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The Civil Services Examination (CSE), conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), is one of the most coveted examinations in the country. Over the years, the exam has become more competitive, and aspirants from different fields of study leave no stone unturned to prepare and ace the UPSC Civil Services examination.

The UPSC CSE 2023 calendar is out, and the candidates who wish to appear in the CSE 2023 exam should kick-start their preparation right away. As per the UPSC calendar 2023, the Civil Services Preliminary examination will be conducted on May 28, 2023. The following sections are more details related to the UPSC 2023 exam dates, syllabus, exam pattern, Civil Services exam preparation, etc.

Overview of the UPSC Civil Services Examination

UPSC Civil Services examination is also known as the IAS examination. The CSE is conducted once every year. Lakhs of candidates appear for the UPSC examination every year, but only a few get selected. The CSE is a three-stage examination, which comprises:

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  1. Preliminary examination
  2. Main examination
  3. Interview/Personality Test
  • The Preliminary exam is a screening test, which is of objective type. Candidates who clear the prelims exam, qualify for the next stage, i.e. the main examination. Main examination is subjective in nature and comprises Essay, English, General Studies and optional subject papers. The last stage of the examination is the interview or the personality test. More details of the IAS exam pattern are given below.
  • Candidates have a limited number of attempts (number of times a candidate can write the UPSC CSE). For instance, the General category candidates have 6 attempts. Therefore, it is imperative for every UPSC aspirant to take this exam seriously from the very beginning.
  • The UPSC has laid down a set of eligibility criteria in terms of age limit, educational qualification and other eligibility requirements for CSE. Hence, candidates should carefully go through the UPSC eligibility criteria given in the official notification before applying for the exams.

For more information on UPSC CSE, refer to the UPSC notification, which comprises all the details related to the UPSC posts, number of vacancies, application process etc.

UPSC CSE 2023 Exam Dates

The UPSC Civil Services examination will be held on May 28, 2023. Important dates related to the UPSC IAS examination are given in the table below. More information pertaining to the release of UPSC CSE 2023 admit cards, main examination timetable etc., will be updated here as soon as the UPSC releases the information.

UPSC CSE 2023 Exam Dates
S.No. Events Important Exam Dates
1 Date of Release of UPSC CSE 2023 Notification 01.02.2023
2 Last Date for receipt of UPSC CSE 2023 Applications 21.02.2023
3 Date of commencement of the UPSC CSE 2023 Preliminary Exam 28.05.2023
4 Date of Commencement of Civil Services (Main) Examination, 2023 15.09.2023

UPSC CSE Exam Pattern

An overview of the UPSC Exam Pattern is given below. It is important that aspirants understand the nature of UPSC CSE questions and exam patterns before starting their preparation.

UPSC CSE Preliminary Examination Pattern

  • It consists of multiple-choice questions (MCQs).
  • Prelims exam comprises Paper 1 and Paper 2.
  • Paper 1 focuses on topics pertaining to:
    • Current Affairs
    • History
    • Economics
    • Science and technology
    • Geography etc.
  • Paper 2 comprises questions related to:
    • Comprehension
    • Logical reasoning
    • Basic numeracy
    • Data interpretation etc.
  • There is a negative marking for Paper 1 and Paper 2, where one-third (0.33) of the marks assigned to the question are deducted for every wrong answer.
  • GS Paper II (CSAT) is qualifying in nature and candidates have to score a minimum of 33% in it.

UPSC CSE Preliminary Examination Pattern

Sl. No. Paper No. of Questions Total Marks Duration
1 General Studies Paper I 100 200 2 hours
2 General Studies Paper II (CSAT) 80 200 2 hours

UPSC Civil Services Main Examination

  • The CSE main examination consists of qualifying papers like Indian Language and English, and candidates have to score at least 25% marks on each paper.
  • Papers that are counted for merit include Essay, General Studies and optional papers.
  • The total duration of all the papers is 3 hours.
  • The Indian Language paper is not compulsory for candidates from the states of Sikkim, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh.

More information related to the UPSC exam pattern, i.e. total marks allotted for each paper, duration of the exam etc., is given in the table below.

UPSC CSE Main Exam Pattern
Sl. No. Name of the Paper Subject Total Marks
1 Paper A Indian Language 300 Marks
2 Paper B English 300 Marks
3 Paper I Essay 250 Marks
4 Paper II General Studies I 250 Marks
5 Paper III General Studies II 250 Marks
6 Paper IV General Studies III 250 Marks
7 Paper V General Studies IV 250 Marks
8 Paper VI Optional I 250 Marks
9 Paper VII Optional II 250 Marks

General Studies Paper I, II, III and IV

The topics that are part of UPSC main exam General Studies papers are given in the table below.

Overview of the UPSC Main General Studies Exam Topics
General Studies Papers Name of the Topic(s)
General Studies I Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society
General Studies II Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International Relations
General Studies III Technology, Economic Development, Biodiversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management
General Studies IV Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude

Optional Subject Papers I & II

For the UPSC CSE Main examination, candidates can select any one of the optional subjects given in the table below.

Optional Subject Papers for UPSC Main Examination

Agriculture Botany Anthropology Economics Mechanical Engineering
Zoology Civil Engineering Chemistry Mathematics Public Administration
Management Law Geography Commerce and Accountancy Electrical Engineering
Geology Physics History Statistics Philosophy
Medical Science Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science Sociology Psychology Political Science and International Relations
The literature of any one of the following languages can be selected:
Assamese, Bodo, Dogri, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Maithili, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Odia, Punjabi, Santhali, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu, English, Bengali, Gujarati, Konkani, Nepali, Sindhi and Sanskrit.

