UPSC Civil Services Exam Pattern 2020

Updated By Abhinav Chamoli on 18 Feb, 2020 10:31

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UPSC Civil Services Exam Pattern 2020

It is important for candidates to have a complete understanding of the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) exam pattern beforehand to be better prepared for the competitive examination. The UPSC Civil Services examination is divided into three stages including Preliminary (Prelims), Mains and Interview. The paper pattern of UPSC Civil Services Exam Pattern includes details related to the number of questions, nature of questions, and marking scheme.

Highlights of Civil Services Paper Pattern

Exam ModeOfflineOffline
Medium of InstructionEnglish & HindiEnglish & Hindi
Number of Qualifying Papers27
Maximum Marks4001750
Type of QuestionsObjectiveBoth Objective & Subjective
Negative Marking0.33 (one-third)One-third (for objective type questions only)
Exam Duration2 hrs per paper3 hrs per paper

 Civil Services Preliminary Exam Pattern

The preliminary examination is just a screening test for candidates to qualify for the Mains examination. The marks secured by the qualified candidates in the Prelims are not considered for determining their final order of merit.

  • The preliminary examination comprises of two compulsory papers (General Studies Paper-I & General Studies Paper-II) of 200 marks each. 
  • Both the question papers are of the objective type (multiple choice questions).
  • The General Studies Paper-II is a qualifying paper and candidates have to secure minimum qualifying marks fixed at 33%.
  • The medium of instruction for the question papers is set both in English and Hindi.
  • The time duration for the papers is two hours each.
  • Extra time of 20 mins per hour for each paper will be given to blind candidates and those with Locomotor Disability and Cerebral Palsy.
  • Negative marking is applicable on incorrect answers. For every incorrect response, one-third (0.33) of the marks is deducted.
  • In cases where a candidate marks more than one answer, the same penalty will be applicable even if one of the given answers happens to be correct.
  • There will be no penalty in cases where a question is left blank i.e. no answer is given by the candidate.

Civil Services Mains Exam Pattern

As part of the Mains exam, candidates shortlisted after qualifying the Preliminary examination have to take another written examination and a Personality Test. There are a total of 9 papers in the written test of the Mains exam. Marks secured by candidates in the qualifying papers of the Mains exam and marks obtained in the Interview round are considered for preparing the final UPSC Civil Services Rank List.

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Related Questions

How Can I be a CID officer?

-Manjeet kumarUpdated on August 17, 2020 08:05 PM
  • 1 Answer
Samiksha Rautela, Student / Alumni

Dear Student,

To become a CID officer, it is of utmost importance to fulfil the basic eligibility criteria or the career path. 

Mentioned below are ways that you can adopt to be a successful CID officer.

  • Join the police force as assistant police or a Hawaldar as per the qualification. Qualify the internal exams as it can help in joining the department of CID.

  • Pass the UPSC exam, after graduation (in any stream) and join the team of CID as an Assistant sub-inspector.

  • Clear the Graduation in criminology and qualify the UPSC exam. It also helps in joining the CID ...


What are the best books to prepare for UPSC CDS? What are the best coaching centers for UPSC CDS?

-SairamgorantlaUpdated on July 15, 2020 01:47 PM
  • 1 Answer
Jayita Ekka, CollegeDekho Expert

Dear Student,

Here are some of the best books to prepare for the Union Public Service Commission Combined Defence Services (UPSC CDS) exam:

  • NCERT Books - For History and Geography
  • High School English Grammar by Wren and Martin and Word Power Made Easy - For English
  • Pathfinder for CDS by Arihant
  • Quantitative Aptitude for Competitive Examinations by R.S. Agarwal

Apart from that, keep yourself updated with the latest GK and current affairs by regularly reading the newspaper. Reading the Pratiyogita Darpan magazine is also highly recommended for UPSC CDS aspirants.

You can also refer to our UPSC CDS exam preparation tips ...


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