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IAS 2021 Selection Process - Prelims, Main and Interview

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Jan 19, 2021

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IAS Exam is held in three different stages- Preliminary Exam, Main Exam, and Interview Round. On the basis of marks obtained in the main examination and Interview, a final merit list prepared with the name of the candidates who are eligible for recruitment provided their documents are also according to the requirement. Presently, the IAS 2020 Mains has been conducted till January 17, 2021 and the results are still awaited. As per the UPSC calendar for 2021, The notification for IAS 2021 exam will be released in April 2021 and the Prelims exam will e conducted on June 27, 2021. Check IAS Cutoff

Get FREE IAS 2021 Mock Tests, Sectional Quiz, Previous Years Papers. Click Here

The selection of candidates is based on the cut-offs released by the commission after preliminary examination and main examination. Candidate who qualifies in the preliminary examination can sit for UPSC main examination. Similarly, a cut-off is released according to which qualified candidates are called for the interview session hence, preparation of merit list takes place while excluding marks scored in the preliminary examination. Read IAS Syllabus

IAS Selection Process

IAS 2021 Selection Process

IAS Prelims 2021 Exam is scheduled to be conducted on June 27, 2021. After that authorities will release IAS Result for the same. Candidates whose roll numbers are mentioned in the result PDF will proceed to the Main examination.

  • IAS Selection Process has three stages. First is IAS prelims exam, those who qualify this have to register again for IAS Main exam.
  • Marks scored in IAS Prelims are only considered to select candidates to the main exam and not for the final merit list.
  • Those who qualify the IAS Mains exam will be eligible for the IAS Interview Round.
  • IAS Interview round is conducted in the month of February to March. The final merit list is prepared based on the main exam and interview.
  • Final Result is declared in the month of May each year for joining of the candidates provided their documents are verified and factual.

Brief about each stage of IAS selection process is discussed below in the article. Check IAS Exam Pattern

IAS Preliminary Exam

IAS Preliminary Exam 2021

There are two compulsory papers in Preliminary Exam, Paper I (General Studies) and Paper-II (Civil Services Aptitude Test). The preliminary exam is held for two hours and total marks for the same are 200 marks for each paper. IAS Question Paper of preliminary exam is set in both English and Hindi language.

Here is the exam pattern followed by UPSC for Preliminary examination:

IAS Exam Prelims
Duration of examination 2 hours or 120 minutes (extra time of 20 minutes for blind candidates) for each paper.
Total Number of Questions Paper I- 80 questions, Paper-II- 100 questions
Total Marks Maximum of 400 Marks
Types of Questions Objective Type Multiple Choice Questions
Marking scheme Paper I- 200 marks, Paper-II- 200 marks
Negative marking 1/3rd of the marks allotted to the question will be deducted from every wrong answer
Mode of Examination Hindi and English

The criterion of evaluation in preliminary examination to determine cutoff will be on the basis of minimum qualifying marks of 33 % in General Studies Paper-II of Preliminary Examination and total qualifying marks of General Studies Paper-I of Preliminary Examination.

Must Read IAS Preparation Tips

IAS Main Exam

IAS Main Exam 2021

The main exam shall consist of 9 papers out of which 2 are qualifying language papers and 2 are optional papers. Each paper will be of 3 hours’ duration. Total marks for each paper will be 250 marks while the language papers will be of 300 marks. Following table elaborates the details regarding UPSC main examination pattern:

IAS Exam Main Examination
Duration of examination Each paper will be of 3 hours duration
Total Marks Maximum of 1750 marks
Types of Questions Conventional essay type questions
Marking scheme 250 marks each for Paper I- Paper VII and 275 marks for Interview
Language used in question papers Hindi and English

Those who qualify the mains examination as per the cut-off set by the commission shall be called for the interview session or personality test which will also be considered for merit calculation. The candidate will be selected on the basis of the career records and some general questions pertaining to the job profile will be asked to test a candidate’s knowledge and personality traits. Marks scored in the main examination and interview session will be determining factors of a selection of the candidate, no qualifying list or cut off will be released after this.

Read Current Affairs (Polity and Governance Part II) before appearing for IAS exam

IAS Personality Test

IAS 2021 Interview Round

The most important stage that must be cleared in order to get recruited in All India Services is the Personality test. Candidates who qualify the main examination are called to face a board of judges from the Union Public Services Commission who judge him/her on the basis of several factors. These factors include mental alertness, critical powers of assimilation, clear and logical exposition, the balance of judgment, variety, and depth of interest, ability for social cohesion and leadership, intellectual and moral integrity along with some technical skills required in the job profile that has been selected by the candidate.

The technique of the interview is not that of a strict cross‐examination but of natural, directed and purposive conversation which intends to reveal the mental qualities of the candidate. The interview session is conducted for 275 marks and no qualifying marks have been enlisted to clear it by the commission. The skills presented in the career profile must be shown while in front of the board members to secure good marks in the personality test. Final selection will be based on the main examination and Interview session marks combined together.

IAS Final Merit List

IAS 2021 Exam Final Merit List

The final merit list will be prepared on the basis of marks obtained in the main examination and personality test. Candidates will be allotted to the various Services according to their merit and preferences. The final merit list will be out in the month of May 2020. Marks scored in Preliminary examination will be excluded while preparing the Final Merit List.

*The article might have information for the previous academic years, please refer the official website of the exam.


sadim ansari
If the overall marks of two or more candidates are equal, how is relative merit between such candidates decided?
kavita rani

Hi Sadim. If the overall marks of two or more candidates are equal, then the UPSC will apply the Tie-breaking principles. The UPSC Tie-breaking will decide inter se merit among candidates having equal overall marks.

Is it likely that my evaluated performance suffers because my answer books were evaluated by a ‘strict’ examiner, while another candidate benefits as his answer books were evaluated by a ‘liberal’ examiner?
kavita rani

Hi Pradeepraj. The aspect of inter examiner variation in standards of evaluation in a Paper affecting candidates’ performance is taken care accurately. So don’t worry.

kashish tomar
Can a candidate write the Civil Service (Main) Examination in English and take the interview in Hindi or any other Indian language?
kavita rani

Hi Kashish. Candidates can opt for English, Hindi or any other regional language when facing the UPSC panel.

payal chaudhary
law is helpful and marksgaining subject for upsc mains (optional).


LAW is one of the best scoring subjects for UPSC mains. 

does the ias aspirant need coaching
akansha expert
Hi Sir, Yes you need coaching or self-study to crack the exam at a good level.