IAS 2018 Exam Pattern

Updated On -

Aug 28, 2017

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Shivani Tiwari

Content Curator

IAS exam is the most competitive exam in India. Every year UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) conducts Civil Services exam for candidates aspiring to be Grade ‘A’ officers. UPSC IAS Exams is conducted in three stages namely Preliminary, Mains and Interview rounds. Here are the highlights for upcoming IAS 2018.

  • UPSC will conduct IAS Prelims 2018 in June 2018. Prelims round of IAS is a screening test held to shortlist candidates.
  • Candidates will have to appear in two papers in IAS Prelims 2018 – General Studies (Paper I) and General Studies (Paper II), which carry 200 marks each.
  • Paper 2 in CS-Prelims is qualifying in nature. Whereas, Paper 1 is considered for Merit Preparation.
  • UPSC IAS 2018 Mains Exam constitutes of nine papers followed by the Interview Round.
  • Out of the nine papers, four papers are dedicated to General Studies. Apart from Indian and English Language, candidates are provided with the options to choose two papers out of the list available to candidates during IAS Registration.
Department wise IAS Cutoff

Those who qualify prelims exam of IAS will be allowed to appear in UPSC IAS 2018 Mains exam. Candidates are required to secure minimum marks collectively to qualify the Mains Round of IAS Exam. Out of the above 9 exams, Indian Language and English language are qualifying in nature and not considered for preparation of the final Merit List. The other seven papers will be counted for merit (1750 marks)

IAS 2018 Exam Pattern

IAS Prelims 2018

IAS Prelims 2018 is the preliminary stage of the exam. IAS Prelims is qualifying in nature where students are required to score marks above the decided cutoff to be able to appear for the IAS Mains. The paper in IAS Prelims constitute two papers viz. GS 1 and GS 2. Where GS 1 deals with General and Current affairs aptitude of the student. GS 2 is more related to quantitative and logical aptitude. The mode of the examination is Offline and the time provided to students to solve 100 and 80 questions is two hours each. Here are the highlights of IAS Prelims 2018.

Know more about IAS Prelims 2018 Pattern, Syllabus, Questions and Expected Cutoff




English and Hindi

Number of papers


Weightage of each paper

200 marks


2 hours (20 min extra for Blind candidates)



Marking Scheme


IAS Mains 2018

IAS Mains is the next level of Selection process of Indian Administrative Services. The exam of IAS Mains consist of nine papers out of which four paper dedicated to General Studies. General Studies in IAS Mains constitute Current Affairs, Indian History, Polity and Economics. The students are required to qualify the stage in order to appear for Interview rounds. Marks worth 300 are qualifying in nature in which students are to score above the decided qualifyinf marks to qualify. However, 250 are considered for Merit preparation in which students are score above he decided cutoff to qualify. Here are some highlights of IAS Mains 2018

  • Mode: Offline (Nine Papers)
  • Medium: English and Hindi
  • Weightage: 300 Marks Qualifying; 250 Marks for Merit Preparation
  • Duration: 3 hours each

IAS 2018 Exam Pattern

IAS consists of three stages which are Prelims, Mains and Interview. The exam pattern varies according to the stages.

IAS Prelims

  • IAS Prelims 2018 will have two papers of 100 and 80 questions respectively for two hours each
  • Paper 1 will be General Studies I (GS I) comprising many sections including Economics, Geography, Political Science, and Science.
  • Paper 2, General Studies II (GS II) also known as Civil Services Aptitude Test(CSAT) will test the aptitude of UPSC IAS aspirants.
  • Candidates are given three hours break in between each of the papers.

IAS Mains

  • IAS 2018 Mains Exam will constitute of 9 papers and the Interview Round. Each paper will be of three hours’ duration.
  • Out of the 9 papers, 4 papers are dedicated to General Studies. Apart from Indian and English Language, candidates can choose two papers out of the list available to candidates during IAS Registration.
  • Paper A and Paper B of UPSC IAS Mains 2018 will be of 300 marks each and will be qualifying in nature.
  • The score of these papers will not be considered while preparing IAS Merit List. However, only those aspirants, who obtain at least 25 percent in Paper A, and 25 percent in Paper B, will be taken into consideration while making the IAS Rank List on the basis of General Studies and Optional Subjects papers.

