#CareerBytes: Paper pattern, different stages of UPSC Civil Services Exam
The UPSC Civil Services Examination (CSE), also known as the IAS exam, is one of the toughest exams and its preparation process is a demanding task. Before getting started, UPSC aspirants must know and understand the pattern and various stages of the exam to strategize the preparation process properly. Here's everything about the paper pattern and all the stages of the UPSC exam.
About the different stages of UPSC CSE
UPSC CSE is conducted in three stages: Preliminary examination (Prelims), Main exam (Mains), and Personality Test (IAS Interview). Prelims consists of two objective type papers: General Studies and Civil Services Aptitude Test (each carries 200 marks). Mains comprises 9 subjective papers (2 papers carrying 300 each; and 7 others carrying 250 marks each). The final phase is the Personality Test/Interview (for 275 marks).
The two compulsory papers of Preliminary exam
General Studies, the first paper of the Prelims, tests the candidate's general awareness in various topics and current affairs of national/international importance. Coming to the second paper of the Preliminary exam, the Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT) assesses the reasoning and analytical ability, reading comprehension, and decision-making skills of the candidate. Both the papers, carrying 200 marks each, are compulsory and objective in nature.
IAS Prelims is a qualifying exam
In the Prelims stage, both the papers consist of Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs). Also, negative marking applies for each wrong answer. The Preliminary exam is qualifying in nature; those who score a minimum of 33% will get qualified for the Mains.
The Main examination consists of nine papers
The CSE Mains tests the candidate's academic talent, ability to apply/express their understanding, and depth of intellect. It consists of nine papers; two are qualifying exams carrying 300 marks each while the remaining seven carry 250 marks each. The qualifying papers are Indian Language and English Language exams; the other seven consist of one Essay paper, Four General Studies papers, and two Optional papers.
The pattern of Main examination
The Mains qualifying papers (language exams) consist of questions on reading comprehension, precise writing, translation, grammar, essay, and basic language usage. The Main exam comprises both objective and essay writing type questions. The total score in the Mains exam is used for the candidate's ranking.
Personality Test: The final stage of the UPSC CSE
Those who successfully clear the Prelims and Mains exams are invited for the Personality Test/Interview where a test of 275 marks, including Psychometric Test, Assessment Test, and Personal Interview, is taken. The UPSC Board members assess the candidate's suitability for a career in the Indian Civil Services by testing their mental caliber, reasoning ability, moral integrity, and understanding of current events among other things.