IAS Exam Pattern

IAS Exam Pattern talks about the distribution of questions, marking scheme, sectional weightage and duration. It is decided by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) each year. The exam pattern for all the three stages of IAS viz. Prelims, Mains and Interview is different. Here is a brief about all of them:

  • IAS Exam Pattern for Prelims- The preliminary exam of IAS consists of two papers viz. General Ability test (GAT) and the Civil Service Aptitude Test (CSAT). All questions will be objective in nature that will account for a total of 400 marks. IAS Prelims is a qualifying round and the marks scored will not be added to the total IAS score. Check  IAS Syllabus

  • IAS Exam Pattern for Mains-  There would two types of Papers in the examination- Qualifying Papers and Papers that will be counted for Merit formation. The former part will consist of two language exams, one of the candidate’s choice and other of English. The latter part will consist of 7 papers and there will be about 300 questions each. They will be of 250 marks each.  IAS Mains will comprise of both essay writing and objective type questions. The sum total of all papers and the score secured in the direct interview will be used for ranking of the candidate.

  • IAS Exam Pattern for Personality Test-  A test of 275 Marks would be taken of the candidates qualified in the Mains Examination. This would include Psychometric Test, Assessment Test as well as the Personal Interview. The Marks obtained in the Personality Test would be added in the calculation for the declaration of the final Merit list.

IAS is conducted for selection of officers for Indian Administrative service. The exam is also known as Civil Services Exam (CSE). This year, IAS Prelims is scheduled for June 18, 2017. The online registration window for IAS Prelims closed on March 17, 2017. 


IAS Exam Pattern for Prelims

  • The Prelims stage of IAS will consist of 2 compulsory papers- General Ability test (GAT) and Civil Service Aptitude Test (CSAT). This will test the analytical skills of the candidates.
  • All questions will be objective in nature. Candidates will be required to choose any one of the 4 answer choices given for each question.
  • Questions will be set in both English and Hindi Language. However, questions relating to the English Language Comprehension skills of class 10th level will be tested through a passage from English language only without providing Hindi translation thereof in the question paper.
  • IAS Prelims is qualifying in nature. Candidates have to get a minimum of 33 % to be qualified for the Mains. 

Here are the highlights of IAS Exam Pattern for Prelims:

IAS Exam Pattern for Prelims
Exam Mode Offline
Number of Papers 2- General Ability test (GAT) and Civil Service Aptitude Test (CSAT)
Number of Questions Paper 1- 80; Paper 2-100 
Question Paper Type Multiple Choice Questions 
IAS Prelims Total Marks 400
Nature of Exam Qualifying
Exam Duration 2 hours each, +20 minutes for blind students
Exam Language English and Hindi

Read about  IAS Preparation Tips

IAS Marking Scheme for Prelims

  • Each question in General Studies paper carries 2 marks.
  • Each question in Civil Service Aptitude Test paper carries 2.5 marks.
  • For each question for which a wrong answer has been given by the candidate, one-third (0.33) of the marks assigned to that question will be deducted as penalty.
  • 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 the penalty will be the same as mentioned above for that question.
  • If a question is left blank, i.e. no answer is given by the candidate, there will be no penalty for that question.
  • Candidates will have to score a minimum of 33 % to qualify for the exam.

IAS Exam Pattern for Mains

  • IAS Mains is also an offline exam. Each paper will carry 250 marks
  • Each paper is of 3 hours. 30 minutes are given extra to blind students.
  • The exam will contain 7 papers. A candidate will be tested on the basis of their knowledge and understanding of the subject
  • Questions will be both- objective and subjective in nature. They will be given in both Hindi and English language.
  • IAS Mains is further divided into two types – Qualifying Exam and Merit Exam. It is compulsory to appear in both.

Qualifying Papers- 

  1. Paper A: (One of the Indian Language to be selected from the ones included in the 6th Schedule of the Constitution – 300 Marks)
  2. Paper B: English – 300 Marks

Merit Exams- Candidates will have to score a minimum percentage in the qualifying exam to qualify for the exam. The question papers are prepared to test the intellectual and interpersonal skills of the candidate. The essay type questions will test the students understanding of the subject and the concept. The students will be tested on the strength of an Indian Language.

  • There would be two optional papers which the candidates would have to select.

The following table will enrich the candidates for the compulsory papers, the marks allotted in which would be added to calculate Merit:

Paper Title of the Paper Marks Allotted 
Paper 1 Essay writing 250 Marks
Paper 2 General Studies–I (Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society) 250 Marks
Paper 3 General Studies –II (Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations) 250 Marks
Paper 4 General Studies –III  (Technology, Economic Development, Bio‐diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management) 250 Marks
Paper 5 General Studies –IV (Ethics, Integrity, and Aptitude) 250 Marks
Paper 6 Optional Subject – Paper 1 250 Marks
Paper 7 Optional Subject – Paper 2 250 Marks
    Sub Total in the written Test   1750 Marks
    Personal Interview   275 Marks
  Grand Total ( for merit calculation) 2025 Marks

Check  IAS Practice Papers

IAS Marking Scheme for Mains

  • The total marks of the Mains Examination are 1750 marks.
  • Each question will carry 2.5 marks.
  • Candidates will be graded on basics of opinion, Content flow, understanding the problems/ situation, offering feasible solutions/strategies, presentation, and language
  • Candidates can choose two optional papers on which they will be questioned.

