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UPSC CSE 2024 Exam Pattern | News & Notifications: UPSC PDF Download

What is UPSC CSE Exam?

UPSC Civil Services Examination (CSE) is the most prestigious government examination in the country. Aspirants from different academic disciplines go to great lengths to prepare for and succeed in the UPSC Civil Services examination.

  • Understanding the Exam Pattern is an important part of your  preparation. This would help you to know the type of questions being asked in the examination and  accordingly you can focus on your strengths and weakness . 
  •  It will allow you to effectively manage your time thereby making your UPSC CSE preparation more efficient. 
  • The pattern of the exam provides you a clear understanding of the syllabus covered in the examination, which helps you to focus on the most important topics. This would enhance your chances of scoring well in the exam.

You should look at the updated UPSC CSE  Exam Pattern 2023  in order to comprehend the question paper and make an effective preparation plan.

In this EduRev article, we have explained details about the UPSC CSE Exam Pattern 2023, including the number of questions, time allotted, and paper type.

UPSC CSE 2023 Exam Pattern: An Overview 

UPSC CSE exam pattern is designed in such a way to select the most suitable candidates for a career in public service, based on a comprehensive evaluation of their knowledge, skills, and personal qualities.

As of now no changes has been made by UPSC regarding the exam pattern for UPSC CSE 2023. The following table would give you a brief information about the exam pattern for UPSC CSE 2023. 

Name of exam

Civil Services Exam (UPSC CSE)

Conducting body

Union Public Service Commission

Mode of Exam

Offline

  • (UPSC Paper Pattern for Prelims- MCQ-based)
  • (UPSC Paper Pattern for Mains - Descriptive)
  • (Personality Test - Interview in front of board members)

Number of Stages

  • Prelims exam
  • Mains exam
  • Interview

Number of papers in UPSC CSE Exam

Prelims: 2

Mains: 9

UPSC CSE Prelims exam pattern: Marking scheme

Paper 1: +2 marks

Paper 2: +2.5 marks

Negative marking: One-third of marks allotted to each question

Time Duration of UPSC CSE exam

Prelims: 2 hours (Each paper) total 4 hours

Mains: 3 hours (Each paper) total 27 hours conducted across various days

Type of questions

Prelims: Objective type

Mains: Subjective type

EduRev offers a comprehensive UPSC CSE Preparation package  that covers all the topics from the UPSC CSE  syllabus. This material is designed to help the candidate understand the concepts, prepare for the exam, and practice the questions. The material is available in the form of Videos lectures, detailed notes and online tests.

Check out the UPSC CSE Cut Offs from prior years to get a sense of the range of marks you'll need to get in order to advance to the final round of selection.

UPSC CSE 2023 Exam Pattern


UPSC CSE Exam 2023 is divided into 3 stages : 

  1. Preliminary Exam
  2. Mains Exam
  3. Interview 

Details about exam pattern for each stage has been provided further. You should go through this article completely to get the complete knowledge for UPSC CSE Exam Pattern 2023 . 


UPSC CSE 2023 Exam PatternUPSC CSE 2023 Exam Pattern

UPSC CSE 2023 Exam Pattern - Prelims 

UPSC CSE prelims is an important stage for each candidate appearing for UPSC CSE exam. As through this stage UPSC screen a large number of candidates and shortlist them for the Main Exam by testing their knowledge of current events, geography, history, polity, economics, and aptitude and reasoning skills through two objective type papers.

  1. General Studies Paper 1 (includes Polity, Geography, History, Current Affairs and various other aspects)
  2. General Studies Paper -2 (CSAT - includes English, Reasoning and aptitude)

UPSC CSE 2024 Exam Pattern | News & Notifications: UPSC

Let’s understand about each paper in detail. But before that you should know the following important points . 

  • The questions in both the papers will be objective type and  both  papers will be conducted in traditional pen- paper mode. 
  • General studies paper 1 has a negative marking too. For every wrong answer, there will be a deduction of 0.33.
  • General studies Paper 2 is qualifying paper and you have to score 33 percent to clear the exam and to get into mains . 

General studies Paper 1

GS Paper 1 in the UPSC CSE Preliminary Exam is important as it tests your general knowledge and awareness of current events, geography, history, polity, and economics, which is essential for a career in public service. The paper also serves as a screening tool to shortlist candidates for the Main Exam and has high scoring potential.

In this Exam the focus is given on the following subjects . 

You should have a strong basics in each of the above subject to get into mains.
EduRev offers detailed course on each subject mentioned above and will help you to prepare for UPSC CSE exam and clear your exam in first attempt.

