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UPSC Mains 2024- Exam Pattern, Syllabus, Admit Card

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The UPSC Mains Examination is a crucial step in the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) Civil Services Examination, which opens doors to various prestigious positions such as the Indian Administrative (IAS), Indian Foreign Services (IFS), and Indian Police Service (IPS). To prepare for this examination, candidates must have a thorough understanding of the UPSC exam pattern, syllabus, and admit card, among other critical details. This article serves as a comprehensive guide to UPSC Mains that aims to provide aspiring candidates with in-depth knowledge of exam patterns, Syllabus, and Admit card that is required for exam preparation.


UPSC Mains – IAS Exam 2024

Introduction: What is the UPSC Mains Exam?

The UPSC Mains Exam/CSE (Main)/IAS Mains is the second part of the Civil Services Examination. Those who are aspiring to become IAS officers can take the Mains exam after passing the Prelims. In order to be eligible, they need to score above the cutoff in General Studies Paper I and get more than 33% marks in General Studies Paper II (CSAT). The UPSC Mains is a requirement for candidates who want to pursue careers as IAS, IPS, IFS, and IRS officers. It is necessary to pass the Mains exam before proceeding to the IAS interview/UPSC Personality Test stage.

Overview of the UPSC Mains Exam 2024

The UPSC Mains Exam is a two-stage exam, with the first stage being the UPSC Preliminary Exam and the second stage being the UPSC Mains Exam. The Mains Exam is a written exam that consists of nine papers, including two compulsory papers in English and one optional subject.

The compulsory papers in English are:

  • Paper 1: General English
  • Paper 2: Essay

The optional subject paper can be chosen from a list of 20 subjects. The list of optional subjects is available on the UPSC website.

The Mains Exam is a very demanding exam, and it requires a lot of preparation. The syllabus for the Mains Exam is vast, and it covers a wide range of topics. In order to do well in the exam, you will need to have a strong foundation in the subjects that are covered in the syllabus.

How many candidates appeared for the UPSC Mains 2023?

According to the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), approximately 13 lakh candidates appeared for the UPSC Mains 2023 exam. This is a significant increase from the number of candidates who appeared for the exam in 2022, which was around 11.5 lakh. The increase in the number of candidates is likely due to the increasing popularity of the civil services as a career option.

The results of the UPSC Mains exam are expected to be announced in the month of October 2023. The candidates who clear the Mains exam will be called for the Personality Test, which is the final stage of the UPSC Civil Services Examination.

How to Apply for UPSC Mains 2024?

  • Check eligibility criteria for UPSC Mains.
  • Visit the official UPSC website.
  • Navigate to the “Examination” tab and click on “Civil Services (Main) Examination.”
  • Click “Part I Registration” and fill in personal and educational details.
  • Verify the information and submit the form.
  • Pay the examination fee online or offline.
  • Proceed to “Part II Registration” and enter the remaining details, including exam centre choice.
  • Upload scanned photographs and signatures as per guidelines.
  • Verify the entered information and submit the form.
  • Review the application form and make necessary corrections.
  • Submit the application form.
  • Take a printout of the completed application form for reference.
  • No need to send the printed form to the UPSC office.

Preparation Strategy for the UPSC Mains 2024

Preparing for the Mains Exam is a challenging task that requires extensive preparation. To excel in the exam, you need to create a comprehensive study plan and master time management skills. Starting your preparation early gives you ample time to cover the entire syllabus and practice writing answers. Numerous resources, such as books, online courses, and study groups, are available to help you prepare for the exam. Utilizing these resources can enhance your preparation and boost your chances of success.

UPSC Mains Exam Pattern – IAS Exam 2024

The UPSC Mains examination mainly consists of a written examination and a personality test(interview). It consists of nine papers, out of which seven are counted for ranking purposes. The papers include Essay, General Studies I, II, III, and IV, and two optional subjects chosen by the candidates. The optional subjects are chosen from a wide range of disciplines, including literature, history, political science, geography, and more. Let’s take a look at the exam pattern.

Written Examination

  • It consists of nine papers in total.
  • All papers are descriptive in nature.
  • Each paper is of 250 marks, except for Paper-A (Indian Language) which is qualifying in nature.
  • The total marks of the written examination are 1750.
  • The papers are conducted over a span of five to seven days.

a) Compulsory Papers: These include Essay Writing, English Language Comprehension, Precis Writing, and General Studies (four papers covering diverse topics such as Indian Heritage and Culture, Governance, International Relations, Ethics, and Integrity).

b) Optional Papers: Candidates need to choose two optional subjects from a list of available disciplines, such as History, Geography, Public Administration, Political Science, Economics, Sociology, and more.





