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UPSC Exam, Exam Pattern, Syllabus, Previous Year Paper

What is UPSC Exam?

The Civil Services Examination is a national competitive examination in India conducted by the Union Public Service Commission for recruitment to higher Civil Services of the Government of India, including the Indian Administrative Service, Indian Foreign Service, and Indian Police Service.

It is also known as the UPSC examination or UPSC CSE and is administered in three phases: a preliminary examination made up of two objective-type papers (Paper I, which covers General Studies, and Paper II, known as the Civil Service Aptitude Test, or CSAT), a main examination made up of nine conventional (essay-style) papers, of which two are qualifying and only marks of seven are taken into account; and finally, a personality test (Personality Test).

UPSC Exam 2024

The UPSC exam also known as the Civil Services Examination officially is being conducted by the Union Public Service Commission ever year in order to fill the vacant post in multiple departments at center level. UPSC will release the official UPSC Notification for UPSC Exam 2024 on 14th February 2024 along with the total vacancies. The UPSC Exam for 2024 prelims has been scheduled to take place on 26 May 2024, whereas the Mains 2024 will conducted on 20 September 2024. Check the detailed information on UPSC Exam, UPSC Exam Date 2024, Exam Pattern, Syllabus,

UPSC Exam Date 2024 Overview

UPSC has already released the date of the upcoming UPSC Exam 2024 in its calendar. Candidates can check the UPSC Exam Date 2024 Overview from the table below:

UPSC Exam Date 2024 Overview

Particulars Details
UPSC Exam Conducting by UPSC
Mode of UPSC exam Offline
UPSC Exam Age Limit 21 – 32 years (upper age relaxation for reserved candidates)
UPSC Exam Date of Prelims 2024 Sunday – 26th May 2024
UPSC Exam Date of Mains 2024 20th September 2024 onwards 

UPSC Exam Pattern

The UPSC Exam Pattern has been classified into three stages as:

  • Preliminary Examination (Objective in Nature)
  • Mains Examination (Descriptive in Nature)
  • UPSC Personality Test

UPSC Prelims Exam Pattern

There are two papers in Civil Service Prelims Examination. The questions are objective in nature.

  • General Studies Paper 1 [which deals with subjects like History, Polity, Economics etc.
  • General Studies Paper 2 [which deals with subjects like Mental Ability, English Comprehension etc. This paper is popularly known as CSAT or Civil Services Aptitude Test).

The UPSC Prelims Exam Pattern Overview have been mentioned below in the table:

UPSC Prelims Exam Pattern
Name of the Paper Nature of the Paper Duration of the Exam Questions Marks
IAS Exam Paper – I: General Studies Merit Ranking Nature 2 Hours 100 200 Marks
IAS Exam Paper – II: General Studies (CSAT) Qualifying Nature 2 Hours 80 200 Marks
  • UPSC Exam for Prelims is objective nature i.e. Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs) are being asked.
  • Negative Marking is there in the UPSC Prelims Exam for every incorrect answer. The negative marking for incorrect answers will be 1/3rd (0.66) of the allotted marks of that question.
  • The GS Paper II is CSAT in the UPSC Prelims Exam is qualifying in nature and candidates should score a minimum of 33% in this paper to qualify to the next stage of the UPSC Exam i.e. the Mains.
  • Blind candidates are given an extra time of 20 minutes for each paper in the UPSC Exam for Prelims.
  • It is mandatory for the candidates to appear in both the papers of civil services prelims exam for the evaluation.
  • The marks scored by the candidates in the preliminary examination are not counted for the final score. It is only a screening test where candidates not securing the cut-off marks are eliminated.

UPSC Exam for Mains

The next phase of the UPSC Exam is the Mains Exam, which is a written exam and consisting of 9 papers in total of which Paper-A (Compulsory Indian Language); Paper –B (English Language) which are qualifying in nature, while the other papers like Essay, General Studies Papers I, II, III, and IV, and Optional Papers I and II are considered for the final ranking.