General Studies Paper 2 (CSAT)

GS Paper 2 (CSAT) in the UPSC CSE Preliminary Exam is important as it tests your  aptitude and reasoning skills, including comprehension, decision-making, problem-solving, data interpretation, and logical reasoning. The stage is just qualifying in nature and you need to score 33 percent to clear the exam.

CSAT

 consists of following: 

  • Interpersonal skills including communication skills.
  • Logical reasoning & analytical ability.
  • Decision-making & problem-solving.
  • General mental ability.
  • Basic numeracy and data interpretation

Passing in each of the paper is important . Although CSAT is qualifying in nature but sometimes some candidates clear the paper 1 and is not able to qualify the CSAT Exam . so importance should be given to both papers equally.

You don’t have to worry about the CSAT Exam  EduRev offers Comprehensive course on CSAT through documents, tests and videos . 

UPSC CSE 2023 Exam Pattern - Mains 

The aspirants who clear the preliminary stage, now have to appear for Mains Examination . The purpose of conducting Mains Exam is to evaluate your in-depth knowledge, skills, and personal qualities, through nine descriptive papers. The Mains Exam is designed to test a your comprehensive understanding of various subjects, writing skills, and ability to analyze complex issues.

UPSC CSE 2024 Exam Pattern | News & Notifications: UPSC

Let’s discuss about each paper in detail but before that lets’s have a brief about all the papers through table : 

Paper

Subject

Marks

Time allotted 

Nature of Paper 

Type of Paper 

Paper A

Indian Language

300

3 hours

Qualifying-

At least 25 percent

Descriptive

Paper B

English

300

3 hours

Qualifying- at least 25 percent

Descriptive

Paper I

Essay

250

3 hours

Merit

Descriptive

Paper II

GS I (General Studies)

250

3 hours

Merit

Descriptive

Paper III

GS II

250

3 hours

Merit

Descriptive

Paper IV

GS III

250

3 hours

Merit

Descriptive

Paper V

GS IV

250

3 hours

Merit

Descriptive

Paper VI

Optional Subject I

250

3 hours

Merit

Descriptive

Paper VII

Optional Subject II

250

3 hours

Merit

Descriptive

Paper- A (Indian Language) and Paper -B (English)

The purpose of these language papers is to evaluate your proficiency in the respective languages and your writing skills. It also helps to assess your ability to effectively communicate in the language you choose to use in your professional and personal life.

  • These two papers are qualifying in nature and you need to score at least 25 percent in each paper to pass the exam. 
  • The total duration for each exam is 3 hours. 
  • The Indian Language paper is not compulsory for candidates from the states of Sikkim, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh.

The syllabus for each of the exam is given below in the table so that you can get an idea what all is asked in these exams. 

Question Paper Pattern of English and Indian Language 

English 

Indian Language

(a) Comprehension of Given Passages

(b) Precis Writing

(c Usage and Vocabulary

(d) Short Essays

(a) Comprehension of Given Passages

(b) Precis Writing

(c) Usage and Vocabulary

(d) Short Essays

(e) Translation from English to the Indian Language and the Indian language to English

EduRev also provides UPSC Bible: 15 steps to crack UPSC CSE Exam . You must check out these steps to boost your preparation for UPSC CSE 

ESSAY

This paper is conducted by UPSC to test your ability to write a well-structured, coherent, and analytical essay on a given topic. The essay is also used to test your general awareness and knowledge of current affairs and national issues.

You are required to write essays on multiple topics. You  will be expected to keep close to the subject of the essay to arrange your ideas in orderly fashion, and to write concisely.

EduRev provides comprehensive course on essay writing .The course covers all the important aspects of essay writing such as understanding the question, structure, language, and presentation. With expert guidance and interactive sessions, the course helps aspirants develop the skills necessary to write high-scoring essays in the UPSC CSE. You can refer the same to boost your preparation and score well in your essay exam

General Studies I

General Studies I is conducted by UPSC CSE to evaluate your general knowledge and understanding of Indian heritage and culture, history, and geography.

 It is one of the nine papers in the UPSC Civil Services (Mains) Examination. Consisting of 250 marks, the UPSC General Studies Paper 1 is among the seven papers that are ranking in nature. It means that the score obtained in this paper gets added to the total marks which determine the final rank of the candidate.

History, Art & Culture and Geography are the three major subjects that are covered in this paper. Subjective questions are asked from the micro topics under these three subjects in the examination.

