Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) Civil Services Examination

Overview of UPSC Exam
 Exam conducting body
Union Public Service Commission
Offline(Pen Paper)
Exam Frequency
Once in a Year
Exam Level
Exam Stages
Prelims- Mains(written)- Mains(Interview)
Exam Fee
Exam Language
Prelims- Hindi and English
No. of cities
Tests centres across the nation
UPSC Vacancies
Official website

What is the UPSC Exam?

Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) conducts civil services exams to recruit for different Central Civil Services and All India Services for the various departments of the government of india. This Civil Services Exams is commonly known as IAS Exams.

The official UPSC notification for IAS Exam will be released on 12 february 2020.

Those who’ll clear all the three stages of IAS exam, they enter into the respectful civil services of the country and will become officers in the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Police Service (IPS), Indian Foreign Service (IFS) and host of other services. Though it is regarded as one of the toughest exams in the country but with the right approach and strategy, an aspirant can crack the IAS examination in a very first attempt.

IAS Exam is conducted in two stages, Preliminary (Objective type) and Mains (Descriptive and Interview).UPSC IAS Prelims paper is just a screening exam to select the candidates for the Mains exams and its scores are not included in the final merit result.

As the name suggests, UPSC Civil Services Mains Exams is the main stage for the IAS Exam process. The marks of the IAS Mains exam are taken into consideration for the IAS Final Result. Rank to the candidate will be provided on the basis of the final merit list for the UPSC Civil Services Exam. Based on these ranks, services are allocated to the candidates.

UPSC 2020 Syllabus

There is a common syllabus for Indian Administrative services, Indian Foreign services, Indian Police services, Indian revenue Services etc. However, different stages of IAS exam have different syllabi. The UPSC  prelims syllabus focusses on general studies and societal awareness which is tested by MCQ  type questions.  

UPSC Preliminary exam syllabus

For paper I : following are the topics ; Gist of Economic Survey, Gist of Budget, History of India and Indian National Movement, India and World Geography, Art, Architecture, and Literature, Indian Polity and Governance, UPSC free materials, Economics and Social Development,general science, Environment and Disaster Management, Government Schemes and International Bodies, Logical reasoning and aptitude for UPSC, UPSC, IAS DAILY IMPORTANT NEWS International relations for UPSC, UPSC ias question paper with solutions in english With Optional and Literature

For paper II: followings are the topics: 

  • General mental ability,

  • Data interpretation,

  • Decision making and problem solving,

  • Basic numericals, 

  • Logical reasoning and analytical ability.

 UPSC Prelims Paper 2 CSAT - Quant, Verbal & Decision Making

IAS Exam Pattern

IAS exam pattern is :

  1. Stage I: Preliminary exam (objective type )

  2. Stage II: Mains exam(Descriptive type)

  3. Stage III: interview(Personality Test)

Stage I: UPSC Preliminary exam


Name of Paper

Nature of paper

Duration of Exam




Exam paper I: General studies

Merit ranking nature

2 Hours


200 Marks


Exam paper II: General studies (CSAT)

Qualifying nature

2 Hours


200 Marks

  • In IAS (Prelims), the questions are objective type or Multiple choice questions(MCQs).

  • There is ‘Negative Marking’ in the IAS Exam for each incorrect answer i.e.1/3rd (0.66) marks will be deducted for every incorrect answer but only in the Prelims stage. 

  • Candidates who are blind are given an extra time of 20 minutes for each paper in the IAS Exam (Prelims).

  • It is mandatory for the candidates to appear in both the papers of civil services prelims exam.

  • Prelims exam is  a screening test where candidates not securing the cut-off marks are eliminated. Thus, the marks scored by the candidates in the prelims examination are not counted for the final score.

Stage II: UPSC Mains exam

The second stage of the IAS Exam is called the Mains Exam, which is a written descriptive examination and comprises 9 papers. The 9 papers in IAS Exam (Mains) are as follows: Paper-A (Compulsory Indian Language); Paper –B (English) 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.


  • The candidates can select their medium of writing the UPSC Civil Services IAS Mains Exam as hindi/english or any other language listed in the 8th Schedule of the Indian Constitution.

  • The candidates who scored above the prescribed cut-off marks in the IAS exam (Mains) will be eligible  for the Personality Test (last stage of the IAS exam).

  • The final ranking of the candidates is on the basis of the marks obtained by them in the Main Examination and Personality Test or Interview Round of the IAS exam.

