus PDF For Prelims

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