The Civil Services Examination (CSE) is conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC).
Some of the top services offered are the three All India Services, viz., the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and the Indian Police Service Indian Forest Department (IPS) along with the other central services, viz., Indian Foreign Service (IFS), Indian Revenue Service (IRS), Indian Customs & Central Excise Services, etc.
The candidates are put through three kinds of testing to measure their administrative potential and ensure that the persons selected have the following:

1. Basic knowledge of general awareness
2. Analytical ability and content retention capacity, and
3. Strength of character and a cheerful mental disposition even under stressful conditions.

Age Limits:

(1)  A candidate must have attained the age of 21 years and must not have attained the age of 32 years on the 1st of August, 2018 i.e., he must have been born not earlier than 2nd August, 1986 and not later than 1st August, 1997. Necessary action to make corresponding changes in respective Rules/Regulations pertaining to various services is being taken separately.
(2)  The upper age-limit prescribed above will be relaxable:
(3)  Up to a maximum of five years if a candidate belongs to a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe;
(4)  Up to a maximum of three years in the case of candidates belonging to Other Backward Classes who are eligible to avail of reservation applicable to such candidates;
(5)  Up to a maximum of three years in the case of Defence Services Personnel, disabled in operations during hostilities with any foreign country or in a disturbed area and released as a consequence thereof;
(6)  Up to a maximum of five years in the case of ex-servicemen including Commissioned Officers and ECOs/SSCOs who have rendered at least five years Military Service as on 1st August, 2018 and have been released;
(7)  Number of attempts: Every candidate appearing at the examination who is otherwise eligible, shall be permitted six attempts at the examination: Provided that this restriction on the number of attempts will not apply in the case of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes candidates who are otherwise eligible :Provided further that the number of attempts permissible to candidates belonging to Other Backward Classes, who are otherwise eligible, shall be nine.

Note :—

(i)  An attempt at a Preliminary Examination shall be deemed to be an attempt at the Civil Services Examination.
(ii)  If a candidate actually appears in any one paper in the Preliminary Examination, he/she shall be deemed to have made an attempt at the Examination.
(iii)  Notwithstanding the disqualification/cancellation of candidature, the fact of appearance of the candidate at the examination will count as an attempt.


The competitive examination comprises two successive stages :

(i) Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination (Objective Type) for the selection of candidates for Main Examination; and
(ii) Civil Services (Main) Examination (Written and Interview) for the selection of candidates for the various Services and posts.


The Examination shall comprise of two compulsory Papers of 200 marks each.
Note :
(i) Both the question papers will be of the objective type (multiple choice questions).
(ii) The General Studies Paper-II of the Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination will be a qualifying paper with minimum qualifying marks fixed at 33%.
(iii) Each paper will be of two hours duration. Blind candidates and the candidates with Locomotors Disability and Cerebral Palsy where dominant (writing) extremity is affected to the extent of slowing the performance of function (minimum of 40% impairment) will; however, be allowed an extra time of twenty minutes per hour for each paper.

2.  The marks obtained in the Preliminary Examination by the candidates who are declared qualified for admission to the Main Examination will not be counted for determining their final order of merit. The number of candidates to be admitted to the Main Examination will be about twelve to thirteen times the total approximate number of vacancies to be filled in the year through this examination. Only those candidates who are declared by the Commission to have qualified in the Preliminary Examination in the year will be eligible for admission to the Main Examination of that year provided they are otherwise eligible for admission, to the Main Examination.
I : The Commission will draw a list of candidates to be qualified for Civil Services (Main) Examination based on the criterion of minimum qualifying marks of 33% in General Studies Paper-II of Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination and total qualifying marks of General Studies Paper-I of Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination as may be determined by the Commission.
II : There will be negative marking for incorrect answers (as detailed below) for all questions except some of the questions where the negative marking will be inbuilt in the form of different marks being awarded to the most appropriate and not so appropriate answer for such questions.
(i)  There are four alternatives for the answers to every question. For each question for which a wrong answer has been given by the candidate, one-third (0.33) of the marks assigned to that question will be deducted as penalty.
(ii)  If a candidate gives more than one answer, it will be treated as a wrong answer even if one of the given answers happen to be correct and there will be same penalty as above for that question.
(iii)  If a question is left blank i.e. no answer is given by the candidate, there will be no penalty for that question.


