FAQ - What is pattern of UPSC CSE Prelims Exam ?

Q. What is pattern of UPSC CSE Prelims Exam ?

Ans : Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) conducts Civil Services Exam (IAS Exam) annually to select candidates for various Government posts. The UPSC CSE exam is conducted in 2 – stages: Preliminary & Mains.

UPSC CSE Preliminary Exam is objective type in nature, whereas, the UPSC CSE Mains exam comprises of 9 Subjective papers and a Personality Test (Interview).

Here, we will be discussing everything that a UPSC IAS aspirant needs to know about UPSC CSE Preliminary Exam in detail.

UPSC CSE Preliminary Exam is a screening test to select candidates for Civil Services Main Examination. It comprises of 2 compulsory Papers that are conducted on same day in two – sessions via offline mode (pen – paper).

1. Both the papers of UPSC CSE Prelims exam will be objective type in nature (multiple choice questions).

2. Each paper will be of 2 hours duration.

3. Each paper will be of 200 marks.

4. There will be negative marking for incorrect answers. 1/3rd marks (0.33 marks) will be deducted as penalty for wrong answers.

5. Question papers for the papers of UPSC Preliminary Exam will be set in both Hindi & English.

6. There is a cut-off in the IAS Preliminary Exam which varies every year and is decided by the UPSC. The marks obtained in General Studies Paper – I of the UPSC IAS Exam alone are considered in deciding the cut-off and selecting candidates for the UPSC CSE Mains Exam.

7. The General Studies Paper – II of the Civil Services Preliminary Exam will be a qualifying paper with minimum qualifying marks fixed at 33%.

Pattern of the UPSC CSE Preliminary Exam

Paper Name

Time Duration

No. of Questions

Total Marks

Nature of Paper

GS Paper I

2 hours



Marks considered for Preliminary Exam Merit

GS Paper II (CSAT)

2 hours



Qualifying in nature


A crucial part of one’s preparation is having the right study material. The below given links would provide an aspirant UPSC CSE Syllabus, Booklist, Preparation Strategy & Study Material & Online Prelims Test Series.

Read UPSC CSE Prelims Syllabus here (click here)

Read Dos & Don’ts for UPSC CSE Prelims Exam (click here)

Read UPSC CSE Booklist for Various Subjects (click here)

Read Monthly Current Affairs & Prelims Exclusive Material (click here)

Solve UPSC CSE Previous Year Papers (click here)

Get Online Prelims Test Series 2019 (click here)

All The Best!