UPSC (IAS) Mains Study Material

UPSC Mains Exam Pattern for IAS 2020

The UPSC Mains or CSE (Main) pattern was revised in 2015. As per the revised pattern, the UPSC Mains 2020 will comprise nine theory papers (essay descriptive type). Out of the nine papers, only seven will be counted for merit ranking. Candidates also have to choose one optional subject for UPSC Mains.

The maximum marks for the UPSC Mains exam are 1750 (7 papers * 250 marks each). All papers are of three-hour duration.

The UPSC Mains pattern for Civil Services Exam 2020 is given below:

S.No Papers Subject Nature of Exam Total Marks
1 Paper A Indian Language Qualifying 300
2 Paper B English Qualifying 300
3 Paper I Essay Counted for Merit 250
4 Paper II General Studies (GS) I Counted for Merit 250
5 Paper III General Studies (GS) II Counted for Merit 250
6 Paper IV General Studies (GS) III Counted for Merit 250
7 Paper V General Studies (GS) IV Counted for Merit 250
8 Paper VI Optional Subject Paper-I Counted for Merit 250
9 Paper VII Optional Subject Paper-II Counted for Merit 250

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GS Paper-1

When you start preparing for General Studies Paper-I, it is important to note the minute details of the important topics. Knowing important topics and sections will help you to get ready for that section very minutely and in between the lines so that you don’t have to miss any questions un-attempted. The GS Paper I has three broad subjects, and they are Indian Heritage and Culture, History, and Geography of the World and Society, and under GS Paper 1.

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GS Paper-II

IAS General Studies Paper-II is mandatory for all candidates. The total marks of this paper are 250 marks. Throughout the years, this paper has been proved to be more scoring in spite of being non-technical paper. It can be divided into 4 sections as per the subjects included Indian Polity and Constitution, Governance, International Relations and Miscellaneous like Women & Children, Issues Relating to Development & Management of Social Sector/Services etc.

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GS Paper-III

UPSC IAS Mains GS paper-III is a broad paper that comprises several umbrella topics which means the preparation strategy can be tricky to make. It is important to get familiar with the topics and sub-topics in the paper so that you can prepare accordingly and it covers topics of environment, technology, economic development, security, disaster management and biodiversity etc.


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GS Paper-IV

It is a thoroughly analytical type of subject where the candidate’s ethical principles and values and their understanding of right and wrong while maintaining a bureaucratic stance is tested. There are two subsections of the paper- section A and B and each carries 125 marks. Section A comprises theoretical questions while section B is more inclined towards case studies. The Ethics and Integrity paper is the most challenging as the concept is very abstract and there are very limited study materials available.

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Optional Subjects

As far as UPSC exam strategies go, choosing a subject with some overlap with GS remains quite popular. However, there are many candidates who don’t opt for popular choices either because they are more interested in or have prior knowledge of some other subject. Also, candidates often feel that scoring in a popular optional subject can be tough as there is more competition. A candidate has to choose an optional subject (2 papers, total 500 marks), and selecting the best optional subject can make a lot of difference.

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UPSC Civil Service Mains – Preparation Strategy for Essay Paper – While preparing for UPSC Civil Services Mains Exam, aspirants spend a lot of time in handling the general studies and optional subjects as well. But they should also focus equally on Essay paper. You need to write two essays, for each one you get four topics to choose from. Each essay accounts for 125 marks. However, it is prudent to prepare for this paper since it is for 250 marks and can make or break your final tally.

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Indian Language

The UPSC civil services mains exam comprises of nine papers out of the compulsory Indian language paper is called Paper A. This paper is qualifying in nature and the marks obtained in it do not count in the final ranking. But you must clear this paper. You can pass in this paper by getting at least 25% of the total, i.e., 75 out of 300 marks. If you do not clear this paper, the UPSC will not disclose your marks in the GS, optional and essay paper. So, all your hard work will go in vain if you take the language paper lightly.

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The UPSC civil services main exam English language paper is compulsory and is of qualifying nature. The marks obtained in this paper will not be counted for your final ranking. A lot of candidates (who don’t fancy themselves as having good English) worry unnecessarily for this paper. Remember that you don’t have to speak or know the Queen’s English to clear this paper. The questions asked in this paper will be of matriculation or equivalent standard. That will help you gather a good vocabulary and help you score at least the minimum required to pass this exam which is 75 out of a total of 300.

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