Nature of Civil Services Exam

Civil Services is considered as one of the most prestigious careers in India. However, the recruitment process for the civil services is a thorough one, that tests the candidates on different planes.

What makes the civil services examination difficult is the level of comprehensiveness and the spread of the syllabus. The diversity of the questions asked in the exam is so large that sometimes, it becomes practically impossible to clear the exam without a comprehensive knowledge base.


Thus, it becomes important to know about the nature of the civil services exam.

Broadly, the nature of the exam consists of three parts:


Civil Services Exam Procedure


Each stage of the exam has a cut-throat competition, wherein a difference of one-mark can make a decisive impact.

The nature of each stage of exam is as follows:


  • Prelims Examination

This examination is meant to serve as a screening test only; the marks obtained in the Preliminary Examination by the candidates who are declared qualified for admission to the Main Examination are not counted for determining their final order of merit.

Generally the number of candidates to be admitted to the Main examination are about 12 to 13 times of the total approximate number of vacancies to be filed in the year in the various services and posts.

The preliminary stage of civil services examination consists of tests in two parts of objective type. Each Paper consist of 200 marks respectively. Both the papers are of objective type, with the question papers both in Hindi and English. Each paper consist of two hours duration.

Exception– 1.Questions relating to English Language Comprehension skills of Class X level are tested through passages from English Language only, without any Hindi translation.

  1. Blind Candidates are allowed an extra time of 30 minutes at each paper.


The Two papers of the preliminary exam are-

1. Paper 1 (General Studies)– This paper consist of 100 questions from the following areas:


  • Current events of national and international importance
  • History of India and Indian National Movement.
  • Indian and World Geography – Physical, Social, Economic Geography of India and the World.
  • Indian Polity and Governance – Constitution, Political System, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights Issues, etc.
  • Economic and Social Development Sustainable Development, Poverty, Inclusion, Demographics, Social Sector initiatives, etc.
  • General issues on Environmental Ecology, Bio-diversity and Climate Change – that do not require subject specialization
  • General Science.

Prelims Paper 1


  1. Paper 2 (CSAT)– This paper consists of 80 questions from the following areas:




Logical reasoning and analytical ability
Interpersonal skills including communication skills;
Decision-making and problem-solving
General mental ability
Basic numeracy (numbers and their relations, orders of magnitude, etc.) (Class X level),

Data interpretation (charts, graphs, tables, data sufficiency etc. – Class X level)

English Language Comprehension skills (Class X level).

Prelims Paper 2

  • Mains Examination

Civil Services (Main) Examination is conducted for the selection of the candidates for the various services and posts. This stage tests the candidate for the depth and conceptual clarity of their knowledge. Thus, while it might be possible to hit the right answers by various methods, it is difficult to escape from the Mains questions, as they are descriptive and more analytical in nature.

The nature and standard of questions in the General Studies papers (Paper- 2 to 5) is such that a well-educated person will be able to answer them without any specialized study. The questions test a candidate’s general awareness of a variety of subjects, which will have relevance for a career in civil services. The questions test the candidate’s basic understanding of all relevant issues, and ability to analyze and take a view on conflicting socio-economic goals, objectives and demands.

It is important in the Mains examination that the candidates write relevant, meaningful and precise answers.

As per the new syllabus, the Mains examination has a greater weightage of the General Studies papers. As per the new Mains syllabus, following are the papers that constitute the Mains examination for the Civil Services Mains Examination.


Paper Number Paper Title Maximum Marks
Paper-I Essay 250
Paper-II GS-I (Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society) 250
Paper-III GS-II (Governance,  Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International Relations) 250
Paper-IV GS-IV (Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude) 250
Paper-V Optional Paper-I 250
Paper-VI Optional Paper-II 250

Qualifying Papers

Paper-I English Language 300
Paper-II Indian Language 300
  • Personality Test (Interview)

This is the ultimate stage of the civil services examination, and plays a decisive role in the selection process. The personality test provides the candidates to fetch high marks and boost their overall performance.

Candidates who obtain such minimum qualifying marks in the written part of the Mains Examination, as decided by the UPSC, are summoned for interview. The number of candidates to be summoned for the interview is generally twice or thrice the number of vacancies to be filled.

The final merit list is prepared from the aggregate marks of the Mains and the Personality test. The Candidates are allotted to the various services keeping in view their ranks in the examination and their preferences expressed by them for the various services and posts.


Click here to go back to the Planner


A thorough acquaintance with the exam pattern of the civil services examination, allows the candidates to prepare and strategize well.

Please feel free to explore our site, to know more about the civil services and its related aspects.


Best Wishes


Team Aspirant Forum

© Aspirantforum

Tags: , , , , , , ,

About aspirantforum

a curious mind, eager to share and spread what is known.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: