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UPSC exam pattern for IAS exam

History of UPSC IAS exam pattern Change

The UPSC civil services exam pattern has undergone several changes over several years. Some of the important changes include, change in the number of optional papers, the inclusion of aptitude-based CSAT paper, an increase in the number of general studies papers and finally elimination of foreign languages from the language paper.

Syllabus Of Upsc 2009-2010

Until 2009, the UPSC gave more importance to current affairs, history and geography. For example, History (20 questions), Geography (30 to 40 questions), Science (40 questions). After 2010, the focus shifted to science, polity, environment, history, etc.

Ias Exam Syllabus 2011-2012

The optional subject removed and it was replaced with CSAT. CSE mains syllabus question pattern was changed. It incorporated two papers on general studies along with one essay. The CSAT and GS marks were accounted for the preparation of merit list for the prelims exam.

Syllabus Of Ias 2013-2014

On March 6, the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) released the notification for the examination pattern change in the civil services examination. The changes were subjected to mains examinations only. The number of optional subjects decreased from two to one. Besides, the number of general studies paper increased from two to four. The previous two GS papers got divided into three. Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude’ (Paper 4) was introduction of a new paper.Weight-age of General Study was increased. 200-250 marks was allotted for essay. The total number of permissible attempts for the exam was increased from four to six. The maximum permissible age limit for general candidates was increased from 30 years to 32 years.

IAS Syllabus 2015

Before 2015, UPSC decided to give more priority both CSAT and GS. As a result, the resuts of the CSAT and GS were accounted for merit. CSAT was considered for qualifying exam.

Revised UPSC Exam Pattern 2016

The UPSC has revised the pattern of Civil Services Main examination from 2016.

Now there are 7 + 2 = 9 papers to be answered in the main examination. All of them are of descriptive type. There are two qualifying papers 1) any modern Indian language of 300 marks 2) English of 300 marks. The marks of these two papers will not be counted in the merit list of the main examination.

The candidate is allowed to pick any one language from the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution or English as the medium for writing the mains examination.

According to the new pattern in the UPSC syllabus, there are "FOUR" General Studies paper each comprising of 250 Marks with a total of 1000 Marks are made compulsory. The scope of the syllabus of General Studies papers are of degree level.

There is only "ONE" optional subject to choose from the list of subjects. It comprises of two papers each of 300 marks. So the optional paper has total 600 marks. Candidate is allowed to take up literature as an optional subject "without the condition of having the same at graduation level. The scope of the syllabus of optional paper is higher than the bachelor's degree but lower than the master's level.

Interview/Personality Test is of 275 Marks. Candidate can give preference of the language in which they may like to be interviewed. UPSC will make arrangement for the translators.

The total mark of the written examination is 1750 Marks.

The Interview/Personality Test will be of 275 marks.

The Grand Total 2025 Marks

Ias Exam Pattern 2018

The 2018 notification of UPSC did not specify any changes in the question and exam pattern. It announced a new section in their existing interview scheme. While carefully observing, the UPSC vacancies have been observed to decrease year on year and this year recorded the lowest vacancies compared to the previous years. The notification announced 782 vacancies which are 198 less than last year.

Upsc Exam Syllabus 2019

No change has come in the Upsc Exam Syllabus 2019. However a new category of reservation has been added of the economically week sections among the general category.

Civil Services Prelims exam pattern

UPSC Prelims Exam Pattern General Studies I General Studies II or CSAT

Number of questions



Negative Marking

Yes (1/3rd of the maximum marks for the question)

-0.66 marks for every incorrect answer

Yes (1/3rd of the maximum marks for the question)

-0.83 marks for every incorrect answer

Duration of exam

2 hours

2 hours

Language of exam



Maximum marks



Cut Off marks

Around 120 marks

33% qualifying criteria (66 marks)

Here is the new pattern of Civil Services mains examination:

Main Examination The written examination will consist of the following papers:

Paper A - Modern Indian language 300 Marks - Qualifying nature - Marks not counted - Passing mandatory

Paper B - English - 300 marks - Qualifying nature - Marks not counted- Passing mandatory


Essay - 250 Marks


General Studies-I 250 Marks (Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society)

General Studies -II: 250 Marks (Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations)


General Studies -III 250 Marks (Technology, Economic Development, Bio-diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management)


General Studies -IV 250 Marks (Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude)


Optional Subject - Paper I -250 Marks


Optional Subject - Paper II -250 Marks
Sub Total (Written test) 1800 Marks
Personality Test 275 Marks.
Grand Total 2075 Marks
{Candidates may choose any optional subject from amongst the list of subjects given in para 2 below (Group 1). However, a candidate can opt for the literatures of a language, indicated in Group-2 below para 2, as an optional subject, only if the candidate has graduated in the literature of that particular language as the main subject}.


(i) Marks obtained by the candidates for all papers (Paper I-VII) will be counted for merit ranking. However, the Commission will have the discretion to fix qualifying marks in any or all papers of the examination Aspirants can log on to UPSC's official website (www.upsc.gov.in) to see the detailed notification.