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Exam Pattern

UPSC Exam Pattern 2021

UPSC Civil Services is one of India’s most coveted jobs that Indian citizens look out for. It has been one of the oldest and toughest exams to crack, especially for future aspirants who wish to serve the Nation. Every year UPSC conducts the IAS Civil Services Exam , which occurs in three phases. To crack this prestigious examination, an aspirant requires dedication and a proper understanding of the exam pattern. Every year around 11 lakh candidates apply for UPSC Civil Services, and only a few cracks it. Years of preparation and knowledge accumulation are required to ace this test. After that, each phase of the Civil Services Examination becomes an elimination round, so a candidate must have a thorough understanding of the examination. Having a clear understanding of the UPSC exam pattern can assist an aspirant in efficiently planning, managing time, and regulating their learning. It takes a considerable amount of time and dedication to get through an examination of this level.

Stagewise UPSC Exam Pattern 2021

Unlike the previous years of examinations conducted by UPSC, there have been no noteworthy changes in the exam pattern. Although any notification regarding changes in examination dates will be displayed on the official site:

The generalized Civil Services exam pattern and stages have been given below:

UPSC Prelims Examination

Stage 1 UPSC Prelims Examination
Stage 2 UPSC Mains Examination
Stage 3 Personality Test (Personal Interview)

Link for UPSC calendar:

UPSC facts and eligibility:

Stage 1: UPSC Prelims Examination

The preliminary stage has two phases, and it is comprised of 2 papers:

Phases Exams Pattern Questions Total Marks Duration
Paper 1 General Studies - I MCQ 100 200 2 hours
Paper 2 General Studies–II (CSAT) MCQ 80 200 2 hours
Total 400 4 hours

Key Insights for UPSC Prelims Exam:

  • Civil Services Preliminary Examination will consist of 2 papers that are GS-I and GS-II. Each exam will be for 2 hours, which will be conducted on the same day. A candidate is required to attempt both the papers to qualify for the mains examination.

  • For candidate feasibility, both the papers will be available in English and Hindi languages. General Studies-I tests a candidate based on their general awareness from a wide range of subjects. In contrast, General Studies-II, CSAT (Civil Services Aptitude Test), will test their aptitude, comprehension, and logical Abilities.

  • GS-I and GS-II will consist of multiple-choice questions, which will attract a negative marking of 1/3rd of the weightage of a question.

  • GS-I will assign Merit Ranks for the appeared candidates, and GS-II will be the qualifying paper or a screening test for the aspirants.

  • For a candidate to appear for Civil Services Mains Examination, they will require a minimum of 33% of total marks in the GS-II paper.

  • The marks scored in the preliminary stages are not included in the evaluation of the final score sheet.

Stage 2: UPSC Mains Examination

The Mains Examination comprises a certain number of stages. It has a total of 9 papers, and it can extend up to nine days of testing candidates; this is done based on their perseverance and learning that occur throughout their preparation period. This varies according to the caliber of an aspirant, and the details have been outlined below:

S.No Papers Total Marks Duration Significance
1 Indian Language (Compulsory) 300 3 hours Qualifying
2 English 300 3 hours Qualifying
3 Paper-I | Essay Writing 250 3 hours Allocation of Merit Rank
4 Paper-II | General Studies-I 250 3 hours Allocation of Merit Rank
5 Paper-II | General Studies-II 250 3 hours Allocation of Merit Rank
6 Paper-III | General Studies-III 250 3 hours Allocation of Merit Rank
7 Paper-IV | General Studies-IV 250 3 hours Allocation of Merit Rank
8 Optional-I 250 3 hours Allocation of Merit Rank
9 Optional-II 250 3 hours Allocation of Merit Rank
Total 1750   Allocation of Merit Rank

Key Insights for UPSC Mains Exam:

  • Civil Services Mains Examination is a written examination i.e. Subjective Type format, where candidates have to reproduce ideas and have a subjective approach to the questions provided.

  • The first two phases of the Mains Examinations are qualifying in nature, requiring candidates to achieve a certain number of points for their remaining seven papers to be evaluated.

  • Candidates are required to select the language of the first paper from the 8th Schedule of the Constitution.

  • The list of subjects for the respective papers, including optional subjects for all phases, can be referred from the list below:

General Studies- I General Studies- II General Studies- III General Studies- IV
Indian Heritage and Culture Governance Technology Ethics
History and Geography of the World Constitution Economic Development Integrity
Society Polity Bio-Diversity Aptitude
  Social Justice Environment  
  International Relations Security and Disaster Management  

Note: For the optional papers I & II, the candidate must select any one of the subjects from the following list:

Agriculture Civil Engineering Geology Mechanical Engineering Psychology
Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science Commerce and Accountancy History Medical Science Public Administration
Anthropology Economics Law Philosophy Sociology
Botany Electrical Engineering Management Physics Statistics
Chemistry Geography Mathematics Political Science and International Relations Zoology

Stage 3: UPSC Personality Test (Interview)

After going through rigorous examination phases, if the candidate cracks the UPSC Civil Services Mains Examination, they will appear for the final interview, which will be a personality test. Usually, the personal interview gets examined based on General Awareness, Personality Traits, Logical Answers, etc. The interview is taken up by a set of experienced UPSC board members. Joining UPSC Civil Services and becoming Prime Officers of this Nation has a glory of its own, but the veterans and expert panelists will look for specific skills and traits that gauge a candidate's capability to be worthy enough for the coveted ranks, some of which have been mentioned below:

  • Decision making capability

  • Stress management

  • General Alertness

  • Logical Reasoning

  • Unbiased observations

  • Depth of knowledge

Here is a link to the best UPSC Personality Test guidance from our toppers and faculties:

  • Strategy to Ace UPSC Personality Test By Shabbir Sir : Video link

  • UPSC Topper Gunjan Singh’s (AIR-16) Interview: Video link

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