Mains Syllabus



The Main Examination is generally conducted in the month of December and spans over 5 days. It will comprise a total of nine papers (conventional essay type papers) of the following nature:

  • 2 papers of Non-Ranking type (the marks obtained by candidates in these papers will not be counted for determining the final order of merit). The two papers of non-ranking type will include:
  • Paper – A : one paper of an Indian language to be selected by the candidate out of languages included in the Eighth Scheduled to the Constitution, and
  • Paper – B: the second paper of English, which is a compulsory language paper.

Note: Both these papers will be 300 marks each and will be of a very simple nature (of matriculation or equivalent standard) and, in a way, will mentally prepare the candidate for writing the subsequent examination.

  • 7 papers of Ranking type (marks obtained in these papers will be counted for merit). The seven papers of ranking type will be:
  • PaperI-Essay
  • Four (4) papers of General Studies in the following manner:
    • Paper – II: General Studies – I on Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and society
    • Paper – III: General Studies– II on Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations
    • Paper–IV: General Studies–III on Technology, Economic Development, Bio-diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management
    • Paper–V: General Studies – IV on Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude
  • Paper VI & Paper VII: Two (2) papers in any one optional subject (candidates may choose any one optional subject from amongst the UPSC’s list of optional subjects in the Mains Examination).
  • The syllabus of all these papers is available under Section III, ‘Syllabus of Mains Examination.’
  • For the optional papers in the Main Examination, UPSC has a list of about twenty – six subjects out of which any one subject has to be selected by the candidate. The list of optional subjects is available under Section III, ‘List of optional subjects in Main Examination.’


  • All the question papers for the examination will be of conventional (essay) type.
  • The non-ranking (qualifying) paper on Indian Language will not, however, be compulsory for candidates hailing from the States of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Sikkim.
  • Both the papers of non ranking type will be 300 marks and for 3 hours duration each.
  • All the 7 papers of ranking type will be 250 marks and for 3 hours duration each.
  • Evaluation of the papers, namely, ‘Essay’, ‘All the papers of General Studies’ and Optional Subject of all the candidates would be done simultaneously along with evaluation of their qualifying papers on ‘Indian Languages’ and ‘English’ but the papers on ‘Essay’, ‘General Studies’ and ‘Optional Subject’ of only such candidates will be taken cognizance of who attain such minimum standard as may be fixed by Commission at their discretion for the qualifying papers on ‘Indian Language’ and ‘English’. Marks obtained for all the compulsory papers (only from Paper I to Paper VII above), i.e., 250 x7 = 1750, will be considered for merit.
  • Candidates, who obtain such minimum qualifying marks in the written part of the Main Examination as may be fixed by the Commission at their discretion (subject to minimum 10% marks in each of the seven competitive paper as set for CSE 2014) shall be summoned by the commission for the interview round (or the Personality Test). The number of candidates to be summoned for interview will be about twice the number of vacancies to be filled.
  • Marks, thus obtained, for all the compulsory papers (1750) and marks obtained in Interview (out of 275) will be counted for final ranking. Candidates will be allotted to various services keeping in view their ranks in the examination and the preferences expressed by them for the various services and posts.
  • Candidates will have the option to answer all the question papers, except the Qualifying Language papers, Paper – A & Paper – B, in any of the languages included in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution of India or in English. For the Language medium/ literature of languages, the scripts to be used by the candidates will be as under:

Note: For Santhali language, question paper will be printed in Devanagari script; but candidates will be free to answer either in Devanagari script orin Olchiki.

  • Candidates exercising the option to answer Papers in any one of the languages mentioned above may, if they so desire, give English version within brackets of only the description of the technical terms, if any, in addition to the version in the language opted by them. Candidates should, however, note that if they misuse the above rule, a deduction will be made on this account from the total marks otherwise accruing to them and in extreme cases; their script(s) will not be valued for being in an un authorized medium.
  • The question papers (other than the literature of language papers) will be set in Hindi and English only.

General Instructions / Notes for Preliminary as well as Main Examination

  • Candidates must write the papers in their own handwriting. Innocircumstances will they be allowed the help of a scribe to write the answers for them. However, blind candidates will be allowed to write the examination with the help of a scribe. Blind candidates will also be allowed an extra time of thirty minutes at each paper @ ten minutes per hour.
  • An extra time of twenty minutes per hour shall be permitted for the candidates with locomotors disability and cerebral palsy where dominant (writing) extremity is affected to the extent of slowing the performance off unction (minimum of 40% impairment) in the Civil Services (Main) Examination only. However, no scribe shall be permitted to such candidates.

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