1.  The Main Examination will consist of written examination and an interview test. The written examination will consist of 9 papers of conventional essay type.
2.  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, shall be summoned by them for an interview for a Personality Test. The number of candidates to be summouned for interview will be about twice of the number of vacancies to be filled. The interview will carry 275 marks (with no minimum qualifying marks).
3.  Marks thus obtained by the candidates in the Main Examination (written part as well as interview) would determine their final ranking. Candidates will be allotted to the various Services keeping in view their ranks in the examination and the preferences expressed by them for the various Services and posts.
4.  The papers on Indian languages and English (Paper A and paper B) will be of Matriculation or equivalent standard and will be of qualifying nature. The marks obtained in these papers will not be counted for ranking.
5.  Evaluation of the papers, namely, ‘Essay’, ‘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 Éssay’, General Studies and Optional Subject of only such candidates will be taken cognizance who attain 25% marks in ‘Indian Language’ and 25% in English as minimum qualifying standards in these qualifying papers.
6.  The paper A on Indian Language will not, however, be compulsory for candidates hailing from the States of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Sikkim.
7.  Marks obtained by the candidates for the Paper I-VII only will be counted for merit ranking. However, the Commission will have the discretion to fix qualifying marks in any or all of these papers.

(i)  The question papers for the examination will be of conventional (essay) type.
(ii)  Each paper will be of three hours duration.
(iii)  Candidates will have the option to answer all the question papers, except the Qualifying Language Papers,Paper-A and Paper-B, in any one of the languages included in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution of India or in English.
(iv)  The question papers (other than the literature of language papers) will be set in Hindi and English only.

C. Interview Test

1.  The candidate will be interviewed by a Board who will have before them a record of his career. He will be asked questions on matters of general interest. The object of the interview is to assess the personal suitability of the candidate for a career in public service by a Board of competent and unbiased observers. The test is intended to judge the mental calibre of a candidate. In broad terms this is really an assessment of not only his intellectual qualities but also social traits and his interest in current affairs. Some of the qualities to be judged are mental alertness, critical powers of assimilation, clear and logical exposition, balance of judgement, variety and depth of interest, ability for social cohesion and leadership, intellectual and moral integrity.
2.  The technique of the interview is not that of a strict cross-examination but of a natural, though directed and purposive conversation which is intended to reveal the mental qualities of the candidate.
3.  The interview test is not intended to be a test either of the specialised or general knowledge of the candidates which has been already tested through their written papers. Candidates are expected to have taken an intelligent interest not only in their special subjects of academic study but also in the events which are happening around them both within and outside their own State or Country as well as in modern currents of thought and in new discoveries which should rouse the curiosity of well educated youth.


Part A—Preliminary Examination


Paper I – (200 marks)Duration : Two hours.

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

Paper II-(200 marks)Duration : Two hours

1.  Comprehension;
2.  Interpersonal skills including communication skills;
3.  Logical reasoning and analytical ability;
4.  Decision making and problem solving;
5.  General mental ability;
6.  Basic numeracy (numbers and their relations, orders of magnitude, etc.) (Class X level), Data interpretation charts, graphs, tables, data sufficiency etc. — Class X level);

Note 1 :

Paper-II of the Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination will be a qualifying paper with minimum qualifying marks fixed at 33%.

Note 2 :

The questions will be of multiple choice, objective type.

Note 3 :

It is mandatory for the candidate to appear in both the Papers of Civil Services (Prelim) Examination for the purpose of evaluation. Therefore a candidate will be disqualified in case he/she does not appear in both the papers of Civil Services (Prelim) Examination.



The aim of the paper is to test the candidates’ ability to read and understand serious discursive prose, and to express his ideas clearly and correctly, in English and Indian language concerned.

The pattern of questions would be broadly as follows :

(i)  Comprehension of given passages.
(ii)  Precis Writing.
(iii)  Usage and Vocabulary.
(iv)  Short Essays.

Indian Languages :—

(i)  comprehension of given passages.
(ii)  Precis Writing.
(iii)  Usage and Vocabulary.
(iv)  Short Essays.
(v)  Translation from English to the Indian Language and vice-versa.

Note 1 :The papers on Indian Languages and English will be of Matriculation or equivalent standard and will be of qualifying nature only. The marks obtained in these papers will not be counted for ranking.
Note 2 :The candidates will have to answer the English and Indian Languages papers in English and the respective Indian language (except where translation is involved).


Essay :

Candidates may be required to write essays on multiple topics. They will be expected to keep closely to the subject of the essay to arrange their ideas in orderly fashion, and to write concisely. Credit will be given for effective and exact expression.


General Studies-I :

Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society.
Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.
1.  Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues.
2.  The Freedom Struggle — its various stages and important contributors/contributions from different parts of the country.
3.  Post-independence consolidation and reorganization within the country.
4.  History of the world will include events from 18th century such as industrial revolution, world wars, redrawal of national boundaries, colonization, decolonization, political philosophies like communism, capitalism, socialism etc.— their forms and effect on the society.
5.  Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India.
6.  Role of women and women’s organization, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.
7.  Effects of globalization on Indian society.
8.  Social empowerment, communalism, regionalism & secularism.
9.  Salient features of world’s physical geography.
10.  Distribution of key natural resources across the world (including South Asia and the Indian sub-continent); factors responsible for the location of primary, secondary, and tertiary sector industries in various parts of the world (including India).
11.  Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc., geographical features and their location-changes in critical geographical features (including water-bodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes.


