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Mains Stage

The Mains stage is the second phase of the examination process. It comprises a Written Examination and an Interview/Personality Test. The Written Examination encompasses nine papers, two of which are of qualifying nature. The marks obtained in all the compulsory papers (Paper-I to Paper-VII) and the Interview/Personality Test are used for ranking candidates.

Candidates who secure the minimum qualifying marks specified by the Commission in the written part of the Civil Services (Main) Examination will be summoned for an Interview/Personality Test. The number of candidates summoned for the Interview/Personality Test will be approximately double the number of vacancies to be filled.

The Interview/Personality Test carries 275 marks, with no minimum qualifying marks. The final ranking of candidates is determined based on the marks obtained in the Civil Services (Main) Examination (both the written part and Interview/Personality Test). The allocation of candidates to various Services and posts takes into account their ranks in the examination and their preferences.

Structure of the Written Examination:

Qualifying Papers:

  • Paper-A (One of the Indian Languages selected from the Languages included in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution): 300 Marks
  • Paper-B English: 300 Marks

Papers Counted for Merit:

  • Paper-I Essay: 250 Marks
  • Paper-II General Studies-I: 250 Marks (Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society)
  • Paper-III General Studies-II: 250 Marks (Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice, and International relations)
  • Paper-IV General Studies-III: 250 Marks (Technology, Economic Development, Bio-diversity, Environment, Security, and Disaster Management)
  • Paper-V General Studies-IV: 250 Marks (Ethics, Integrity, and Aptitude)
  • Paper-VI Optional Subject – Paper 1: 250 Marks
  • Paper-VII Optional Subject – Paper 2: 250 Marks

Sub Total (Written Test): 1750 Marks

Personality Test: 275 Marks

Grand Total: 2025 Marks

Candidates have the flexibility to select one optional subject from a list of various subjects, each of which is part of the Main Examination.

Here is the list of optional subjects that candidates can choose from for the Main Examination:

  • Agriculture
  • Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science
  • Anthropology
  • Botany
  • Chemistry
  • Civil Engineering
  • Commerce and Accountancy
  • Economics
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Geography
  • Geology
  • History
  • Law
  • Management
  • Mathematics
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Medical Science
  • Philosophy
  • Physics
  • Political Science and International Relations
  • Psychology
  • Public Administration
  • Sociology
  • Statistics
  • Zoology
  • Literature of any one of the following languages: Assamese, Bengali, Bodo, Dogri, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Maithili, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Odia, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Santhali, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu, and English.

Candidates can choose any one of these subjects based on their interests and strengths to appear for the Main Examination.


  • The papers on Indian languages and English (Paper A and Paper B) are of Matriculation or equivalent standard and are of qualifying nature. Marks obtained in these papers do not contribute to ranking.
  • Evaluation of the ‘Essay,’ ‘General Studies,’ and Optional Subject papers is done concurrently with the evaluation of the qualifying papers on ‘Indian Languages’ and ‘English.’ However, only candidates who achieve a minimum of 25% marks in ‘Indian Language’ and 25% in English in the qualifying papers are considered.
  • The Indian Language paper is not compulsory for candidates from specific states and certain disability categories.
  • Marks obtained in Paper I to VII are counted for merit ranking, but the Commission may set qualifying marks at its discretion.

DHI Academy is committed to guiding you through this challenging Mains stage of the UPSC CSE, ensuring that you are well-prepared and confident in your pursuit of success.

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