Papers qualifying in nature

  • Paper A - An Indian language selected by the candidates
  • Paper B - English

Papers to be counted for merit

  • Essay (Paper I)
  • General Studies (Paper II-V)
  • Optional Subjects (Paper VI-VII)

Interview Round

Only the IAS Mains qualified students will be eligible for the Personality test (interview). Candidates will be interviewed by Board members, who will be aware of candidates’ career so far. The objective of this interview is to assess candidates’ personal suitability for their further career in the public services.

Read More about questions asked in IAS Interview 

IAS 2018 Marking scheme

Union Public Service Commission follows a negative marking policy. Following the marking scheme of UPSC IAS 2018 Prelims exam, candidates will be awarded one mark if attempting a question correctly and one-third of the marks allotted to the question will be deducted from the total scored marks if the attempt for that question is wrong. Moreover, no marks will be awarded for any question left un-attempted. In General Studies Paper-II, candidates have to qualify the exam with minimum qualifying marks fixed at 33%.

  • For Correct Response: +1 Mark
  • For incorrect Response: -1/3 Marks

Marking Scheme for IAS Mains and Interview

As the IAS Mains Exam is descriptive in nature, marks are awarded or deducted based upon the manner in which a candidate has answered the questions in the qualifying papers(Paper A & B) as well as in the Paper I to VII

Total Marks of the Qualifying Papers:

Paper Total Marks
Paper A: An Indian Language 300 Marks
Paper B: English 300 Marks

Total Marks of the Papers to be counted for merit:

Paper Total Marks
Paper I: Essay 250
Paper II: General Studies-I (Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society) 250
Paper III: General Studies-II (Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations) 250
Paper IV: General Studies-III (Technology, Economic Development, Bio-diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management) 250
Paper V: General Studies-IV (Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude) 250
Paper VI: Optional Subject-Paper1 250
Paper-VII: Optional Subject-Paper 2 250
Sub Total (Written test) 1750
Personality Test 275
Grand Total 2025

IAS 2018 Exam syllabus

Candidates appearing for IAS 2018 Exam have to be aware of the complete UPSC syllabus that will be included in all the UPSC examination so as to prepare well and get higher rankings.

Preliminary Examinations

IAS Preliminary Examinations two papers are termed as General Studies Paper-I and General Studies Paper-II. Both the question papers will be in two sets of language viz. English and Hindi and will consists of Multiple choice questions (objective type).

Syllabus for General Studies Paper-I is given below:-

  • Current affairs and Current events of National and International importance
  • General Science
  • General issues on Climate Change, Environmental Ecology and Biodiversity (Doesn’t require to be subject specialised)
  • Indian National Movement and History of India
  • Indian Polity and Governance - Constitution of India, Public Policy, Political System, Panchayati Raj, etc.
  • World and Indian Geography - Physical Geography of India and the World, Economic Geography of India and the World, Social Geography of India and the World, Right and Issues on Geography
  • Social Development and Economic – Social Sector initiatives, Sustainable Development, Inclusion, Demographics, and Poverty, etc.

Check IAS Syllabus with Important Topics and Expected questions in Prelims and Mains

Syllabus for General Studies Paper-II is given below:

  • Problem-solving and Decision-making
  • General Mental Ability
  • Comprehension
  • Data interpretation (charts, graphs, tables, data sufficiency, etc.) of Class X level, Basic numeracy (numbers and their relations, orders of magnitude, etc.) of Class X level.
  • Analytical Ability and Logical Reasoning
  • Interpersonal skills including Communication skills

Syllabus for IAS Mains Examinations

The UPSC IAS Main Examination is a written examination. UPSC syllabus for the main examination consists of nine papers, but only seven papers are considered for making the final ranking. In the remaining two papers, candidates have to secure minimum marks which are declared by UPSC every year.

Two qualifying papers will be of matriculation level or equivalent standard to its level.  These papers are not counted in the final score for ranking. Both papers are of 300 marks each.

Paper-A: Indian Languages

Candidates will be asked to write: Short Essays, Comprehension of given passages, Precis writing and Usage and Vocabulary.

Candidates have to select any one of the Indian Language from the Languages mentioned in the Eighth Schedule to the Indian Constitution.

Note: These papers are not necessary for the candidates belonging to Sikkim, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Manipur, and Arunachal Pradesh.

