About Mains

UPSC Civil Services Mains Examination

Civil Services Mains Examination is the second stage of Civil Services Exam conducted by UPSC. Candidates who qualify Civil Services Preliminary Exam get a chance to appear in Mains Examination. Around 10000 to 14000 students appear in this exam. Number of candidates depends on number of vacancies opened by UPSC for recruitment.

Civil Services Mains Examination is a subjective exam aimed to assess the overall intellectual traits of a candidate. It consists of total 9 exam papers as the details of which are given in the table below.

Mains Examination
S.No. Paper Syllabus Marks Exam Duration
1 General Studies Paper I Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society 250 3 Hours
2 General studies Paper II Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations 250 3 Hours
3 General studies Paper III Technology, Economic Development, Bio diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management 250 3 Hours
4 General Studies Paper IV Ethics, Integrity, and Aptitude 250 3 Hours
5 Optional Subject Paper-I Syllabus of your optional subject 250 3 Hours
6 Optional Subject Paper-II Syllabus of your optional subject. 250 3 Hours
7 Essay Paper 250 3 Hours
8 Indian Language Paper Basic knowledge of the chosen language 300 3 Hours
9 English Language Paper Basic knowledge of English language 300 3 Hours

Candidate who qualify mains written exam will appear for Personality Test commonly known as UPSC CSE Interview. It is conducted by UPSC in UPSC building New Delhi, where candidate’s personality is assessed by a Board consisting of 5 members.

The mains exam has 1750 marks while Personality test carries 275 marks. A candidate’s rank in UPSC Civil Service Exam depends only on the marks scored in Mains and Interview.

How to prepare for Civil services Mains Examination?

Mains exam tests writing skills, presentation skills, analytical thought process, comprehensive knowledge and depth of understanding. Also the candidate is expected to write answers in a relevant, meaningful and succinct manner.

To develop all these skills and to master such a diverse domain of knowledge, one must work hard in a consistent manner with an efficient strategy and schedule based on targeted approach. Following are some suggested steps to prepare for Mains examination:-

Step 1 – Get the booklist of most relevant books as per the syllabus.
Step 2 – Read the content to develop deep understanding, analysis and critical thinking.
Step 3 – Cover current affairs in a holistic manner on a daily basis.
Step 4 – Make crisp notes of important topics from the books and current affairs read by one for the purpose of revision, retention and consolidation.
Step 5 – Start answer writing practice under expert guidance through daily answer writing programme or Mains test series based on sectional structure.

How Jigyasa IAS can help you in your preparation ?

Understanding the difficulty faced by aspirants in preparing for mains due to lack of personal guidance for mains preparation. We have designed a module known as ‘Guided Preparation Module(GPM)’ to help students ace the mains exam.

The basic philosophy of GPM is centered around guided preparation, periodic assessment, regular revision and continuous improvement through personal mentorship.


This process enables student to understand the topic in a comprehensive manner and to develop analytical thinking that allows them to take views on conflicting socio economic goals, objectives and demands as highlighted by UPSC. Further regular assessment through carefully designed tests along the UPSC pattern enables students to improve continuously while building on their shortcomings.

We provide one to one mentoring and personal guidance under Guided Preparation Module (GPM) for Mains. It consists of Guidance, targeted self-study under a strict schedule, regular assessment through sectional tests, enhancement of understanding through elaborate test discussions by experts to develop your analytical skills and writing skills.