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Civil Services Exam Pattern: A complete Guide for UPSC IAS Exam

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    About CSE
  • Published
    23rd Aug, 2023

The UPSC CSE is widely regarded as one of the toughest examinations due to its extensive syllabus and stiff competition. Aspiring candidates often undergo rigorous preparation and devote significant time and effort to succeed in this examination and serve the nation in various administrative and leadership roles. This exam is conducted by a constitutional body, the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) on annual basis. Candidates are recruited by UPSC for All India Civil Service , Group A services and Group B services. There are about 24 services which come under the ambit of UPSC Civil Services Exam conducted by UPSC. The details and number of posts are brought out in Official Notification that is released every year in the month of February/ March every year.

List of the UPSC CSE Posts

All India Services

  • Indian Administrative Services (IAS)
  • Indian Forest Services (IFoS)
  • Indian Police Services (IPS)

Group ‘A’ Services

  • Indian Foreign Service (IFS)
  • Indian P & T Accounts & Finance Service
  • Indian Audit and Accounts Service
  • Indian Revenue Service (Customs and Central Excise)
  • Indian Defence Accounts Service
  • Indian Revenue Service (I.T.)
  • Indian Ordnance Factories Service (Assistant Works Manager, Administration)
  • Indian Postal Service
  • Indian Civil Accounts Service
  • Indian Railway Traffic Service
  • Indian Railway Accounts Service
  • Indian Railway Personnel Service
  • Post of Assistant Security Commissioner in Railway Protection Force
  • Indian Defence Estates Service
  • Indian Information Service (Junior Grade)
  • Indian Trade Service
  • Indian Corporate Law Service
  • Indian Revenue Service (CBEC)

Group ‘B’ Services


  • Armed Forces Headquarters Civil Service (Section Officer’s Grade)
  • Delhi, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli Civil Service
  • Delhi, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli Police Service
  • Pondicherry Civil Service
  • Pondicherry Police Service

The status symbol and reputation attached with the Civil Services make this career as the most sought and lucrative career in India. Nationally UPSC is the agency that has been conferred the responsibility of conducting the Civil Services Exam. However at state level the same responsibility has been given to concerned state public service commissions. Through state PSCs the various government jobs in states are filled.

IAS Civil Services as a Career:

Civil Services is considered as the backbone of the administrative machinery of the country. Framework of most of the policies and laws is drafted by the bureaucrats only. The concerned minister is entitled to present this policy or bill in the house for further clearance. The bureaucracy acts like veins in human body that are responsible to flow the blood to entire body. Besides the formulation of policy civil servants also holds the responsibility to execute them. Civil servants are the individuals that act like a bridge between public and government. Thus civil service as a career gives an ample opportunity to serve the people by availing them the benefits through the benevolent schemes and planning floated by the government. The power and perks attached to this service also make this job peculiar and unique.

To Download detailed syllabus including Micro – topics

Watch our toppers' interviews helpful to carve out the preparation strategy for UPSC civil services examination 

UPSC Eligibility Criteria

Civil Services Exam Eligibility

  • To become an IAS and the IPS officer the candidate should possess citizenship of India. However except these two services a candidate belonging to India or any other country can join other services. Though the eligibility have some specific clauses that should be met by the nationals of another country.
  • The age of a candidate should lie between 21 to 32 years on the 1st of August of examination year. The upper age-limit has been relaxed in some case. For an example relaxation of maximum of 5 years has been given to SC/STs candidates and 3 years has been given to OBC candidates. Age relaxation is also applicable for Ex-Defense personnel and candidates with certain disability. The number of attempts for general category students have been fixed at 6 however for other backward classes (OBC) the attempts have been kept at 9 or 35 years of age or whichever is earlier .No attempt bar has been put for SC/ST candidates while upper age limit has been kept at 37 years.
  • A candidate must hold a Universities degree, or possess an equivalent qualification for appearing in Civil Services Examination. Candidates who have appeared in the final year of degree examination and also the candidates who intend to appear at such a qualifying examination will also be eligible for admission to the Preliminary Examination. But such candidates have to produce proof of passing the requisite examination before appearing in Civil Services (Main) Examination.

*A candidate who got appointed as an IAS or IFS officer in earlier examination and continues to be a member of that service will not be eligible to compete at this examination. Moreover, a candidate who is appointed to the Indian Police Service will not be eligible to opt for the Indian Police Service in the next exam.

UPSC IAS Exam Pattern

  • UPSC exam is conducted in three stages – Prelims, Mains and Personality Test (Interview): UPSC Prelims exam is having objective types or multiple choice questions.
    • The marks obtained in Prelims exam is for qualifying exam only and are not added in the final mark sheet.
    • The mains exam is subjective in nature and it comprise of 4 General Studies Papers, 2 optional Papers, One Essay paper, One Hindi and English paper. However the marks of Hindi and English are not added in the final marks they are of qualifying nature.
    • The last round is personality test that is oral in nature and the purpose of this exam is to ascertain mental alertness and presence of mind of candidate.