Written Examination

Paper A

Indian Language (Qualifying)


Paper B

English Language (Qualifying)


Paper I



Paper II

General Studies – I(Indian Heritage & Culture, History & Geography of the World & Society)


Paper III

General Studies – II(Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice & International Relations)


Paper IV

General Studies – III(Technology, Economic Development, Biodiversity, Security & Disaster Management)


Paper V

General Studies – IV (Ethics, Integrity & Aptitude)


Paper VI

Optional Subject – Paper 1


Paper VII

Optional Subject – Paper 2


Personality Test (Interview)


Personality Test (Interview)

  • Candidates who qualify for the written examination are called for the personality test.
  • The interview carries 275 marks.
  • The interview assesses the candidate’s personality traits, communication skills, and overall suitability for a career in civil services.

UPSC Mains Syllabus – IAS Exam 2024

The UPSC Main Syllabus is vast and covers a wide range of subjects. Here are the major subjects and their respective syllabus:

UPSC Mains Syllabus and Exam Pattern for Qualifying Papers

PaperExam Pattern
Paper A – Indian Language (any of the Indian languages listed in the 8th schedule of the Constitution)
  1. Comprehension of given passages.
  2. Precis Writing
  3. Usage and Vocabulary
  4. Short Essays
  5. Translation from English to the Indian Language and vice-versa
Paper B – English
  1. Comprehension of given passages
  2. Precis Writing
  3. Usage and Vocabulary
  4. Short Essays

UPSC Mains Syllabus for Language paper

  • Paper-A: One of the Indian languages chosen from the prescribed list.
  • Paper-B: English language.

UPSC Mains Syllabus for Essay paper

  • Candidates are required to write two essays on given topics.

UPSC Mains Syllabus for General Studies

  • Paper I: Indian Heritage and Culture, History, and Geography of the World and Society.
  • Paper II: Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice, and International Relations.
  • Paper III: Technology, Economic Development, Biodiversity, Environment, Security, and Disaster Management.
  • Paper IV: Ethics, Integrity, and Aptitude.

UPSC Mains Syllabus for Optional Subjects

  • Candidates can choose one optional subject from a list of subjects provided by the UPSC. The syllabus for each optional subject is distinct. It covers a wide range of subjects such as literature, history, geography, political science, economics, sociology, and more.

” andidates seeking detailed information about optional subjects can refer to the UPSC Mains Syllabus page for guidance.”

All About UPSC Mains Admit Card

We will get to know about the step-by-step process to download the UPSC admit card, Essential information on the UPSC admit card, documents to carry with you during exams, and another important link that is important for the preparation of the UPSC Examination.

Step-by-Step Process to Download UPSC Admit Card

To download the UPSC Admit Card, Candidates need to follow these steps:

  • Step 1: Visit the official UPSC website.
  • Step 2: Search for Admit Card or E- Admit Card section on the website.
  • Step 3: Select the relevant examination for which you have applied.
  • Step 4: Enter the required details such as number, date of birth, and catch code.
  • Step 5: To generate your admit card, Click the “Submit” button.
  • Step 6: Review the details mentioned on the admit card and down it.
  • Step 7: Take multiple printouts of the admit card for future reference.

Availability of Admit Card

  • The UPSC Mains admit card is generally released three weeks before the commencement of the examination.
  • Candidates can download the admit card from the official UPSC website.

Details of Admit Card

  • The admit card contains essential information such as the candidate’s name, roll number, photograph, examination center details, and exam timings.
  • Candidates must carefully check all the details mentioned on the admit card and report any discrepancies to the UPSC authorities.

Document Required

  • Along with the admit card, candidates must carry a valid photo ID proof (such as an Aadhaar card, passport, voter ID, etc.) for verification purposes.

Aadhaar Card Verification

  • Candidates must ensure that the admit card is in good condition and the photograph is clear and recognizable.
  • It is advisable to take multiple printouts of the admit card for future reference.

Important Links for UPSC


UPSC Mains examination plays a significant milestone on the path to a career in civil services. Understanding the exam pattern, syllabus, and important details regarding admit cards is mandatory for students before sitting for the UPSC exam.

FAQs on UPSC Mains

Q1. What are the 9 papers of UPSC mains?

The Main Examination consists of nine papers, as follows:

  • Paper-A
  • Paper-B
  • Essay Paper
  • General Studies Paper-I
  • General Studies Paper-II
  • General Studies Paper-III
  • General Studies Paper-IV
  • Optional Paper-I
  • Optional Paper-II

Q2. What are the 7 subjects of UPSC?

Here are seven popular optional subjects frequently chosen by candidates:

  • History
  • Geography
  • Public Administration
  • Sociology
  • Political Science and International Relations
  • Psychology
  • Economics

Q3. Is there a negative marking in the UPSC Main Examination?

No, there is no negative marking in the UPSC Main Examination. Candidates are not penalized for incorrect answers or unanswered questions.

Q4. Is it mandatory to qualify for all the papers of the UPSC Main Examination?

Yes, it is mandatory to qualify for all the papers of the UPSC Main Examination. Candidates must secure the minimum qualifying marks in the language papers (Indian Language and English) to have their other papers evaluated.

Last Updated : 11 Sep, 2023
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