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IAS Exam

The Civil Services Examination, popularly known as the IAS exam, is conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) annually. Those who clear the IAS exam will get an entry into the prestigious civil services of the country, and become officers in the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Police Service (IPS), Indian Foreign Service (IFS) and a host of other services. Although regarded as one of the toughest exams in the country, with the right approach and strategy, an aspirant can crack the examination in the very first attempt. It is essential for aspirants to know and understand the requirements of the examination such as the UPSC syllabus, pattern, eligibility criteria, application procedure and other such significant details before kick-starting the preparations. Here, we present all the relevant details an aspirant will have to know if he/she wants to crack the UPSC IAS exam.

IAS Exam General Details

IAS Exam Conducting Body UPSC
Mode of IAS exam Offline
Number of times conducted Once every year
Prescribed age limit 21 – 32 years (upper age relaxation for reserved candidates)
IAS Prelims 2019 exam date 2nd June 2019
IAS Mains 2019 dates Starts 20th September 2019 (exams for five days)
IAS Exam Pattern Prelims (MCQs), Mains (Descriptive papers)

Though the exam is popularly known as the IAS exam, officially it is called the Civil Services Examination (CSE), which is conducted every year by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC).

You can check the UPSC Exam Calendar 2019 for details below:

UPSC 2019: Calendar of Examinations

IAS Exam Pattern

The Civil Services Exam is conducted by the UPSC every year in three stages and they are:

  1. Stage I: Preliminary Examination (Prelims)
  2. Stage II: Mains Examination
  3. Stage III: Personality Test/Interview Round

Stage I: UPSC Prelims

Sl. No. Name of the Paper Nature of the Paper Duration of the Exam Questions Marks
1 Paper – I : General Studies Merit Ranking Nature 2 Hours 100 200 Marks
2 Paper – II : General Studies (CSAT) Qualifying Nature 2 Hours 80 200 Marks
  • The questions in the UPSC Prelims Exam are of objective type or Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs)
  • There is ‘Negative Marking’ in the IAS prelims exam for each incorrect answer. The negative marking for incorrect answers will be 1/3rd (0.66) of the allotted marks of that question.
  • The GS Paper II (CSAT) is of qualifying nature and candidates should score a minimum of 33 per cent in this paper to qualify to the next stage of the exam i.e. the Civil Services Mains.
  • Blind candidates are given an extra time of 20 minutes for each paper in the prelims exam.
  • It is mandatory for the candidates to appear in both the papers of civil services prelims exam for the evaluation.
  • The marks scored by the candidates in the preliminary examination are not counted for the final score. It is only a screening test where candidates not securing the cut-off marks are eliminated.

Stage II: UPSC Mains

The second stage of the Civil Services Exam is called the Mains Exam, which is a written descriptive examination and comprises of 9 papers. The 9 papers are as follows: Paper-A (Compulsory Indian Language); Paper –B (English) which are qualifying in nature, while the other papers like Essay, General Studies Papers I, II, III, and IV, and Optional Papers I and II are considered for the final ranking.

Sl. No. Paper Name of the Paper Nature of the Paper Duration of the Exam Marks
1 Paper – A Compulsory Indian Language QUALIFYING NATURE 3 Hours 300 Marks
2 Paper – B English 3 Hours 300 Marks
3 Paper – I ESSAY MERIT RANKING NATURE 3 Hours 250 Marks
4 Paper – II General Studies I 3 Hours 250 Marks
5 Paper – III General Studies II 3 Hours 250 Marks
6 Paper – IV General Studies III 3 Hours 250 Marks
7 Paper – V General Studies IV 3 Hours 250 Marks
8 Paper – VI Optional Paper I 3 Hours 250 Marks
9 Paper – VII Optional Paper II 3 Hours 250 Marks
TOTAL 1750 Marks
Interview or Personality Test 275 Marks
GRAND TOTAL 2025 Marks


  • The candidates can select their medium of writing the UPSC Civil Services IAS Mains Exam as Hindi or English or any other language listed in the 8th Schedule of the Indian Constitution.
  • The Indian Languages included in the civil services exam are as per languages listed in the 8th Schedule of the Indian Constitution.
  • The candidates who score the prescribed cut-off marks in the mains (written) exam total will get the summons for the Personality Test.
  • The final ranking of the candidates is on the basis of the marks obtained by them in the Main Examination and Personality Test/Interview Round.

For a detailed UPSC syllabus for prelims and mains exams, click on UPSC Syllabus.

Stage III: UPSC Interview/Personality Test

Candidates who clear the Civil Services Mains Exam with the required cut-off marks will qualify for the final stage of the exam i.e., the Personality Test or Interview round with the UPSC Board Members. The candidates who qualify to the final stage will be sent an e-summon by the Commission for a face-to-face discussion round with the board members. In this round, the board assesses the personality traits of the candidates and questions will be asked on their hobbies, current affairs, general knowledge, situation questions, etc. to evaluate if they are fit for a career in the civil services or not. The UPSC personality test will be held only in the UPSC Bhavan in New Delhi.

IAS Exam Eligibility

There are conditions of nationality, age, number of attempts and educational qualification if candidates wish to take the IAS exam. In general, the candidate must be a citizen of India or a PIO, must have a graduate degree, must be between the ages of 21 and 32, and must not have attempted the IAS exam 6 times. But there are certain relaxations and other conditions to the above.

For details on the IAS Eligibility, please check the below link:

IAS Eligibility Details

IAS Exam Application Procedure

The application procedure for UPSC examination has been entirely made online and UPSC e-admit cards are issued online, which candidates appearing for the IAS exam should download from the UPSC official website. For more, please read General Guidelines on How to Apply for the IAS Exam.

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