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UPSC Mains Exam Structure

UPSC Mains is second stage in Civil Service Exam.

According UPSC:
  • UPSC Mains Exam is intended to assess the overall intellectual traits and depth of understanding of candidates rather than merely the range of their information and memory.
  • The nature and standard of questions in the General Studies papers (Paper II to Paper V) will be such that a well-educated person will be able to answer them without any specialized study. The questions will be such as to test a candidate’s general awareness of a variety of subjects, which will have relevance for a career in Civil Services.
  • The questions are likely to test the candidate’s basic understanding of all relevant issues, and ability to analyze, and take a view on conflicting socio- economic goals, objectives and demands.
  • The candidates must give relevant, meaningful and succinct answers.
  • 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. 
  • Marks will not be allotted for mere superficial knowledge. 
  • Credit will be given for orderly, effective and exact expression combined with due economy of words in all subjects of the examination.
  • The scope of the syllabus for optional subject papers (Paper VI and Paper VII) for the examination is broadly of the honours degree level i.e. a level higher than the bachelors’ degree and lower than the masters’ degree. In the case of Engineering, Medical Science and law, the level corresponds to the bachelors’ degree.
  • The question papers for the examination will be of conventional (essay) type.
  • Each paper will be of three hours duration.
Why Changes in Pattern?

UPSC Mains exam pattern was changed in 2013. Let's understand why the pattern of UPSC Mains exam was changed:

To get away with superficial knowledgeAs with the old pattern of UPSC Mains the students with superficial knowledge of syllabus were getting selected. This resulted into candidates with less analytical abilities, decision making ability getting selected into Civil Services. Thus new pattern was introduced  to give more importance on conceptual understanding of any subject.

Current Affairs Weightage:The weightage of current affairs based questions in UPSC Mains has drastically increased. Also answering these questions needs analytical understanding of different national and international events. This in turn will reduce the candidates with superficial knowledge.

Ethics and Integrity:It was observed by different committees that candidates selected lacks moral and ethics required for Civil Services resulting in unethical practices during working tenure. To test this UPSC Mains exam has a paper on Ethic, Integrity and Aptitude. The paper is based on case studies. It tests decision making ability of a candidate in different situations.

Time Span of Preparation:The new pattern was designed to reduce time span to prepare for UPSC Mains exam.

Dynamism in Candidate:The new pattern is designed to bring dynamism among candidates, to select dynamic candidates. As due to technological changes in society, penetration of science and technology, information technology is Civil Services needed candidates with ability to adapt to new technologies. The new pattern emphasize on this.

Thought based,analytical understanding:The new pattern is designed to inculcate thought based analytical understanding among candidates.

Inter-disciplinary nature of syllabus:Indian Civil Services needs candidates to have knowledge of different sections of society such as economy, polity and governance, social issues, agriculture, geography etc. in inter-disciplinary manner as while working on field Civil Servant must be aware of interaction between these different sections of society. This in turn will help them to take prompt decisions.
New pattern of UPSC Mains exam stresses on inter disciplinary understanding of subjects.

Parity in Exam:With two optional in old pattern candidates with higher scores  in optional were used to get seleted with less understanding of General Studies. The new pattern introduced aims in reducing this parity between candidates and bring them on one platform. Thus new pattern has drastically reduce the weightage of optional in UPSC Mains exam.
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