UPSC Exam Pattern

The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) issues an annual notification with the exam format. The UPSC exam is held once a year, and the IAS Exam has followed the same format since 2013.

The UPSC Civil Services Examination is often regarded as India’s most difficult exam. This reputation is partially a result of the fierce competition (nearly 11 lakh aspirants every year) and partly as a result of the extensive UPSC Syllabus (almost everything under the sun). Aside from that, the UPSC CSE exam design is fairly intricate, analytical, and demanding. A normal examination cycle lasts approximately a year from the preliminary exam to the announcement of the final results.

UPSC is a three-phased exam:
  1. Preliminary or Prelims or Pre,
  2. Mains, and
  3. Interview or Personality test.

Candidates will be able to plan their preparations more effectively if they have a thorough understanding of the exam pattern.

Candidates who pass the Prelims are eligible for the Mains, and those who pass the Mains go to the interview stage, according to the IAS exam pattern.

UPSC IAS Exam Pattern

Name of the examCivil Services Exam or UPSC or IAS exam
Conducting authorityUnion Public Service Commission
Mode of ExamOffline
Number of Stages3- Prelims, Mains, Interview
Number of papersPrelims: 2 Mains: 9
Prelims marking schemePaper 1: 100 questions, 2 marks each
Paper 2: 80 questions, 2.5 marks each

Negative marking: One-third of marks allotted to each question
DurationPrelims: 2 hours (Each paper)
Mains: 3 hours (Each paper)
Type of questionsPrelims: Objective type
Mains: Subjective type
PostVaries every year

One needs to qualify all rounds to be recommended to the services by the UPSC. Because each round is an elimination round, you must qualify for each one before proceeding to the next. Let us now go over the UPSC Exam Pattern 2022, as well as the marking structure for each of the papers in the various rounds.

IAS Prelims Exam Pattern

The UPSC IAS prelims exam consists of two papers both are objective type multiple choice questions exam. It consists of Paper – I (General Studies) and Paper-II (Aptitude Test). Candidates who qualify for this stage are considered for the next stage, which is the Main examination.

SubjectExam TypeNo. of QuestionsMarksExam DurationNegative markingNature
Paper I- General StudiesObjective1002002 Hours1/3rdMerit
Paper II- Aptitude Test (CSAT)Objective802002 Hours1/3rdQualifying

IAS Mains Exam Pattern 2022

The UPSC IAS Mains exam consists of a compulsory Indian language, English paper, Essay, four General Studies papers and two Optional subject papers. Take a look at the UPSC Mains exam pattern in the table below.

PaperSubjectDurationTotal marksTime AllottedNature of paper
Paper ACompulsory Indian language3 hours3003 hoursQualifying
Paper BEnglish3 hours3003 hoursQualifying
Paper IEssay3 hours2503 hoursMerit-based
Paper-IIGeneral Studies I3 hours2503 hoursMerit-based
Paper IIIGeneral Studies II3 hours2503 hoursMerit-based
Paper IVGeneral Studies III3 hours2503 hoursMerit-based
Paper VGeneral Studies IV3 hours2503 hoursMerit-based
Paper VIOptional I3 hours2503 hoursMerit-based
Paper VIIOptional II3 hours2503 hoursMerit-based

UPSC Interview Process

The UPSC IAS exam will conclude with a personal interview. The candidates who pass the Mains examination will be summoned for an interview. The interview consists of 275 marks which makes the grand total of maximum marks 2025. Some of the qualities that the board assesses in a candidate are:

  • Mental acuity
  • Critical thinking
  • Analytical thinking
  • Risk assessment skills
  • Crisis management skills
  • Ability to become a leader
  • Intellectual and moral integrity

The final selection is based on the candidate’s performance in UPSC Mains and UPSC interviews


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