IAS Exam Pattern

According to the UPSC IAS exam pattern, the UPSC IAS exam recruitment process consists of three stages: prelims, mains, and interview. UPSC provides the UPSC exam pattern separately as UPSC prelims exam pattern, UPSC mains exam pattern, and UPSC IAS personality test in the notification. Candidates can plan their UPSC IAS preparation using the UPSC IAS exam pattern 2022. Read the full article below to learn more.

Overview of UPSC IAS Exam Pattern

Name of exam

Civil Services Exam (UPSC CSE)

Organising Body

Union Public Service Commission

Mode of Exam


(UPSC Paper Pattern for Prelims- MCQ-based)

(UPSC Paper Pattern for Mains – Descriptive)

(Personality Test – Interview in front of board members)

Number of Stages

  • Prelims exam

  • Mains exam

  • Interview

Number of papers in UPSC Exam

Prelims: 2

Mains: 9

UPSC Prelims exam pattern: Marking scheme

Paper 1: +2 marks

Paper 2: +2.5 marks

Negative marking: One-third of marks allotted to each question

Time Duration of UPSC CSE exam 2022

Prelims: 2 hours (Each paper) total 4 hours

Mains: 3 hours (Each paper) total 27 hours conducted across various days

Type of questions

Prelims: Objective type

Mains: Subjective type

UPSC IAS Exam Pattern for Prelims

According to the CSE exam pattern, prelims is the first qualifying stage of the UPSC IAS selection process. The preliminary exam will consist of two papers, according to the UPSC prelims exam pattern. According to the IAS paper pattern, candidates must meet the UPSC IAS cut off for Paper 1 and it is mandatory to secure 33 percent for Paper 2 which is CSAT (Civil Services Aptitude Test) to meet the requirements. Here are the highlights of the UPSC CSE prelims exam pattern.

Number of papers

GS 1: Based on Indian History, Economics, Indian and World Geography, Science and Technology, Indian Polity, Current Affairs and Environment.

GS 2: Based on Reasoning, Aptitude and Quantitative

Language of paper



Duration of exam

4 hours (2 hours each)

Number of questions

General studies paper 1: 100

General studies paper 2: 80

Maximum marks

400 (200 each)

Qualifying marks

33% for Paper 2

Marking Scheme for UPSC IAS Prelims

  • According to the UPSC IAS 2022 exam pattern, each question in the prelims exam GS paper 1 will be worth 2 marks, while GS paper 2 will be worth 2.5 marks.
  • According to the IAS paper pattern, one-third of the marks will be deducted as negative marking for each incorrect answer.
  • If a candidate attempts more than one answer, it will be counted as negative marking.
  • There will be no penalty for unanswered questions.
  • To qualify for GS paper 2, candidates must score at least 33%.

UPSC IAS Exam Pattern for Mains

According to the UPSC IAS 2022 exam pattern, candidates who pass the prelims exam are eligible to take the UPSC IAS mains exam. The UPSC mains exam pattern indicates that the IAS mains exam will consist of nine papers. Candidates must score at least 25% in their optional subject as well as the remaining subjects. All languages listed in the constitution’s 8th Schedule will be considered for language papers. Here are the highlights of the UPSC CSE main exam pattern.

Number of papers


Language of paper



Descriptive paper: Candidates can appear for language paper in 22 languages mentioned in schedule 8 of the Indian constitution

Duration of exam

3 hours each


Compulsory Indian language



  • General Studies I

  • General Studies II

  • General Studies III

  • General Studies IV

  • Optional I

  • Optional II

Number of questions

Part A and B: 300 each

General studies and optional paper: 250 each

Sub Total (Mains)

1750 marks

Personality Test 275 marks
Grand Total 2025 marks

Marking Scheme for UPSC IAS Mains

  • The IAS Mains exam is of 1750 marks.
  • Each subjective paper in the mains exam is of 300 marks.
  • In the mains exam, candidates can select two optional papers.

UPSC IAS Exam Pattern for Interview

The interview round is the final stage of the UPSC IAS recruitment and one of the most important goals to achieve if one wishes to work for the Indian government as an administrative officer. Thousands of candidates applied for the UPSC IAS exam, but only a few thousand made it to the interview and only a few hundred qualified. According to previous years’ trends, no specific IAS exam pattern exists for the UPSC IAS interview round.

Candidates must be well-versed in their subject as well as current events. By asking open-ended questions, the UPSC IAS interview panel would assess the candidates’ mental and social abilities. Some of the qualities that the board seeks are mental alertness, critical capacities of absorption, clear and logical exposition, a balance of judgement, range and depth of interest, aptitude for social cohesion and leadership, intellectual and moral purity.

Benefits of Knowing UPSC IAS Exam Pattern

  • Students will be able to understand the number of questions asked in the prelims and mains exams by using the Civil Services exam pattern.
  • The qualifying criteria for the UPSC CSE exam prelims and mains are detailed in the IAS paper pattern.
  • Candidates will not be provided with a scribe to write the UPSC IAS exam, according to the exam pattern. Persons with Benchmark Disabilities in the categories of blindness, locomotor disability (both arm affected – BA), and cerebral palsy, on the other hand, will be provided with the facility of scribe, if desired, under Section 2 (r) of the RPWD Act, 2016.
  • Before beginning their UPSC IAS exam preparation, candidates should review the detailed UPSC CSE exam pattern.

Frequently Asked Questions

Ques. How many UPSC CSE papers are there?u003cbr /u003e

Ans. The UPSC CSE will consist of 11 papers that you must complete. Aside from that, an interview will be held, and a final list of candidates will be prepared.

Ques. Who makes the IAS exam pattern available?u003cbr /u003e

Ans. The Union Public Service Commission has provided the UPSC IAS exam pattern.

Ques. Is one year enough time to prepare for the UPSC CSE?u003cbr /u003e

Ans. Yes, one year of hard work and dedication can help you easily pass the UPSC CSE exam. You can devote the first six months to optional and answer writing, and the last six months to prelims. Furthermore, there are numerous good resources on the internet that students can use to prepare for the UPSC CSE.

Ques. Is there a difference in the syllabus for UPSC CSE Prelims and Mains?u003cbr /u003e

Ans. The UPSC CSE Prelims syllabus is a subset of the UPSC CSE Mains syllabus. In addition to the GS from prelims, you must complete an Indian language paper, an English language paper, an ethics paper, and an optional subject paper in Mains. Furthermore, there will be no main aptitude tests.

Ques. What are the most important UPSC CSE subjects?u003cbr /u003e

Ans. Current affairs, Indian history, geography, Indian politics, economics, and general science are among the most important subjects for UPSC CSE prelims, mains, and interviews.

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