What is Exam Pattern the UPSC 2021?

Are you about to the appear for the IAS/UPSC exam, and you are searching for the UPSC exam pattern, Then this blog is for you. Keep reading it this till the last for complete info.

Are you getting ready for the upcoming Union Public Service Commission examination? Before starting any preparation, learning the exam structure is the most crucial thing. So, without any further ado, let's have a peek at the UPSC exam pattern 2021. 

Are there any changes in UPSC 2021?

No such modifications in the upcoming UPSC have been made except a few. So many alterations, especially in the educational domain, have taken place for the pandemic situation of the previous year. For those who have wasted their last attempt in last year’s Civil Service Examination, the UPSC Board has declared another chance for them this year. 

Otherwise, the overall UPSC exam pattern 2021, the subjects, question structure, and other criteria will persist almost similar for the upcoming exam. 

How many papers are there in UPSC?

UPSC exam is allocated into three stages- Prelims, Mains, and Interview. The initial phase is all about objective-type questions, where the second one contains descriptive and the interview session is about personality tests.

The first round, the Preliminary, contains two compulsory papers. These are: 

  • General Studies Paper-1
  • General Studies Paper-2

Both of these are compulsory and hold 200 marks per paper. These papers contain multiple-choice questions and need only a 33% score for arising for the following category. 

The second one is the Mains. This exam contains a total of 9 papers. Paper A is a Compulsory Indian Language, and Paper B is English. Other papers contain essays, General Studies, optional, etc.

Last but not least, the interview is about a personality test that has no specific syllabus so far. 

What are the nine papers in UPSC Mains?

After you pass the initial phase successfully, you have to come across the Mains. Where the Preliminary is all about objective-type questions, this one is explanatory. According to the UPSC exam pattern, you are supposed to jot down explanations that hold ten to thirty marks per answer and 250 to 300 per paper. The nine papers of UPSC Mains are listed down below. 

  1. Paper I – Essay (250 marks)
  2. Paper-II –General Studies 1 (250 marks)
  3. Paper III –General Studies 2 (250 marks)
  4. Paper IV – General Studies 3 (250 marks)
  5. Paper V –General Studies 4 (250 marks)
  6. Paper VI –Optional subject paper 1 (250 marks)
  7. Paper VII – Optional subject paper 2 (250 marks)
  8. Paper VIII –Qualifying paper A (not counted for final ranking)
  9. Paper IX – Qualifying paper B (not counted for final ranking)

What are the subjects in the UPSC exam?

From Indian History to Electrical Engineering, the subject of the world's one among too three most arduous examinations, UPSC is widespread. The three-round exam contains different subjects for each round. Let's have a look at the subjects in the UPSC exam. 

UPSC Prelims subjects: 

  • History
  • Geography
  • Political science/ Civics
  • Sociology
  • General Science (Chemistry, Physics, and Biology) 
  • Economics
  • Environmental science

All of these are a must attained. You cannot select any two or three subjects from the catalogue. You have to go through each issue cited above in the UPSC Prelims. 

UPSC Mains subjects: 

  1. Compulsory: 
  • Essay
  • General Studies
  • English
  • Indian language
  1. Optional (Any 1): 
  • Science (Agriculture/ Botany/ Anthropology/Chemistry/ Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science/Mathematics/ Statistics/ Physics/Zoology/ Geology)
  • Social Science (Economics/ Indian History/ Philosophy/ Geography/ Political Science/ Psychology/ Sociology/ Public Administration/ Law)
  • Language (Assamese/ Bengali/ Bodo/ Hindi/ Marathi/ Gujarati/ Malayalam/ Telugu/ Tamil/ Urdu/ Sanskrit/ Punjabi/ English/ Oriya/ Nepali/ Sindhi/ Santali/ Manipuri/ Kashmiri/ Konkani/ Dogri/ Maithili) 
  • Others (Commerce Management/ Medical Science/ Civil Engineering/ Mechanical Engineering/ Electrical Engineering) 


The interview session does not contain any specific syllabus. An aspirant assigned for the interview session can get asked questions from different niches. Additionally, this round gets also reckoned as the personality test. So, you may get asked tricky yet easy questions throughout this session. Current affairs are a must in this round. The questions are asked to observe your-

  • Current affairs
  • Critical thinking
  • Mental alertness
  • Chasm of thinking
  • Equilibrium of determination
  • Social interconnection
  • Skill of communication 
  • Leadership


Hopefully, this article was helpful enough for those who are exceedingly waiting for the UPSC this year. Go through the subjects, the syllabus, and the question pattern, and begin studying from today. Feel free to contact a professional for further information.