UPSC - Civil Services Examination: Exam Pattern, Syllabus, Application Procedure, Fee

UPSC - Civil Services Examination: Exam Pattern, Syllabus, application procedure, fee

UPSC Civil Services Examination is much sought after exam among the youth who wish to serve the nation. Civil Servants are high rank government officials in India. Lakhs of students appear for the Civil Services Exam every year, which is conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). Here's the much needed information about UPSC Civil Services Exam, which help the IAS aspirants who dream to be called as IAS Officers.

UPSC civil services consist of following services namely:

  1. Indian Administrative Service.
  2. Indian Foreign Service.
  3. Indian Police Service.
  4. Indian P & T Accounts & Finance Service, Group ‘A’.
  5. Indian Audit and Accounts Service, Group ‘A’.
  6. Indian Revenue Service (Customs and Central Excise), Group ‘A’.
  7. Indian Defence Accounts Service, Group ‘A’.
  8. Indian Revenue Service (I.T.), Group ‘A’.
  9. Indian Ordnance Factories Service, Group ‘A’ (Assistant Works Manager, Administration).
  10. Indian Postal Service, Group ‘A’.
  11. Indian Civil Accounts Service, Group ‘A’.
  12. Indian Railway Traffic Service, Group ‘A’.
  13. Indian Railway Accounts Service, Group 'A'.
  14. Indian Railway Personnel Service, Group ‘A’.
  15. Post of Assistant Security Commissioner in Railway Protection Force, Group ‘A’
  16. Indian Defence Estates Service, Group ‘A’.
  17. Indian Information Service (Junior Grade), Group ‘A’.
  18. Indian Trade Service, Group 'A'.
  19. Indian Corporate Law Service, Group "A".
  20. Armed Forces Headquarters Civil Service, Group ‘B’ (Section Officer’s Grade).
  21. Delhi, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli Civil Service, Group 'B'.
  22. Delhi, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli Police Service, Group 'B'.
  23. Pondicherry Civil Service, Group 'B'.
  24. Pondicherry Police Service, Group ‘B

Tentative Schedule for Civil Services examination 2019:

The UPSC Calendar/Schedule for the Civil Service Examination contains the notification date, last date to submit the application and dates of Prelims, Mains and Personal Interview. UPSC releases the notification for civil services at least 6 months prior to exam date, which help students to design their preparation according to that. The details of UPSC Notification for civil services are as follows.



Last date to apply


ISA Prelims exam


Main Exam


Personal Interview


Final result

January 2020


UPSC Exam Pattern for Civil Services

The Civil Services Exam is directed by the UPSC every year and the exam is held in three stages and they are:

Stage I:  Preliminary Examination

Stage II: Main Examination

Stage III:Personal Interview Round

Stage I – UPSC Civil Services - Preliminary Exam

The first stage of the Civil Services Exam is Preliminary Exam, which is a screening test for candidates.

  1. The Exam has two compulsory Papers with 200 marks for each paper.
  2. Both the question papers will be of the objective type (MCQs)
  3. The General Studies Paper-II of the Civil Services Examination (Preliminary) will be a qualifying paper with minimum qualifying marks fixed at 33%.
  4. The question papers will be given both in Hindi and English.
  5. Each paper will be of two hours duration.

S. No

Name of the Paper

Nature of the paper

Duration of the exam




Paper – I : General Studies


2 Hours


200 Marks


Paper – II : General Studies


2 Hours


200 Marks


400 marks

Those who are declared as qualified in Preliminary have to apply for Mains Exam again.

Stage II – UPSC Civil Services Main Exam

The written examination of UPSC Civil Services Exam - Main consists of the following papers:

S. No


Name of the Paper

Nature of the Paper

Duration of the Exam



Paper– A

Compulsory Indian Language

Qualifying Papers

3 Hours

300 marks


Paper– B


3 Hours

300 Marks


Paper -I


Papers to be counted for merit

3 Hours

250 Marks


Paper -II


3 Hours

250 Marks




3 Hours

250 Marks




3 Hours

250 Marks


Paper -V


3 Hours

250 Marks




3 Hours

250 Marks




3 Hours

250 Marks






Interview or Personality test




Grand Total




Sub Total (Written test) 1750 Marks

Personality Test 275 Marks

Grand Total 2025 Marks

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

  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. 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.

List of optional subjects for UPSC Civil Services - Main Examination: (For Papers VI & VII)

  1. Agriculture
  2. Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science
  3. Anthropology
  4. Botany
  5. Chemistry
  6. Civil Engineering
  7. Commerce and Accountancy
  8. Economics
  9. Electrical Engineering
  10. Geography
  11. Geology
  12. History
  13. Law
  14. Management
  15. Mathematics
  16. Mechanical Engineering
  17. Medical Science
  18. Philosophy
  19. Physics
  20. Political Science and International Relations
  21. Psychology
  22. Public Administration
  23. Sociology
  24. Statistics
  25. Zoology
  26. Literature of any one of the following languages: Assamese, Bengali, Bodo, Dogri, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Maithili, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Odia, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Santhali, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu and English.
  • The question papers for the examination will be of conventional (essay) type.
  • Each paper will be of three hours duration.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Those who are qualified in Mains exam will be sent an e-summon letter by UPSC, calling them for personal interview.

