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UPSC Exam Pattern 2024, Check Out Prelims and Mains Exam Pattern

The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) conducts the UPSC IAS Civil Services Examination (CSE) annually, and the exam pattern for the UPSC exam has remained unchanged since 2013. Understanding the IAS Exam Pattern helps aspirants understand the nature of the exam and plan their preparation strategy accordingly. This article provides the UPSC Exam pattern and syllabus for the UPSC 2024 exam. The UPSC 2024 Exam Pattern PDF is also available at the end of this article for candidates.

UPSC Exam Pattern 2024

The UPSC Civil Services Examination is widely regarded as the toughest exam in India, owing to the intense competition and the comprehensive UPSC Syllabus 2024. The UPSC exam pattern is also quite complex, and the entire UPSC exam cycle, from the preliminary exam to the declaration of UPSC final results, lasts nearly a year.

In this context, It becomes important for aspirants to understand the Entire UPSC Prelims Exam Patterns and UPSC Mains Exam Pattern along with the UPSC Syllabus to increase their chances of qualifying for the UPSC IAS Exam 2024.

IAS Exam Pattern 2024

The official UPSC civil services exam pattern consists of three stages: the Preliminary, Main Examinations and Interview. However, in practice, the UPSC IAS exam is conducted in three stages, with the third stage being the UPSC Personality Test/Interview. According to the UPSC CSE exam pattern, candidates who successfully clear the UPSC Prelims Exam are qualified to appear for the UPSC Mains Exam, and those who clear the IAS Mains exam move on to the IAS interview stage.

UPSC CSE Exam Pattern 2024
Stage UPSC CSE Exam 2024 Marks
Stage 1 UPSC Prelims Exam 400
Stage 2 UPSC Mains Exam 1750
Stage 3 UPSC Interview Exam 275
UPSC Final Results The final Cut-off is prepared out of 2025 marks (mains + Interview)

UPSC Prelims Exam Pattern 2024

The first target for aspirants is to clear the UPSC Prelims 2024 Exam. The UPSC Prelims Exam is a one-day exam where you first appear for Prelims GS Paper 1 and then after 3 hours, for Prelims GS Paper 2 (also known as CSAT). As per the UPSC CSE Exam Pattern, UPSC Prelims Marks are not considered while preparing the Final UPSC Result PDF. In this sense, the UPSC Prelims Exam is only qualifying in Nature. The preliminary examination consists of two papers and each paper has objective questions (MCQs).

  • General Studies Paper 1 (General Awareness)
  • General Studies Paper 2 (CSAT)
UPSC Prelims Exam Pattern
Exam Total Marks Number of Questions Duration of exam Negative marking Nature Qualification benchmark
UPSC GS Paper 1 200 Marks 100 2 hours Yes Marks counted for cut-off preparation UPSC cut-off prepared for qualified candidates
UPSC GS Paper 2 200 Marks 80 2 hours Yes Qualifying 33% (66/200) Marks

General Studies Paper 1 (General Awareness)

UPSC Prelims General Studies Paper 1 consists of 100 questions having equal marks (two/question). As per the IAS Exam Pattern, there is a negative marking in the UPSC Prelims exam and 1/3rd of allotted marks are deducted for each incorrect answer. There is no negative marking for questions left unanswered in UPSC Prelims as per the UPSC Selection process.

General Studies Paper 2 (CSAT)

UPSC Prelims General Studies Paper 2 (CSAT) consists of 80 questions having equal marks (2.5 marks/question). There is also a provision for negative marking for each wrong answer in the UPSC CSAT Paper. As per the UPSC Exam Pattern, 1/3rd of the marks allotted for each question will be deducted in case of the wrong answer.

UPSC Mains Exam Pattern 2024

There are a total of nine papers in the UPSC Mains Exam 2024. The first two papers in the UPSC Mains examination are qualifying in nature. Hence, marks obtained in these papers are not considered in the total UPSC mains marks. However, the next seven papers are crucial, as performing well in them is essential to clear the UPSC Mains Exam and achieve a good rank in the UPSC Final Result list.