List of Optional Subjects

List of Optional Subjects in IAS Mains

Agriculture

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

IAS Exam Patter for Personality Test

  • All candidates qualifying the Mains examination will proceed towards the Personality Test.
  • This would include the Psychometric Test, Assessment Test as well as the Personal Interview.
  • The objective of the interview is to assess the personal suitability of the candidate for a career in public service by a Board of competent and unbiased observers. He will be asked questions on matters of general interest. 
  • The test is intended to judge the mental caliber of a candidate. 
  • In broad terms, this is really an assessment of not only his intellectual qualities but also social traits and his interest in current affairs. 
  • Some of the qualities to be judged are mental alertness, critical powers of assimilation, clear and logical exposition, balance of judgement, variety and depth of interest, ability for social cohesion and leadership, intellectual and moral integrity.
  • This test will be conducted in the language of choice. 
  • The interview will be graded for 275 marks. The total marks of IAS is 2025 marks 
  • Candidates will be ranked on basis of the grand total and called for the final interview.

IAS Syllabus 2017

Preliminary Round

Paper 1 – General Awareness

This paper will test candidates’ knowledge and passion towards the country. The questions will be from various aspects like history, geography, economy, etc pertaining to the country. Some of the important topics include:

  • Events and Happening of National Importance
  • Impact of Geography in the country
  • Governance and Constitutional Structure
  • Current Issues faced by the country
  • Economic and Social Development
  • Research and Development
  • Scientific Developments

Paper 2 – English & General Aptitude

The command of English is mandatory in the field of Public Service and candidates have to score a minimum of 33 % to qualify the exam. The aptitude of a person determines his ability to solve complex problems, time management and agility. The important areas to practice for IAS Exam includes

  • Logical Reasoning
  • Problem Solving Capacity
  • Interpersonal Skills
  • Numerical Ability
  • Analytical Skills
  • Comprehension
  • Antonyms  / Synonyms

Read complete  IAS Syllabus

Mains Round

Paper 3 – Essay Writing

Candidates can write the essay on the topic of their choice

Paper 4 – General Studies I

This paper will contain questions relating to ancient India pertaining to History, Geography, Heritage, Culture etc. Some of the topics include

  • History of India – Ancient and Modern
  • Significant changes in Architecture, Literature, etc.
  • Geographical Significance
  • Notable events in World History
  • Diversity
  • Globalization

Paper 5 – General Studies II

This paper will contain questions about the reforms in Indian Governance post-Independence. The topics include

  • Constitution of India
  • Constitutional Analysis of the world
  • Parliament and Legislatures
  • Key issues faced by the nation and solutions
  • Welfare Schemes by the Government
  • Department and Structures in Government

Paper 6 – General Studies III

This paper will contain questions about Modern India and recent Key developments. The topics include

  • Indian Economy
  • Farming
  • Science
  • Research and Development
  • Information Technology
  • Environmental Studies
  • Achievements in various fields
  • Security Challenges
  • Industrial Growth
  • Infrastructural developments

Check  IAS Practice Papers

Paper 7 – General Studies IV

This paper will contain questions about Ethics, Integrity, and Aptitude. The topics include

  • Ethics in Public Administration
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Behavioral Analysis
  • Functional Values

Paper 8 & 9 – Candidates can select their desired subject from the list of 49 subjects given below

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

Candidate can also select one of the regional languages as an optional subject.


IAS Preparation Books

Here are some of the most recommended books for IAS Preparation. We suggest you make vital use of your time and go through these books.

Subject Book Name Author/ Publisher
 History Ancient India  RS Sharma 
 History Modern India Satish Chandra Mittal
History History Of Modern India Bipan Chandra
Polity The Constitution of India   PM Bakshi
Economy Indian Economy  Mishra and Puri
Environment Environmental Studies: From Crisis to Cure Rajagopalan
Environment Environment for Civil Services Prelims and Mains Khullar
Science and Technology Science and Technology in India TMH
English High School English Grammar and Composition  Wren and Martin
General Studies IAS Mains Exam General Studies (IAS Mains Exam General Studies) Ashish Bharti (IPS)

Candidates are advised to plan their studies well In advance. Keep a track of the current events and happening. Candidates are asked to carry an additional set of all necessary stationary for safety purposes. The admit card is mandatory and candidates are asked to carry it with them till the final selection. Time management is key, so plan your time accordingly. All the very best!!