Everything you should know about UPSC Examination

In India, UPSC civil services exam is the most popular competitive exam. Many students in India aspire to become IAS because the District Magistrate (collector) has that charm and charisma. The District collector’s red light vehicle is a dream for many.

Every year more than 10 lakhs aspirants apply for the UPSC Civil Services Preliminary examination for the vacancies of around 1000. The success ratio in UPSC is 0.001 that makes IAS as one of the toughest exams in the world.

In this article, we bring you all the relevant information required for UPSC Preparation and also share inputs on how to prepare for IAS exam.

Eligibility Criteria

UPSC has clearly defined the eligibility criteria for applying the Civil Services exam from nationality, age criteria to educational qualification.

  • Nationality: Indian Citizen can participate in IAS exam
  • Education: A degree from the recognised university
  • Age limit: Minimum 21 years and maximum 32 years of age. For OBC Maximum age is 35 and for SC/ST, it is 37 years.
  • Number of attempts: General 6; OBC 9; SC/ST – No limitation

Selection process

To become IAS, candidates need to clear the three level of examination process of UPSC


  • Preliminary Examination
  • Mains Examination
  • Personality Test

Details of UPSC Prelims Exam

The Prelims exam contains multiple choice questions on and the examination is held in a day for two papers.

  • GS Paper 1 – 100 Questions – 2 hours
  • GS Paper 2 – 80 Questions – 2 hours

GS paper 1 contains `Subjects of History, Geography, Polity, Economy, Science, Environment and recent current issues. The merit is calculated based on Paper 1 alone. Since Paper 2 is qualifying in nature (33%) and it contains questions related to aptitude and reasoning.

How to prepare and approach prelims exam?

Candidates preparing for Prelims exam need to concentrate more on the factual and conceptual understanding of all subjects mentioned in the syllabus.

Need to focus more on current affairs, candidates should cover last one-year current affairs for the Prelims exam.

While preparing for IAS exam, candidates should spend some quality time on solving previous years question papers and practicing mock tests before the exam. Such kind of practices helps in rectifying their mistakes.

Mains exam

Candidates cleared Prelims exam will be eligible to appear for UPSC Civil Services Mains Exam. Mains exam consists of 9 papers and all the papers are descriptive papers.

List of Papers included in Mains exam

Subject Marks Duration
Language Paper (Qualifying) 300 3 Hours
English Paper (Qualifying) 300 3 Hours
Essay 250 3 Hours
GS Paper 1 250 3 Hours
GS Paper 2 250 3 Hours
GS Paper 3 250 3 Hours
GS Paper 4 250 3 Hours
Optional Paper 1 250 3 Hours
Optional Paper 2 250 3 Hours


The merit for calling candidates for Personal Interview is determined based on 7 papers for 1750 marks. (English and Language Paper are qualifying papers – 25%).

How to prepare for Mains exam?

Candidates preparing for Mains exam need to give more importance to answer writing practice and complete understanding of the all the topics mentioned in the UPSC Mains Syllabus.

In UPSC mains questions, candidates analytical and conceptual understanding are tested. Candidates need to get themselves equipped with their answer writing skills.

The strategy many toppers followed to crack IAS mains exam is that they give more importance to Essay paper, GS paper 4 and Optional Subjects. The interview call is majorly determined by these papers as GS Paper 1, 2 and 3 are common to all and everyone who appears will get more or less equal marks.

Interview and preparation techniques

The interview is the final stage and those who cleared Mains exam are invited. In UPSC IAS interview, the panel assesses candidates’ personality traits and characteristics. So, in general, UPSC civil services interview is a test of character than knowledge.

The interview is held for 275 marks and final merit list is calculated based on Written scores for 1750 and interview, i.e, 2075 marks.

Time table for 2018 IAS Exam

Civil Services Exam Notification Date Exam Date
Prelims Exam 07-02-2018 03-06-2018
Mains Exam 01-10-2018
Interview April/May


Hard work and dedication is the key to get succeed in IAS exam.

Work hard. All the Best!