Paper-B: English language

Short Essays, Comprehension of given passages, Precis writing and Usage and Vocabulary

List of seven papers along with UPSC syllabus:

Paper-I Essay(It Can be written in the medium or language of the candidate’s choice) - On single or multiple topics
Paper-II General Studies-I (Culture and Indian Heritage|History and Geography of the World and Society)
Paper- III General Studies –II (Constitution| Governance| Social Justice| Polity| and International relations)
Paper-IV General Studies –III (Economic Development| Technology| Environment| Biodiversity| Disaster Management and Security)
Paper-V General Studies –IV (Aptitude| Integrity| and Ethics)
Paper-VI Optional Subject – Paper 1
Paper-VII Optional Subject – Paper 2

Paper VI and VII are the two optional subjects chosen by the candidate at the time of filling up the UPSC IAS 2018 Application Form.

IAS Preparation Books

Here are the lists of all the recommended Books for the preparation of the UPSC IAS exam

Books for IAS Prelims

The important reference books for IAS Prelims are listed below.:

Books Author/Publication ISBN Number
22 Years CSAT General Studies IAS Prelims Topic-wise Solved Papers 1995-2016 DISHA Experts 9386146827
General Studies Paper I 2017 & 2018 McGraw Hill Education 935260346X
General Studies Paper II 2017 & 2018 McGraw Hill Education 9352603478
Manorama Yearbook 2017 & 2018 Mammen Mathew 9386025205
India 2017 & 2018 Government of India 8123023286
Oxford Student Atlas for Competitive Exams Oxford 199470642

Topic-wise IAS Books for Prelims

Apart from reference books, you also need to read topic-wise IAS Books for Prelims which are given below:

BOOKS Author/Publication
Indian Polity M. Laxmikanth
Environment and Ecology: Biodiversity, Climate Change and Disaster Management for Civil Services Examination Majid Husain
India's Struggle for Independence Bipan Chandra
A Brief History Of Modern India Rajiv Ahir
Art and Culture Nitin Singhania
Indian Economy Ramesh Singh
Physical Geography Goh Cheng Leong

History Books

Books Author/Publication
India's Struggle for Independence Bipin Chandra
Facets of Indian Culture Spectrum
A New Look at Modern Indian History BL Grover
India Since Independence Bipan Chandra
A History of Modern World Ranjan Chakravarti

Geography Books

Books Author/Publication
Certificate Physical and Human Geography Goh Cheng Leong
Indian and World GeographY Majid Hussain
NCERTs of Class XI and XII CBSE

Book on Development, Participation, Secularism, Women Issues

BOOKS Author/Publication
India: Development and Participation Amartya Sen and Jean Dreze

Books for GS Paper-2(Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International Relations)

Books Author/Publication
Our Constitution Shubham Kashyap
Our Parliament Shubham Kashyap
Governance in India M Laxmikanth
International Relations in 21st Century Pushpesh Pant

Books for GS Paper 3 - Technology, Economic Development, Bio-diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management

Books Author/Publication
Indian Economy Ramesh Singh
Indian Economy: Performance and Policies Uma Kapila
Economic Survey Ministry of Finance, India
Environment & Ecology: Biodiversity, Climate Change & Disaster Management Majid Hussain

Books for GS Paper 4 - Ethics, Integrity, and Aptitude

Books Author/Publication
Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude for Civil Services Main Examination Subba Rao

Apart from these recommended books for GS Mains for IAS, candidates should also read news articles and editorials from newspapers like Indian Express and The Hindu. Also, they should stay updated with the latest development in the field of Science and technology, Ecological issues, International Relations, Polity, Economic developments through online and offline news sources.

Important Instructions

  • Paper-A and Paper-B which will be Indian languages and English Language paper respectively will be of matriculation level or equivalent standard to its level. Whatever marks candidates will obtain in this exam will not be counted for their final ranking.
  • Evaluation of the all the seven papers of all the candidates would be done simultaneously along with evaluation of candidates’ qualifying papers on ‘Indian Languages’ and ‘English language’ but the marks of those seven papers of only such candidates will be taken into cognisance who will attain 25% marks in Indian Language and 25% marks in English Language as minimum qualifying standards in these qualifying papers.
  • It is compulsory for a candidate to appear in both the Papers of UPSC Civil Services (Prelim) Examination for the purpose of evaluation. A candidate will be disqualified in case he/she did not appear in both the papers of UPSC Civil Services (Prelim) Examination.

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