The Union Public Services Commission (UPSC) conducts Prelims and Mains for its civil services exam every single year. It is one of the most competitive and looked after exams in the country. The candidates first have to appear and qualify for the Prelims and then prepare for the second level, i.e. Mains.

The exam is structured in a way to understand the thinking and comprehensive capability of a student. The selection ends with an interview which is conducted after clearing the Mains paper. Most of the time, the student is often confused about the pattern of the examination. Some of the most asked questions are like – Are the UPSC Mains exams written type or MCQ type? Is the UPSC exam MCQ type? Pops around every now and then.

Well, the question originates at the Preliminary exams stage. The Prelims boast objective type questions (MCQs), and candidates tend to connect the patterns of both together, thus creating uncertainty. With this article, we plan on giving you a quick and efficient overview of the UPSC exam pattern.

Do We have to Mark the MCQs in UPSC Prelims?

Civil services preliminary examination is considered as a screening test for all the potential future Mains candidates. When someone mentions UPSC MCQs, they are definitely talking about the Prelims paper.

The examination comprises of two papers. The first paper, i.e. Paper 1, is of General studies which comprise 200 marks in total. The second and the last paper of prelims, i.e. Paper 2 is an Aptitude test which is also a 200 marks paper. Clearing both the papers leads the qualifying candidates straight to the Mains.

Are UPSC Mains Paper MCQ?

Consisting of nine papers in total the UPSC Mains is one of the most sought-after exams in the country. The papers are conducted within a week as per the time table provided by the Commission. The qualified candidates from the prelims are provided with a separate hall ticket for the Mains. The marks obtained here are of utmost importance and are considered final while getting a national rank.

To answer the question “Is UPSC Mains MCQ type?” No, they are not. Unlike the prelims, the Mains are of subjective type. Detailed and comprehensive answers are expected to be written. Structural accuracy is vital and of significance.

The Pattern for Paper A and Paper B in Mains

For Paper A, the candidate is supposed to choose any one Indian language from the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution. The paper consists of 300 marks, and the completion time is 3 hours.

Paper B is an English paper. Everything the candidate has studied and absorbed up until their 10th standard is questioned. Comprehension passages, abstract writing, vocabulary usage are some of the areas the candidates are tested upon. The paper is of 300 marks and is to be completed in 3 hours.

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Mains Exam Pattern for Paper 1 – Paper 7

Paper 1 

Paper 1 is an essay paper for 250 marks. Up until 2013, the candidates were asked to write only one essay related to one subject in the span of 3 hours. However, after the modification in the new syllabus, the candidate is challenged to write two essays for different subjects in the same duration as before. One is expected to write 1000 to 1200 words for each essay.

This paper is divided into two sections “Section A and Section B” in which each section has four essay themes to choose upon. The candidates are required to select one subject from each section and write two essays in total. Each essay carries 125 marks.

Paper 2

Paper 2 is also known as General studies Paper 1 or more formally as “Indian Heritage and Culture, History, and Geography of the Environment and Society”. Comprising 250 marks, this paper is one of the seven papers ranked.

Paper 3

Paper 3, also known as General studies Paper 2, comprises of topics such as Governance, Law, Politics, Social Justice, and International Affairs. This paper carries 250 marks spanning 3 hours. There are 20 questions that are marked as compulsory.

Paper 4

Paper 4, also known as General studies 3, comprises topics like Science and Technology, Economic Development, Biodiversity, Environment, Security, and Disaster Management covers a wide range of areas. Comprising 250 marks the maximum number of words for 10-mark questions is 150, and that of 15 marks is 250.

Paper 5

Also known as General studies 4, comprises questions around ethics, honesty, and aptitude. This paper usually tests either direct concepts or concept related case studies. Again, the paper carries 250 marks spanning 3 hours.

Paper 6 and Paper 7

Paper 6 and Paper 7 are the papers for elective or optional subjects. From a list of 26 subjects from the UPSC syllabus, the candidate is free to choose the optional subjects as per their own choice and convenience. These papers are very crucial as they help in adding favourable marks to the candidate’s overall score. Each paper comprises 250 marks.

Interview/ Personality Test

As the name suggests, a board of executives conducts the interview to assess the personality and decision-making abilities of the candidate. The interview consists of 275 marks that are very crucial in the overall selection of a candidate.

Overall Total Score Calculation

A total of 1750 marks is prescribed from the Written Main Examination and an additional 275 marks from the Interview/Personality Test. In all, the total reaches 2025 marks out of which a candidate’s marks are judged in the Mains exam.


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Are the UPSC Mains Exams Written Type or MCQ type?
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Are the UPSC Mains Exams Written Type or MCQ type?
Are the UPSC Mains exams written type or MCQ type? Do we have to mark the MCQ in UPSC Prelims? Check out the exam paper pattern for UPSC from Paper 1 to Paper 7.
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UPSC Pathshala
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