Civil Services Examination (CSE)

Civil Services Exam Pattern Details: – Union Public Service Commission’s (UPSC) conducts Civil Services Exam. Exam pattern details are given below…

Exam Pattern Details: –

Civil Services Exam Consists of 3 Stages.

  1. Preliminary Examination (objective-type questions), for the selection of candidates for Main Examination; and,
  2. Main Examination (written/descriptive-type questions), for the selection of candidates for Interview Test and,
  3. Interview Test (Personality Test), for the selection of candidates for the various services and posts.


  1. Preliminary Examination: – The Examination shall comprise two compulsory papers of 200 marks each.
  • General Studies, Paper l – is a paper on General Studies – 200 marks
  • General Studies, Paper ll – is a paper on Aptitude Test- 200 marks

(Popularly referred to as the Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT), the General Studies Paper-ll will be a qualifying paper with minimum qualifying marks fixed at 33%. This means that the marks secured in Paper ll will not determine the selection of the candidate or the marks secured will not be used for arriving at the cut-off. The cut-off will purely be determined by the marks secured in Paper l)


  1. The question papers will be set both in Hindi and English. However, questions relating to English Language Comprehension skills (in Paper ll) of Class X level will be tested through passages from English Language only without providing Hindi translation thereof in the question paper.
  2. Both the papers will carry 200 marks and will be 2 hours in duration. Blind candidates will however; be allowed an extra time of twenty minutes at each paper.
  3. Total Number of Questions asked in Paper I will be 100 and that in Paper ll will be 80.
  4. Only those candidates who are declared by the Commission to have qualified in the Preliminary Examination in the year will be eligible for admission to the Main Examination of that year provided they are otherwise eligible for admission, to the Main Examination.
  5. The Commission will draw a list of candidates to be qualified for Civil Service (Main) Examination based on the criterion of minimum qualifying marks of 33% in General Studies Paper ll of Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination and total qualifying marks of General Studies Paper-I of Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination as may be determined by the Commission.
  6. It is mandatory for the candidate to appear in both the Papers of Civil Services (Prelim) Examination for the purpose of evaluation. Therefore a candidate will be disqualified in case he/she does not appear in both the papers of Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination.
  7. There will be negative marking for incorrect answers (as detailed below) for all questions except some of the questions where the negative marking will be inbuilt in the form of different marks being awarded to the most appropriate and not so appropriate answer for such questions.
  8. 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.



The Main Examination is generally conducted in the month of December and spans over 5 days. It will comprise a total of nine papers (conventional essay type papers) of the following nature:

  • 2 papers of Non-Ranking type (the marks obtained by candidates in these papers will not be counted for determining the final order of merit). The two papers of non-ranking type will include:-
  • Paper — A: one paper of an Indian language to be selected by the candidate out of languages included in the Eighth Scheduled to the Constitution, and
  • Paper — B: the second paper of English, which is a compulsory language paper.

Note: – Both these papers will be 300 marks each and will be of a very simple nature (of matriculation or equivalent standard) and, in a way, will mentally prepare the candidate for writing the subsequent examination.

7 papers of Ranking type (marks obtained in these papers will be counted for merit). The seven papers of ranking type will be:

  • Paper I:- Essay
  • Four (4) papers of General Studies in the following manner:
  • Paper- II:- General Studies – I on Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society
  • Paper-III:- General Studies:- ll on Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations
  • Paper-IV:- General Studies:- Ill on Technology, Economic Development, Bio-diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management
  • Paper-V:- General Studies — IV on Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude
  • Paper VI & Paper VII: Two (2) papers in any one optional subject (candidates may choose any one optional subject from amongst the UPSC’s list of optional subjects in the Mains Examination).
  • For the optional papers in the Main Examination, UPSC has a list of about twenty-six subjects out of which any one subject has to be selected by the candidate.


  • All the question papers for the examination will be of conventional (essay)
  • The non-ranking (qualifying) paper on Indian Language will not, however, be compulsory for candidates hailing from the States of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Sikkim.
  • Both the papers of non ranking type will be 300 marks and for 3 hours duration each.
  • All the 7 papers of ranking type will be 250 marks and for 3 hours duration each.
  • Evaluation of the papers, namely, ‘Essay’, ‘All the papers of 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 of who attain such minimum standard as may be fixed by Commission at their discretion for the qualifying papers on ‘Indian Language’ and ‘English’.
  • Marks obtained for all the compulsory papers (only from Paper I to Paper VII above), i.e. 250 x 7 = 1750, will be considered for merit.
  • Candidates, who obtain such minimum qualifying marks in the written part of the Main Examination as may be fixed by the Commission at their discretion (subject to minimum 10% marks in each of the seven competitive paper as set for CSE 2014) shall be summoned by the commission for the interview round (or the Personality Test). The number of candidates to be summoned for interview will be about twice the number of vacancies to be filled.
  • Marks, thus obtained, for all the compulsory papers (1750) and marks obtained in Interview (out of 275) will be counted for final ranking. Candidates will be allotted to various services keeping in view their ranks in the examination and the preferences expressed by them for the various services and posts.
  • Candidates will have the option to answer all the question papers, except the Qualifying Language papers, Paper – A & Paper – B, in any of the languages included in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution of India or in English.
  • Candidates exercising the option to answer Papers in any one of the languages 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.
  • The question papers (other than the literature of language papers) will be set in Hindi and English only.



  • Interview or the Personality Test is the final lap of the Civil Services selection process. It carries 275 marks (with no minimum qualifying marks). Marks obtained by the candidates in the Main Examination (written examination) as well as interview would determine their final ranking. Candidates will be allotted to the various services keeping in view their ranks in the Examination and the preferences expressed by them for the various services and posts.
  • The candidate will be interviewed by a Board who will have before them a record of his career. He/she will be asked questions on matters of general interest. The object of the interview is to assess the personal suitability of the candidate for a career in public service by a Board of competent and unbiased observers. The test is intended to judge the mental calibre of a candidate. In broad terms this is really an assessment of not only his intellectual qualities but also social traits and his interest in current affairs. Some of the qualities to be judged are mental alertness, critical powers of assimilation, clear and logical exposition, balance of judgment, variety and depth of interest, ability for social cohesion and leadership, intellectual and moral integrity.
  • The technique of the interview is not that of a strict cross-examination but of a natural, though directed and purposive conversation which is intended to reveal the mental qualities of the candidate.
  • The interview test is not intended to be a test either of the specialized or general knowledge of the candidates which has been already tested through their written papers. Candidates are expected to have taken an intelligent interest not only in their special subjects of academic study but also in the events which are happening around them both within and outside their own State or Country as well as in modern currents of thought and in new discoveries which should rouse the curiosity of well educated youth.
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