The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) conducts the Civil Services Exam all across India every year. Nearly a thousand candidates are selected after a three stage examination, considered to be one of the toughest in India. The selected candidates are deputed to serve in various wings of the administration in Central and State Governments.

Who are eligible to appear for the Civils Services Exam?

Aspirants must be 21 years of age, and should have completed their graduation

Category Age Limit Max. no. of Attempts
General 21 - 30 Years + 2 Years 4 Attempts +2 Attempts
OBC 21 - 33 Years + 2 Years 7 Attempts + 2 Attempts
SC/ST 21 – 35 Years + 2 Years Unlimited

* UPSC has relaxed age limit by 2 years and permitted 2 additional attempts from 2014

What is the format of the Civil Services Exam?

The UPSC conducts Civil Services Exam every year. It has three stages: Preliminary Examination (General Studies and General Aptitude), Mains, and interview. To qualify, aspirants have to pass all the three stages of the examination in the same recruitment year.




The competitive examinations comprises to successive stages:

Stage – I Prelims: (Objective)

  • Civils Services (Preliminary) Examinations (Objective Type) for the selection of candidates for Main Examination.
  • The Prelims examination will consists of two papers of objective type (Multiple choice question). This Examination is meant to serve as a screening test only; the marks obtained in the Preliminary Examination by the candidates who are declared qualified for admission to the Main Examination will not be counted for determining their final order of merit.

Note 1: The commission will draw a list of candidates to be qualified for Civil Service (main) Examination based on the total qualifying marks as may be determined by the Commission, of the two papers put together.

Note 2: There will be negative marking for incorrect answers. (as detailed below)

  • There are four alternatives for the answers to every question. For each question for which a wrong answer has been given by the candidate, one-third (0.33) of the marks assigned to that question will be deducted as penalty.
  • If a candidate gives more than one answer, it will be treated as a wrong answer even if one of the given answers happens to be correct. There will be same penalty as above for that question.
  • If a question is left blank, i.e. no answer is given by the candidate; there will be no penalty for that question.

Stage – II: Main Examination:

The written Examinations consist of the following Papers.

Qualifying Papers:


(One of the Indian Languages to be selected by the candidate from the Languages included in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution)                                                                                                                                                                      300 Marks


English                                                                                                                                                                                  300 Marks


Paper - I

Essay                                                                                                                                                                            250 Marks


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

Stage – III: Interview 275 Marks

Successful candidates in the mains exam will be called for personality test at Delhi by the UPSC in the ratio of 1:2. Final ranking and service will be allotted to the candidates based on their marks in mains exam and interview.

Total Marks based on which the rank will be decided                                                                           2025 Marks



The Examination shall comprise of two compulsory papers of 200 marks each.

  • Both question papers will be of the objective type
  • Each paper will be of two hours duration

Paper I - (200 marks) Duration: Two hours

  • Current events of national and international importance.
  • History of India and Indian National Movement.
  • Indian and World Geography - Physical, Social, Economic Geography of India and the World.
  • Indian Polity and Governance - Constitution, Political System, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights Issues, etc.
  • Economic and Social Development Sustainable Development, Poverty, Inclusion, Demographics, Social Sector initiatives, etc.
  • General issues on Environmental Ecology, Bio-diversity and Climate Change - that do not require subject specialization.
  • General Science.

Paper II- (200 marks) Duration: Two hours

  • Comprehension
  • Interpersonal skills including communication skills.
  • Logical reasoning and analytical ability;
  • Decision-making and problem-solving;
  • General mental ability
  • Basic numeracy (numbers and their relations, orders of magnitude, etc.) (Class X level), Data interpretation (charts, graphs, tables, data sufficiency etc. - Class X level)
  • English Language Comprehension skills (Class X level).

Note 1: Questions relating to English Language Comprehension skills of Class X level (last item in the Syllabus of Paper II) will be tested through passages from English language only without providing Hindi translation thereof in the question paper.

Note 2: The questions will be of multiple choice, objective type.

Note 3: It is mandatory of candidate to appear in the both the papers in the Civil services (Prelim Examination) for the purpose of evaluation.


The main Examination is intended to assess the overall intellectual traits and depth of understanding of candidates than merely the range of their information and memory.

The nature and standard of questions in the General Studies papers (Paper II to Paper V) will be such that a well-educated person will be able to answer them without any specialized study. The questions will be such as to test a candidate's general awareness of a variety of subjects, which will have relevance for a career in Civil Services. The questions are likely to test the candidate's basic understanding of all relevant issues, and ability to analyze, and take a view on conflicting socio-economic goals, objectives and demands. The candidates must give relevant, meaningful and succinct answers.

The scope of the syllabus for optional subject papers (Paper VI and Paper VII) for the examination is broadly of the honors’ degree level i.e. a level higher than the bachelors' Degree and lower than the masters' degree.

In the case of Engineering, Medical Science and law, the level corresponds to the bachelors' degree.

Syllabi of the papers included in the scheme of Civil Services (Main) Examination are given as follows:-

Qualifying Papers on Indian languages and English

The aim of the paper is to test the candidate ability to read and understand serious discursive prose and to express his ideas clearly & correctly in English and Indian language concerned.

The pattern of questions will be broadly as follows:

  1. Comprehension of given passage
  2. Précis writing
  3. Usage and Vocabulary
  4. Short Essay

Indian languages:

  1. Comprehension of given passage
  2. Précis writing
  3. Usage and Vocabulary
  4. Short Essay
  5. Translation from English to Indian Languages and vice-versa.