IAS Exam Paper Name of the Paper Nature of the Paper Duration of the Exam Marks
Paper – A Compulsory Indian Language Qualifying in Nature 3 Hours 300 Marks
Paper – B English Language 3 Hours 300 Marks
Paper – I Essay Included in Final Ranking 3 Hours 250 Marks
Paper – II General Studies I 3 Hours 250 Marks
Paper – III General Studies II 3 Hours 250 Marks
Paper – IV General Studies III 3 Hours 250 Marks
Paper – V General Studies IV 3 Hours 250 Marks
Paper – VI Optional Paper I 3 Hours 250 Marks
Paper – VII Optional Paper II 3 Hours 250 Marks
Total 1750 Marks
Interview or Personality Test 275 Marks
Total Marks 2025 Marks
  • The candidates can select their medium of writing the UPSC Mains Exam as Hindi or English or any other language listed in the 8th Schedule of the Constitution of India.
  • The Indian Languages included in the UPSE exam are as per languages listed in the 8th Schedule of the Indian Constitution.
  • The candidates who score above the prescribed cut-off marks in the UPSC Exam (Mains) will get the summons for the Personality Test.
  • The final ranking of the candidates is on the basis of the marks obtained by them in the Main Examination and Personality Test/Interview Round of the UPSC Exam.

UPSC Interview/Personality Test

Candidates who clear the Mains stage of the UPSC Exam with the required cut-off marks qualify for the final stage of the UPSC Exam i.e., the Personality Test or Interview round with the UPSC Board Members. The candidates who qualify to the final stage will be sent an e-summon by the Commission for a face-to-face discussion round with the board members. In this round, the board assesses the personality traits of the candidates and questions will be asked on their hobbies, current affairs, general knowledge, situation questions, etc. to evaluate if they are fit for a career in the civil services or not. The UPSC personality test will be held only in the UPSC Bhavan in New Delhi.

UPSC Exam Eligibility Criteria

Candidates who want to qualify for the UPSC 2023 examination in order to become IAS/ IPS/ IFS and other officers must fulfil all the eligibility requirements mentioned in the official notification. It is the minimum necessary qualification needed to take the exam. Details on UPSC IAS 2023 eligibility conditions are provided here.

UPSC Exam Age Limit

A candidate must have a minimum age of 21 years and must not have attained the age of 32 years. Check the upper age limit relaxation for UPSC Exam below in the table:

Upper Age Limit Relaxation

Category of Candidates  Age Relaxation 
Scheduled Caste (SC) or a Scheduled Tribe (ST) Up to a maximum of 5 years
Other Backward Classes (OBCs) who are eligible to avail of reservation  Up to a maximum of 3 years
Defence Services Personnel Up to a maximum of 3 years
Ex-servicemen Up to a maximum of 5 years
A person with Benchmark Disability (PwBD) Up to a maximum of 10 years

UPSC Educational Qualification

A candidate must possess an equivalent degree or hold a graduate degree from any of the Indian universities established by an act of the central or state legislature, or from one of the other educational institutions recognised as universities under Section 3 of the University Grants Commission Act, 1956.

UPSC Exam  Syllabus

UPSC Syllabus is released by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) every year along with the UPSC Notification PDF. The Syllabus for the IAS exam is comprehensive and covers a wide range of subjects to assess a candidate’s knowledge, aptitude, and analytical abilities.

With the help of a detailed UPSC CSE Syllabus, candidates can easily rectify which topics, news articles, information, and current affairs are required to read. It’s crucial to be familiar with the IAS Syllabus if you want to succeed in the upcoming UPSC Civil Services exam. All of the UPSC IAS Exam toppers have one thing in common, they always follow the Syllabus seriously.

UPSC Syllabus 2024 PDF

UPSC Syllabus PDF: Candidates for better and more detailed information on the UPSC CSE Syllabus can download the UPSC IAS Syllabus PDF from the link provided here. Click on the mentioned link for the UPSC Syllabus PDF here.

UPSC Syllabus PDF Download Link

UPSC Exam Subjects

The UPSC subjects in the civil services exam are designed to judge you on your understanding of things around you as only an informed person can make decisions as a civil servant. The Subject for Prelims has been mentioned below:

UPSC Exam Subjects for GS Paper I

Given below is the UPSC Exam Subjects for Prelims list for the two papers which are objective type each. Both are conducted on the same day and the total marks for the two papers are 400 (200 marks each).

