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Common Mistakes In UPSC IAS MAINS Exam

Updated On -

Mar 9, 2020

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Atul Yadav

Exam prep master

Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) conducts Civil Services Examination (CSE), popularly known as IAS Examination to shortlist the candidates for various services like Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Police Service (IPS), and Indian Forest Service (IFS). This year Civil Services Examination will be conducted on May 31, 2020. 

To get selected for the All India Services (AIS), aspirants need to appear for the year-long selection process which starts with the preliminary examination consisting of two objective-type papers (General Studies Paper I and II also known as Civil Service Aptitude Test). Aspirants who qualify within the preliminary examination and stand above the cut-off score are going to be involved the second phase, i.e., Civil Services Main Exam consisting the total of nine papers of essay type in which two language papers are qualifying and only marks of other seven are counted followed by an interview. It's not a simple task for aspirants to seem for the traditional papers due to back to back examination. Six attempts at max are allowed for General Category aspirants in UPSC Civil Services.

The selection process for UPSC civil services is one year long. Here is the table showing the selection process of UPSC IAS exam:

IAS Exam 2020: Important Dates

IAS 2020 Notification Releasing on February 12, 2020
IAS 2020 Registration to begin on February 12, 2020
Last Day to Apply for IAS 2020 Exam March 3, 2020
Issue of IAS 2020 Admit Card April 2020
IAS 2020 Preliminary Exam Date May 31, 2020
IAS 2020 Main Exam Date September 18, 2020

IAS Exam 2020 Eligibility Criteria

Any candidate whose age is more than 21 years and less than specific age upper limit are eligible for the exam. The upper limit age for general category students is 32 years. For the UPSC civil services exam 2020 candidates must be born between 02 August 1987 and 01 August 1998.

The following table shows the upper age limit and number of attempts category wise:

Category Upper Age Limit Maximum Attempts
General 32 6
OBC 35 9
SC/ST 37 No attempts limit is there
Defense Services Personnel 35 9
Economically weaker section 35 9

UPSC IAS 2020 Exam Pattern

Prelims Exam

Every year nearly 1 million peoples registered to prelims exams. It is the screening exam for UPSC civil services and only candidates who pass this exam are eligible for the next phase.

In this phase, there are two objective type papers of 200 marks each. Candidates only need to clear the cutoff for this exam, its score is not included in the final merit list.

Mains Exam

It is the second phase of UPSC civil services examination in which total of 9 exams are conducted which are 1 Essay paper, 4 General Studies Papers, 2 Optional Papers (Candidates choice it for the list of Civil Services Exam Optional Subjects), 2 language papers

  • The marks of language papers will not be included in the final ranking. 
  • The candidates need to score at least 25% in each paper to qualify.

The following table shows the details of all these exams with their weightage:

Papers Subjects Marks
Paper A One of the Indian languages selected by the candidate (Qualifying) 300
Paper B English (Qualifying) 300
Paper I Essay 250
Paper-II General Studies I  250
Paper III General Studies II  250
Paper IV General Studies III  250
Paper V General Studies IV 250
Papers VI, VII Two papers of candidate choice from the list of optional subjects  250

The total maximum score for these written exams is 1750 and for an interview, it is 275. Hence the total marks are 2025. 

UPSC IAS 2020: Common Mistakes committed by candidates

 Candidates shouldn't commit any mistakes within the descriptive papers which may make them out of the competition. The UPSC had issued a document regarding general mistakes committed in conventional papers.

Some of the are Common mistakes committed by the candidates in UPSC IAS Exam with examples:-

Irrelevant matters are written in Question-cum-Answer Booklet(QCAB):

A candidate isn't allowed to write down anything irrelevant within the Question-cum-answer booklet(QCAB). They ought to avoid writing irrelevant matters in both question bank and answer booklet.Most candidates write a variety of religious or the other lucky symbol at the starting of the booklet which isn't allowed. One should hit the bulls' eye while answering the questions. They ought to not give any confusion to the evaluator by writing matters irrelevant to answers.


Here a candidate has written “Hare Rama Hare Krishna” on the front of question paper which is not allowed. The candidate also has lucky numbers like 786, om symbol, Cross symbol, etc.

Do Not Disclose Identity

At any a part of the solution booklet, test-takers shouldn't disclose their identity like name, roll number, religion, caste, etc. One should also avoid writing his roll number, name, or signature anywhere in question-cum-answer-booklet (QCAB).


Apart from these candidates also write their name in clear bold letter or roll numbers in the signature space which leads to rejection. 

Avoid Writing In Mixed Language Medium

It is not encouraged to write down the answers during a mixed language medium. If a candidate wishes to write down within the local language, he/she should opt while filling up the Civil Services Main DAF.


Answering partly in ink and partly in pencil

The candidate is not allowed to write any answer with both ink and pencil. They must have to use either a pen or pencil for writing the answer to a question.


Direct / Indirect appeal to Examiner

Many times a candidate appeals to the examiner like requesting lenient checking because of the last attempt which is not allowed. Students should keep in mind that they can succeed in exams only with hard work and dedication and not with such practices.


Bad / Illegible handwriting

If the candidate’s handwriting is very bad and clear to read their answers are rejected whether they are correct or wrong. So candidates should keep in mind that their handwriting should be clear so that the examiner can read and understand it easily.



Contravention of any other instructions

The candidate must follow every instruction without any contravention. If any of the instructions is not followed the answer sheet will get rejected.

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