Civil Services Main Exam

What is the Plan of Civil Services Main Examination?

The Main Examination will consist of a written examination and an Interview Test. The written examination will consist of 9 papers of conventional essay (Descriptive) type in the subjects.

What are the papers contained in the Main Examination?

Paper A (One of the Indian languages to be selected by the candidate from the Languages included in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution). 300 Marks
Paper B English 300 Marks

Papers to be counted for merit
Paper I - Essay 250 Marks
Paper II - General Studies – I 250Marks (Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society)
Paper III - General Studies – II 250 Marks (Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations)
Paper IV - General Studies – III 250 Marks (Technology, Economic Development, Bio‐diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management)
Paper V - General Studies – IV 250 Marks (Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude)
Paper VI - Optional Subject – Paper 1 250 Marks
Paper VII - Optional Subject – Paper 2 250 Marks Sub Total (Written test)

What are the Maximum Marks in the Main Examination?

The main (written) examination is held for a maximum of 1750 marks,
* Each paper, Optional and General studies paper carries 250 marks and the essay paper carries 250 marks
* Optional Subjects (two papers) 2 x 250 = 500
* General Studies four papers 4 x 250 = 1000 Essay paper 1 x 250 = 250 Total 1750 Marks
The two language papers carry each of 300 marks, but they are for qualifying only i.e. the score in these papers will not be taken for ranking purpose but you have to qualify in these papers for other papers to be evaluated. Personality Test 275 Marks Grand Total 2025 Marks

What does the language papers in the Main Examination consists of?

The pattern of questions in the Indian Language (Paper I) would be broadly as follows
(i) Comprehension of given passages.
(ii) Precise Writing
(iii) Usage and Vocabulary.
(iv) Short Essay
(v) Translation from English to the Indian language and vice-versa.

The pattern of questions in the English Language (Paper II) would be broadly as follows :-
(i) Comprehension of given passages.
(ii) Precise Writing
(iii) Usage and Vocabulary
(iv) Short Essay

What will be the standard of the Language Papers in the Main Examination?

The Papers on Indian Languages and English will be of Matriculation or equivalent standard and will be of qualifying nature only.

What does the Essay Paper concerned of?

Candidates will be required to write an essay on a specific topic. The choice of subjects will be given. They will be expected to keep closely to the subject of the essay to arrange their ideas in orderly fashion, and to write concisely. Credit will be given for effective and exact expression.

What does the General Studies Paper in the Main Examination consists of?

Please refer to the detailed syllabi provided in our website.

What is the nature and standard of questions in the General Studies papers?

The paper will be such that a well-educated person will be able to answer them without any specialized study. The questions will be such as to test a candidate’s general awareness of a variety of subjects, which will have relevance for a career in Civil Services. The questions are likely to test the candidate’s basic understanding of all relevant issues, and ability to analyze, and take a view on conflicting socio-economic goals, objectives and demands.

What are Optional Papers in the Main Examination?

There 26 subjects from various fields of interests including a literature paper. There 30 Literatures including 6 Foreign Literature.
Agriculture, Animal Husbandry & 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,
Literature of one of the following languages:
Arabic, Assamese, Bodo, Bengali, Chinese, Dogri, English, French, German, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Maithili, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Oriya, Pali, Persian, Punjabi, Russian, Sanskrit, Santali, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu.

What is the Course Content of the Syllabus of the Optional Subject

The Course of the syllabi for optional subject will be of Degree level

How to choose an Optional Subject?

While choosing the optional subject, you have to analyze the following,
a. Your interest in the subject
b. Availability of guidance, coaching, material and opportunity to form group
c. Abilities needed for learning the subject and your abilities d. Skill sets- Writing and presentation- needed for taking the exam with the subject

Whether I am permitted to choose any combinations of Subjects for mains?

Candidates will not be allowed to offer the following combinations of subjects:–
(a) Political Science & International Relations and Public Administration;
(b) Commerce & Accountancy and Management;
(c) Anthropology and Sociology;
(d) Mathematics and Statistics;
(e) Agriculture and Animal Husbandry & Veterinary Science.
(f) Management and Public Administration;
(g) Of the Engineering subjects, viz., Civil Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering–not more than one subject.
(h) Animal Husbandry & Veterinary Science and Medical Science.

Why certain optional subjects are popular?

Usually, the optional subjects like Public Administration, History, Literature (Eg Tamil), Geography, Psychology, Sociology etc, are popular. These are popular because majority of the candidates opt for these subjects. The Reason for majority of them choosing these subjects are,
1. These subjects do not need any academic background to learn.
2. These subjects are simple to understand.
3. The requirements for the examination with these subjects are also simple and developable.
4. The books and materials in these subjects are also abundantly available.

Why should not I choose science subjects like mathematics or any engineering subject even If I am a Graduate in that Stream?

It is generally not advisable to opt for a science subject in a competitive exam like Civil Services Exam. This is because you will encounter certain practical problems in the preparation. Such problems are like
1. There may not be adequate materials in such subjects.
2. You may not get multiple choice questions to work out which is very vital for the preparation. You may not find any guide/teacher to assist you in case of any doubts you may encounter. You may not be able to form a group to discuss since the number of candidates opting for these subjects will be very less. Only a candidate who has a background can only opt this

What is the duration of Main Examination?

Each paper will be of three hours duration. Visually impaired candidates will, however, be allowed an extra time of thirty minutes at each paper.

In which language the Mains Exam questions will be provided?

The question papers other than language papers will be set both in Hindi and English.

Can I write the main examination in my mother tongue?

Yes. Candidates will have the option to answer all the question papers, except the language papers viz. Papers I and II above in any one of the languages included in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution or in English.

Is there any Negative Marking in Main Examination?


When will the Main Examination be conducted and results published?

The Main Examination commences in last the week of November/December every year. The results will be published are normally published in mid of March every year.

Whether I have to apply for Main Examination separately?

Yes. When the candidate qualifies Preliminary Examination, subsequently UPSC will send a Detailed Application Form for the Civil Service Main Examination through Post.

What are the documents I have to keep ready for submission?

Candidates are requested to keep ready attested copies of the following document after the declaration of Preliminary Exam results.
1. Certificate of age.
2. Certificate of educational qualification.
3. Certificate in support of claim to belong to Scheduled Caste,
Scheduled Tribe and Other Backward Classes/Physically Disabled, where applicable.
4. Certificate in support of claim for age / fee concession, where applicable.

Does UPSC provide any cut-off mark for qualifying Main Exam?
No. However, the qualifying mark changes according to the overall performance of the candidates in that year of the examination.