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

UPSC Exam Pattern for Civil Services

The UPSC Exam Pattern for Civil Services 2023 consists of three stages: Preliminary examination (Prelims), Main examination (Mains), and Personality Test (Interview). At Rau’s IAS Study Circle, we aim to provide aspirants with a comprehensive understanding of the examination pattern for the Union Public Service Commission’s (UPSC) Civil Services Examination (CSE). This understanding can greatly improve preparation strategy and exam performance.

UPSC Exam Pattern 2023

Preliminary Examination (Prelims)

The Prelims is the initial stage of the UPSC examination and serves as a screening test for candidates to qualify for the Mains. It includes two papers, both of which are objective type (Multiple Choice Questions) and carry 200 marks each.

General Studies (Paper-I): This paper assesses candidates’ knowledge of current affairs, history, geography, polity, economy, environment, and science & technology.

Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT) (Paper-II): This paper evaluates candidates’ comprehension, reasoning, and decision-making skills. Although a minimum of 33% is required to pass this paper, the marks obtained in the CSAT do not count towards the merit ranking in the Prelims.

Main Examination (Mains)

Successful candidates from the Prelims move on to the Mains examination, which is descriptive in nature. The Mains consists of nine papers, all of which are evaluated for the final ranking.

Essay Paper: This paper includes two essays, each of 1000-1200 words.

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

Optional Subject Papers: Candidates are required to choose one optional subject from the list provided by UPSC. The choice of optional subject is crucial in determining 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 papers are qualifying in nature, and the marks obtained in them do not count towards the final ranking.

Personality Test (Interview)

After passing the Mains exam, candidates must interview the UPSC board members face-to-face. This interview is called the Personality Test and is worth 275 marks. During this interview, the board members evaluate the candidate’s mental and social traits, including mental alertness, critical assimilation abilities, clear and logical exposition, balanced judgement, variety and depth of interest, and leadership ability.


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 process. Understanding the UPSC exam pattern for Civil Services is crucial in shaping an effective strategy and achieving success in the journey towards becoming a civil servant.

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Are you looking to excel in the prestigious Indian Administrative Service (IAS) exam in cities beyond the usual hotspots? We’ve compiled a list of the best IAS academies in various cities that provide top-notch guidance and support to aspiring civil servants. Whether you’re in bustling metropolises like Mumbai, Kolkata, or Chennai or in smaller but equally promising cities like Jaipur, Ahmedabad, or Chandigarh, these coaching institutes offer comprehensive courses and expert faculty to help you achieve your dream of cracking the IAS exam.

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