  • Current Affairs National and International
  • Static GK
  • History of India and Indian National Movement
  • Art and Culture
  • Indian and World Geography
  • Indian Polity and Governance
  • Economic and Social Development
  • Environment and Ecology
  • Science and Technology

UPSC Exam Subjects for GS Paper II

  • English Comprehension
  • Logical Reasoning and Analytical Ability
  • Basic Numeracy
  • General Mental Ability
  • Decision Making and Problem Solving
  • Data Interpretation

UPSC Exam Subject List for Mains

Check the subjects that is be asked in the UPSC Exam for Mains in the table as provided below:

UPSC Mains GS Subjects
General Studies Paper Subjects
GS Paper I
  • History of India and World
  • Art & Cultured
  • Geography of India and World
  • Society
GS Paper II
  • Polity
  • Governance
  • Social Justice
  • International Relations
GS Paper III
  • Technology
  • Economic Development
  • Biodiversity
  • Environment
  • Security
  • Disaster Management
GS Paper IV
  • Ethics
  • Integrity
  • Aptitude

UPSC Exam Subjects of Optional

Check the subjects that is be asked in the UPSC Exam for Mains Optional in the table as provided below:

Agriculture Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science
Anthropology Botany
Chemistry Civil Engineering
Commerce and Accountancy Economics
Electrical Engineering Geography
Geology History
Law Management
Mathematics Mechanical Engineering
Medical Science Philosophy
Physics Political Science and International Relations
Psychology Public Administration
Sociology Statistics

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

UPSC Previous Year Papers

UPSC is a highly competitive exam, with lakhs of students appearing for it each year. As we all know that the UPSC Syllabus is very vast. Each of its sub-topics is a graduation subject in itself. Does this mean that UPSC wants aspirants to fathom it all. The answer is clearly no. UPSC wants aspirants to be smart enough to be able to cover the entire syllabus as per the requirements of the exam.

This is where the role of the UPSC Previous Year Question Papers comes in. They act as a guiding light in an aspirant’s preparation journey. Going through them carefully, one can understand the nature of questions asked by UPSC and the probable areas. This will make preparation more exam-oriented. Here we are providing year-wise question papers from 2014 to 2022 for both UPSC Prelims (both general studies and CSAT) and UPSC Mains (from general studies perspective).

UPSC Previous Year Question Papers PDF Download

UPSC Exam Preparation

The UPSC Exam Preparation strategy have been discussed bellow:

  • Checking the trend, more current affairs based questions are being asked in both, Prelims and Mains stage of the UPSC exam. Select only credible sources like PIB, The Hindu, Yojana etc. and align the current events as per the UOSC Exam Syllabus. For the UPSC exam, current affairs usually comprise events of national and international importance in the last 10-12 months.
  • Go through the previous years’ UPSC exam questions to gauge the amount of preparation needed from your end.
  • Read the NCERT books and make notes. You will have to make at least two sets of notes i.e. short notes for Prelims and descriptive notes for UPSC Mains.
  • The preparation for Prelims and Mains must be done simultaneously until 1-2 months before the date of the Prelims exam. Identify the syllabus overlap between Prelims and Mains and focus on those areas first.
  • Select an Optional subject for the UPSC Exam based on your aptitude, interest and experience. Few optional subjects have a significant overlap with the General Studies syllabus in Mains, however, their syllabi are rather vast so do your due diligence before finalising one.
  • Go through the standard books for each subject. Find the UPSC Exam book list, Current Affairs notes, NCERT notes and other information in the links below.
  • Do not take lightly the CSAT paper in Prelims and Ethics paper in Mains. Similarly, the two qualifying language papers in Mains are also important as failing to score at least 25% in them will automatically eliminate you from the UPSC Exam process notwithstanding your stellar performance in all the other papers.
  • Take out time for MCQ solving practice for Prelims and answer writing practice for Mains.
  • Multiple times revision, update your notes, and revise some more.

How to Prepare for UPSC Exam?

Check strategy for preparing for the UPSC Exam here below:


Build the Foundation

Candidates requires a solid foundation in order to adequately prepare for this difficult exam. According to the proverb, a solid foundation creates a structure that is more substantial. Therefore, before continuing, you must comprehend the exam, its format, syllabus, and all requirements for preparation. Your foundation can be built by following the steps provided below.

  • Understanding the Exam: The UPSC is India’s most difficult competitive exam, and a variety of criteria determine how difficult it is. Therefore, one must be aware of the exam’s format, sample questions, and dates before studying.
  • UPSC CSE consists of three stages: the preliminary exam, the main exam, and the personality test, sometimes known as an interview. To begin, complete old test questions to get a feel for the format and scoring system.
  • Understanding UPSC Syllabus: After learning about the exam’s format, you must comprehend the curriculum. The UPSC exam covers a wide range of topics, therefore it’s important to follow your syllabus carefully to keep your study on track.
  • Planning for the UPSC Exam: To achieve your ultimate objective, you must make an achievable daily goal. It entails choosing the exam year and organizing your studies accordingly.