Stage III: UPSC Interview

Candidates who’ll clear the Mains exam with the required cut-off marks qualifies for the final stage of the IAS exam i.e. the Personality Test/Interview round with the UPSC Board Members. The candidates who so ever qualifies 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 of the candidates and ask questions related to their hobbies, general knowledge, current affairs, situation questions etc. to evaluate whether they are fit for a career in the civil services or not. The UPSC  Bhavan becomes the centre for the UPSC personality test.

Additional documents related to UPSC Mains exam and Personal interview ;

UPSC Mock Interview

Essay for MAINS- UPSC, PCS & Other Competitive exams


UPSC mock tests 2020 are essential for all those who wish to clear their UPSC exam with a good score. Even the IAS topper recommends solving UPSC Mock Test as an important part of Civil Services Preparation.

IAS/UPSC Prelims MOCK Test Preparation includes study material, Syllabus 2020, practice quizzes, video lectures, IAS previous year papers, mock tests for 2018 examination, past year papers, upsc previous year question papers with Solutions, test series , shortcut and tricks (including all math tricks and all shortcut tricks) for the preparation of IAS, IRS, IFS, IPS.

IAS Eligibility

IAS Eligibility is one of the first questions that comes to mind of an IAS aspirant. Numbers of attempts, nationality, age limit and the educational qualification and many more are some of the basic eligibility criteria for IAS exam. All the candidates who appear for the IAS Exam 2020 need to ensure that they meet all the eligibility criteria mentioned below.

Age Limit for IAS Exam 2020

Candidates must be a minimum 21 years and maximum 32 years of age as on 1 August  2020. 




5 years


3 years

Defence services personnel, disabled in operations during hostilities 

3 years

Ex-servicemen including commissioned officers and ECOs or SSCOs who have rendered at least five years of military service 

5 years


10 years

  Note: No age relaxation for IAS prelims and Mains, is provided to Economically weaker sections. 


For Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and Indian Police Service (IPS), a candidate must be a citizen of India. For all other services a candidate can either be a citizen of India or

  1. A subject of Nepal or bhutan
  2. A Tibetan refugee who came over to India before 1 Jan 1962 with the intention of permanently settling in India     
  3. A person having Indian origin who has migrated from Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Burma, East African countries of Kenya, Uganda, the United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Zaire, Ethiopia and Vietnam with the intention of permanently settling in India. 
    Note: For the post of Indian Foreign Services (IFS), candidates who are subjects of Nepal or Bhutan or Tibetan refugees are not eligible. 

Educational Qualification 

 Candidates must have a graduation degree in any stream from a recognised university under the Act passed by the Parliament of India. Candidates who are in the last year of their graduation and waiting for the resulta , are also eligible for the IAS Prelimsexam. However, those candidates need to submit the proof of passing  the required exam at the time of the Main exam. The application or the mains are released in the month of july or august.  

Candidates who have not completed their internship after clearing their MBBS by the time of submission of their Civil Services Main Exam applications, will be provisionally admitted to the exam. However, provisional admission to the exam will be given only if candidates submit a copy of the certificate from the concerned authority of the university or institution that they had passed the requisite final professional medical exam along with the application as informed in  the official website.

Number of Attempts in IAS exam

Number of attempts that a candidate can make is mentioned in the table below:


Number of attempts 






No restriction 

Physically handicapped(general/OBC)


Physically handcapped (SC/ST)

No restriction

Physical standards

 According to the physical standards given in the Civil Services exam notification,  candidates must be physically fit.

Question papers UPSC

Past years papers are the best way to prepare for the UPSC exams. Past year papers help to understand the pattern of the paper and you can evaluate how your preparation is  going. Here are some of the past year UPSC papers for you to practise:

UPSC Prelims Previous Year 2019 (GS)

UPSC Prelims Previous Year 2018 (GS)

UPSC Prelims Previous Year 2017 (GS)

UPSC Prelims Previous Year 2016 (GS)

UPSC Prelims Previous Year 2015 (GS)

UPSC Prelims Previous Year 2014 (GS)

UPSC Prelims Previous Year 2013 (GS)

UPSC Prelims Previous Year 2012 (GS)

UPSC Prelims Previous Year 2011 (GS)

IAS exam Process

Step I: Fill IAS Exam Application Form

Candidates will be able to fill the application form (once its is out) on an online mode at upsconline.nic.in. Once the application form is filled, candidates also need to pay the Civil Services exam application fee in online or offline mode.


