UPSC Exam Pattern 2023 For Prelims, Mains & Interview

UPSC Civil Services Examination, also known as IAS Exam, is a three-stage examination consisting of Prelims, Mains, and Interview. It is conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) to recruit suitable candidates for IAS, IPS, IFS, and other allied services.

This article details the UPSC Exam Pattern for prelims, mains, and the interview. It is crucial to have a comprehensive understanding of the UPSC Exam Pattern. It will allow you to effectively manage your time thereby making your UPSC preparation more efficient. It is also important to have a deep understanding of the IAS exam pattern to align your preparation with all the exam needs.

Broadly, UPSC conducts the Civil Service Examination in three phases namely:

  • Preliminary Examination
  • Main Examination
  • Personality Test (Interview)

Candidates who qualify for all the rounds are recommended for joining the civil services in India. Each round is an elimination round, so you need to qualify each one in order to appear for the next one. Now, let us discuss the UPSC Exam Pattern 2023 along with the marking scheme for each of the papers in different rounds.

UPSC Exam Pattern for IAS Preliminary Examination

UPSC CSE Prelims consists of two papers namely General Studies I and CSAT (General Studies Paper-II). While CSAT is qualifying in nature, the marks obtained in the General Studies paper determine your selection for UPSC Mains. It means your score in the General Studies Paper will be considered for the Prelims cutoff.

Additionally, there is negative marking for the wrong answers. 1/3rd of the marks allotted for the question would be deducted as a penalty for marking the wrong answer. However, if you do not attempt the question, there will be no deductions. Hence, you should take only calculated risk when it comes to marking doubtful questions.

Name of the PaperNo of QuestionsMarks AllottedTime AllottedNature of Exam
Paper I: General Studies(Objective-type)1002002 hoursThe score will be considered for Cut-off
Paper-II: General Studies-II (CSAT) (Objective-Type)802002 hoursQualifying Nature- Candidates will have to score 33% to qualify CSAT.

Now, let us look at the UPSC Exam pattern for Prelims 2023:

In reference to the UPSC Exam Pattern, the following points should be kept in mind while appearing for IAS Exam 2023:

  • It is mandatory for all the candidates to appear for both the exams viz General Studies and CSAT to qualify for the Mains.
  • The score obtained in the Prelims will not be added to the final score. UPSC CSE Prelims 2023 will be just for screening purposes.
  • The question paper of Prelims will be bilingual. It will have questions written both in Hindi and English Language.
  • There is a negative marking of 1/3rd for every incorrect answer in both the papers.

UPSC Exam Pattern 2023 For IAS Main Examination

The UPSC Exam Pattern for the Mains Exam is tabulated below. The IAS Mains Exam consists of two types of papers viz qualifying and merit-ranking. Paper A and Paper B namely the Language paper and English paper will be qualifying in nature. The marks obtained in these papers will not be added to marks that may determine your rank. All the other papers will be evaluated for merit purposes.

PaperSubjectDurationTotal marksTime AllottedNature of paperType of Paper
Paper ACompulsory Indian language3 hours3003 hoursQualifyingDescriptive
Paper BEnglish3 hours3003 hoursQualifyingDescriptive
Paper IEssay3 hours2503 hoursMeritDescriptive
Paper-IIGeneral Studies I3 hours2503 hoursMeritDescriptive
Paper IIIGeneral Studies II3 hours2503 hoursMeritDescriptive
Paper IVGeneral Studies III3 hours2503 hoursMeritDescriptive
Paper VGeneral Studies IV3 hours2503 hoursMeritDescriptive
Paper VIOptional I3 hours2503 hoursMeritDescriptive
Paper VIIOptional II3 hours2503 hoursMeritDescriptive

The following points should be kept in mind while preparing for UPSC CSE Mains 2021:

  • Except for language papers, Paper A and Paper B, scores in all the other papers will determine your rank.
  • Hence, your score will be out of a total of 1750 marks.
  • It is mandatory to score at least 25% in each paper to be evaluated while the final selection.
  • Candidates will be required to write the answers in the answer sheets provided by the UPSC. No extra sheets will be provided.