UPSC CSE – Plan of Examination

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UPSC CSE – Plan of Examination

The Civil Services Examination consists of two successive stages (vide Appendix I Section-I)

  1. Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination (Objective type) for the selection of candidates for the Main Examination; and
  2. Civil Services (Main) Examination (Written and Interview) for the selection of candidates for the various Services and posts.

Candidates who are declared by the Commission to have qualified for admission to the Civil Services (Main) Examination have to apply online again, in the Detailed Application Form. The Main Examination is most likely held in October.

Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination

  • The Preliminary Examination consists of two papers of Objective type (multiple choice questions) and carry a maximum of 400 marks.
  • 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 is not counted for determining their final order of merit.
  • The number of candidates to be admitted to the Main Examination is about twelve to thirteen times the total approximate number of vacancies to be filled in the year through this examination.
  • Only those candidates who are declared by the Commission to have qualified in the Preliminary Examination in the year are eligible for admission to the Main Examination of that year provided they are otherwise eligible for admission, to the Main Examination.

Note I : The Commission draws a list of candidates to be qualified for Civil Services (Main) Examination based on the criterion of minimum qualifying marks of 33% in General Studies Paper-II of Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination and total qualifying marks of General Studies Paper-I of Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination as determined by the Commission.

Note II : There is negative marking for incorrect answers (as detailed below) for all questions except some of the questions where the negative marking is inbuilt in the form of different marks being awarded to the most appropriate and not so appropriate answer for such questions.

  1. 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 is deducted as penalty.
  2. If a candidate gives more than one answer, it is treated as a wrong answer even if one of the given answers happen to be correct and there is same penalty as above for that question.
  3. If a question is left blank i.e. no answer is given by the candidate, there is no penalty for that question.


Civil Services (Main) Examination

  • The Main Examination consists of written examination and an interview test.
  • The written examination consists of 9 papers of conventional essay type out of which two papers are of qualifying in nature.
  • Marks obtained for all the compulsory papers (Paper-I to Paper-VII) and Marks obtained in Interview for Personality Test is counted for ranking.
  • Candidates who obtain such minimum qualifying marks in the written part of the Main Examination as fixed by the Commission at their discretion, are summoned by them for an interview for a Personality Test.
  • The number of candidates to be summoned for interview is about twice of the number of vacancies to be filled.
  • The interview carries 275 marks (with no minimum qualifying marks).
  • Marks thus obtained by the candidates in the Main Examination (written part as well as interview) determines their final ranking.
  • Candidates are 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 written examination consists of the following papers :—

Qualifying Papers :

Paper-A (One of the Indian Language to be selected by the candidate from the Languages included in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution). 300 Marks
Paper-B English 300 Marks

List of Indian Language for Paper – A

Assamese Odia
Bengali Punjabi
Gujarati Sanskrit
Hindi Sindhi
Kannada Tamil
Kashmiri Telugu
Konkani Urdu
Malayalam Bodo
Manipuri Dogri
Marathi Maithilli
Nepali Santhali


Papers to be counted for merit

Paper-I – Essay 250 Marks
Paper-II – General Studies-I (Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society)  250 Marks
Paper-III – General Studies -II (Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations)  250 Marks
Paper-IV – General Studies -III (Technology, Economic Development, Bio-diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management)  250 Marks
Paper-V – General Studies -IV (Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude)  250 Marks
Paper-VI – Optional Subject – Paper 1  250 Marks
Paper-VII – Optional Subject – Paper 2  250 Marks
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.
  • 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.
  • 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 Éssay’, 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.
  • The paper A on Indian Language will not, however, be compulsory for candidates hailing from the States of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Sikkim.
  • The paper A on Indian Language will not, however, be compulsory for Candidates belonging to Persons with Benchmark Disability (only Hearing Impairment sub-category) provided that they have been granted such exemption from 2nd or 3rd language courses by the concerned education Board/University. The candidate needs to provide an undertaking/self declaration in this regard in order to claim such exemption to the Commission.
  • 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.


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