Note 1:  The papers on Indian Languages and English will be of Matriculation or equivalent standard and will be of qualifying nature only. The marks obtained in these papers will not be counted for ranking.

Note 2: The candidates will have to answer the English and Indian Languages papers in English and the respective Indian Languages (Except where translation is involved)


Essay: Candidates will be required to write an essay on a specific topic. The choice of subjects will be given. They will be expected to keep closely to the subject of the essay to arrange their ideas in orderly fashion, and to write concisely. Credit will be given for effective and exact expression.


General Studies- I: Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society.

     Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

     Modern Indian History from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues.

     The Freedom Struggle - its various stages and important contributors /contributions from different parts of the country.

     Post-independence consolidation and reorganization within the country.

       History of the world will include events from 18th century such as Industrial Revolution, World Wars, Redrawal of National Boundaries, Colonization, Decolonization, Political Philosophies like Communism, Capitalism, Socialism etc.- their forms and effect on the society.

       Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India.

       Role of women and women's organization, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.

       Effects of Globalization on Indian society

       Social Empowerment, Communalism, Regionalism & Secularism.

       Salient features of World's Physical Geography.

       Distribution of key natural resources across the world (including South Asia and the Indian sub-continent); factors responsible for the location of primary, secondary, and tertiary sector industries in various parts of the world (including India)

       Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc., geographical features and their location-changes in critical geographical features (including water-bodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes.


General Studies- II: Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International Relations.

       Indian Constitution, Historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.

       Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein.

       Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.

       Comparison of the Indian constitutional scheme with that of other countries

       Parliament and State Legislatures - structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.

       Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary - Ministries and Departments of the Government; pressure groups and formal/informal associations and their role in the Polity.

       Salient features of the Representation of People's Act.

       Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies.

       Statutory, regulatory and various  quasi-judicial  bodies

       Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

       Development processes and the development industry- the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders

       Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

       Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

       Issues relating to poverty and hunger.

       Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.

       Role of Civil Services in a Democracy.

       India and its neighborhood-relations.

       Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India's interests

       Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India's interests, Indian Diaspora.

       Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate.


General Studies-III: Technology, Economic Development, Bio diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management.

       Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

       Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.

       Government Budgeting.

       Major crops-cropping patterns in various parts of the country, different types of irrigation and irrigation systems storage, transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints; e-technology in the aid of farmers

       Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices; Public Distribution System- objectives, functioning, limitations, revamping; issues of buffer stocks and food security; Technology missions; economics of animal-rearing.

       Food processing and related industries in India- scope and significance, location, upstream and downstream requirements, supply chain management.

       Land reforms in India.

       Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth.

       Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

       Investment models.

       Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life

       Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.

       Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

       Conservation, Environmental Pollution and Degradation, Environmental Impact Assessment

       Disaster and Disaster Management.

       Linkages between Development and Spread of Extremism.

       Role of external state and non-state actors in creating challenges to internal security.

       Challenges to internal security through communication networks, role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges, basics of cyber security; money-laundering and its prevention

       Security challenges and their  management in border areas; linkages of organized crime with terrorism

       Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate


General Studies- IV: Ethics, Integrity, and Aptitude

(This paper will include questions to test the candidates' attitude and approach to issues relating to integrity, probity in public life and his problem solving approach to various issues and conflicts faced by him in dealing with society. Questions may utilise the case study approach to determine these aspects.)

 The following broad areas will be covered.

       Ethics and Human Interface: Essence, determinants and consequences of Ethics in human actions; dimensions of ethics; ethics in private and public relationships. Human Values-lessons from the lives and teachings of great leaders, reformers and  administrators; role of family, society and educational institutions in inculcating values.

       Attitude: content, structure, function; its influence and relation with thought and behavior; moral and political attitudes; social influence and persuasion.

       Aptitude and foundational values for Civil Service, integrity, impartiality and non-partisanship, objectivity, dedication to public service, empathy, tolerance and compassion towards the weaker-sections.

       Emotional intelligence-concepts, and their utilities and application in administration and governance.

       Contributions of moral thinkers and philosophers from India and world.

       Public/Civil service values and Ethics in Public administration: Status and problems; ethical concerns and dilemmas in government and private institutions; laws, rules, regulations and conscience as sources of ethical guidance; accountability and ethical governance; strengthening of ethical and moral values in governance; ethical issues in international relations and funding; corporate governance.

       Probity in Governance: Concept of public service; Philosophical basis of governance and probity; Information sharing and transparency in government, Right to Information, Codes of Ethics, Codes of Conduct, Citizen's Charters, Work culture, Quality of service delivery, Utilization of public funds, challenges of corruption.

       Case Studies on above issues.


Optional Subject Papers I & II

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

(i)     Agriculture                                              (ii)    Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science

(iii) Anthropology                                           (iv)    Botany

(v)     Chemistry                                               (vi)    Civil Engineering

(vii)     Commerce and Accountancy           (viii)    Economics

(ix)     Electrical Engineering                        (x)    Geography

(xi)     Geology                                                  (xii)    History

(xiii)     Law                                                       (xiv)    Management

(xv)      Mathematics                                       (xvi)    Mechanical Engineering

(xvii)    Medical Sciences                               (xviii)    Philosophy

(xix)      Physics                                                (xx)    Political Science and International Relations

(xxi)       Psychology                                         (xxii)    Public Administration

(xxiii)   Sociology                                             (xxiv)    Statistics

(xxv)    Zoology                                                (xxvi)   Literature of any one of the following languages:

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


  • The question papers for the examination will be of conventional (essay) type.
  • Each paper will be three hours duration.