Strategies Your Preparation

  • Since every person is unique, you shouldn’t copy their approach. Unfortunately, people start to follow the top scorers and other successful individuals uncritically.
  • However, it would be great if you developed a unique approach for yourself because you are unique from others and are the only one who truly understands your strengths and shortcomings.
  • Another crucial thing to remember is that if you want more successful results, it’s good to slightly alter your plan. It’s okay to make minor adjustments and alterations to your study schedule if it doesn’t work for you. There’s no perfect strategy.


  • Pick the NCERTs as your starting point for preparing for the UPSC, then move on to the books recommended by your teachers or mentors.
  • Purchasing ten separate books on a single topic is completely pointless. Limit yourself to one or two reliable books. As a result, you’ll have less high-quality text to edit during revision.

Time management

  • Time management is a key concern when preparing for any competitive exam. An aspirant candidate needs to follow a regimen that is organized and disciplined. However, you are organized but flexible, and you can follow a precise schedule that is time-bound.
  • Your timetable might be flexible, but in order to be effective, you must have goal-oriented, time-bound study sessions. Keep a record of your preparations if you set goals for your study time.
  • To better manage your time, prioritize your tasks. You might already be working or attending college, which limits your time for independent study. To use your time efficiently, give priority to your weak areas.

Test series

  • You’ve planned out your preparation and mastered time management. Despite your diligent study habits, you are nonetheless unprepared. Accumulated knowledge is useless if it isn’t put to the test.
  • For a test with a broad syllabus and several subjects, like the UPSC. It’s crucial to periodically check your readiness by enrolling in a test series. You can enroll in any test series that works best for you.
  • Test series allow you to compete with other hopefuls and become more accustomed to the exam setting while also testing your preparedness. It enables you to practice writing responses and having teachers assess them.

Stay Updated

  • UPSC tests your personality and knowledge, so it’s essential to stay updated through news, newspapers and current affairs magazines. Current Affairs are bound to be asked in interviews and prelims to test how aware you are.
  • Therefore, be sure to keep up with news, government initiatives, and important economic and political decisions made by the government generally or during crises.
UPSC Exam 2023 Links
UPSC Notification 2023 UPSC Syllabus
UPSC Age Limit UPSC Syllabus in Hindi
UPSC Exam Pattern UPSC Prelims Syllabus
UPSC Application Form 2023 UPSC Mains Syllabus
UPSC Optional Subjects UPSC Previous Year Question Papers
UPSC Calendar UPSC Interview 2023
UPSC Geography Syllabus UPSC Anthropology Syllabus
UPSC Sociology Syllabus UPSC Interview Tips
UPSC Economics Syllabus UPSC Full Form


Can I study for the UPSC at home?

Yes, You may easily prepare for the IAS exam at home if you have access to online resources and a plan.

How long should I study each day?

There is no set duration; one must study according to their requirement. The Study duration will automatically increase as the exam comes close.

Do questions from previous years repeat?

Yes, Sometimes, although only for specific topics, UPSC papers repeat questions from previous years’ papers.

Does the UPSC syllabus remain the same every year?

No, the UPSC announces its preliminary and main exam syllabuses annually. However, it hasn’t changed since 2013.

Which subject should I begin with for the UPSC?

You can begin with any subject and work your way up from class 6 to 12. However, given the importance of the syllabus and its simplicity, it is best to begin with Indian Polity NCERT books for UPSC.

Can I crack the UPSC exam from zero level with self-study?

Coaching is not a compulsion; if you have the proper guidance, you can prepare for UPSC without coaching.

Who is eligible for UPSC exam?

To be eligible for this examination, a candidate must be at least 21 years old but not older than 32 years.

Is 25 years late for UPSC?

Most aspirants who clear the UPSC civil services lie in the age group of 26 to 28 years.

Is 10 months enough for UPSC?

Usually, it takes 12 months to prepare for the exam, but it can take more or less time depending on the preparation strategy of the candidates.

What is the Educational Qualification needed for UPSC?

Candidates need to be a graduate from a recognised university.