Major subjects included in this Paper are as follows : 

"Ace your GS 1 Mains exam preparation with confidence using EduRev's complete and comprehensive syllabus coverage!"

General Studies II

UPSC Mains GS Paper 2 is  “Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice, and International Relations”. It is a 250-marks subjective paper that is considered for merit. It means the score obtained by you  in the UPSC Mains GS Paper 2 is considered for determining your final rank 

Broadly, the UPSC Mains GS Paper 2 covers polity, governance, social justice, and international relations

Major subjects in this paper are as follows : 

General Studies- III

UPSC General Studies 3 is the Paper-IV in the UPSC CS(Main) scheme of examinations. General Studies Paper 3 is divided into Science & Technology, Economic Development, Biodiversity & Environment, Security & Challenges, and Disaster Management.

Broadly , the following topics are covered in this. 

Science and Technology,  Economic Development, Environment and Biodiversity, Security and Disaster Management 

Also read about : how to prepare for General Studies-III

General Studies -IV

General Studies Paper IV (GS IV) in the UPSC Civil Services Mains exam is conducted by UPSC to assess your  ethical and moral values, as well as your ability to think critically and analyze ethical dilemmas and problems. This paper covers a wide range of topics, including ethics, integrity, and aptitude, as well as emotional intelligence, decision-making, and problem-solving skills.
Broadly the following topics are included in this exam . 

Case studies play a crucial role in the GS IV exam as they help to evaluate your ability to analyze real-life ethical and moral dilemmas. They provide a practical and hands-on approach to understanding complex ethical issues and help you to apply ethical principles in a practical context. Through case studies, the exam aims to assess yours critical thinking, problem-solving, and decision-making skills, as well as your ability to analyze and understand the complexities of ethical and moral issues.

EduRev offers a detailed course on case studies which will surely help you to prepare for your case studies very well. 

Paper VI and Paper VII (Optional)

Paper VI and VII are of 250 marks each conducted by UPSC CSE for optionals. The decision to choose optional is very important as :

  • It can give an edge over the other candidates, especially in the personality test. 
  • An optional subject can help you demonstrate your knowledge and interests, as well as your critical thinking and analytical skills. 
  • It can give you an edge by highlighting your strengths in a particular area and can help you stand out from the crowd. 
  • Additionally, it can help you gain knowledge in a particular area, which can come in handy during the interview and the main examination.

UPSC CSE gives you choice of 48 optional subjects . You can choose one optional subject out of the list provided. 

EduRev also offers courses for optional subjects Sociology & PSIR in collaboration with Sleepy Classes. AIR 5 2018 Srushti Deshmukh was a student of Sleepy Classes & studied Sociology from them.

This course covers Sociology for UPSC Mains Optional. 

You can cover PSIR optional for UPSC Mains from here

You can cover History optional for UPSC Mains from here.

You can cover Geography optional for UPSC Mains from here.

You can cover Public Administration optional for UPSC Mains from here 

You can cover Anthropology optional for UPSC Mains from here 

Choosing an Optional Subject for UPSC should be based on the following factors:

  • Average success rate of UPSC optional papers, a higher success rate would be a good indicator of the availability of UPSC study material for those subjects
  • You should’ expertise in the optional subject, for example, a practicing doctor would have considerable expertise on Medical Science and should ideally choose this as the optional subject to reduce effort and time spent on UPSC preparation. 

Now, after passing through mains exams , you have to appear for the final stage that is interview. The aspirants who clear this stage finally become an IAS/IPS/IRS/IFS officer.

Let’s now discuss about the final stage to our journey . 

UPSC CSE 2023 Exam Pattern - Optional Subjects

As mentioned earlier, the UPSC Mains pattern includes two optional papers. Each paper carries 250 marks in accordance with the UPSC Marking Scheme. Candidates can choose any subject they want from the list of UPSC Optional Subjects. Here is the list of all the optional subjects. Also, check How to Choose Optional for UPSC

UPSC Paper Pattern – Optional Subjects

Mechanical Engineering

Medical Science

Philosophy

Physics

Political Science and International Relations

Civil Engineering

Commerce and Accountancy

Economics

Electrical Engineering

Geography

Psychology

Public Administration

Sociology

Statistics

Zoology

Agriculture

Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science

Anthropology

Botany

Chemistry

Geology

History

Law

Management

Mathematics

The literature of any one of the following languages: Santhali, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, Maithili, Assamese, Konkani, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Odia, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Bengali, Bodo, Dogri, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Urdu, and English.

