UPSC Exam Pattern

The UPSC paper pattern is a set of prescribed details about the number of exams, marking scheme, question distribution, sectional weightage and the nature of each paper. The UPSC pattern is designed to test the academic excellence and abilities of aspirants. It also helps the candidates prepare for the exams better and in an organized way.

UPSC IAS Exam Pattern Highlights

IAS Paper Pattern

Name of the Exam


Prelims Exam Date

June 2, 2019
Main Exam Date

September 20, 2019

Exam Mode

Total Number of Vacancies


Official Website


  • 1/3rd of the allotted marks for each question will be deducted for every incorrect answer as negative marking. No penalty will be given on questions left unanswered.
  • The question paper is bilingual including Hindi and English.

The Civil Services exam pattern is divided in three phases according to the Preliminary stage, the Main stage and the Interview stage. Brief information about each is given as follows:

IAS Exam Pattern For Prelims

  • The Prelims stage of IAS comprises of two compulsory papers which test the analytical skills of the aspirants: General Ability Test (GAT) and Civil Service Aptitude Test (CSAT).
  • All questions are objective in nature wherein the candidates can choose any one answer from the four options available for each question.
  • The exams held under prelims are qualifying in nature and do not impact the merit score. However, one must score a minimum of 33% to sit for the main exams.
  • Aspirants who are visually impaired will be given extra 20 minutes to finish the papers.
  • It is mandatory for the candidates to appear for both the papers.

IAS Paper Pattern For Prelims

Exam Mode


Number of Papers

2 (GAT and CSAT)
Number of Questions

GAT – 100, CSAT – 80


2 Hours
Total Marks Allotted

400 (200 for each paper)

Nature of Exam

Objective (Multiple Choice Questions)
Exam Language

Hindi and English

Marking Scheme

Questions in GAT – 2 marks each

Questions in CSAT – 2.5 marks each


IAS Exam Pattern For Mains

  • The Main exams for IAS comprises nine papers which test the understanding of different subjects, intellect and interpersonal skills of the candidate.
  • The questions are a mix of objective and subjective in nature.
  • The exams held under mains include both qualifying (2) and merit papers (5 and 2 optional).
  • Aspirants who are visually impaired will be given extra 30 minutes to finish the papers.
  • It is mandatory for the candidate to appear for all the papers.
  • There are two optional papers which the candidates have to select.

Exam No.

Title of the Exam

Paper A

Compulsory Indian Language

Paper B

Paper 1

Essay Writing

Paper 2

General Studies I (Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society)
Paper 3

General Studies II (Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International Relations)

Paper 4

General Studies III (Technology, Economic Development, Bio-diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management)
Paper 5

General Studies IV (Ethnics, Integrity and Aptitude)

Paper 6

Optional Subject – Paper 1
Paper 7

Optional Subject – Paper 2


IAS Paper Pattern For Mains

Exam Mode


Number of Papers

9 (2 qualifying, 5 merit ranking, 2 optional)

3 Hours

Total Marks Allotted

Paper 1 and B – 300 marks each

Paper 1 to 7 – 250 marks each

Nature of Exam

Objective (Multiple Choice Questions) and Subjective
Exam Language

Hindi and English

Marking Scheme

Questions in Paper 1 to 7 – 2.5 marks each


IAS Exam Pattern For Personality Test

  • Those who clear the prelims and mains, move towards the Personality Test.
  • The Personality Test includes Psychometric test, Assessment Test and the Personal Interview, all designed to assess the personal suitability, mental caliber, social trials and general interests of the candidate.

IAS Paper Pattern For Personality Test

Exam Mode


Total Marks Allotted

Interview – 275 marks

Nature of Exam

Exam Language

Conducted in the language of candidate’s choice

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