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Civil Services Examination

CSE: Civil Services Examination

CSE 2020 Exam Date, Eligibility, Syllabus, Exam Pattern

Civil Services Examination (CSE), conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), is one of the most competitive and highly prestigious examination for the recruitment of candidates to fulfill various posts of Indian Administrative Service, Indian Foreign Service, Indian Police Service, and several other Group 'A' and Group 'B' Central Services/Posts.

Civil Services not only offers premier job opportunities but also a career full of challenges and opportunities to selected candidates. These officers play a vital role in managing the bureaucracy of both the central and the state governments by holding strategic posts all across the country. These candidates recruited as officers/ bureaucrats are involved in various responsibilities like framing and implementation of policies, maintaining law and order, handling general administration, development of new projects etc. These officers get a chance to work at authoritative posts like District Magistrate, Divisional Commissioner, Principal Secretaries/Financial Commissioners, Chief Secretary of state or the Central Government.

The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), under the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pension, is the cadre controlling authority.

Civil Services Examination is conducted for the recruitment of below mentioned services. All appointments to Civil Services are made by the Honorable President of India. Civil Services Examination (CSE) is a single-window providing entry for various Group A and Group B services in Government of India. These services/posts are allotted to the selected candidates based on their pre-filled choice of service as per the ranking.


A Candidate must be a citizen of India to appear for Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and Indian Police Service(IPS).

For other services, a candidate must be either:

  • A citizen of India, or
  • A subject of Nepal, or
  • A subject of Bhutan, or
  • A Tibetan refugee who came over to India before 1st January, 1962 with the intention of permanently settling in India, or
  • A Person of Indian origin who has migrated from Pakistan, Burma, Sri Lanka, East African countries of Kenya, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Zaire, Ethiopia and Vietnam with intention of permanently settling down in India.


Candidates belonging to above category in point 2 shall be a person in whose favour a certificate has been issued by the Government of India and further above mentioned candidates will not be eligible for the appointment in Indian Foreign Services(IFS). Any candidate in whose case a certificate is necessary may be permitted to enter the examination hall. However, the letter of appointment will only be issued after the issuance of the necessary eligibility certificate.

Minimum Educational Qualification

Civil Services Examination is one of the most competitive and prestigious exam, popularly known as IAS is conducted by UPSC to recruit candidates for Indian Administrative Service.

The candidate must hold a degree of any of Universities incorporated by an Act of the Central or State Legislature in India or other educational institutions established by an Act of Parliament or declared to be deemed as a University Under Section-3 of the University Grants Commission Act, 1956, or possess an equivalent qualification.

Candidates who have appeared at an examination the passing of which would render them educationally qualified for the Commission's examination but have not been informed of the results as also the candidates who intend to appear at such a qualifying examination will also be eligible for admission to the Preliminary Examination. All candidates who are declared qualified by the Commission for taking the Civil Services (Main) Examination will be required to produce proof of passing the requisite examination with their application for the Main Examination failing which such candidates will not be admitted to the Main Examination.

In exceptional cases the Union Public Service Commission may treat a candidate who has not any of the foregoing qualifications as a qualified candidate provided that he/she has passed examination conducted by the other Institutions, the standard of which in the opinion of the Commission justifies his/her admission to the examination.

Candidates possessing professional and technical qualifications which are recognised by the Government as equivalent to a professional and technical degree would also be eligible for admission to the examination.

Candidates who have passed the final professional M.B.B.S. or any other Medical Examination but have not completed their internship by the time of submission of their applications for the Civil Services (Main) Examination, will be provisionally admitted to the Examination provided they submit along with their application a copy of a certificate from the concerned authority of the University/Institution that they had passed the requisite final professional medical examination. In such cases, the candidates will be required to produce at the time of their interview original Degree or a certificate from the concerned competent authority of the University/Institution that they had completed all requirements (including completion of internship) for the award of the Degree.

Age and Number of Attempts
Category Upper Age Limit No. Of Attempts
Gen 32 Year 06
OBC 35 Year 09
SC/ST 37 Year Till upper age limit
PH Gen: 42 Year Gen: 09 attempts
OBC: 45 Year OBC: 09 attempts
SC/ST: 47 Year SC/ST: Till upper age limit
J&K Domicile Gen: 37 Year SC/ST: Till upper age limit
OBC: 40 Year
SC/ST: 42 Year
PH: 47 Year
Disabled Serviceman Gen: 37 Year SC/ST: Till upper age limit
OBC: 38 Year
SC/ST: 40 Year
Ex-servicemen Gen: 37 Year SC/ST: Till upper age limit
OBC: 40 Year
SC/ST: 42 Year


A candidate must have attained the age of 21 years.

An attempt at a preliminary examination shall be deemed to be an attempt for the Civil Services examination.

If a candidate actually appears in any one paper in the preliminary examination, he/she shall be deemed to have made an attempt at the examination.

Not with standing the disqualification/ cancellation of a candidate of his/her candidature, the fact of appearance of the candidate at the examination will count as an attempt.