UPSC CSE 2023 Exam Pattern: Interview

The interview process is the last and final stage of the selection process of the UPSC CSE Exam Pattern. The interview consists of 275 marks which makes the grand total of maximum marks 2025. Some of the qualities that the board assess in a aspirant are:

  • Mental acuity
  • Critical thinking
  • Analytical thinking
  • Risk assessment skills
  • Crisis management skills
  • Ability to become a leader
  • Intellectual and moral integrity

This was a brief overview of the UPSC CSE  Exam Pattern 2023. Keep following our articles to apprise yourself with the latest information about the exam. EduRev offers you detailed courses for both prelims and mains to help you get through this exam. Watch the below video to further understand the about UPSC Exam. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on UPSC CSE 2023 Exam Pattern


What is the last date for UPSC 2023 application?

The deadline for registration is February 21, 2023. The 2023 UPSC Civil Services Preliminary Exam will take place on May 28.

Which subject should I choose to study first for the UPSC?

You can choose any subject but we suggest them to start first from Class 6 to 12. Also, start the preparation from NCERT books first and then go for higher level books.

Is there any limit to attempt the exam?

General category people can attempt max 6 times, OBC category people can attempt max 9 times, SC/ST category no limit to attempt, physically handicapped (both General and OBC category) can attempt 9 times, SC/ST physically handicapped can attempt any no of times.

What is the pattern for the UPSC Mains exam?

It comprises of total 9 Descriptive papers conducted in 5 days. Paper A- (language paper, you can select any language prescribed by UPSC, however, this paper is not compulsory for Candidates from North-Eastern states of India) and Paper B (Compulsory English language), is qualifying in nature. The remaining papers, Paper I – to Paper VII are considered for the Main Score where each paper carries 250 marks.

Any age relaxations for Reserved category Candidates?

Yes, for the OBC category 3 years of relaxation, and for SC/ST there is a provision of 5 years relaxation. For Defense Service Personnel disabled during service have 3 years of relaxation, ex-servicemen including service officers have 5 years of relaxation, visually challenged, physically challenged and hearing-impaired people have up to 10 years of relaxation.

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FAQs on UPSC CSE 2024 Exam Pattern - News & Notifications: UPSC

1. What is the UPSC CSE Exam?
Ans. The UPSC CSE Exam refers to the Civil Services Examination conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) in India. It is a highly competitive exam that is held annually to select candidates for various prestigious posts in the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Foreign Service (IFS), Indian Police Service (IPS), and other central services.
2. What is the exam pattern for UPSC CSE 2023?
Ans. The UPSC CSE 2023 exam consists of three stages: Preliminary Examination (Prelims), Main Examination (Mains), and Personality Test (Interview). In the Prelims, there are two papers: General Studies Paper 1 and General Studies Paper 2 (CSAT). Both papers are objective type and carry equal weightage. The Mains exam consists of nine papers, including four General Studies papers, two optional subject papers, one essay paper, and two language papers. The Interview is the final stage of the exam where candidates who qualify the Mains are called for a personality test by the UPSC board.
3. What are the optional subjects in UPSC CSE 2023?
Ans. Candidates appearing for the UPSC CSE 2023 exam can choose one optional subject from a list of subjects provided by the UPSC. The optional subjects include a wide range of disciplines such as History, Geography, Public Administration, Sociology, Political Science, Economics, Anthropology, Mathematics, and more. Candidates can choose a subject based on their interest and background knowledge.
4. What is the pattern for the interview in UPSC CSE 2023?
Ans. The interview, also known as the Personality Test, is the final stage of the UPSC CSE 2023 exam. It is conducted by the UPSC board and aims to assess the candidate's personality traits, communication skills, and overall suitability for a career in the civil services. The interview is conducted in a face-to-face format, and the duration can vary. It generally lasts for around 30 minutes to an hour. The interview panel consists of a board of experts who ask questions related to the candidate's background, current affairs, and other relevant topics.
5. How can I prepare for the UPSC CSE Exam?
Ans. Preparation for the UPSC CSE Exam requires a structured and comprehensive approach. Here are some tips to help you prepare: - Understand the exam pattern and syllabus thoroughly. - Make a study plan and allocate time for each subject. - Read newspapers and stay updated with current affairs. - Refer to standard books and study materials recommended for the exam. - Practice previous years' question papers and mock tests. - Join coaching classes or online courses if needed. - Focus on developing analytical and writing skills. - Stay motivated and maintain a disciplined study routine. Remember, consistency and perseverance are key to cracking the UPSC CSE Exam.
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