The Union Public Service Commission conducts the Civil Services Examination every year for recruitment to various prestigious positions in the Government of India. The UPSC Civil Services Examination, commonly known as the IAS exam due to the high visibility and popularity of the Indian Administrative Service as a career option is considered the toughest examination in India. It has earned this moniker partly due to the intense competition and partly due to the vast UPSC Syllabus. Apart from that the UPSC exam pattern is quite complicated and a typical examination cycle lasts for almost a year from the preliminary examination till the final results are declared. This article would give the reader a brief overview of what to expect in terms of the pattern of the IAS exam.
UPSC Exam Pattern 2019
The pattern of examination is officially divided into two stages called Preliminary and Main Examination while in practice, it is a three stage exam.
Each stage is of a qualifying nature for the next and hence candidates are required to clear each stage to be eligible to appear for the next stage.
The three stages of the IAS exam are Prelims, Mains and Personality Test.
Stage 1: UPSC Prelims
The UPSC Prelims exam pattern consists of two papers, conducted over a period of one day. Both of the papers consist of objective type questions with multiple choice of answers. The prelims examination is a qualifying stage to filter candidates for the mains exam. The marks secured at this stage are not counted towards the final merit list, though candidates have to prepare well for this exam as cut offs are unpredictable and depend on the average score every year. The details of UPSC Prelims Exam are given below:
|Paper||Type||No. of questions||Marks||Duration||Negative marks|
|General Studies I||Objective||100||200||2 hours||Yes|
|General Studies II (CSAT)||Objective||80||200||2 hours||Yes|
The Prelims Exam date is 02 June 2019 for the present iteration.
Stage 2: UPSC Mains
The UPSC Mains exam pattern consists of 9 papers conducted over a period of 5 days. Only those candidates who secure at least the declared cut off in General Studies I and 33% in General Studies II in Prelims will be allowed to appear for the Mains Examination. All of the papers consist of descriptive answer type questions. The details of UPSC Mains Exam are given below:
|Paper A||Compulsory Indian language||3 hours||300|
|Paper B||English||3 hours||300|
|Paper I||Essay||3 hours||250|
|Paper II||General Studies I||3 hours||250|
|Paper III||General Studies II||3 hours||250|
|Paper IV||General Studies III||3 hours||250|
|Paper V||General Studies IV||3 hours||250|
|Paper VI||Optional I||3 hours||250|
|Paper VII||Optional II||3 hours||250|
All of the mains papers except for the language papers A and B are of a merit ranking nature. Paper A and B are of a qualifying nature and candidates must score at least 25% in each for the marks from their Paper I – Paper VII to be given weightage. Paper A is not compulsory for candidates from the States of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Sikkim as well as candidates with hearing impairment provided they can prove that they have been exempted from such 2nd or 3rd language courses by their concerned board or university. The Indian Language paper covers any of the languages included in the 8th Schedule of the constitution.
The subjects which are covered by the General Studies Papers in Mains Exam are:
|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|
|International relations||Security and Disaster Management|
The Optional subjects for Paper VI and VII of the mains examination have to be any one of the subjects from the following list:
|Agriculture||Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science||Anthropology||Botany||Chemistry|
|Civil Engineering||Commerce and Accountancy||Economics||Electrical Engineering||Geography|
|Mechanical Engineering||Medical Science||Philosophy||Physics||Political Science and International Relations|
|Literature of any one of the following languages: Assamese, Bengali, Bodo, Dogri, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Maithili, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Odia, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Santhali, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu and English.|
All the papers except the Language papers A and B can be answered in English or any of the languages listed in the 8th Schedule of the Constitution of India. The optional papers can be answered in English even if none of the other papers have been answered by the candidate in English.
Stage 3: UPSC Interview
This is the final stage of the IAS Exam before the final results are declared. Officially it is called the Interview/Personality Test and counted as a part of the Mains Examination for merit ranking purposes. From a preparation standpoint, it is considered the third stage as preparation strategies for the written and interview stages are different. This consists of an interview by the UPSC board to assess the candidates’ suitability for a civil services career and associated responsibilities. The board consists of competent and unbiased observers who have a record of the candidates’ career. The board would judge the candidates mental and social traits by asking questions of general interest. Some of the 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.
The UPSC Interview awards a maximum of 275 marks bringing the total marks of the Mains examination counted towards merit ranking to 2025.
The whole pattern of the IAS examination is comprehensive and the competition is intense. One should start preparing in depth as the examination process lasts for almost a year and not making the cut means starting from scratch next year.
You can find more information here:
|UPSC Civil Services Related Links|
|IAS Preparation 2019||IAS prelims strategy||IAS GK Preparation|
|IAS Preparation Books||UPSC News Analysis||UPSC Notifications|