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UPSC : Examination Plan

Plan of Examination

The competitive examination comprises two successive stages:

  1. Civil Services (Preliminary) Examinations (Objective Type) for the selection of candidates for Main Examination; and
  2. Civil Services (Main) Examination (Written and Interview) for the selection of candidates for the various services and posts.

The Preliminary Examination will consist of two papers of Objective type (multiple choice questions) and carry a maximum of 450 marks in the subjects set out. This examination is meant to serve as a screening test only; 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 in the various Services and Posts. Only those candidates who are declared by the Commission to have qualified in the Preliminary Examination in a year will be eligibe for admission to the Main Examination of that year provided they are otherwise eligible for admission to the Main Examination.

The Main Examination will consist of a written examination and an interview test. The written examination will consist of 9 papers of conventional essay type in the subjects set out.

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. However, the papers on Indian Languages and English will be of qualifying nature. The marks obtained in these papers will not be counted for ranking. The number of candidates to be summoned for interview will be about twice the number of vacancies to be filled. The interview will carry 300 marks (with no minimum qualifying marks).

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.

General Instructions (Preliminary / Main Examination):

  1. Candidates must write the papers in their own hand. In no circumstances, they will 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.
    1. The eligibility conditions of a scribe, his/her conduct inside the examination hall and the manner in which and extent to which he/she can help the blind candidate in writing the Civil Services Examination shall be governed by the instructions issued by the UPSC in this regard. Violation of all or any of the said instructions shall entail the cancellation of the candidature of the blind candidate in addition to any other action that the UPSC may take against the scribe.
    2. For purpose of these rules the candidate shall be deemed to be a blind candidate if the percentage of visual impairment is 40% or more. The criteria for determining the percentage of visual impairment shall be as follows :
    3. For availing of the concession admissible to a blind candidate, the candidate concerned shall produce a certificate in the prescribed proforma from a Medical Board constituted by the Central/State Governments alongwith his application for the Main Examination.
    4. The concession admissible to blind candidates shall not be admissible to those suffering from Myopia.

      Better eye Worse eye Percentage
    Category 0 6/9-6/18 6/24 to 6/36 20%
    Category I 6/18-6/36 6/60 to nil 40%
    Category II 6/60-4/60 or field of vision 10-20º 3/60 to nil 75%
    Category III 3/60-1/60 or field of vision 10º F.C. at 1 ft to nil 100%
    Category IV FC. at 1 ft to nil field of vision 100º F.C. at 1 ft to nil field of vision 100º 100%
    One eyed person 6/6 F.C. at 1 ft to nil 30%

  2. The Commission have discretion to fix qualifying marks in any or all the subjects of the examination.
  3. If a candidate’s handwriting is not easily legible, a deduction will be made on this account from the total marks otherwise accruing to him.
  4. Marks will not be allotted for mere superficial knowledge.
  5. Credit will be given for orderly, effective and exact expression combined with due economy of words in all subjects of the examination.
  6. In the question papers, wherever required, SI units will be used.
  7. Candidates should use only international form of Indian numerals (i.e. 1,2,3,4,5,6 etc.) while answering question papers.
  8. Candidates will be allowed the use of Scientific (Non-Programmable type) calculators at the conventional (Essay) type examination of UPSC. Programmable type calculators will however not be allowed and the use of such calculators shall tantamount to resorting to unfair means by the candidates. Loaning or interchanging of calculators in the Examination Hall is not permitted.
It is also important to note that candidates are not permitted to use calculators for answering objective type papers (Test Booklets). They should not therefore take the same to the Examination Hall.

Interview test

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 interst 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.

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.

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.


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