Candidates who clear all the three stages of the civil services exam enter into the prestigious civil services of the country, and become officers in the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Police Service (IPS), Indian Foreign Service (IFS) and a host of other services.

Although CSE is considered as one of the toughest exams in the country, with the right approach and strategy, an aspirant can crack the civil services examination in the very first attempt. The first and foremost thing for any aspirant is to know and understand the requirements of the civil services exam, such as the UPSC Syllabus for IAS Exam (Prelims and Mains), pattern, eligibility criteria, application procedure, and other such significant details before kick-starting the preparations. Here, we present all the details relevant to UPSC Exam IAS Exam Pattern.

How to register for UPSC CSE exam

Know the Online Registration Process of UPSC Application form

  • Candidates are required to apply Online using the official website of UPSC that is www.upsconline.nic.in.
  • Candidates need to complete the Online Application Form containing two stages viz. Part-I and Part-II as per the instructions available in the above mentioned website.
  • The candidates are required to pay a fee of Rs.100/- Rupees One Hundred only) [excepting SC/ST/ Female/Persons with Benchmark Disability candidates who are exempted from payment of fee] either by depositing the money in any branch of State Bank of India by cash, or by using net banking facility of State Bank of India or by using any UPI/Visa/Master/RuPay Credit/ Debit Card.
  • Before start filling up Online Application form, a candidate must have his/her photograph and signature duly scanned in the jpg format in such a manner that each file should not exceed 40 KB and must not be less than 3 KB in size for the photograph and 1 KB for the signature.
  • Applicants should avoid submitting multiple applications. In case of multiple applications, the applications with higher Registration ID will be considered by the Commission.
  • The applicants must ensure that while filling their Application Form, they are providing their valid and active E-Mail IDs as the Commission may use electronic mode of communication while contacting them at different stages of examination process.

Detailed Step By Step Process:

Step-by-step process to fill the Part I of UPSC CSE application form

  1. Go to the UPSC official websitewww.upsconline.nic.in.
  2. Click on the Exam Notifications.
  3. Then, click on Apply Online.
  4. Click on Civil Services Part-I registration.
  5. Read the instructions carefully and then, click on ‘Yes’.
  6. Enter all the basic information in part-I of the application form such as Name, DOB, Category, Gender, Email ID, Contact number, Permanent address, Marital status, Parents’ names, Community, Educational qualifications, etc.
  7. After filling in all the details, click on ‘Continue’. Check all details in the online form carefully 
  8. Finally, click on ‘Submit’.

Step-by-step process to fill Part II of the UPSC CSE application form

  1. You can Pay the UPSC application fee in online mode (through SBI Net Banking/ debit card/ credit card) or offline mode (by cash through SBI bank challan) mode. (Fee – Female/ SC/ ST/ PwBD – Nil; all other candidates – Rs 100)
  2. Now, Upload the scanned images of the photograph, signature and photo ID card as per the UPSC demands.
  3. Enter the information related to fee payment details and the examination centre.
  4. Read the declaration and click on the ‘I Agree’ button.
  5. Now a page with a registration number will be generated. Note down the registration number and take a printout of the page.

Click Here to get List of Free NCERT Books PDF For UPSC CSE Exam Preparation

    UPSC CSE: Frequently Asked Questions

    Q 1. Can UPSC prelims be viewed as only a qualifying examination?

    Answer: Yes, the IAS prelims are qualifying only. It varies from year to year what the cut-off is for General Studies Paper-1. CSAT, however, requires a minimum of 33%.

    Q 2. What is the syllabus for the UPSC prelims exam?

    Answer: For GS Paper 1 students will study current affairs, Indian history, Indian and world geography, economics, social development, environmental ecology, biodiversity, climate change, and general science. With regard to the CSAT paper, it tests the candidate's analytical skills, reasoning ability, and interpersonal skills. The UPSC Prelims 2023 Detailed Syllabus can be found at the link below.

    Q 3. How many exams are there in UPSC Prelims?

    Answer: The IAS preliminary examination consists of two papers: GS Paper 1 and GS Paper 2 (CSAT).  GS Paper 1 has 100 questions and the maximum marks are 200. GS Paper 2 has 80 questions and the maximum marks are 200 

    Q 4. What is the educational qualification to apply for the civil services prelims exam?

    Answer: To apply for the civil services exam, the applicant must possess a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree in any discipline.

    Q 5. In which mode IAS prelims is conducted? offline or online?

    Answer: The UPSC prelims exam is conducted in offline mode, i.e., the pen and paper mode.

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