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UPSC conducts Civil Service Exam to select the candidates for more than 20 Civil Services which includes Indian Administrative Service(IAS), Indian Police Service(IPS), Indian Foreign Service(IFS), Indian Revenue Service(IRS) and other services.

UPSC conduct Civil Service Exam in three stages:

UPSC Prelims exam is the first stage of Civil Service Exam. Prelims exam pattern was changed in 2011. According to new pattern now UPSC Prelims exam includes:
  1. Paper I : (General Studies)
  2. Paper II:(Civil Service Aptitude Test) (Common name not by UPSC)

Why Pattern changes in UPSC Prelims?

Let's understand why these pattern changes were introduced in 2011.

Good Communication Skills of Candidates:Most of the Services such as IAS,IPS,IFS,IRS etc. in UPSC demands good communication skills. It was found by different committees that selected candidates used to lack the same as the earlier exam pattern was not designed to test the communication skills of the candidate.
That's why more emphasis is given on testing Reading and Comprehension ability of candidates in Prelims Paper II (CSAT).

Decision Making Ability:Decision Making ability is prerequisite of all the Civil Services. Any service say IAS,IPS,IFS,IRS etc. needs candidates who can make prompt decisions  while in service which will help in society and nation building. 
In older pattern of Prelims Decision Making ability was not tested leading to selection of candidates with poor decision making ability.
New pattern gives more importance on Decision Making, Analytical Reasoning which helps to test candidates decision making ability.

Dynamic Candidates:All the Civil Services needs candidates with dynamic nature who can take important decision, handle pressure situations, have ability to analyze the situation. Aptitude tests which tests candidate's aptitude have long been conducted by different private or public companies.
Prelims Paper II (CSAT) is designed to check and inculcate analytical ability in a candidate.

Parity in UPSC Prelims Exam:Different committees observed that optional in Prelims gives advantage to students having optional in their graduation or post graduation. This point was also raised time to time by students appearing for exam. Due to this new pattern includes two papers which are common to all students appearing for UPSC Prelims exam.

Importance of Optional in UPSC Prelims:According to different committees set by UPSC, the inclusion of Optional shall be for judging candidate's capability to understand the optional  subjectively but not objectively. Objective understanding of optional does not help in judging candidate's abilities.
  • The Preliminary Examination will consist of two papers of Objective type
  • These papers will have multiple choice questions.
  • Total prelims exam will carry a maximum of 400 marks in the subjects set out in syllabus.
  • Each paper will be of 200 marks each.
  • The questions will be of multiple choices, objective type.
  • 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.
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