UPSC Exam Pattern for Civil Services 2023: Prelims, Mains & Interview

UPSC Exam pattern for civil services

The UPSC Exam Pattern comprises three stages: the Preliminary examination (Prelims), the Main examination (Mains), and the Personality Test (Interview). At Rau’s IAS Study Circle, we believe in providing aspirants with a comprehensive understanding of the examination pattern for the Union Public Service Commission’s (UPSC) Civil Services Examination (CSE).

This understanding can significantly enhance preparation strategy and exam performance.

UPSC Exam Pattern 2023

UPSC Exam Pattern for Civil Services

Preliminary Examination (Prelims)

The Prelims is the first stage of the UPSC examination, and it serves as a screening test to shortlist candidates for the Mains. It consists of two papers, both of objective type (Multiple Choice Questions) and each of 200 marks.

General Studies (Paper-I): It tests the candidate’s knowledge on current affairs, history, geography, polity, economy, environment, and science & technology.

Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT) (Paper-II): This paper evaluates the candidates’ comprehension, reasoning, and decision-making skills. Although you need to secure a minimum of 33% in this paper, the marks obtained in the CSAT are not counted for the merit rank in the Prelims.

Main Examination (Mains)

Successful candidates from the Prelims proceed to the Mains examination, which is descriptive in nature. The Mains includes nine papers, and all of them are evaluated for the final ranking.

Essay Paper: It includes two essays of 1000-1200 words each.

General Studies Papers (I, II, III, IV): These papers cover subjects like Indian Heritage and Culture, History, Geography, Polity, Governance, International relations, Technology, Economic Development, Ethics, Integrity, and Aptitude.

Optional Subject Papers: Candidates need to select one optional subject from the list provided by UPSC. The choice of optional subject plays a crucial role in the candidate’s final score.

Two Language Papers (Qualifying): One in English and the other in any Indian language listed in the Eighth Schedule of the Indian Constitution. These are qualifying papers, and the marks obtained in these are not counted for the final ranking.

Personality Test (Interview)

After clearing the Mains, candidates are called for the Personality Test or interview, which carries 275 marks. It is a face-to-face interaction with the UPSC board members, who evaluate the candidate’s mental and social traits.

These include mental alertness, critical powers of assimilation, clear and logical exposition, balance of judgment, variety and depth of interest, and leadership ability.

UPSC Syllabus 2024Prelims 2023 Answer key – Paper I
Prelims 2023 Answer key – Paper II (CSAT)Need of coaching for UPSC


The UPSC Civil Services Examination is one of the most challenging competitive exams in India. Rau’s IAS Study Circle is committed to guiding UPSC aspirants through every step of their preparation. Understanding the UPSC exam pattern is crucial in shaping an effective strategy and achieving success in the journey towards becoming a civil servant.

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