A Brief introduction to Civil Services Exam

About Civil Services Exam

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  • Eligibility Criteria: The candidate should be 21 years of age and should have graduated in any discipline from a recognized university. Students in their final year of graduation can also apply.

  • Applying for the Exam: The candidate should log on to www.upsconline.nic.in and follow the instructions given on the website.

  • E-Admit Card: Candidates have to download the e-admit card from the website www.upsc.gov.in. The admit cards can be downloaded three weeks before the examination.

Three Stages of the Examination

Stage 1: Preliminary Examination

Around 5.5 lakhs students apply for the preliminary exam. The actual number of candidates appearing for the examination varies. It will be around 2.5 to 3 lakh students. The Preliminary exam is Objective and of qualifying nature. It consists of two papers, each of 200 marks. Paper 1 is concerned with General Studies and Deals with subjects like -

  • History

  • Geography

  • Polity

  • Economy

  • Science & Current Affairs etc.

Paper 2 checks a candidate's aptitude in terms of  Reading Comprehension, Numerical Ability, Graphical Representation, Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning, Decision Making etc. The Result of Preliminary exams are declared two months after the Preliminary exam. Those who are successful in clearing the Preliminary exam have to appear for the Mains examination. Around 12000 candidates qualify for the Main Exam every year.

Detailed Syllabus


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).

Stage 2: Mains Examination

The Main examination is subjective in nature and comprises of 9 papers. A candidate has to face 7 compulsory papers which include 4 papers of General Studies, A paper on Essay, A paper on any of the Regional Languages and English. The other two papers deal with an optional subject which a candidate has to choose out of 26 optional subjects.

The Main exam is conducted for a total of 1750 marks out of which General Studies carries 1000 marks, which comprises 4 papers each of 250 marks. Optional subject carries 500 marks which comprises two papers each of 250 marks. Essay carries 250 Marks. The results of Main exam are announced usually in the month of February.

Detailed Syllabus


  • Paper‐I  : Essay and English Comprehension & English Précis (10th Standard)

  • Paper‐II : General Studies - I (Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society)

  • Paper‐III : General Studies –II (Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations)

  • Paper‐IV : General Studies –III (Technology, Economic Development, Bio‐diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management)

  • Paper‐V : General Studies –IV (Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude)

  • Paper‐VI : Optional Subject – Paper 1

  • Paper‐VII : Optional Subject – Paper 2

List of Optional Papers
  • Agriculture
  • Anthropology
  • Assamese
  • Chemistry
  • Chinese
  • Commerce and Accountancy
  • Electrical Engineering
  • French
  • Geology
  • Gujarati
  • Kannada
  • Konkani
  • Law
  • Manipuri
  • Mathematics
  • Medical Science
  • Nepali
  • Pali
  • Physics
  • Psychology
  • Punjabi
  • Sanskrit
  • Sociology
  • Tamil
  • Urdu
  • Zoology
  • Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science
  • Arabic
  • Bengali
  • Botany
  • Civil Engineering
  • Economics
  • English
  • Geography
  • German
  • Hindi
  • History
  • Kashmiri
  • Malayalam
  • Management
  • Marathi
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Oriya
  • Persian
  • Philosophy
  • Political Science and International Relations
  • Public Administration
  • Russian
  • Sindhi
  • Statistics
  • Telugu
Stage 3: Personality Test

Dholpur House, New Delhi where the UPSC is housed. Around 3000 candidates are summoned for the Personality Test every year. The Interview sessions begin after fifteen days from the date of announcement of the results, and continue for almost 45 days. The Personality test is for 275 Marks, the marks obtained by the candidate in the Main exam and Personality Test are summed up and a final rank list is prepared of the recommended candidates for various services.

Based on the order of merit and service preferences given by a candidate the services like - IAS, IPS, IFS, IRS etc are allotted.

Union Public Service Commission has announced dates for IAS Exam 2017 (Tentatively).


Civil Services Prelims Exam

  • Notification Date is: 22nd February 2017

  • Application Last Date is: 17th March 2017

  • Examination Date is: 18th June 2017

Civil Services Main Exam

  • Notification Date is: Not Yet Released

  • Application Last Date is: Not Yet Released

  • Examination Date is: 28th October 2017

Please note that all above examination dates, commencement of exams  are liable to alteration, if the circumstances so warrant. UPSC rarely changes its exam dates; so above exam schedule is almost confirmed for Civil Services 2017 examinations..

Explore More: Civil Services Preliminary | Civil Services Main | Civil Services Interview

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