IAS exam – All you need to know

The UPSC IAS exam, officially known as the Civil Services Examination is conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) annually. Despite being regarded as one of the toughest exams in the country, it is the most sought after exam among today’s youth. Right approach & correct planning can make an aspirant get through the IAS exam with flying colors in the very first attempt.

IAS Exam Conducting BodyUPSC
Number of times conductedOnce every year
Mode of IAS examOffline
Prescribed age limit21 – 32 years (upper age relaxation for reserved candidates)
IAS Exam – Prelims 2022Sunday – 5th June, 2022 (Prelims 2021 was on 10th October 2021)
IAS Exam – Mains 202216th September 2022 onwards (exams for five days)
IAS Exam PatternPrelims (MCQs), Mains (Descriptive papers)

UPSC IAS Exam Pattern

The two stages of the Civil Services Exam (IAS Exam) are:

1. Stage I – Preliminary Examination

2. Stage II – Main Examination

3. Stage III – Personality Test/ Interview

Civil Services Preliminary Examination

Paper NameNo. of QuestionsTotal MarksTime DurationNature of Paper
GS Paper I1002002 HoursMarks considered for Preliminary Exam Merit
GS Paper II (CSAT)  1002002 HoursQualifying in nature
  • The questions in the IAS Exam (Prelims) are of the objective type or Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs).
  • The GS Paper II (CSAT) in IAS exam is of qualifying nature and candidates should score a minimum of 33 per cent in this paper to qualify to the next stage of the IAS exam i.e. the Mains.
  • There is ‘Negative Marking’ in the IAS Exam for each incorrect answer but only in the Prelims stage. The negative marking for incorrect answers will be 1/3rd (0.66) of the allotted marks of that question.
  • Blind candidates are given an extra time of 20 minutes for each paper in the IAS Exam (Prelims).
  • It is mandatory for the candidates to appear in both the papers of civil services prelims exam for the evaluation.
  • The marks scored by the candidates in the preliminary examination are not counted for the final score. It is only a screening test where candidates not securing the cut-off marks are eliminated.

Civil Services Main Examination

The written examination consists of 9 papers out of which 2 papers are only qualifying in nature. The marks obtained in the remaining 7 papers and the interview test together are considered for making the final merit.

Paper NameTotal MarksTime DurationNature of paper
Paper A – Compulsory Indian Language Paper3003 HoursQualifying in nature
Paper B – English Language Paper3003 Hours 
Paper I – Essay2503 HoursConsidered for Merit
Paper II – General Studies I2503 Hours 
Paper III – General Studies II2503 Hours
Paper IV – General Studies III2503 Hours
Paper V – General Studies IV2503 Hours 
Paper VI – Optional Paper I2503 Hours 
Paper VII – Optional Paper II2503 Hours 
Personality Test/Interview275  
Grand Total2025  


  • The candidates can select their medium of writing the UPSC Civil Services IAS Mains Exam as Hindi or English or any other language listed in the 8th Schedule of the Indian Constitution.
  • The Indian Languages included in the IAS exam are as per languages listed in the 8th Schedule of the Indian Constitution.
  • The candidates who score above the prescribed cut-off marks in the IAS exam (Mains) will get the summons for the Personality Test (last stage of the IAS exam).
  • The final ranking of the candidates is on the basis of the marks obtained by them in the Main Examination and Personality Test/Interview Round of the IAS exam.

Civil Services Personality Test/ Interview

Candidates who clear the Mains stage of the IAS exam with the required cut-off marks qualify for the final stage of the IAS exam i.e., the Personality Test or Interview round with the UPSC Board Members. The candidates who qualify to the final stage will be sent an e-summon by the Commission for a face-to-face discussion round with the board members. In this round, the board assesses the personality traits of the candidates and questions will be asked on their hobbies, current affairs, general knowledge, situation questions, etc. to evaluate if they are fit for a career in the civil services or not. The UPSC personality test will be held only in the UPSC Bhavan in New Delhi.

UPSC IAS Age Limit and Attempts

There are conditions of nationality, age, number of attempts and educational qualification if candidates wish to take the IAS exam. For the general category aspirants, the candidate must be a citizen of India or a PIO, must have a graduate degree, must be between the ages of 21 and 32, and must not have attempted the IAS exam 6 times. But there are certain relaxations and other conditions to the above.

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