The UPSC Civil Service Examination consists of nine papers. One paper out of them is a compulsory Indian language paper, which is called Paper A. This is just a qualifying paper and the marks you obtain in this test are not considered while calculating your final rank. It is compulsory to clear this exam. You need to score at least 25% of the total marks or 75 marks out of 300 to clear the test. The remaining papers in the IAS Exam mains are GS 1, 2, 3,4, Optional 1 and 2, English and an Essay paper.

If you don’t clear Paper A, the UPSC won’t disclose the marks you scored in the GS papers, optional and essay papers. Hence if you don’t clear the cut-off in Paper A, you won’t even know your marks in the remaining papers and all your preparation will be of no use. Hence you should not take Paper A lightly. Continue reading this article to read more about language for Paper A in UPSC Civil Service Examination.

List Of Indian Languages Asked in IAS Mains Paper A

The list mentioned below contains languages that you can choose for the UPSC mains exam.

Language  Script
Santhali Devanagari or Olchiki
Maithili Devanagari
Dogri Devanagari
Bodo Devanagari
Urdu Perian
Telugu Telugu
Tamil Tamil
Sindhi Arabic or Devanagari
Sanskrit Devanagari
Punjabi Gurumukhi
Odia Odia
Nepali Devanagari
Marathi Devanagari
Manipuri Bengali
Malayalam Malayalam
Konkani Devanagari
Kashmiri Persian
Kannada Kannada
Hindi Devanagari
Gujarati Gujarati
Bengali Bengali
Assamese Assamese

Students hailing from Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Sikkim, and Nagaland do not have to appear in Paper A compulsorily.

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Paper Structure for Paper A in UPSC Mains Exam

Paper A consists of 5 types of questions. The questions asked in the UPSC Mains exam is as follows:

  1. A Reading Comprehension for 60 marks
  2. Writing a Precis for 60 marks
  3. An essay writing question for 100 marks
  4. Translating English to the chosen Indian Language for 20 marks
  5. Translating the chosen Indian Language to English for 20 marks
  6. Question testing your grammar and basic language skills for 40 marks

How to Prepare for the UPSC Mains Paper A?

The questions asked in the UPSC Mains Paper A are of equivalent standards. It would surely help if you prepared for these papers without compromising on your core subjects preparation since you only need to clear it. It is recommended that the language you select should be the one that you have some grip over or you have learnt at your school.

It is recommended that you study from NCERT books while preparing for the test. You should also go through basic grammar lessons. You should also read the newspaper in the language you have opted for 15 minutes daily. This practice will give you a modern method of writing the answers.

You should always practice writing. It is even more important that you practice writing if you haven’t learnt the language in your school. It would help you avoid common spelling and mistakes and score good marks as well. Practising previous year papers always help you perform in the IAS exam. Your handwriting should be neat, clean and legible.

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Tips to Write Answers in the UPSC Paper A

The aspirant must read the question paper properly and with full concentration. You must solve the questions you are comfortable and confident with. You must complete the grammar section first if you are confident about it. If you don’t want to start with grammar, begin with the comprehension passage. These questions are simpler since you can find the answers in the passage itself.

While answering the essay question, try to use simple and effective language. You must attempt the essay questions at the end with a minimum of forty minutes to spare. Answering these questions, in the end, will be easy since you would have developed a flow to answer your essay with effective ease. Don’t waste your time by penning an elaborate essay at the beginning of your paper.

Try to avoid grammatical and spelling mistakes while answering the questions. While attempting translation, try to keep the following points in mind. If your skills in English are better than the language you have chosen then you should attempt the language to English translation first, and if you are better at the Indian language as compared to English, try to attempt the English to Indian language translation.


This article might have given you a clear idea about how to answer questions in the UPSC paper A. You must keep the above-mentioned points in mind while selecting the Indian language and also answering the paper. One must try to remain calm, composed and confident while answering these questions. If you want to read more such articles visit the UPSC Pathshala website. 

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What is the Language for Paper A in UPSC? Tips to Crack the Paper A in UPSC Mains
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What is the Language for Paper A in UPSC? Tips to Crack the Paper A in UPSC Mains
Are you confused about choosing an Indian Language in paper A of UPSC mains? No need to feel worried. Read this article to know more about the various Indian languages asked in the UPSC Mains paper A.
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UPSC Pathshala
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