General Studies- II: Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations.

1.  Indian Constitution—historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.
2.  Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein.
3.  Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.
4.  Comparison of the Indian constitutional scheme with that of other countries.
5.  Parliament and State legislatures—structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.
6.  Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary—Ministries and Departments of the Government; pressure groups and formal/informal associations and their role in the Polity.
7.  Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act.
8.  Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies.
9.  Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.
10.  Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
11.  Development processes and the development industry —the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders.
12.  Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.
13.  Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
14.  Issues relating to poverty and hunger.
15.  Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.
16.  Role of civil services in a democracy.
17.  India and its neighborhood- relations.
18.  Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
19.  Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.
20.  Important International institutions, agencies and for a-their structure, mandate.


General Studies-III: Technology, Economic Development, Bio diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management.

1.  Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment.
2.  Inclusive growth and issues arising from it. Government Budgeting.
3.  Major crops-cropping patterns in various parts of the country, – different types of irrigation and irrigation systems storage, transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints; e-technology in the aid of farmers.
4.  Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices; Public Distribution System-objectives, functioning, limitations, revamping; issues of buffer stocks and food security; Technology missions; economics of animal-rearing.
5.  Food processing and related industries in India- scope’ and significance, location, upstream and downstream requirements, supply chain management. Land reforms in India.
6.  Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth.
7.  Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc. Investment models.
8.  Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life.
9.  Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.
10.  Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, biotechnology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.
11.  Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment. Disaster and disaster management.
12.  Linkages between development and spread of extremism. Role of external state and non-state actors in creating challenges to internal security.
13.  Challenges to internal security through communication networks, role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges, basics of cyber security; money-laundering and its prevention.
14.  Security challenges and their management in border areas – linkages of organized crime with terrorism.
15.  Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate.


General Studies- IV: Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude

This paper will include questions to test the candidates’ attitude and approach to issues relating to integrity, probity in public life and his problem solving approach to various issues and conflicts faced by him in dealing with society. Questions may utilise the case study approach to determine these aspects. The following broad areas will be covered :

1.  Ethics and Human Interface: Essence, determinants and consequences of Ethics in-human actions; dimensions of ethics; ethics – in private and public relationships. Human Values – lessons from the lives and teachings of great leaders, reformers and administrators; role of family society and educational institutions in inculcating values.
2.  Attitude: content, structure, function; its influence and relation with thought and behaviour; moral and political attitudes; social influence and persuasion.
3.  Aptitude and foundational values for Civil Service, integrity, impartiality and nonpartisanship, objectivity, dedication to public service, empathy, tolerance and compassion towards the weaker-sections.
4.  Emotional intelligence-concepts, and their utilities and application in administration and governance.
5.  Contributions of moral thinkers and philosophers from India and world.
6.  Public/Civil service values and Ethics in Public administration: Status and problems; ethical concerns and dilemmas in government and private institutions; laws, rules, regulations and conscience as sources of ethical guidance; accountability and ethical governance; strengthening of ethical and moral values in governance; ethical issues in international relations and funding; corporate governance.
7.  Probity in Governance: Concept of public service; Philosophical basis of governance and probity; Information sharing and transparency in government,
8.  Right to Information, Codes of Ethics, Codes of Conduct, Citizen’s Charters, Work culture, Quality of service delivery, Utilization of public funds, challenges of corruption.
9.  Case Studies on above issues.


Optional Subject Papers I & II

Candidate may choose any optional subject from amongst the List of Optional Subjects given in Para 2.

List of optional subjects for Main Examination :

(i)  Agriculture
(ii)  Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science
(iii)  Anthropology
(iv)  Botany
(v)  Chemistry
(vi)  Civil Engineering
(vii)  Commerce and Accountancy
(viii)  Economics
(ix)  Electrical Engineering
(x)  Geography
(xi)  Geology
(xii) History
(xiii)  Law
(xiv)  Management
(xv)  Mathematics
(xvi)  Mechanical Engineering
(i)  Agriculture
(ii)  Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science
(iii)  Anthropology
(iv)  Botany
(v)  Chemistry
(vi)  Civil Engineering
(vii)  Commerce and Accountancy
(viii)  Economics
(ix)  Electrical Engineering
(x)  Geography
(xi)  Geology
(xii)  History
(xiii)  Law
(xiv)  Management
(xv)  Mathematics
(xvi)  Mechanical Engineering
(xvii)  Medical Science
(xviii)  Philosophy
(xix)  Physics
(xx)  Political Science and International Relations
(xxi)  Psychology
(xxii)  Public Administration
(xxiii)  Sociology
(xxiv)  Statistics
(xxv)  Zoology
(xxvi)  Literature of any one of the following languages: Assamese, Bengali, Bodo, Dogri, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Maithili, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Odia, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Santhali, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu and English.