Question Paper Pattern of English and Indian Language

Question Paper Pattern of English and Indian Language is given in the table below.

Question Paper Pattern of English and Indian Language
English Indian Language
(a) Comprehension of Given Passages (a) Comprehension of Given Passages
(b) Precis Writing (b) Precis Writing
(c) Usage and Vocabulary (c) Usage and Vocabulary
(d) Short Essays (d) Short Essays
(e) Translation from English to the Indian Language and the Indian language to English

UPSC CSE Syllabus

Candidates preparing for the CSE should go through the UPSC CSE Syllabus before starting their preparation. The UPSC syllabus and past year papers available on the official website of the UPSC are a must-read for every CSE aspirant. An overview of the UPSC preliminary syllabus is given in the table below.

UPSC Preliminary Exam Syllabus

S.No. General Studies Paper I General Studies Paper II
1 General Science Comprehension
2 Current events of national and international importance General mental ability
3 Indian and World Geography- Physical, Social, Economic Logical reasoning and analytical ability
4 Indian Polity and Governance- Constitution, Political System, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights Issues, etc. Basic numeracy (numbers and their relations, orders of
magnitude, etc. — Class X level)
5 General issues on Environment, Ecology, Biodiversity and Climate Change ( these topics do not require subject specialisation) Data interpretation (charts, graphs, tables, data sufficiency etc. — Class X level)
6 Economic and Social Development- Sustainable Development, Poverty, Inclusion, Demographics, Social Sector Initiatives, etc. Decision making and problem-solving
7 History of India and Indian National Movement Interpersonal skills including communication skills

UPSC CSE Apply Online

In order to apply for the UPSC CSE, candidates have to visit the website, i.e. and fill in the online application form. Candidates should go through the official notification and instructions given on website before applying for the exam. Applicants should keep the following things in mind while applying for the exam:

  • Candidates should upload a scanned photograph and signature.
  • Aspirants should ensure that they submit the application form before the last date given in the official notification. The application fee should be paid, without which the application will not be accepted.
  • Candidates should apply for the exam at the earliest as exam centres are allotted on a “first-apply-first allot” basis, and there is a ceiling on the number of candidates allotted to each exam centre except for some.
  • Candidates should provide details of anyone Photo ID Card (Aadhaar Card or Voter Card or PAN Card or Passport or Driving Licence or any other Photo ID Card) issued by the State/Central Government in the online application form. They also have to upload a scanned copy of the Photo ID while filling in the application form.

Applicants have the option to withdraw their application if they do not wish to appear in the Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination.

Aspirants who wish to prepare for the UPSC Civil Services examination 2023 can either rely on self-study or join a good IAS coaching centre based on their preference, availability of time etc.

Important Tips to Prepare for UPSC CSE

  • Past Year Question Papers and Syllabus:

UPSC aspirants should go through the UPSC past year question papers and syllabus before starting their preparation.

  • Study Limited/Relevant Books:

Candidates should study only relevant books multiple times, rather than reading many books on a subject. Using relevant NCERT books, other advanced textbooks, and study materials will help candidates revise the content easily.

  • Reading Newspapers:

Candidates should cultivate the habit of reading newspapers every day. They should know how to read a newspaper for UPSC CSE. Aspirants have a limited time; therefore, they should know what to read and what not to read. The UPSC syllabus and previous years’ question papers can help candidates understand the relevant and important topics for UPSC CSE.

  • Revision:

Revision is the key to cracking the UPSC IAS examination. Without revising the books and notes multiple times, candidates may find it difficult to recollect important facts and statistics in the exam hall. Therefore, it is imperative that aspirants give due importance to revision.

  • Mock Tests:

Candidates should definitely write mock tests and evaluate as well as analyse their answer papers. Writing mock tests in a simulated environment is important for UPSC preparation. By analysing their answer sheets, candidates will be able to understand their weaknesses and learn from their mistakes.

Along with all the study techniques mentioned above, candidates should learn to remain calm. Stressing out, especially during the examination, can be counterproductive. Nervousness and uncontrolled anxiety may hinder your performance during the exams. Therefore, try to cultivate and maintain equanimity throughout the UPSC journey.

UPSC CSE Books and Other Important Resources

The market is flooded with a number of UPSC CSE books; however, aspirants should not get overwhelmed by seeing the number! A very important aspect of UPSC preparation is to read a limited number of books. Candidates can choose at most one or two books for a specific subject that consists of relevant and most of the portions for the exam.

Aspirants who are preparing for UPSC CSE can refer to the important websites, newspapers and other resources given in the table below.

Important Resources for the UPSC Civil Services Examination

S.No. Names of Important Websites/Newspapers/Magazines/Programmes
1 Economic and Political Weekly (EPW)
2 The Hindu
3 Yojana
4 Kurukshetra
5 The Indian Express
17 AIR Spotlight
18 ‘Perspectives’ programme on Sansad TV
19 Down To Earth Magazine or

Preparing for the UPSC Civil Services exam for many aspirants is a life-changing decision. Therefore, candidates who want to tread this path should work very hard, remain disciplined, and be dedicated throughout the journey. An aspirant should try their best to clear the exam in the first attempt to save their precious time and resources and avoid stress.

Start early and stay consistent!

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