The Mains Examination consist of written examination and an interview test. The written examination consists of 9 papers of conventional essay type in the subjects out of which two papers are qualifying in nature. Marks obtained for all the compulsory papers (Paper-I to Paper-VII) and marks obtained in Interview for Personality Test will be counted for ranking.
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 summoned for interview will be about twice of the number of vacancies to be filled. The interview carries 275 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.
Scheme and Subjects for the Main Examination.
The written examination will consist of the following papers:
||(One of the Indian Language to be selected by the candidate from the Languages included in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution)
Papers to be counted for merit.
||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 – Paper 1
||Optional Subject – Paper 2
|Sub Total (Written test)
Candidates may choose any one of the optional subjects from the list of subjects given below:
List of optional subjects for Main Examination:
- Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science
- Civil Engineering
- Commerce and Accountancy
- Electrical Engineering
- Mechanical Engineering
- Medical Science
- Political Science and International Relations
- Public Administration
- 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.
- 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.
- Evaluation of the papers, namely, ‘Essay’, ‘General Studies’ and Optional Subject of all the candidates would be done simultaneously along with the evaluation of their qualifying papers on ‘Indian Languages’ and ‘English’ but the papers on Essay, 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.
- The paper A on Indian Language will not, however, be compulsory for candidates hailing from the States of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, and Sikkim.
- The paper A on Indian Language will not, however, be compulsory for Candidates belonging to persons with benchmark disability (only Hearing Impairment sub-category) provided that they have been granted such exemption from 2nd or 3rd language courses by the concerned education Board/University. The candidate needs to provide an undertaking/self declaration in this regard to claim such exemption to the Commission.
- 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 papers.
- For the medium/literature of languages, the scripts to be used by the candidates will be as under :-
||Devanagari or Arabic
||Devanagari or Ol chiki
Note: For Santhali language, question paper will be printed in Devanagari script; but candidates will be free to answer either in Devanagari script or in Ol chiki.
- The question papers for the examination will be of conventional (essay) type.
- Each paper will be of three hours duration.
- 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 of the Constitution of India or in English. Notwithstanding this, the candidate will have the choice to write the Optional Papers in English, also if candidates opt to write Paper I-V 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.
- Candidates exercising the option to answer papers in any one of the languages included in the Eight Schedule of the Constitution of India mentioned above may, if they so desire, give English version within brackets of only the description of the technical terms, if any, in addition to the version in the language opted by them. Candidates should, however, note that if they misuse the above rule, a deduction will be made on this account from the total marks otherwise accruing to them and in extreme cases; their script(s) will not be valued for being in an unauthorized medium.
- The question papers (other than the literature of language papers) will be set in Hindi and English only.
IAS MAINS – Preparation Strategy
Mains (Written) Examination is the real test, and your excellent performance can put you in safe zone and equally a brilliant show in Interview can ensure higher rank i.e. Post of IAS can be in sight. It depends upon the strategy you adopt to get the perceived overall aggregate figure through General Studies, your optional subject and Essay. Contribution from each may vary from person to person but, your overall aggregate need to be in the range you target.
Written cut-off sometimes usually depends upon the number of vacancies and the toughness of the question asked in Main Examination papers. Generally, the number of candidates called for Personality Test is twice the number of vacancies notified. When we talk about devising new strategies to counter the evolving requirements, implementing the tried and tested tools – Integrated Approach is the best tactic for an effective preparation.
It would be strategic to look for an integrated approach for General Studies preparation where candidates undertake Main Examination oriented preparation to begin. Most of the constituents stated in Preliminary and Main Examination syllabus indicates that the knowledge, awareness and information you gain is going to be valuable at all stages of examination – be it Preliminary Examination, Main or even Personality Test.
Looking at the schedule for Civil Services Examination, you must complete your preparation simultaneously on time, as one cannot afford to prepare it stage-wise.
Intrinsically, in the whole Civil Services Examination preparation plan, General Studies has become the most significant constituent. Besides syllabus, most important clues you get from the nature of questions being asked in Preliminary as well as Main Examination, indicates that you cannot distinguish between the route one can take for information, study material source and direction in which separate preparation can be done for each stage.
It becomes more challenging in the light of innovative and creative approach UPSC is adopting and majority of the candidates are still depending on traditional approach for preparation. The changes in the books and study-material as not as swift as it requires.
To sum up, you need to make some efforts to keep abreast with the latest. It requires comprehensive plan to locate the relevant books and study-material and authentic source to update the information.
As the term ‘Integrate Approach’ has become the soul of preparation strategy, you need to have strong basics for conceptual clarity and acquaintance with contemporary developments to build intelligence and understanding its application.
With the Main Examination, we have a clear idea about the trend and nature of questions asked in General Studies as well as Optional Subject, we hope it will help in devising an effective preparation-plan for the coming Civil Services Examination.
The domain of General Studies is so vast that it challenges the aspirants with number of issues. These challenges make it more difficult to prepare.
General Studies syllabus has many constituents that are common in both stages and that is why it is suggested that candidates should adopt integrated approach for General Studies preparation. In reality the preparation plan for General Studies should commence much before one seriously starts to think about this examination and for that reading newspapers daily and covering some traditional areas of General Studies syllabus with NCERT books is the best strategy.
The syllabus of 4 General Studies papers includes many constituents that makes preparation even more challenging. Aspirants come from diverse backgrounds and have different likes and dislikes. First gaze at the syllabus gives a feel that it has some known and some unknown, unheard topics that you need to cover.
Self-analysis would determine the strength and weak areas that needs your attention. Practical approach is to break it into different components as syllabus suggests and then prioritizing things as per your needs and requirements.
Then, there are some subjects and some areas which are dynamic in nature; change is constant, and many issues evolve over time and continuous developments occur along several different dimensions. To tackle this, keen observation is required.
When the exam standard moves much above the basics, examiners expectation is to observe your point of view, correlation of facts and your outlook on problems and evolving prospects. It has more to do with your aptitude and the relevant knowledge.
Candidates from diverse background appear in Civil Services Examination and take different subjects as their optional subjects. The selection of the optional subject is a crucial step as it eventually helps to achieve good marks in one’s choice of subject.
One must do brainstorm and spend some time analyzing different subjects and evaluate before saying yes to any subject. Another important factor is to identify subjects/topics/areas where you feel comfortable and where do not. You may choose a subject that is perceived to be performing or high scoring; but, if is not of your interest, can you put in an honest attempt with that?
It would be prudent if you opt for the subject you studied during graduation/post-graduation; normally the preparation is built on the foundations of previous learning, knowledge and skills.
This is an examination where you need to make number of choices at various stages of the examination and those who make the right choices emerge successfully.