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Stage 3: Interview / Personality Test
Stage 2: Main Exam
Stage 1: Preliminary Exam

Paper 1: General Studies (200 Marks)
Paper 2: Civil Service Aptitude Test (CSAT) (200 Marks) - Qualifying Paper (34%)

  • Qualifying Paper: English (300 Marks) – 25%
  • Qualifying Paper: Regional Language (300 Marks) – 25%
  • Essay (250 Marks)
  • General Studies Paper 1 (250 Marks)
  • General Studies Paper 2 (250 Marks)
  • General Studies Paper 3 (250 Marks)
  • General Studies Paper 4 (250 Marks)
  • Optional Paper 1 (250 Marks)
  • Optional Paper 2 (250 Marks)

Students who qualify for Interview are called by the UPSC in January or February. The Interviews usually start 2 weeks after the Main Exam results are announced. The duration of Interviews is around 40 days.

This is computed on the basis of the total marks scored by candidates in Main Examination (1750) and Personality Test or Interview (275). The final result is declared by March - April.

Final Ranking and Service allocation are based on the combined marks scored in Main Examination (1750) and Interview (275) and on the preferences given by the candidates at the time of filling up of the Main Examination application form and the Reservation Category to which the candidates belongs.

UPSC publishes the advertisement for holding the Civil Services Examination every year in the month of April for the Preliminary Test to be held in June, of that year. Applications are invited by UPSC till May of that year.

Students must be degree holders or graduates (degree recognized by University Grants Commission) to appear for this Examination. Indian students holding a foreign degree need to ensure that their degree is accredited or recognized by UGC. Those students who are in Final Semester in Degree and have completed 21 years are eligible to appear.

  • Candidates belonging to General category must have attained the age of 21 on 1st August of the year of the Exam but must not have attained the age of 32 on 1st August of the year of the Exam.
  • Candidates belonging to OBC (non creamy layer) category must have attained the age of 21 on 1st August of the year of the Exam but must not have attained the age of 35 on 1st August of the year of the Exam.
  • Candidates belonging to SC category must have attained the age of 21 on 1st August of the year of the Exam but must not have attained the age of 37 on 1st August of the year of the Exam.
  • Candidates belonging to ST category must have attained the age of 21 on 1st August of the year of the Exam but must not have attained the age of 37on 1st August of the year of the Exam.

  • General category and OBC (creamy layer) category have a maximum of 6 attempts.
  • OBC (non-creamy layer) have a maximum of 9 attempts.
  • For Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe category candidates, there is no limit on the number of attempts till they attain the age of 37 years.

Students belonging to OBC/SC/ST can give the first 6 attempts as General category candidates (if they so desire) and thereafter they can avail the relaxation in the number of attempts by availing the category benefits.

The number of vacancies reported by Union Public Service Commission varies every year. The number of vacancies per year in the last 3 years had varied between 850 and 1100.

Every year, in the month of June the 1st stage (Preliminary Test) of the Civil Services Examination is held. The number of students aspiring for the UPSC Civil Services has gone up to more than 1,200,000 who fill the form and the number of people appearing in the preliminary exam is almost 600,000. 

Out of the 6 Lakhs candidates appearing in the Preliminary Examination, the number of candidates qualifying is dependent on the number of vacancies in the Civil Services advertised that year. 

To give an example, if the advertisement is for 1000 vacancies, then about 12,000 candidates would be called (qualified) by the UPSC to appear in the Main exam & the number of candidates who will qualify the Main examination to appear in the Interview would be about 2500.

The exact schedule of Main exam varies every year and is usually notified by UPSC on its website www.upsc.gov.in.

To give an idea following is the usual schedule of the Examination:

  • Notification and Form filling for Preliminary Test – February - March
  • Date of Preliminary Test – 2nd or 3rd Week of June
  • Result of Preliminary Test –1st or 2nd Week of August
  • Main Examination commencement – October (duration – 5 days)
  • Declaration of Main Examination results – December or January (next year)
  • Personality Test or Interview – January and February (next year)
  • Declaration of Final merit list – March - April (next year)

Students have to choose any one optional subject from a list of the following optional subjects. Students can opt for literature subject as an optional, if they so desire.

Agriculture, Animal Husbandry & Veterinary  Science, Anthropology, Botany, Chemistry, Civil Engineering, Commerce & Accounts, Economics, Electrical Engineering, Geography, Geology, History, Law, Management, Mathematics, Mechanical Engineering, Medical Science, Philosophy, Physics, Political Science & International Relations, Psychology, Public Administration, Sociology, Statistics, Zoology.

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.

Ideally the Main Examination preparation needs to be done before the preparation of Preliminary Examination.

The primary reason being lack of time between Preliminary Exam and Main Exam (which is around 4 months before the Main exam and only around 2 months before the declaration of Preliminary Examination result). This time of (4 months or 2 months) is insufficient for any preparation from ground-up for both the Optional subject and General Studies. 

The available time is only sufficient for revision of GS and the Optional subject and appearing in mock tests in GS and the Optional subject. At most the available time is just enough to prepare only GS (Main) and the remaining Optional subject had already been prepared in advance by the candidate.

Hence, students are advised to prepare for the optional subject from September onwards and the GS (Preliminary+ Main) and Aptitude Test from January onwards.

Optional subjects offered at ACE IAS are Sociology, Public Administration, History, Philosophy & Geography.

The Civil Services Examination (CSE) is considered to be the mother of all written examinations. It is a curriculum heavy examination, especially at the Main exam stage. A candidate, therefore, has to prepare first for the Main Exam and then for the Prelim (but the preparation goes hand in hand with Prelims and Mains together). This is so because, if one starts his preparation for the Main exam after the having written the Prelim exam, he will have just three months (July to September) to prepare the Optional subject, Essay and General Studies, which is almost impossible to achieve.

The optional subject is of post graduation level and usually, it will be totally a new subject. Based on the rich experience that ACE IAS has gained by guiding Civil Services aspirants, we suggest the following course of preparation for the CSE.

Kindly follow the steps shown below:

Step 1: (Start at least one year before you intend to take the Prelim exam). From the last week of September to January, prepare the optional subject if it is new to you and CSAT.

Step 2: From the Last week of October to May, prepare GS, both for the Prelim and Main exam. If time permits you may revise your optional subject.

Step 3: From last week of March to May revise GS and CSAT for the Prelim exam.

Step 4: From the last week of June to September revise the optional subject, GS and prepare for Essay for the Main exam. The compulsory English and Indian language papers generally do not need any formal preparation. Join a test series for GS and optional subject. Students from North East India are exempted from writing Indian Language Papers.

 Note:  The above suggestions apply to vast majority of candidates who are preparing full time for the CSE, without taking up any job. For other candidates, the preparation may have to be re-scheduled accordingly. They may consult our Institute for further help.