  • The UPSC IAS Mains Exam is held over five days, with the Essay paper on the first day, GS 1 and GS 2 on the second day (with a 2-hour gap), and GS 3 and GS 4 on the third day (again with a 2-hour gap).
  • Following this, there is a break of 4-5 days before the two qualifying papers are held on the same day. Finally, on the last day, both UPSC optional papers are conducted.
  • It is important to note that this break is not a holiday, but rather a time to prepare for the remaining papers, especially for the UPSC Optional papers.

UPSC Aspirants who qualify in the UPSC Prelims stage are eligible for the UPSC Mains Exam. As per the UPSC Mains Exam Pattern, the Mains Exam consists of nine papers which include an Essay Paper, Four GS Papers, Two Optional Papers and Two qualifying language papers (English and One Compulsory Indian Language). When you appear for the UPSC Mains examination, be prepared for long hours of sitting as it spans a week and includes a total of 9 papers, which are divided as follows.

UPSC Mains Exam Pattern 2024
Sr. N. UPSC Mains Paper IAS Mains Subject Duration Total marks
1. Paper 1 Compulsory Indian language 3 hours 300
2. Paper 2 English 3 hours 300
3. Paper 3 Essay 3 hours 250
4. Paper 4 General Studies I 3 hours 250
5. Paper 5 General Studies II 3 hours 250
6. Paper 6 General Studies III 3 hours 250
7. Paper 7 General Studies IV 3 hours 250
8. Paper 8 Optional I 3 hours 250
9. Paper 9 Optional II 3 hours 250

UPSC Mains Exam Pattern Optional Subjects

UPSC Mains Exam Pattern consists of two optional papers and each paper carries 250 marks. Candidates are allowed to select their preferred optional subject for Paper VI & Paper VII of the UPSC Mains exam. The optional subject should be anyone from the list of 48 optional subjects provided in the table below:

UPSC Mains Paper Pattern (Optional Subjects List)
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 Zoology

Language-based/ literature of languages, the scripts to be used by the candidates will be as under:

Language Script
Assamese Assamese
Bengali Bengali
Gujarati Gujarati
Hindi Devanagari
Kannada Kannada
Kashmiri Persian
Konkani Devanagari
Malayalam Malayalam
Manipuri Bengali
Marathi Devanagari
Nepali Devanagari
Oriya Oriya
Punjabi Gurumukhi
Sanskrit Devanagari
Sindhi Devanagari or Arabic
Tamil Tamil
Telugu Telugu
Urdu Persian
Bodo Devanagari
Dogri Devanagari
Maithili Devanagari
Santhali Devanagari or Olchiki

UPSC Interview Exam Pattern 2024

After successfully clearing the UPSC 2024 Mains Exam, the final phase of the UPSC selection process is the IAS interview phase. According to the IAS Exam Pattern 2024, the UPSC interview is the last stage in the UPSC Preparation Process. The UPSC Interview is equally important to the previous phases, and satisfaction is not an option.

  • The UPSC IAS interview, also known as the UPSC personality test, carries a weightage of 275 marks. Performing well in this phase is just as crucial as the previous phase.
  • Due to its unpredictable and highly subjective nature, the IAS Interview is often considered a “maker or breaker” stage.

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What is the exam pattern of the UPSC Civil Services Examination?

The UPSC Civil Services Examination is conducted in three stages: Preliminary, Mains, and Interview.

What is the format of the UPSC Preliminary Examination?

The Preliminary Examination comprises two objective-type papers: General Studies Paper I and General Studies Paper II (popularly known as CSAT). Both the papers are conducted in a single day.

What is the format of the UPSC Mains Examination?

The UPSC Mains Examination consists of nine descriptive papers, including four General Studies papers, two optional papers, one Essay paper, and two qualifying papers in any Indian language and English.

Is there any negative marking in the UPSC Civil Services Examination?

Yes, there is negative marking in the UPSC Preliminary Examination. One-third of the marks will be deducted for every incorrect answer.

Can I write the UPSC Mains Examination in any language?

The UPSC Mains Examination is conducted in English and candidates can choose to write the papers in any of the scheduled languages recognized by the Constitution of India.

What is the duration of the UPSC Interview?

The duration of the UPSC Interview, also known as the Personality Test, is approximately 30-40 minutes.

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