IAS (Indian Administrative Service) Exam Pattern 2018

Last Updated - March 10 2018

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

  • UPSC will organize IAS Prelims 2018 in June 2018. Prelims round of IAS is a screening test held to shortlist aspirants.
  • 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.
  • Aspirants 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.
  • Out of the nine papers, four papers are dedicated to General Studies. Apart from Indian and English Language, aspirants are offered with the options to choose two papers out of the list available to aspirants during IAS Registration.

Those who qualify prelims exam of IAS will be allowed to appear in UPSC IAS 2018 Mains 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. Aspirants need to secure at least marks collectively to qualify the Mains Round of IAS Exam. The other seven papers will be counted for merit (1750 marks)

Exam Format of IAS 2018

IAS Prelims 2018

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




English and Hindi

Number of papers


Weightage of each paper

200 marks


2 hours (20 min extra for Blind aspirants)



Marking Scheme


IAS Mains 2018

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

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

    Exam Format of IAS Exam 2018

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

    IAS Prelims

    • Aspirants are given three hours break in between each of the papers.
    • 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 candidates.
    • IAS Prelims 2018 will have two papers of 100 and 80 questions respectively for two hours each

    IAS Mains

    • Out of the 9 papers, 4 papers are dedicated to General Studies. Apart from Indian and English Language, aspirants can choose two papers out of the list available to aspirants 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.
    • IAS 2018 Mains Exam will constitute of 9 papers and the Interview Round. Each paper will be of three hours’ duration.
    • The score of these papers will not be considered while preparing IAS Merit List. However, only those candidates, who obtain minimum 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 aspirants
    • Paper B - English

    Papers to be counted for merit

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

    Interview Round

    Only the IAS Mains qualified students will be applicable for the Individuality test (interview). Aspirants will be interviewed by Board members, who will be aware of aspirants’ career so far. The objective of this interview is to assess aspirants’ individual 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. In General Studies Paper-II, aspirants have to qualify the exam with at least qualifying marks fixed at 33%. Moreover, no marks will be honored for any question left un-attempted. Following the marking scheme of UPSC IAS 2018 Prelims exam, aspirants will be honored 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.

    • For inaccurate Answer: -1/3 Marks
    • For Accurate Answer: +1 Mark

    Marking Scheme for IAS Mains and Interview 2018

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

    Total Marks of the Qualifying Papers:

    PaperTotal Marks
    Paper A: An Indian Language300 Marks
    Paper B: English300 Marks

    Total Marks of the Papers to be counted for merit:

    PaperTotal Marks
    Paper I: Essay250
    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-Paper1250
    Paper-VII: Optional Subject-Paper 2250
    Sub Total (Written test)1750
    Individuality Test275
    Grand Total2025

    Exam syllabus of IAS 2018

    Aspirants appearing for IAS 2018 Exam have to be aware of the clear UPSC syllabus that will be comprised 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:-

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

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

    Syllabus for General Studies Paper-II is given below:

    • Comprehension
    • Interindividual skills including Communication skills
    • General Mental Ability
    • Analytical Ability and Logical Reasoning
    • 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.
    • Problem-solving and Judgement-making

    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, aspirants have to secure at least marks which are declared by UPSC every year.

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

    Paper-A: Indian Languages

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

    Aspirants 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 aspirants 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-IEssay(It Can be written in the medium or language of the aspirant’s choice) - On single or multiple topics
    Paper-IIGeneral Studies-I (Culture and Indian Heritage|History and Geography of the World and Society)
    Paper- IIIGeneral Studies –II (Constitution| Governance| Social Justice| Polity| and International relations)
    Paper-IVGeneral Studies –III (Economic Development| Technology| Environment| Biodiversity| Disaster Management and Security)
    Paper-VGeneral Studies –IV (Aptitude| Integrity| and Ethics)
    Paper-VIOptional Subject – Paper 1
    Paper-VIIOptional Subject – Paper 2

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

    Preparation Books for IAS Exam 2018

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

    Books for IAS Prelims

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

    BooksAuthor/PublicationISBN Number
    22 Years CSAT General Studies IAS Prelims Topic-wise Solved Papers 1995-2016DISHA Experts9386146827
    General Studies Paper I 2017 & 2018McGraw Hill Education935260346X
    General Studies Paper II 2017 & 2018McGraw Hill Education9352603478
    Manorama Yearbook 2017 & 2018Mammen Mathew9386025205
    India 2017 & 2018Government of India8123023286
    Oxford Student Atlas for Competitive ExamsOxford199470642

    Topic-wise IAS Books for Prelims 2018

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

    Indian PolityM. Laxmikanth
    Environment and Ecology: Biodiversity, Climate Change and Disaster Management for Civil Services ExaminationMajid Husain
    India's Struggle for IndependenceBipan Chandra
    A Brief History Of Modern IndiaRajiv Ahir
    Art and CultureNitin Singhania
    Indian EconomyRamesh Singh
    Physical GeographyGoh Cheng Leong

    History Books

    India's Struggle for IndependenceBipin Chandra
    Facets of Indian CultureSpectrum
    A New Look at Modern Indian HistoryBL Grover
    India Since IndependenceBipan Chandra
    A History of Modern WorldRanjan Chakravarti

    Geography Books

    Certificate Physical and Human GeographyGoh Cheng Leong
    Indian and World GeographYMajid Hussain
    NCERTs of Class XI and XIICBSE

    Book on Development, Participation, Secularism, Women Issues

    India: Development and ParticipationAmartya Sen and Jean Dreze

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

    Our ConstitutionShubham Kashyap
    Our ParliamentShubham Kashyap
    Governance in IndiaM Laxmikanth
    International Relations in 21st CenturyPushpesh Pant

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

    Indian EconomyRamesh Singh
    Indian Economy: Performance and PoliciesUma Kapila
    Economic SurveyMinistry of Finance, India
    Environment & Ecology: Biodiversity, Climate Change & Disaster ManagementMajid Hussain

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

    Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude for Civil Services Main ExaminationSubba Rao

    Apart from these advisable books for GS Mains for IAS, aspirants 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 via online and offline news sources.

    Important Instructions for IAS (Indian Administrative Service) Exam Pattern 2018

    • 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 aspirants will obtain in this exam will not be counted for their final ranking.
    • It is mandatory for an aspirant to appear in both the Papers of UPSC Civil Services (Prelim) Examination for the purpose of evaluation. An aspirant will be disqualified in case he/she did not appear in both the papers of UPSC Civil Services (Prelim) Examination.
    • Evaluation of the all the seven papers of all the aspirants would be done simultaneously along with evaluation of aspirants’ qualifying papers on ‘Indian Languages’ and ‘English language’ but the marks of those seven papers of only such aspirants will be taken into cognisance who will attain 25% marks in Indian Language and 25% marks in English Language as at least qualifying standards in these qualifying papers.

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