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UPSC Mains Question Paper

Insight into the UPSC's testing pattern for the Civil Services exam can be ascertained by going through the previous year's question papers. We have got for you the actual IAS question papers for the Mains exams.




IAS Mains GS Question Papers

Breakup of Mains Exam Question Papers

Papers Qualifying in Nature

Paper-A (One of the Indian Language to be selected by the candidate from the Languages included in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution). 300 Marks
Paper-B English 300 Marks

Papers to be counted for merit

Paper-I Essay 250 Marks

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

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

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

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

Paper-VI Optional Subject - Paper 1 250 Marks

Paper-VII Optional Subject - Paper 2 250 Marks


Sub Total (Written test) 1750 Marks
Personality Test 275 Marks
Grand Total 2025 Marks


Note: Candidates may choose any one of the optional subjects from amongst the list of subjects given below.



About the Question Papers in the UPSC exam

  1. The papers on Indian languages and English (Paper A and paper B) will be of Matriculation or equivalent standard and will be of qualifying nature. The marks obtained in these papers will not be counted for ranking.

  2. Evaluation of the papers, namely, 'Essay', 'General Studies' and Optional Subject of all the candidates would be done simultaneously along with evaluation of their qualifying papers on 'Indian Languages' and 'English' but the papers on Essay, General Studies and Optional Subject of only such candidates will be taken cognizance who attain 25% marks in 'Indian Language' and 25% in English as minimum qualifying standards in these qualifying papers.

  3. The paper A on Indian Language will not, however, be compulsory for candidates hailing from the States of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Sikkim.

  4. The paper A on Indian Language will not, however, be compulsory for Candidates belonging to Persons with Benchmark Disabilities (only Hearing Impairment sub-category) provided that they have been granted such exemption from 2nd or 3rd language courses by the concerned education Board/University. The candidate needs to provide an undertaking/self declaration in this regard in order to claim such an exemption to the Commission.

  5. Marks obtained by the candidates for the Paper I-VII only will be counted for merit ranking. However, the Commission will have the discretion to fix qualifying marks in any or all of these papers.

  6. For the Language medium/literature of languages, the scripts to be used by the candidates will be as under :-

    Language Script
    AssameseAssamese
    BengaliBengali
    GujaratiGujarati
    HindiDevanagari
    KannadaKannada
    KashmiriPersian
    KonkaniDevanagari
    MalayalamMalayalam
    ManipuriBengali
    MarathiDevanagari
    NepaliDevanagari
    OdiaOdia
    PunjabiGurumukhi
    SanskritDevanagari
    SindhiDevanagari or Arabic
    TamilTamil
    Telugu Telugu
    Urdu Persian
    BodoDevanagari
    DogriDevanagari
    MaithilliDevanagari
    SanthaliDevanagari or Olchiki

    Note : For Santhali language, question paper will be printed in Devanagari script; but candidates will be free to answer either in Devanagari script or in Olchiki.

    Assamese, Bengali, Bodo, Dogri, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Maithili, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Odia, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Santhali, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu and English.

Instructions for Question papers and Answer writing

  1. The question papers for the examination will be of conventional (essay) type.

  2. Each paper will be of three hours duration.

  3. Candidates will have the option to answer all the question papers, except the Qualifying Language Papers, Paper-A and Paper-B, in any one of the languages included in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution of India or in English. Notwithstanding this, the Candidate will have the choice to write the Optional Papers in English also if candidates opt to write Paper I-V except the Qualifying Language Papers, Paper-A and Paper-B, in any one of the language included in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution of India.

  4. Candidates exercising the option to answer Papers in any one of the languages included in the Eight Schedule to the Constitution of India mentioned above may, if they so desire, give English version within brackets of only the description of the technical terms, if any, in addition to the version in the language opted by them. Candidates should, however, note that if they misuse the above rule, a deduction will be made on this account from the total marks otherwise accruing to them and in extreme cases; their script(s) will not be valued for being in an unauthorized medium.

  5. Candidates should note that if any irrelevant matter/signages/marks etc. are found written in the answer script(s), which would not be related to any question/answer and/or would be having the potential to disclose the candidate's identity, the Commission will impose a penalty of deduction of marks from the total marks otherwise accruing to the candidate or will not evaluate the said script(s) on this account. (vi) The question papers (other than the literature of language papers) will be set in Hindi and English only.

  6. The details of the syllabi are set out in Part B of Section III.

  7. Candidates will have the option to answer all the question papers, except the Qualifying Language Papers, Paper-A and Paper-B, in any one of the languages included in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution of India or in English. Notwithstanding this, the Candidate will have the choice to write the Optional Papers in English also if candidates opt to write Paper I-V except the Qualifying Language Papers, Paper-A and Paper-B, in any one of the language included in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution of India.

  8. Candidates exercising the option to answer Papers in any one of the languages included in the Eight Schedule to the Constitution of India mentioned above may, if they so desire, give English version within brackets of only the description of the technical terms, if any, in addition to the version in the language opted by them. Candidates should, however, note that if they misuse the above rule, a deduction will be made on this account from the total marks otherwise accruing to them and in extreme cases; their script(s) will not be valued for being in an unauthorized medium.