Preliminary exam Fee

Mains exam Fee

General/ OBC/EWS

Rs 100


Females/SC/ST/Persons with benchmarks disabilities 



Once the application fee is paid, candidates need to fill their preference for the Civil Services Exam centre. Thereafter, candidates need to upload their scanned photograph and signature as per the specification mentioned below:


File Size


3 KB - 40 KB


1 KB - 40 KB

Step II: Download IAS Preliminary Exam Admit Card

Candidates, who successfully filled the online application form, will be downloading their IAS Admit Card from the official website (http://www.upsc.gov.in/) of the commission three weeks before the commencement of the exam. It may be noted that admit cards will not be sent by post to any candidates. Also, candidates who fail to carry their admit card on the day of exam will not be allowed to take the exam. Step III: IAS Preliminary Exam 2020 The IAS Prelims Exam 2020 will be conducted on May 31. Candidates need to appear for the IAS Prelims exam 2020. The Preliminary exam is conducted so as to shortlist candidates for the next stage of the Civil Services exam. Step IV: Filling of IAS DAF The candidates, who will clear the IAS prelims exam, need to fill the Detailed Application Form(DAF) for the IAS Main Exam. The DAF is a very important document and plays a very important role in the IAS Interview and during the service allocation process. It is important because the candidates mention his or her service preferences and state preferences in this form only. Based on the information given in the DAF and the vacancies, the services and the state cadres are allocated to the candidates after the IAS result. Step V: Download IAS Mains Exam Admit Card All candidates, who will clear the IAS Prelims exam, can download their admit cards for the Civil Services Mains exam 2020. The admit cards will be available on the official website of UPSC just three weeks before the commencement of the Mains exam. The duration of each paper is 3 hours. Step 6: IAS Mains Exam IAS Main Exam 2020 will commence from September 18. Candidates need to appear for IAS Mains Exam as per the details mentioned on the admit card. IAS Mains exam consists of a total of Nine descriptive papers. Out of the Nine, two papers are of qualifying in nature. These IAS Question Paper are of General English and General Language paper. There are Four General Studies papers, One Essay Paper and two optional Subject papers. The marks of each paper are assigned as follows.


Name of Paper

Marks Allotted


Essay Paper



General studies I



General studiesII



General studies III



General studies IV



Optional subject paper I



Optional subject paper II




The IAS Interview (personality test) carries 275 marks. So the final merit list is prepared from out of 2025 marks. Step VII: IAS Result 2020 After both the stages of Civil Services Exam (Prelims and Mains) are conducted successfully, UPSC will release a final IAS result 2020 on its official website. Candidates whose names or roll numbers appear in the merit list will then be eligible for recruitment in different services based on their preferences given in the Detailed Application Form (DAF) and the number of vacancies for the service.

Q. Is coaching necessary for cracking the IAS exam? A. Every candidate has different abilities and needs. Joining a coaching institute is a subjective decision. It can help some of the candidates in understanding the structure and pattern of the IAS Exam but some of them find it useless. It differs from candidate to candidate whether to join coaching or not.

Q. Can I prepare for the IAS exam without coaching ? A.Yes, any candidate can prepare for the IAS exam without coaching. Nowadays so much information is available online that can help the candidates to prepare for the IAS Exam by themselves. The candidate should select the best authentic source of information  and thus can prepare for the IAS Exam by themselves with online sessions.

Q. How can I start IAS preparation at home? A. The candidates should start preparing the basics with the NCERT Books and Daily Newspaper. Complete the NCERT of Geography, history, Economics and Sociology first and then start reading the relative  books for each subject supplemented with the Newspaper.

Q. What is the difference between PCS and IAS? A.  PCS means the Provincial Civil Services and IAS means Indian Administrative Services. IAS is one of the three All India Services. The recruitment for IAS is done by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). PCS is the state-centric civil services recruited through the State Public Service Commissions.

QCan State PCS Officers be promoted to IAS? A. Yes, the State PCS officer can be promoted to the  post of IAS subject to certain conditions laid down by UPSC. Every year, out of the total vacancies of IAS, 33% is filled via the promotion.

Q. Can an average student  crack IAS? A. The IAS exam is an open platform with no restriction of average students. There is no minimum percentage or marks required in the graduation course to appear in the IAS Exam. Every year, a good number of Average students crack the IAS Exam.

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Offline app provides preparation material, NCERT text books questions and answers , short notes of all the subjects, Question bank, Quiz, IAS previous year question paper, online tests, IAS tricky Questions app, Topic wise Quizzes , NCERT Textbook Quizzes, Daily insights English VOcabulary, IAS Previous Year paper and important tips and tricks  for UPSC Prelims Examination.

This will be helpful for people preparing all over the country for the UPSC Prelims Exam. Toppers also  recommend this app .This is quite a useful Essay writing app in english for UPSC IAS preparation and free video lectures for UPSC are also available.

Unlimited Tests

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