Stage III - Personal Interview with the UPSC BOARD

Applicants who clear the Civil Services Main Exam with the cut off marks will be eligible for the last phase of the exam i.e., the Personal Interview round with the UPSC Board Members. The applicants who qualify the Mains will be sent an e-summon letter by the commission for face to face discussion with the board individuals. In this round the board evaluates the qualities of the students and questions will be asked on their hobbies, current issues, general knowledge, and situational questions and so on. The last round that is the Personal Interview round will be held just in the UPSC Bhavan in New Delhi.

UPSC Civil Services – Eligibility

  • For the Indian Administrative Service and the Indian Police Service, a candidate must be a citizen of India.
  • For other services, a candidate must be either;
    • a citizen of India, or
    • a subject of Nepal, or
    • a subject of Bhutan, or
    • a Tibetan refugee who came over to India before 1st January, 1962 with the intention of permanently settling in India.
  • Age: A candidate must have attained the age of 21 years and must not have attained the age of 32 years on the 1st of August, 2019 i.e., he must have been born not earlier than 2nd August, 1987 and not later than 1st August, 1998.
  • Minimum Educational Qualifications: The candidate must hold a degree of any of Universities incorporated by an Act of the Central or State Legislature in India or other educational institutions established by an Act of Parliament or declared to be deemed as a University Under Section-3 of the University Grants Commission Act, 1956, or possess an equivalent qualification.
  • Number of attempts: Every candidate appearing at the examination shall be permitted six attempts at the examination
  • The number of attempts permissible to candidates belonging to Other Backward Classes, who are otherwise eligible, shall be nine
  • Restriction on the number of attempts will not apply in the case of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes candidates who are otherwise eligible
  • An attempt at a Preliminary Examination shall be deemed to be an attempt at the Civil Services Examination.
  • If a candidate actually appears in any one paper in the Preliminary Examination, he/she shall be deemed to have made an attempt at the Examination.

UPSC Civil Services Online Application Procedure and Fee details

  • Candidates are required to apply online using the website Detailed instructions for filling up online applications are available on the above mentioned website. The applicants are advised to submit only single application.
  • Candidates (excepting Female/SC/ST/Persons with Benchmark Disability Candidates who are exempted from payment of fee) are required to pay fee of Rs. 100/- (Rupees One Hundred only) either by remitting the money in any Branch of State Bank of India or by using Visa/Master/RuPay Credit/Debit Card or by using Internet Banking of SBI.
  • Applicants who opt for "Pay by Cash" mode should print the system generated Pay-in-slip during part II registration and deposit the fee at the counter of SBI Branch on the next working day only. "Pay by Cash” mode will be deactivated at 23.59 hours of the day before the closing date; however applicants who have generated their Pay-in- Slip before it is deactivated may pay at the counter of SBI Branch during banking hours on the closing date. Such applicants who are unable to pay by cash on the closing date i.e during banking hours at SBI Branch, for reasons whatsoever, even if holding valid pay-in-slip will have no other offline option but to opt for available online Debit/Credit Card or Internet Banking payment mode on the closing date i.e. till 18:00 Hours of 06.03.2018.
  • Fee once paid shall not be refunded under any circumstances nor can the fee be held in reserve for any other examination or selection.
  • If any candidate who took the Civil Services Examination held in 2018 wishes to apply for admission to this examination, he/she must submit his/her application without waiting for the results or an offer of appointment.
  • Candidates admitted to the Main Examination will be required to pay a further fee of Rs. 200/- (Rupees Two hundreds only).

Tips for Preparation of Civil Services

Guides, faculty or subject experts insist that before starting the Civil Services Exam Preparation, it is necessary for every aspirant to know and understand the complete Exam Pattern and Syllabus of UPSC.

  • Go through the complete notification of UPSC to know clearly about the UPSC Civil Services Examination pattern and syllabus.
  • Next step is to sketch a perfect preparation strategy, a perfect time schedule for studying each subject and revising it again.
  • Choosing best study material is another task, as there are numbers of books available in the market, the secret of success lies in choosing best books.
  • Having good study material is important, but it is more important to get proper coaching and expert guidance for difficult subjects. Hence, choosing best coaching centre and expert faculty for each subject is also key aspect in IAS Exam Preparation.
  • It is good practice to revise the lectures given in coaching centres on the same day. Some students wait till the entire syllabus is covered and then start revising, which is time consuming and less effective. Much priority is needed for revising the lessons on the same day they are taught.
  • Repeated Mock-tests keep an aspirant in pace with the content. Attempting previous papers and solving mock tests give a candidate much needed practice before the exam.
  • Gathering current affairs through prominent newspapers and magazines, following news bulletins in reputed TV news channels and all India radio, reading articles of subject experts should be regular practice for a civil services aspirant.
  • Maintaining proper food habits, regular physical exercises and planned daily routine results in healthy body and mind. Sound health is mandatory for any student who appears for competitive exams.

UPSC Civil Services Syllabus

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