Pattern Of Examination


The pattern of the Preliminary examination up to 2010 was based on the recommendations of the Kothari Commission (1979). It included two examinations, one on general studies worth 150 marks, and the second on one of 23 optional subjects worth 300 marks.Until 2011, when it was revamped, the preliminary pattern was sustained with only minor changes once every ten to fifteen years. It is possible that in the coming years there can be some more changes in the format.
From 2011 onwards, the Preliminary examination, now popularly known as the Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT) (officially it is still called General Studies Paper-1 and Paper-2), intends to focus on analytical abilities and understanding rather than the ability to memorize. The new pattern includes two papers of two hours duration and 200 marks each.[9]Both papers have multiple choice objective type questions only.[9] They are as under:

Paper I tests the candidate's knowledge on current events, history of India and Indian national movement, Indian and World Geography, Indian Policy and governance, Economic and social development, environmental ecology, biodiversity, climate change and general science. To qualify minimum marks should be 30.

Paper II tests the candidates' skills in comprehension, interpersonal skills, communication, logical reasoning, analytical ability, decision making, problem solving, basic numeracy, data interpretation, English language comprehension skills and mental ability. To qualify minimum marks should be 70.

Note: These papers are qualifying in nature and are not used for ranking. Hence their marks are not added to the total. Candidates who fail these papers as per the Commission's standards are not eligible for the mains.


The Civil Services Mains Examination consists of a written examination and an interview.