According to UPSC's calendar The Civil Services Preliminary examination will be held on June 18, 2017. It is after the gap of three years, that the UPSC will be conducting the Prelims exam in June, rather than August. The preliminary examination for 2016, 2015 and 2014 were held during the month of August. For your understanding you can have a look at the 2016 syllabus as in all probability the syllabus for 2017 IAS Prelims exam will remain the same.
|Paper - I||General Studies - This paper will be counted for qualifying to write the Civil Services Mains exam.||200 Marks||Two Hours|
|Paper- II (CSAT)||Aptitude test (CSAT) - This paper is of qualifying nature, but candidate must score at least 33% marks in this paper. However, marks of this paper are not counted for writing the Mains examination.||200 Marks||Two Hours|
The marks scored in the Prelim exam is not counted in the final tally of the Mains exam or the Interview.
The Preliminary Examination for Civil Services is also popularly called CSAT or Civil Services Aptitude Test. The CSAT is actually the second paper of General Studies that was introduced in 2011.
The CSAT was implemented to end the use of scaling system for varying subjects in the General Studies paper. With the introduction of the CSAT, the UPSC intended to choose Civil Servants who not only have the knowledge but also the aptitude for reasoning and analytical power.
However, there was much opposition to this pattern introduced by the UPSC and the government had to intervene in this matter. So it's since 2015; the UPSC has made the CSAT of only qualifying nature and candidate needs to only get 33% or 66 marks in this paper.
The marks of Paper 1 are alone considered for ranking in the Prelims examination. It is based on the marks scored in General Studies paper 1 that the candidates will appear to write the Mains examination.
There is "Negative Marking" in the Prelims exam. For every wrong answer, 1/3rd of marks allotted for every question will be reduced from the correct tally of score. So candidates need to be extra careful while making wild guesses in the prelim exams.
Indian Forest Service (IFS): Since 2013, it's for the first time the Indian Forest Service (IFS) aspirants are combined with the Civil Services aspirants to take the Preliminary examination. The aspirants who may clear the Preliminary exam have to separately write the Mains exams for Indian Forest Service. Since most of the science students write both the exams this move is intended to facilitate the IFS aspirants and save their time.
The Civil Services Examination consists of two successive stages - Civil Services Preliminary Examination (Objective type) for the selection of candidates for the Main Examination that comprises of written exam and Interview for the final selection of candidates for the various Services and Posts.
The Preliminary Examination consists of two papers of Objective type (multiple choice questions) each of 200 marks and carries a total of 400 marks. The question papers are set both in Hindi and English. Each paper is of two hours duration. Blind candidates are allowed extra time of twenty minutes for each paper.
The UPSC prelims exam is meant to serve as a screening test only; the marks obtained in the Preliminary Exam forms the basis to be declared qualified to write the Mains Exam but will not be counted for determining their final order of merit.
The number of candidates qualified to write the Main Examination will be about twelve to thirteen times the total approximate number of vacancies to be filled in that year in the various Services and Posts.
Note 1: The questions in both Paper-I (current affairs) and Paper-II (aptitude test) will be of multiple choice, objective type for 200 marks each and the time allotted for each paper is two hours.
Note 2: The CSAT aptitude test or Paper-II will be a qualifying paper only with a minimum of 33% to be secured to qualify for the Mains exam.
Note 3: It is mandatory for the candidate to appear in both the papers of Civil Services (Prelim) examination. The candidate will be disqualified in case he or she appears in only one paper of the (Prelims) exam. So appearing in both the papers is mandatory for the evaluation of the (Prelims) exam.
A set of sample questions for both Papers has been given below for reference for prospective candidates.