UPSC Examination Pattern, Syllabus and Marking Scheme

Every year the UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) conducts the UPSC Civil Services Examination to recruit in a very prestigious and powerful job vacancy of the Government of India. Of course, it is the hardest and most demanding examination to the aspirants. However, the aspirants have to appear in three level of UPSC Examination and they have to follow the syllabus for this examination.

UPSC Examination Pattern: UPSC conducts this examination by three levels of examination. The first level is UPSC preliminary examination, the second level is UPSC main examination and the third level is UPSC personality test.

UPSC preliminary examination: The followings are patterns of this examination.

  • It consists of two papers. The first paper is General Studies Paper I and the second paper is General Studies Paper II.
  • Both papers are in MCQ pattern of questions.
  • Duration of examination for each paper is two hours.
  • Total marks for each paper is two hundred.
  • The number of questions for Paper I is hundred, whereas the number of questions for Paper II is eighty.
  • There is negative marking system for each paper.

UPSC main examination: Whenever the candidates are able to clear the UPSC preliminary examination, they will be eligible for appearing the UPSC main examination. Here the pattern of this examination.

  • It consists of nine papers. Among them, mark of seven papers are qualifying the final ranking, whereas rest of two papers, namely as English and One Indian (Regional) language are only for the qualifying marks in nature.
  • Paper A contains one Indian (Regional) language and marks for it is three hundred.
  • Paper B contains English and marks for it is also three hundred.
  • Paper 1 contains essay and marks for it is two hundred fifty.
  • Paper 2 contains GS Paper 1 and marks for it is two hundred fifty.
  • Paper 3 contains GS Paper 2 and marks for it is two hundred fifty.
  • Paper 4 contains GS Paper 3 and marks for it is two hundred fifty.
  • Paper 5 contains GS Paper 4 and marks for it is two hundred fifty.
  • Paper 6 contains Optional Paper 1 and marks for it is two hundred fifty.
  • Lastly, Paper 7 contains Optional Paper 2 and it is two hundred fifty marks paper.
  • The questions of all papers are descriptive.
  • For Paper A, the candidate can choose the language from the list of Indian (Regional) languages and for Optional Paper the candidate can choose the subject from the list of optional subjects.
  • The candidate must have to obtain at least seventy five in both the papers A and B, whereas the obtaining marks in other papers will be considered at the time of final ranking.


UPSC personality test : Whenever candidate can able to clear the main examination, UPSC will call the candidate for UPSC personality test round. There is no written examination for this round and basically it is an interview process. The board members designated for this personality test examine the aspirant’s over all personality, stability of character, confidence and awareness about the current affairs in the country. Finally, eligible aspirants will successfully get the prestigious job under the UPSC.

UPSC examination syllabus : It covers different types of knowledge and strength of the candidate. Some part of this syllabus relates to those thing which are not changing with time, whereas some other part of the syllabus relates to those matter which are always changing with time. As a result of this, the aspirants will have to knowledge about the current affairs, issues and information which affect the country.

Syllabus for UPSC preliminary examination: For Paper I, there are some MCQ type of questions. The questions are related to the subjects, which are given below.

  • National or international current affairs.
  • Indian history.
  • Geography including the physical, political and economical geography of India and as well as the World.
  • The political and constitutional system of the Government of India.
  • General science.

For Paper II, questions are MCQ type. These are related to the following subjects.

  • General mental mathematical ability.
  • Basic mathematical and numerical problem of Class X level.
  • Test of logical reasoning and analytical ability.
  • Test for comprehension.
  • Personal and communication skill.

Syllabus for UPSC main examination: For Paper A the subject is anyone Indian language, which one you will choose. For Paper B the subject is English. These two papers are only for qualifying test. The syllabus for the rest seven papers are based on various types of subjects.

  • Paper 1 is based on essay writing on a specific topic, which clarifies personal thoughts, creativity, strength on grammatical knowledge and view of instant situation.
  • Other papers are based on General Knowledge in different fields. These are History, Geography, Literature, Architecture, Environmental Science, Social studies and the current affairs of the country. Details syllabus of these topics are explained below.
  • General Studies (Paper2): This paper consists of Indian and World history. Some of the major topics cover include Indian culture and art forms, Modern Indian history and significant events, freedom struggle in India and its different contributors, post-independence reorganization and consolidation, World History related topics such as industrial revolution, colonization, World Wars and communism, role of various women’s organizations, globalization and its effects, World physical geography, knowledge about various industries in different parts of the World and different geophysical phenomena that has occurred so far.
  • General Studies (Paper 3): This paper is comprised of topics such as the constitution, governance and international relations of India, historical underpinnings, amendments, features and significant provisions of the Constitution of India, the various functions of the governments both at the Union and State level, various redressal mechanisms and the separation of powers between the various governing bodies, comparing the governance of other countries with the Constitution of India and its schemes, State Legislatures, Parliament, the Judiciary Ministries and their composition and function, the detailed explanation of the People’s Act, responsibilities of various Constitutional posts and bodies, government policies and how they have helped to solve various issues, role of SHGs, NGOs and other associations and charities, issues related to Human Resources, various aspects of e-governance, how civil services pay their role in a democratic country like India, global and regional groupings that can affect India, International institutions and their mandate and issues related to poverty.
  • General Studies (Paper 4): This paper includes topics like the major cropping patterns in India, technology, disaster management, mobilization of resources, government budgeting, Public Distribution System, farm subsidy issues, supply chain management in the food processing industry, the various land reforms of India, the infrastructural development and needs pertaining to railway, roads, airports and ports, liberalization and its effects on Indian economy, investment models, the developing technology in the country and how it can be applied in the everyday life of people, awareness in fields such as nanotechnology, robotics, biotechnology and IT, environmental pollution, security challenges in border areas of the country and the role of security forces.
  • General Studies (Paper 5): This paper covers topics like dimensions of ethics, public relationships, role of family and educational institutions, political attitude and attitude in all stages of life, emotional-intelligence concepts, values that should be present in a Civil service officer like compassion, impartiality, objectivity, tolerance, empathy and dedication towards the welfare of the public, ethical issues when it comes to international relations, work culture, Right to Information and utilization of public funds. The candidate will have to study case studies on all the above mentioned topics.
  • General Studies (Paper 6 and 7): For these two papers, the candidate has to choose a subject from a list according to their choice and the syllabus will vary accordingly. The subjects given as an option include Botany, Agriculture, Anthropology, Chemistry, Commerce and Accountancy, Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science, Civil Engineering, Economics, Geography, Electrical Engineering, Management, Geology, Law, History, Philosophy, Psychology, Medical Science, Mathematics, Public Administration, Zoology, Mechanical Engineering, Sociology, Political Science and International Relations, Statistics and Physics.

Marking scheme of UPSC prelims examination: There is negative marking system in the UPSC preliminary examination and a detailed explanation is given below:

  • Paper 1: A total of 100 questions will have to be answered in this paper and the total time that will be given to you to do that is 2 hours. Since all of them are objective questions, you will have to choose the right answer among the four given choices. For each wrong answer, you will be subjected to a deduction of 1/3rd of the marks of that question.
  • Paper 2: For Paper 2, the candidate will have to answer a total of 80 questions in 2 hours but the marking scheme remains the same. You will be subjected to a deduction of 1/3rd marks of that particular question if you answer it wrong.

The mains examination of UPSC is subjective in nature and hence there is no fixed marking scheme for it. Apart from these papers, the candidate will also have to pass the interview to be finally selected for the prestigious posts.