Civil Services Exam Pattern

Civil Services is probably the most popular exam of our country. Visitors are looking for the pattern of Civil Services Exam and frequently asking about it. In this post we are going to tell you about Civil Services Exam Pattern for our visitors. Go through the post to understand the pattern of Civil Services Exam of India:

The UPSC has changed the pattern of the Exam from 2012 and has replaced the existing Preliminary Examination with a Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT), which will be a common Test for all candidates.

The Aptitude Test Consisting of Paper I and Paper II will be of objective type. The test will be common for all candidates.

  1.  With the above change the Civil Services Examination, 2012 will consist of The Civil Services Aptitude Test – CSAT (Objective Type) for the selection of candidates for the Main Examination
  2.  Civil Services Main Examination (Written) and
  3. A Final Interview for those who pass the Main Exam.


I. Aptitude Test

The Aptitude Test will be held by the UPSC normally on a Sunday in the latter half of May every year. The exact date will be published in the Notification.

The Aptitude Test will have two papers (Papers I & II) of the Objective (Multiple Choice) type questions and carries a maximum of 200 marks each. Each paper will be of two hours duration.

Penalty for Wrong Answers

i)       There will be a penalty (negative marking) for wrong answers marked by a candidate in the objective papers. For each question for which a wrong answer has been marked, 1/3rd of the marks assigned to that question will be deducted as a penalty.

ii)       If a candidate gives more than one answer, it will be treated as a wrong answer even if one of the given answers happens to be correct and there will be the same penalty as in i) above for that question.

iii)      If a question is left blank i.e. no answer is given by the candidate, there will be no penalty for that question.

The Examination Centres for the Aptitude Test are: Agartala, Ahmedabad, Aizawl, Aligarh, Allahabad, Aurangabad, Bengaluru, Bareilly, Bhopal, Chandigarh, Chennai, Cuttack, Dehradun, Delhi, Dharwad, Dispur , Gangtok, Hyderabad, Imphal, Itanagar, Jaipur, Jammu, Jodhpur, Jorhat, Kochi, Kohima, Kolkata, Lucknow, Madurai, Mumbai, Nagpur, Panaji (Goa), Patna, Pondicherry, Port Blair, Raipur, Ranchi, Sambalpur, Shillong, Shimla, Srinagar, Tirupati, Thiruvananthapuram, Udaipur and Vishakhapatnam.

II.  Main  Examination

Only those who are declared by the Commission to have qualified in the Preliminary Examination in a year, are eligible for admission to the Main Examination of that year, provided they are otherwise eligible for admission to the Main Examination.

The number of candidates admitted to the Main Examination is generally about 20 times the total approximate number of vacancies to be filled that year in the various services and posts.

The written part of the Main Examination is usually conducted in October/November every year spread over a period of 3 weeks and consists of 9 papers, as detailed below, of the conventional essay-type questions, in the subjects prescribed by the Commission.

The Main Examination is intended to assess the overall intellectual traits and the depth of understanding of the candidates, rather than merely the range of their information and memory. Sufficient choice of questions will be allowed in the question papers.

The Question Papers (III to IX) will be set both in Hindi and English.

The Level of Optional Subject Papers

Two subjects are to be selected from the prescribed list of optional subjects. The papers are broadly of the Honours degree level, i.e. a level higher than the Bachelor’s degree and lower than the Master’s degree. In Engineering, Law and Medical Sciences, the level corresponds to the Bachelor’s degree.

Pattern  of  the  Main  Examination

The written examination will consist of the following papers:

Paper I One of the Indian Languages*


Paper II English



Papers I and II are of a qualifying nature only. The marks obtained in them will not count for ranking purposes.

Paper III Essay 200 marks
Papers IV & V General Studies – (Papers I & II) 300 marks each


Optional Subjects – (2 Subjects)
Papers VI & VII Optional I (Papers I & II) 300 marks each
Papers VIII & IX Optional II (Papers I & II) 300 marks each
Grand Total (Papers III to IX) 2000 marks

i. The aim of Papers I and II is to test the candidate’s ability to read and understand serious discursive prose and to express his/her ideas clearly and correctly in English/the Indian language concerned. These papers will be of the Matriculation level and of the qualifying nature; the marks obtained in these papers will not be counted for ranking.

  1. Paper I (Indian Language) will not, however, be compulsory for candidates hailing from the North Eastern States of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland or the State of Sikkim.
  1. Candidates have the option to answer Papers III to IX in English or in one of the Indian languages as per Schedule VIII of the Constitution of India.*


The number of candidates who pass the Main Exam and are called for the Interview is usually more than twice the number of likely vacancies. A total of 300 marks is allotted for the Interview.

Final Ranking

The total marks obtained in the Main Examination – both written and interview – will determine the candidate’s rank in the final selection.

Filed Under: Civil Services


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