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What is the level of competition in UPSC Civil Services Examination?

  • The number of candidates aspiring for the UPSC Civil Services has gone up to more than 9,00,000 who fill the form and almost 4,00,000 who appear in the 1st stage of the exam, Preliminary Exam.
  • The number of candidates who qualify the Preliminary exam to appear in the Main Exam is equal to 12 to 13 times the number of vacancies in the Civil Services Exam that year.
  • Out of these, the number of candidates who will qualify to appear in the Interview is 2 times the number of vacancies in the Civil Services advertised that year.

For instance, if the number of vacancies in given year is 1000, then about 13,000 candidates would be called (qualified) by the UPSC to appear in the Main exam & the number of candidates who will qualify the Main examination to appear in the Interview would be about 2,000.

What is the number of vacancies in Civil Services for which the examination is conducted every year by UPSC?

The number of vacancies is reported by Union Public Service Commission in its advertisement/notification for the exam. The number of vacancies varies every year; the number of vacancies per year in the last 4 years has varied between 1000 and 1200.

When does the UPSC advertise about the Examination?

UPSC publishes/releases the notification for holding the Civil Services Examination every year in the month of May for the Preliminary Test to be held in the month of August, of the same year. Applications are invited by UPSC till June end of that year.

Can a candidate who has completed his education from an Open School/ University apply for Civil Services Examination?

Yes, provided it is a recognized University and he/she possess the educational qualifications prescribed for the exam and is otherwise eligible.

Is a candidate who has done his graduation without passing class Xth and class XIIth eligible for Civil Services Examination?

Yes, provided the graduation has been completed from a recognized University and he/she possess the educational qualifications prescribed for the exam and is otherwise eligible.

How many attempts does one get to crack the Civil Services Examination?

Number of attempts for General Category candidates is 6; OBC is 9 and for a candidate belonging to SC/ST category is unlimited (there is no restriction on number of attempts for SC/ST category).

Is there any relaxation in number of attempts for physically handicapped?

A physically handicapped will get as many attempts as are available to other non-physically handicapped candidates of his or her community, subject to the condition that a physically handicapped candidate belonging to the General Category shall be eligible for nine attempts. The relaxation will be available to the physically handicapped candidates who are eligible to avail of reservation applicable to such candidates.

Whether the relaxation on number of attempts and reservation applicable to all candidates included in the Central List of OBC’s?

Members of other backward classes, belonging to the Creamy layer (‘Creamy layer’ is the income limit beyond which OBCs are not eligible for quotas) will not be eligible for reservations in jobs and education. Right now the creamy layer bar stands at earnings of over rupees 6 lakhs annually. More details about Creamy layer criteria are available at

Can a candidate write the Civil Services (Main) Examination in English and take the interview in Hindi or in any other Indian language? level?

  • The candidates, who opt for an Indian Language medium to write Civil Services (Main) Exam, may choose either the same Indian Language or English or Hindi as the medium for the interview.
  • The candidates, opting to write the Civil Services (Main) Examination in English, may choose as the medium for interview either English or Hindi or any other Indian Language opted by them for the compulsory Indian Language Paper.
  • However, the candidates, who are exempted from the compulsory Indian Language Paper, will have to choose either English or Hindi as medium of Interview of Personality Test.

Are individual marks secured in various papers or total marks across all papers considered for merit?

Total marks across all the papers in the respective part (Prelim/Main) are considered for merit. However, the Commission has discretion to fix qualifying marks in any or all the subjects of the examination

Preliminary Examination: In CSE (P) 2013, the minimum marks required for qualifying Paper – I was set at 30 and that for Paper – II at 70. UPSC draws a list of candidates to be qualified for Civil Services (Main) Examination based on the total qualifying marks in any or all the subjects as may be determined by the Commission.

Mains examination: Total marks obtained by the candidates for all the ranking papers (from Paper I-VII) will be counted for merit. However, the Commission has discretion to fix qualifying marks in any or all the subjects of the examination. In CSE (M) 2013, it was subject to 10% marks in each of the seven ranking papers. Candidates, who obtain such minimum qualifying marks in the written part of the Main Examination as may be fixed by the Commission at their discretion, shall be summoned by them for interview or a Personality Test.

The Commission informed regarding cut-offs of Civil Services Examination, 2013. The marks obtained by the last candidates declared qualified by the commission in their respective category at different stages of the examination were:

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?

The Paper Setter, who is an eminent person in his field, normally acts as the Head Examiner, and wherever the number of candidates in a particular subject is very large, the Commission appoints Additional Examiners for valuation of answer books.

To achieve uniformity in valuation, where more than one Examiner is involved, the Commission arranges a meeting of the Head Examiner with the Additional Examiners after the Examination is over. At this stage, they discuss thoroughly the question paper, the appropriate answers and decide the standard of evaluation.

To further bring about uniformity of assessment inter se the Examiners, the following procedure is undertaken: The Head Examiner conducts a sample survey of answer books of each Additional Examiner to verify whether the uniform standards of evaluation evolved in the meeting of Examiners have actually been followed. Depending on the standard adopted by the Additional Examiner, the Head Examiner may confirm the awards without any change if the Examiner has correctly followed the standard decided upon, or may carry out upward / downward moderation as considered necessary to ensure maximum possible degree of uniformity in the evaluation process.

Therefore, the aspect of inter examiner variation in standards of evaluation in a Paper affecting candidates’ performance is taken care of adequately.

Can I know the 'question-wise' marks awarded to me for a paper?

In a competitive examination, what is relevant is not the absolute performance of a candidate, but his/her relative performance that in fact determines whether the candidate qualifies and, if so, his/her position in the merit list. Accordingly, as already explained above, the evaluation process does not end after initial evaluation by an Examiner. Moderation, wherever applied, is on the total award initially given (the so-called ‘raw marks’) and not on question-wise basis.

Therefore, once the evaluation process is complete, neither ‘raw marks’ nor ‘question-wise’ marks subsist. What subsists is the candidate’s total score in a paper awarded at the end of the evaluation process and this award is normally made available to the candidate in due course (a month or two) on the Commission’s website.

Are subject-wise/paper wise marks of each candidate made accessible/available to him/her for Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination?

No. This is because the Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination is simply a short-listing (elimination) exercise to select candidates for the Main Examination and as such the scores obtained in this Examination are not communicated to candidates. However, an individual candidate desirous of knowing his/her marks may seek such information from the Commission pursuant to RTI Act 2005.

Are answer books segregated/sorted based on community of the candidate? level?

This is not done at any stage of the evaluation process.