Plan of the Civil Service Examination

An outline

Entry into the IAS, IPS and the Central Services, Group A and Group B is through the All India Combined Competitive Examination for the Civil Services conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) at different centers spread all over the country.

The Civil Services Examination consists of two successive stages.

  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 noted above.

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 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 in the various Services and Posts. Only the candidates qualified in the Preliminary Examination are eligible for writing the Main Examination.

The Preliminary Examination is held in the month of June, while the written part of the Main Examination is held in late October of the same year. Personality Test is conducted by the UPSC in February – March of the next year. The final result is usually declared in the month of April.

The Preliminary Examination

The Examination comprises two compulsory papers of 200 marks each. Both the question papers are of the objective type (multiple choice questions).

Each paper will be of two hours duration.

There will be penalty (negative marking) for wrong an­swers marked by a candidate in the objective-type ques­tion papers. One third (0.33) of the marks assigned to that question will be deducted as penalty.

Details of the syllabi are indicated below.

Paper I – (200 marks) Duration: Two hours
  1. Current events of national and international importance.
  2. History of India and Indian National Movement.
  3. Indian and World Geography – Physical, Social, Economic Geography of India and the World.
  4. Indian Polity and Governance – Constitution, Political System, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights Issues, etc.
  5. Economic and Social Development Sustainable Development, Poverty, Inclusion, Demographics, Social Sector initiatives, etc.
  6. General issues on Environmental Ecology, Bio-diversity and Climate Change – that do not require subject specialization.
  7. General Science.

In this paper, a total of 100 questions are asked and each question carries 2 marks.

Paper II- (200 marks) Duration: Two hours

Please note: From the IAS Preliminary Examination 2015, an aspirant must score minimum marks in this paper too i.e. 33% to qualify for the Mains, but those marks won’t be considered to decide the list of candidates suitable for appearing in the Mains exam.

The contents of this Paper are as follows.

  1. Comprehension
  2. Interpersonal skills including communication skills;
  3. Logical reasoning and analytical ability 4- Decision-making and problem-solving 4- General mental ability
  4. Basic numeracy (numbers and their relations, orders of magnitude, etc.) (Class X level), Data interpretation (charts, graphs, tables, data sufficiency etc. – Class X level)
  5. English Language Comprehension skills (Class X level).

In this paper, a total of 80 questions are asked and each question carries 2.5 marks.

The Main Examination

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

The written part of the Main Examination will consist of the following papers. Each paper will be of three hours duration.

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

Papers to be counted for merit 

PAPER-I – 250 Marks

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.

PAPER-II – 250 Marks

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

PAPER-III – 250 Marks

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

PAPER-IV – 250 Marks

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

PAPER-V – 250 Marks
General Studies- IV: Ethics, Integrity, and Aptitude
The nature and standard of General Studies questions

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.

PAPER-VI & PAPER VII – 250 Marks + 250 Marks = 500 Marks

Optional Subject Papers I & II: Candidates may choose any optional subject from amongst the list of subjects given below.

  1. Agriculture
  2. Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science
  3. Anthropology
  4. Botany
  5. Chemistry
  6. Civil Engineering
  7. Commerce and Accountancy
  8. Economics
  9. Electrical Engineering
  10. Geography
  11. Geology
  12. History
  13. Law
  14. Management
  15. Mathematics
  16. Mechanical Engineering
  17. Medical Science
  18. Philosophy
  19. Physics
  20. Political Science and International Relations
  21. Psychology
  22. Public Administration
  23. Sociology
  24. Statistics
  25. Zoology
  26. 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, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu, English.

The scope of the syllabus for optional subject papers (Paper VI and Paper VII) 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, Medical Science and law, the level corresponds to the bachelors’ degree.

Personality Test – 275 Marks

Candidates clearing the written part of the Main Examination are summoned by the UPSC for interview for a Personality Test. Marks obtained by the candidates in the Main Examination (written part as well as interview) 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.