Group A Services

Indian Administrative Service(IAS)

Indian Foreign Service (IFS)

Indian Police Service (IPS)

Indian P&T Accounts & Finance Service (IP&TAFS)

Indian Audit and Accounts Service (IA&AS)

Indian Revenue Service (IRS) Customs and Central Excise

Indian Defence Accounts Service (IDAS)

Indian Revenue Service (IRS) Income Tax

Indian Ordnance Factories Service (IOFS) (Assistant Works Manager, Administration)

Indian Railway Protection Force (RPF) (Assistant Security Commissioner)

Indian Postal Service

Indian Civil Accounts Service (ICAS)

Indian Railway Traffic Service (IRTS)

Indian Railway Accounts Service (IRAS)

Indian Railway Personnel Service (IRPS)

Indian Defence Estates Service (IDES)

Indian Information Service (IIS) (Junior Grade)

Indian Trade Service (ITS)

Indian Corporate Law Service (ICLS)

Group B Services

Delhi, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli Police Service (DANIPS)

Delhi, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli Civil Service (DANICS)

Armed Forces Headquarters Civil Services (AFHQCS) (Section Officer Grade)

Pondicherry Police Service

Pondicherry Civil Services


General Studies Paper-I

  • Current events of national and international importance
  • History of India and Indian national movement
  • Indian and World Geography- Physical, Social, Economic Geography of India and the world
  • Indian Polity and Governance – Constitution, Political system, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights issues, etc.
  • Economic and Social development – sustainable development, poverty, inclusion, demographics, social sector initiatives etc.
  • General issues on environmental ecology, Bio-diversity and Climate change-that do not require subject specialization
  • General science

General Studies Paper-II

  • Comprehension
  • Interpersonal skills including communication skills
  • Logical reasoning and analytical ability
  • Decision making and problem solving
  • General mental ability
  • Basic numeracy (numbers and their relations, orders of magnitude etc.) (Class X level), Data Interpretation (charts, graphs, tables, data sufficiency etc. – Class X level)
  • English Language Comprehension skills (Class X level)
  • Questions relating to English Language Comprehension skills of Class X level. (will be tested through passages from English language only without providing Hindi translation


  • Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.
  • Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues.
  • The Freedom Struggle — its various stages and important contributors/contributions from different parts of the country.
  • Post-independence consolidation and reorganization within the country.
  • History of the world will include events from the 18th century such as industrial revolution, world wars, redrawal of national boundaries, colonization, decolonization, political philosophies like communism, capitalism, socialism etc.— their forms and effect on society.
  • Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India.
  • Role of women and women’s organization, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.
  • Effects of globalization on Indian society.
  • Social empowerment, communalism, regionalism & secularism.
  • Salient features of the world's physical geography.
  • Distribution of key natural resources across the world (including South Asia and the Indian sub-continent); factors responsible for the location of primary, secondary, and tertiary sector industries in various parts of the world (including India).
  • Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc., geographical features and their location-changes in critical geographical features (including water-bodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes.

General Studies -I

  • Indian Constitution—historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.
  • Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein.
  • Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.
  • Comparison of the Indian constitutional scheme with that of other countries.
  • Parliament and State legislatures—structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.
  • Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary—Ministries and Departments of the Government; pressure groups and formal/informal associations and their role in the Polity.
  • Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act.
  • Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions and responsibilities of various
  • Constitutional Bodies.
  • Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.
  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  • Development processes and the development industry —the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders.
  • Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.
  • Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health,
  • Education, Human Resources.
  • Issues relating to poverty and hunger.
  • Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.
  • Role of civil services in a democracy.
  • India and its neighborhood- relations.
  • Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
  • Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.
  • Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate.

General Studies - II

  • Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment.
  • Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.
  • Government Budgeting.
  • Major crops-cropping patterns in various parts of the country - different types of irrigation and irrigation systems storage, transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints; e-technology in the aid of farmers.
  • Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices; Public Distribution System- objectives, functioning, limitations, revamping; issues of buffer stocks and food security; Technology missions; economics of animal-rearing.
  • Food processing and related industries in India- scope’ and significance, location, upstream
  • and downstream requirements, supply chain management.
  • Land reforms in India.
  • Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth.
  • Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.
  • Investment models.
  • Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life.
  • Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.
  • Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio- technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.
  • Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.
  • Disaster and disaster management.
  • Linkages between development and spread of extremism.
  • Role of external state and non-state actors in creating challenges to internal security.
  • Challenges to internal security through communication networks, role of media and social networking sites in internal security
  • challenges, basics of cyber security; money-laundering and its prevention.
  • Security challenges and their management in border areas - linkages of organized crime with terrorism.
  • Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate.

