UPSC Exam Details


The Union Public Service Commission conducts the Civil Services Examination annually to recruit candidates for the All India Services such as Indian Administrative Service, Indian Foreign Service, Indian Revenue Service, Indian Forest Service, etc. as well as Group B Services like the Delhi, Andaman & Nicobar Islands Civil Services, etc. The UPSC Exam is taken by lakhs of aspirants every year while the vacancies range from between 300 to 1200 recruitments. Due to the tough competition and the general difficulty level of the exam, it is termed as the “Mother of All Examinations”. In this article, we will cover in brief the UPSC Exam Details.

UPSC Recruitment for the All India Services and Foreign Service takes place annually. The notification for the examination that gives details regarding the UPSC Exam Eligibility, UPSC Exam Date and UPSC Last Date for application is published in the month of February. The exam is conducted in three stages:

  1. Preliminary Examination
  2. Mains Examination
  3. Personality Test

A candidate needs to clear all three stages in one go to be eligible to get into the civil services. The services are allotted as per the candidates’ preferences considering their rank in the final merit list prepared by adding the candidates’ scores in the Civil Services Mains and Personality Test.

UPSC Exam Eligibility

Citizenship and Domicile Requirements:

Only citizens of India are eligible to apply for the Indian Administrative Service and Indian Police Service.

The following categories of candidates are eligible to apply for the other civil services such as Indian Revenue Service, Indian Trade Service, etc.:

  • Citizens of India
  • Persons of Indian origin who have migrated to India with the intention of permanently settling in India from the following countries:
    • Pakistan
    • Myanmar
    • Sri Lanka
    • Kenya
    • Uganda
    • Tanzania
    • Zambia
    • Malawi
    • Zaire
    • Ethiopia
    • Vietnam
  • Subjects of Nepal or Bhutan.
  • Tibetan refugees who arrived in India before 1 January 1962.
  • Note: A certificate of eligibility issued by the Government of India is required for all Non-Indian Citizens who wish to apply for the exam.

    Educational Requirements

    The candidates who wish to appear in the IAS Exam must have at least one of the following educational qualifications:

    • A degree from a State, Central or Deemed University
    • A degree obtained through correspondence or distance education from any of the above categories of universities or an Open University.
    • Any qualification recognised by the GoI as being equivalent to one of the above.

    Age Limit

    To be eligible to write the UPSC Civil Services Exam, the candidates must have attained 21 years of age and should not have attained 32 years of age as on 1st August of the examination year. However, candidates belonging to Scheduled tribes, Scheduled Castes, Other Backward Classes, Persons with Disability and candidates with a history of Military Service can claim age relaxation in UPSC based on existing rules declared in the notification.

    UPSC Exam Syllabus

    The UPSC Examination Syllabus is quite well defined. The UPSC Syllabus broadly covers the following subjects:

    • General Ability and Awareness
    • Current Affairs
    • Aptitude and Comprehension
    • Linguistic Ability (English and Any one language mentioned in the 8th Schedule of the Constitution of India
    • History of India (Pre and Post-Independence)
    • Society
    • International Relations
    • Disaster Management
    • Internal Security
    • Ethics and Integrity
    • One Specialized Subject (Engineering, Medical Science, Public Administration or Languages etc.)

    The list above is not exhaustive and aspirants should go through the detailed syllabus from the links provided at the end of this article.

    UPSC Exam Structure

    The UPSC conducts the Civil Services Exam in three stages as mentioned earlier. The following lines give a brief overview of what to expect in terms of the Prelims, Mains and Personality test:

    1. Prelims: 2 papers conducted on the same day, Paper I is the General Ability Test (GAT) and Paper II is the Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT). Candidates need at least 33% marks in Paper II and the declared UPSC Cut Off to be eligible to write the Mains Papers.
    2. Mains: 9 papers conducted over a period of 5 days. The Papers are the following:
      • English
      • Indian Language
      • Essay
      • General Studies I
      • General Studies II
      • General Studies III
      • General Studies IV
      • Optional Paper I
      • Optional paper II

      Out of these 9 papers, English and Indian Language are qualifying papers and candidates need to score at least 25% for their marks in other papers to be considered for ranking. The marks secured in the rest of the Mains Papers are accumulated and considered for merit ranking.

    3. Personality Test: The Personality Test is a panel interview with the UPSC Board. The Board looks for leadership and social qualities of the candidates, along with their general awareness and interest in current events.

    UPSC Exam Date

    The UPSC usually publishes the notifications for the IAS Exam in February every year. The prelims are conducted in June- August.

    The Exam Dates for 2019 have been announced. The Notification inviting aspirants to apply would be published on 19th February 2019 and the Prelims Examination will be held on 02nd June 2019.

    The Mains Exam is scheduled for 20th September 2019 for the Civil Services and on 01st December 2019 for the Indian Forest Service.

    Number of Attempts

    Candidates can attempt the UPSC Civil Service Exam a maximum of 6 times. However, additional number of attempts are allowed for SC, ST and OBC candidates as well as Persons With Disability and Ex Servicemen, provided they can provide the required documentation during the application process.

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