UPSC exam: Paper pattern and stages of the IAS exam
The Indian Civil Services exam, commonly referred to as the IAS exam, is conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) each year. The exam is considered one of the toughest in India, but with thorough preparation and strong determination, one can crack it. Here's the pattern of the Civil Services exam and the details of all the stages.
The UPSC Civil Services exam for IAS is divided into three stages. These are: 1) Preliminary or prelims (which is an entry-level, objective-type test), 2) Mains examination (subjective, written exam), and the final stage is 3) Interview and Personality Test.
The first stage of the UPSC Civil Services exam is the preliminary (or prelims) examination. It is an entry-level, objective-type test. The prelims exam comprises two sub-exams. These are the General Ability test (GAT) and the Civil Service Aptitude Test (CSAT), accounting for a total of 400 marks (200 marks for each paper).
The prelims exam stage of the IAS exam is only meant for screening purpose, implying that the test is only a gateway to appearing in the Mains exam. The marks obtained in this stage will not be added to the total score considered for rankings.
The second stage of the IAS exam, i.e. the Mains examination comprises two types of exams- Qualifying papers and the papers considered for merit computation. There would be 2 language papers in the former category- English, and one of candidate's own choice. The second category consists of 7 papers in total. These include the essay test, 4 general studies papers, and 2 optional papers.
Each of the 7 papers in the non-qualifying category of the IAS mains examination make up 250 marks. These exams comprise both objective and essay type questions. Eventually, only those candidates who clear the commission-notified minimum qualifying marks will be called for Interview round.
A 275-marks final stage is conducted by the commission at the UPSC Bhawan in New Delhi. Only those candidates who have qualified in the mains examination will be called for this round, and the board members judge them through a psychometric test, an assessment test as well as the personal interview round. Final rankings are declared after this round. All the best!