General Studies - III

This paper will include questions to test the candidates’ attitude and approach to issues relating to integrity, probity in public life and his problem solving approach to various issues and conflicts faced by him in dealing with society. Questions may utilize the case study approach to determine these aspects. The following broad areas will be covered:

  • Ethics and Human Interface: Essence, determinants and consequences of Ethics in-human actions; dimensions of ethics; ethics - in private and public relationships. Human Values - lessons from the lives and teachings of great leaders, reformers and administrators; role of family society and educational institutions in inculcating values.
  • Attitude: content, structure, function; its influence and relation with thought and behaviour;
  • moral and political attitudes; social influence and persuasion.
  • Aptitude and foundational values for Civil Service, integrity, impartiality and non- partisanship, objectivity, dedication to public service, empathy, tolerance and compassion towards the weaker-sections.
  • Emotional intelligence-concepts, and their utilities and application in administration and governance.
  • Contributions of moral thinkers and philosophers from India and world.
  • Public/Civil service values and Ethics in Public administration: Status and problems; ethical concerns and dilemmas in government and private institutions; laws, rules, regulations and conscience as sources of ethical guidance; accountability and ethical governance; strengthening of ethical and moral values in governance; ethical issues in international relations and funding; corporate governance.
  • Probity in Governance: Concept of public service; Philosophical basis of governance and probity; Information sharing and transparency in government, Right to Information, Codes of Ethics, Codes of Conduct, Citizen’s Charters, Work culture, Quality of service delivery, Utilization of public funds, challenges of corruption.
  • Case Studies on above issues.

General Studies – IV

To be written in the medium or language of the candidate's choice. Candidate is required to write an essay on a specific topic or topics. The choice of subjects will be given. They are expected to keep their thoughts closely to the subject and arrange their ideas in orderly fashion and be concise. Credit will be given to effective and coherent expression.

Optional Syllabus

A Candidate has to choose for the optional subject from the list mentioned by UPSC. Optional consists of 2 papers of 250 marks each. Hence carrying a weightage of 500 marks in total which is quite high. Therefore, optional paper plays an important role in candidate’s selection for personality tests. A candidate has to fill in his/her choice while applying for a preliminary examination which cannot be changed later. So it is recommended to choose the option wisely.

The civil services Examination consist of three stages:

  • Preliminary
  • Mains Exam
  • Personality Test

Question paper is set in English and Hindi.

If you apply online but remain absent in prelims, then your attempt is NOT counted.

Stage 1 Preliminary
Preliminary Examination
Subject Paper Type Duration No. of Question Marks Negative Marking
Paper-I (General Studies) Objective 2 Hours 100 200 1/3 of Marks allotted for to the ques.
Paper-II (CSAT) Objective 2 Hours 80 200 1/3 of Marks allotted for to the ques.
NOTE 1: 33% marks are the minimum qualifying marks for paper-II.
NOTE 2: Preliminary examination will be conducted for screening purpose only. Only those candidates who qualify preliminary examination will be eligible for main examination
Stage 2 Mains

Main Examination is a written type of examination conducted in IX papers. Out of those IX papers marks obtained by a candidate in I to VII papers i.e. of Four papers of General Studies,Two papers of optional and an essay paper will be counted for merit. Language papers are of Qualifying Nature.

Stage 3 Interview

Interview according to UPSC is described to be a test of candidate’s overall personality which includes analytical ability, lateral thinking, logical decision making etc. The objective 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.

Personality Test (Interview)
Marks 275 marks

Events Official Dates (Revised)
Date of Notification 10- February - 2021 (Wednesday)
Last Date to Apply 20 - March - 2021 (Saturday)
Date of Commencement of Exam (Prelims) 27- June -2021 (Sunday)
Date of Commencement of Exam (Mains) 17- September -2021 (Friday)

Previous years UPSC IAS Cut-off for Prelims – (Out of 200 marks)
Category 2018 2017 2016 2015
General 98.00 105.34 116.00 107.34
SC 84.00 88.66 99.34 94
ST 83.34 88.66 96.00 91.34
OBC 96.66 102.66 110.66 106
PwD 1 73.34 85.34 75.34 90.66
PwD 2 53.34 61.34 72.66 76.66
PwD 3 40.00 40.00 40.00 40.00
PwD 5 45.34 - - -
Previous year’s UPSC IAS Cut-off for Mains (Out of 1750)
Category 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013
General 774 809 787 676 678 564
SC 719 756 739 622 631 518
ST 719 749 730 617 619 510
OBC 732 770 745 630 631 534
PwD 1 711 734 713 580 609 -
PwD 2 696 745 740 627 575 -
PwD 3 520 578 545 504 449 -
PwD 5 460 - - - - -
Previous years’ UPSC Civil Services Cutoff (Final) - (Out of 2025)
Category 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013
General 982 1006 988 877 889 775
OBC 938 968 951 834 844 742
ST 912 939 920 801 811 707
SC 912 944 937 810 830 719
PwD 1 899 923 927 802 816 -
PwD 2 908 948 951 830 778 -
PwD 3 754 830 817 697 713 -
PwD 5 718 - - - - -

Events Official Dates (Revised)
CSE 2021 Date of Notification 10- February - 2021
CSE Application last date 02 - March - 2021
Issue of CSE Admit Card 2021 To be announced
CSE 2021 Prelims Exam Date 10 - October -2021
CSE 2021 Prelims Result To be announced
CSE 2021 Main Exam Date 07 - January- 2022
CSE 2021 Personal Interview Dates To be announced