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The Civil Services Examination, popularly known as the IAS exam is conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) annually. It is regarded as one of the toughest exams in the country. But 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 is an effort by BYJU’S Classes to explain in detail, the examination scheme of the UPSC Civil Services Exam to help candidates aspiring to join the Central and All India services such as the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Police Service (IPS), Indian Foreign Service (IFS), Indian Revenue Service (IRS), etc. approach the exam in the right manner.

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). Here we present a detailed understanding about the UPSC exam scheme, which will help civil services aspirants desirous of joining the services such as IAS, IPS, IRS, etc. prepare for the IAS exam and come out with flying colours.


The UPSC Calendar/Schedule for the Civil Service Examination would generally consist of exam dates for the upcoming Prelims and Mains examinations- and are announced a year prior to the commencement of the exams by the commission through notifications, so that the candidates can plan their preparation accordingly. The number of vacancies for each year is normally published in the UPSC exam notification for that particular year.


Also check | UPSC Exam Calendar 2018-19 / UPSC Exam Schedule 2018-19


Given below is the annual tentative calendar/ the timeline of events for the Civil Services Examination (CSE).

The UPSC CSE consists of 3 stages namely, the Preliminary Exam, the Mains Exam, and the Personality Test/Interview.


Aspirants should know and understand the UPSC Exam Pattern and Syllabus. Hence, here we present detailed information about the UPSC Exam Scheme, eligibility for IAS exam, online application procedure, and more.


Read through to know in detail about the UPSC Civil Services Examination pattern. This reading will help you:

  • Come up with the right preparation strategy
  • Choose the relevant IAS study materials
  • Take the right guidance and prepare a study plan that is sure to take you through the other end of the journey successfully

For UPSC Civil Services Exam online resources, exam preparation strategies, UPSC Online Notification, exam dates, results, and more visit: https://byjus.com/free-ias-prep/.


Given below is the detailed timeline of events for the UPSC civil services Prelims, Mains and the Interview.




Exam EventsDates
Application FormsFebruary (apply date)– March(last date)
Admit CardThree weeks before Prelims Exam
CSE PrelimsMay-August
Answer KeyAfter the final result of UPSC of Civil Service Exam (in the following year)
ResultAugust/September (same year)
CutoffAfter the final result of UPSC of Civil Service Exam (in the following year)


Application FormsAug-Sept
Admit CardThree weeks before Mains Exam
Main ExamOctober-December
Answer KeyAfter the final result of UPSC of Civil Service Exam (in the following year)
ResultJan-Feb of the following year
CutoffAfter the final result in the following year


NotificationFeb/March of the following year
e-SummonMarch/April of the following year
Personality Test/InterviewMarch/April of the following year
ResultApril-June of the following year



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

Stage I: Preliminary Examination
Stage II: Main Examination
Stage III: Personality Test/Interview Round

The stage 1 of the civil services exam is prelims, which is a screening test for candidates and comprises of two papers with questions of objective or MCQ type.


The IAS Prelims Exam Pattern is as follows:

Sl. No.Name of the PaperNature of the PaperDuration of the ExamQuestionsMarks
1Paper – I : General StudiesMerit Ranking Nature2 Hours100200 Marks
2Paper – II : General Studies (CSAT)Qualifying Nature2 Hours80200 Marks



Sl. No.


Name of the Paper

Nature of the Paper

Duration of the Exam



Paper – A

Compulsory Indian Language


3 Hours

300 Marks


Paper – B


3 Hours

300 Marks


Paper – I



3 Hours

250 Marks


Paper – II


3 Hours

250 Marks


Paper – III


3 Hours

250 Marks


Paper – IV


3 Hours

250 Marks


Paper – V


3 Hours

250 Marks


Paper – VI


3 Hours

250 Marks


Paper – VII


3 Hours

250 Marks




1750 Marks




275 Marks



2025 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.

The UPSC Civil Services IAS Mains Exam Pattern is as follows:


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.


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 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 detailed UPSC Syllabus for Prelims and Mains list of Indian Language, and Optional Subjects click here.




Candidates who clear the Civil Services Mains Exam with the required cutoff 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. The UPSC personality test will be held only in the UPSC Bhawan in New Delhi.




The candidates who apply for the UPSC IAS Examination should ensure that they meet all the eligibility criteria, which are mentioned below. The eligibility for IAS exam is based on the following parameters:

1. Nationality2. Education Qualification
3. Age Criteria and Relaxation4. Number of Attempts



Candidates who are interested to write the UPSC Civil Services Exam and aspire to get the civil services post as IAS, IPS, IFS and others should ensure that they fulfil the Nationality Condition, which is given below.


Candidates who aspire to become IAS Officers, IFS Officers or IPS Officers must be Indian citizens.


