Mains Exam FAQ


Q. What is the structure of UPSC Civil Service Mains Exam?

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Qn: Which optional subject should I choose for UPSC Mains?

The Main Examination will consist of written examination and an interview test. The written examination will consist of 9 papers of the conventional essay type. Two papers (out of 9) will be of qualifying in nature. Marks obtained for all the compulsory papers (Paper–I to Paper-VII) and Marks obtained in Interview for Personality Test will be counted for ranking.

Q. Will there be minimum qualifying marks for UPSC Mains Compulsory Papers?

There are two language papers which are compulsory. They are:

  • English language – compulsory for all candidates.
  • Regional (Indian) language – compulsory for all candidates except those hailing from Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram and Meghalaya.

Both the papers are for three hours and make up a total of 300 marks each. Candidates have to score at least 75 marks (25%) in both these papers to qualify.

Q. Will UPSC deduct marks for bad handwriting?

If a candidate’s handwriting is not easily legible, a deduction will be made on this account from the total marks otherwise accruing to him.

Q. What are the check-list items for Mains Exam hall?

  • Don’t forget to bring the admit card to exam hall.
  • Bring the e-Admit Card in each session to secure admission to Examination Hall. e-Admit Card may be preserved till the declaration of final result.
  • Enter the Examination Hall 20 minutes before the scheduled commencement of the examination.
  • You will not be admitted to the examination if you report 10 minutes after the scheduled commencement of the examination.
  • Use of Scientific(Non-Programmable type) Calculators is allowed. Programmable type calculators are, however, not allowed in this examination.
  • Possession/ Use of Mobile Phones and other Electronics/Communication devices is banned in the examination premises.
  • The candidates must note that they should strictly answer all parts and sub-parts of a question, in the space provided, in the Question Cum Answer (QCA) booklet, under each question/ part in the QCA booklet.
  • Candidates are advised to ensure that spaces / pages remaining blank are clearly crossed out before the QCA booklet are handed over to the invigilators.
  • Candidates are advised not to bring any valuable / costly items in the examination hall, as safe keeping of the same can not be assured.

Q. Can a candidate choose an optional subject, which he has not studied at graduate/post graduate level?

Yes.

Q. In Mains exam, which is the language / medium of question papers?

The question papers (other than the literature of language papers) are set in bilingual i.e. Hindi and English only.

Q. Can a candidate write different papers of Civil Service (Main) Examination in different languages?

No, the Candidates have the option to write their answers either in English or in any one of the Eighth Schedule languages except the Qualifying Language papers Paper-A and Paper-B, which they have indicated at the time of filling up of their online application form for Civil Service (Preliminary) Examination.

Q. How are the Question Papers for the Civil Services (Main) Examination structured? What is the duration of each paper?

The question papers for the examination are of conventional (essay) type. Each paper are of three hours duration.

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

The candidates, opting for Indian Language medium for the written part of the Civil Services (Main) Examination 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 either English or Hindi or any other Indian Language opted by them for the compulsory Indian Language Paper in the written part of the Civil Services (Main) Examination, as the medium for interview. The candidate has to indicate the language medium of their interview at the time of filling up of the Detailed Application Form (DAF) 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.

Q. What are the Cut-off Marks for the compulsory language Papers?

The minimum qualifying standards for Qualifying Papers Indian Languages is and English is 25%

Q. Is the Indian language Paper compulsory for candidates hailing from the States of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Sikkim?

The paper on Indian Language (Paper A) will not be compulsory for candidates hailing from the States of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Sikkim.

Q. What marks are reckoned for merit ranking in the written part of the Civil Services (Main) Examination?

Marks obtained by the candidates for the Papers I-VII only will be counted for merit ranking (of those candidates who obtain the specified minimum marks in the qualifying papers). However, the Commission will have the discretion to fix qualifying marks in any or all of these papers.

Q.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.

Q. After the written examination, on what criterion is the answer books sent for evaluation? Is it on Roll no. basis or based on centre of examination? That is, will a particular examiner/ set of examiners get to evaluate answer books only of a particular centre or a particular group of roll numbers?

Mixing of the answer books received from different venues is done before sending them for evaluation. Computer-based randomized fictitious code no. is given to each answer-book before evaluation.

Q. 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.