UPSC & Govt Jobs

Scheme of Exam & Syllabus

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    Sep 06, 2017
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Scheme of Exam & Syllabus


The Indian Civil Services examination is conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) every year. The examination schedule is announced during January - February after which the selection is done in 3 stages. Candidates are filtered at every stage through a process of elimination.

The competitive examination comprises of three successive stages :

  • Civil Services - Preliminary Examination - Objective Type (Qualifier)
  • Civil Services - Main Examination - Written Test
  • Interview / Personality Test

The Prelims are held in May-June and the results are announced in July-August. The Main examination is held in October-November and the candidates who qualify at this stage are invited to the interview in March-April next. The final recruitment and posting of candidates depends on their ranking and the available vacancies for different posts to be filled during that particular year.

Students need to first apply for the Preliminary Examination only. Candidates who are declared by the Commission to have qualified for admission to the Main Examination will have to apply again, in the Detailed Application Form which would be supplied to them.


Preliminary Examination

The Preliminary Examination will consist 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.

  • 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.
  • The marks obtained in the Preliminary Examination 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.
  • The number of candidates to be admitted to the Main Examination will be about twelve to thirteen times the total approximate number of vacancies to be filled in the year for various Services and Posts.


  • Announcement / Notification - March
  • Last date for the receipt of applications - The Online Applications can be filled up to April after which the link will be disabled.
  • Examination Date - May
  • Results - Only the candidates who qualify in the Preliminary Examination would be sent the detailed application form to apply for the Main Examination.


  • The Preliminary Examination shall comprise two compulsory papers of 200 marks each.
  • Both the question papers will be of the objective type (multiple choice questions).
  • The question papers will be set both in Hindi and English.
  • However, questions relating to English Language Comprehension skills of Class X level will be tested through passages from English Language only without providing Hindi translation thereof in the question paper.
  • Each paper will be of two hours duration.
  • Blind candidates will however, be allowed an extra time of twenty minutes at each paper.

PRELIMINARY EXAMINATION - PAPER I - OBJECTIVE TYPE         (Marks: 200     Duration: 2 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 specialisation.
  • General Science.

PRELIMINARY EXAMINATION - PAPER II - OBJECTIVE TYPE         (Marks: 200     Duration: 2 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: All the questions will be of Objective Type (Multiple Choice Questions).

Note 3: It is mandatory for the candidate to appear in both the papers of Civil Services (Prelims) 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 (Prelims) Examination.


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

The scope of the syllabus for the optional subject papers for the examination is broadly of the honours degree level i.e. a level higher than the bachelors degree and lower than the masters degree. In the case of Engineering and Law, the level corresponds to the bachelor's degree.


  • Once the results of the Preliminary Examination are announced, only the candidates who qualify in the Preliminary Examination would be sent the detailed application form to apply for the Main Examination.
  • Main examination starts is likely to be held in November/December 2013.
  • Results - Selected candidates would be called for an interview / personality test.


The written examination will consist of the following papers totalling to 1750 marks. An interview / personality test would be conducted for 275 marks. This adds up to a total of 2025 marks.


One of the Indian Languages to be selected by the candidate from the 18 languages included in the 8th Schedule to the Constitution (Qualifying Paper)

300 Marks


English (Qualifying Paper)

300 Marks



250 Marks

Papers IV, V, VI & VII

General Studies (250 Marks for each paper)

1000 Marks

Papers VIII & IX

Any one Optional subject (which contains 2 papers) to be selected from the prescribed optional subjects (250 marks for each paper)

500 Marks

Total Marks for Written Examination

1750 Marks


275 Marks

Grand Total

2025 Marks

  • Blind candidates will, however, be allowed an extra time of thirty minutes at each paper.
  • The papers on Indian Languages and English 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.
  • The Paper-I on Indian Language will not, however, be compulsory for candidates hailing from the North-Eastern States of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland and also for candidates hailing from the State of Sikkim.
  • Evaluation of the papers, namely, Essay, General Studies and Optional Subject of all candidates would be done simultaneously along with the 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 the Commission at their discretion for the qualifying papers on 'Indian language' and 'English' and, therefore, the marks in 'Essay' 'General studies' and 'Optional subject' will not be disclosed to those candidates who fail to obtain such minimum qualifying standard in 'Indian language' and 'English'.
  • 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 unauthorised medium.


  • 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, (viz. Papers I and II of the Main Examination mentioned above), in any one of the languages included in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution or in English.
  • Candidates exercising the option to answer papers III to IX in any one of the languages included in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution 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.
  • The question papers other thanthe literature of language papers will be set both in Hindi and English Only.


  • The candidates who qualify in the Main Examination will be interviewed by a Board who will have before them, a record of his/her career.
  • 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.
  • He/she will be asked questions on matters of general interest.
  • 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 judgement, 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 specialised 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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