To get into the Indian Revenue Service, candidates must meet one of the following nationality criteria as set by the UPSC guidelines:

Citizen of India
A person of Indian Origin who has migrated from Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Myanmar, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Uganda, Vietnam, Zaire, or Zambia with an intention of permanently settling in India.

To get into other civil services a candidate must meet one of the following criteria of Nationality.

A Citizen of India.
A citizen of Nepal or a subject of Bhutan
Tibetan Refugee who came to India before 1st January 1962 to settle permanently in India
A Person of Indian Origin who has migrated from Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Myanmar, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Uganda, Vietnam, Zaire, or Zambia with an intention of permanently settling in India



Candidates who aspire to become IAS Officers and wish to apply for the UPSC Civil Services Exam should ensure that they fulfil at least one of the following education qualification criteria.


Candidates should have:

A degree from any of the universities integrated by an Act of the Central or State Legislature in India
A degree from any other educational institutions recognized by an Act of Parliament
A degree or an equivalent qualification from any Deemed University under the UGC Act, 1956
A degree through correspondence or distance education
A degree from an open university
A qualification equivalent to one of the above which is recognized by the Government of India

Candidates with the following criteria are also allowed to take the UPSC Civil Services Exam:

Candidates who meet the below mentioned education criteria can also take the civil services exam, but they should submit the proof of eligibility from an authority of their university or institution before the UPSC Mains Exam. Candidates failing to submit the proof may not be allowed to take the exam.

Candidates who have appeared in the graduation exam or relevant qualification exam or higher exams and waiting for the results can also write the UPSC Exam but they should ensure that after success in the exam they meet one of the above educational criteria.
Candidates who have not yet completed the MBBS internship but have passed in the final exam of the MBBS degree can also appear in the UPSC CSE.
Candidates who have passed the final exam of the Institute of Chartered Accountant of India (ICAI), ICSI, and ICWAI can also take the exam.
Candidates who have obtained a degree from any private university with the above mentioned conditions.
Candidates who have obtained a degree from any foreign university recognized by the Association of Indian Universities

Candidates who have appeared for the previous year’s UPSC CSE and are awaiting their results are also eligible to appear for the IAS Prelims Exam; however, they should submit proof of passing the obligatory qualification along with the Detailed Application Form (DAF) for Civil Services (Mains) Examination.




To calculate the age limit criterion for the UPSC IAS Exam, the age of the candidate as on 1st of August of the year in which the exam is taken is calculated. So, for the UPSC exam 2018, a candidate should have achieved at least 21 years of age and should not have attained 32 years of age as on 1st August 2018. This is for the general category candidates. There are relaxations for other categories which are described below.


The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) has regulated the age criteria for the candidates who are willing to appear for Civil Services IAS Examination.


Below given are the complete and important conditions for the eligibility of IAS Exam, which candidates can go through and make sure that they meet all the eligibility criteria for UPSC Civil Services Exam.

CategoryAge LimitAttempts
General32 Years6
OBC35 years9
SC / ST37 YearsUnlimited
PH Gen-42 Years OBC-45 Years SC/ST-47 YearsUnlimited
J & K Domicile Gen-37 Years OBC-40 Years SC/ST-42 Years PH-50 YearsDepending on the categories viz. Gen, OBC, SC/ST, PH
Ex-Servicemen Gen-37 Years OBC-40 Years SC/ST-42 YearsDepending on the categories viz. Gen, OBC, SC/ST, PH
Disabled Defence Services Personnel* conditional Gen-37 Years OBC-40 Years SC/ST-42 YearsDepending on the categories viz. Gen, OBC, SC/ST, PH

To know in detail about age and number of attempts criteria for IAS Eligibility click here.


A candidate, in whose case a certificate of eligibility is necessary, may be admitted to the examination but the offer of appointment may be given only after the necessary eligibility certificate has been issued to him/her by the Government of India.


UPSC Online Application Procedure

The application procedure for UPSC examination has been entirely made online at the preliminary level and UPSC e-admit cards are issued online, which candidates appearing for the IAS exam should download from the UPSC official website (www.upsc.gov.in).


Also Read | Important Guidelines to fill UPSC Online Application Form


The candidates applying for the IAS Exam should make sure that they satisfy all the eligibility criteria for admission to the examination. The candidates admission to all the stages of the examination will be conditional subject to fulfilling the above-mentioned eligibility conditions.

For more information on UPSC Exam, Syllabus and tips on preparation strategies, check https://byjus.com/free-ias-prep/


You can check for important UPSC notifications at the BYJU’S Notifications Page where all the latest news, information and exam-related updates are regularly posted.



To know more about Civil Services Prelims and Mains Exams click on the links below:

UPSC Prelims

UPSC Mains

Online Preparation

Civil Services Exam

UPSC Syllabus

Daily News Analysis

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