  9. Candidates should note that if any irrelevant matter/signages/marks etc. are found written in the answer script(s), which would not be related to any question/answer and/or would be having the potential to disclose the candidate's identity, the Commission will impose a penalty of deduction of marks from the total marks otherwise accruing to the candidate or will not evaluate the said script(s) on this account.

  10. The question papers (other than the literature of language papers) will be set in Hindi and English only.

  11. The details of the syllabi are set out in Part B of Section III.

General Instructions (Preliminary as well as Main Examination) :

  1. Candidates must write the papers in their own hand. In no circumstances will they be allowed the help of a scribe to write the answers for them. The Persons with Benchmark Disabilities in the categories of blindness, locomotor disability (both arm affected - BA) and cerebral palsy will be provided the facility of scribe, if desired by the person. In case of other category of Persons with Benchmark Disabilities as defined under section 2(r) of the RPWD Act, 2016, the facility of scribe will be allowed to such candidates on production of a certificate to the effect that the person concerned has physical limitation to write, and scribe is essential to write examination on behalf, from the Chief Medical Officer/ Civil Surgeon/ Medical Superintendent of a Government Health Care institution as per proforma at Appendix - V.

  2. The candidates have discretion of opting for his/her own scribe or request the Commission for the same. The details of scribe i.e. whether own or the Commission's and the details of scribe in case candidates are bringing their own scribe, will be sought at the time of filling up the application form online as per proforma at Appendix - VI.

  3. The qualification of the Commission's scribe as well as own scribe will not be more than the minimum qualification criteria of the examination. However, the qualification of the scribe should always be matriculate or above.

  4. The Persons with Benchmark Disabilities in the category of blindness, locomotor disability (both arm affected - BA) and cerebral palsy will be allowed Compensatory Time of twenty minutes per hour of the examination. In case of other categories of Persons with Benchmark Disabilities, this facility will be provided on production of a certificate to the effect that the person concerned has physical limitation to write from the Chief Medical Officer/ Civil Surgeon/ Medical Superintendent of a Government Health Care institution as per proforma at Appendix - V. Officer/ Civil Surgeon/ Medical Superintendent of a Government Health Care institution as per proforma at Appendix - V.

    Note (1) : The eligibility conditions of a scribe, his/her conduct inside the examination hall and the manner in which and extent to which he/she can help the PwBD candidate in writing the Civil Services Examination shall be governed by the instructions issued by the UPSC in this regard. Violation of all or any of the said instructions shall entail the cancellation of the candidature of the PwBD candidate in addition to any other action that the UPSC may take against the scribe.

    Note (2) : The criteria for determining the percentage of visual impairment shall be as follows :-

    Better eye Best Corrected Worse eye Best Corrected Per Cent Impairment Disability Category
    6/6 to 6/18 6/6 to 6/18 0% 0
    6/24 to 6/60 10% 0
    Less than 6/60 to 3/60 20% I
    Less than 3/60 to No Light Perception 30% II (One eyed person)
    6/24 to 6/60 Or Visual field less than 40 up to 20 degree around centre of fixation or heminaopia involving macula 6/24 to 6/60 40% III a (low vision)
    Less than 6/60 to 3/60 50% III b (low vision)
    Less than 3/60 to No Light Perception 60% III c (low vision)
    Less than 6/60 to 3/60 Or Visual field less than 20 up to 10 degree around centre of fixation Less than 6/60 to 3/60 70% III d (low vision)
    Less than 3/60 to No Light Perception 80% III e (low vision)
    Less than 3/60 to 1/60 Or Visual field less than 10 degree around centre of fixation Less than 3/60 to No Light Perception 90% IV a (Blindness)
    Only HMCF Only Light Perception Only HMCF Only Light Perception 100% IV b (Blindness)
    No Light Perception No Light Perception

    Note (3) : The concession admissible to blind/low vision candidates shall not be admissible to those suffering from Myopia.

  5. The Commission has discretion to fix qualifying marks in any or all the subjects of the examination.

  6. Marks will not be allotted for mere superficial knowledge.

  7. Credit will be given for orderly, effective and exact expression combined with due economy of words in all subjects of the examination.

  8. In the question papers, wherever required, SI units will be used.

  9. Candidates should use only International form of Indian numerals (i.e. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 etc.) while answering question papers.

  10. Candidates will be allowed the use of Scientific (Non-Programmable type) Calculators at the conventional (Essay) type examination of UPSC. Programmable type calculators will however not be allowed and the use of such calculators shall tantamount to resorting to unfair means by the candidates. Loaning or interchanging of calculators in the Examination Hall is not permitted. It is also important to note that candidates are not permitted to use calculators for answering objective type papers (Test Booklets). They should not therefore bring the same inside the Examination Hall.

Subject Wise UPSC Mains Question Papers