Is UPSC Exam Tough?

By Durga Prashanna Mishra|Updated : September 13th, 2022

Is UPSC Tough? It is the most common question on the minds of youngsters aiming to be civil servants. Every candidate planning to appear UPSC Civil Services Examination has this question in mind, and in this article, we will analyze if it is true or not. Here we will discuss everything to find the answer to, Is UPSC Tough?

To be very honest, UPSC Exam is considered one of the toughest exams in the country. There are various factors why it is considered as tough. However, if you have patience, honesty, and determination, then everything falls into place, and the UPSC exam can be cleared easily.

Why UPSC is Tough?

Clearing the UPSC Exam is not rocket science. Anyone can crack this exam if he/she executes the right strategy to perfection. You don’t have to be a college topper to crack UPSC, as many with average academic records have cleared this exam in the past. However, there are several factors that make the UPSC make tough, and due to them, UPSC stands out as compared to other competitive exams. Understanding these factors would help you to figure out if UPSC is tough or not.

Exam Pattern

UPSC Exam Pattern is one of many factors why UPSC is tough for many aspirants. UPSC exam consists of three stages:

  1. UPSC Prelims
  2. UPSC Mains
  3. Personality Test or Interview

Candidates need to clear each stage of the exam to move on to the next stage. With each stage, the difficulty level increases. UPSC Prelims is the screening test to find eligible candidates for the UPSC Mains. The marks secured in the UPSC Mains and Interview round determine the final result of the candidates. The last stage, i.e., the interview, can be the toughest. Here, both knowledge and personality will be examined to deal with situations.

Vastness of Syllabus

The vastness of the UPSC Syllabus is another reason why UPSC is tough. The diversity of the subjects in both UPSC Prelims Syllabus and UPSC Mains Syllabus demand long study hours and strong determination. The subjects covered for this exam contain varied streams. Candidates need to learn each subject in an in-depth manner if they want to succeed.

Passing Marks

The success rate of the UPSC exam is enough to tell you why UPSC is tough. According to some, it is one of the toughest exams in the world. Every year lakhs of candidates apply for UPSC Prelims, and among them, only 25% clear it and move on to the next stage i.e., IAS Mains. Only 15% make it through the interview stage, where the success rate is 50%. So the passing percentage for the IAS Exam is less than 1%. It can be disheartening, but with the right preparation, you can fall within this 1% for sure.

Negative Marking in Prelims

Is UPSC Prelims tough? The answer is yes, and it is due to the negative marking in UPSC Prelims. The UPSC Prelims is objective in nature, and it means you have to find the answer from 4 options. The options are given in such a way that you will feel very confused about choosing the right one. To make it tougher, ⅓ negative marking is there for each wrong answer.

Preparation Time

Another reason why UPSC is considered tough is that it requires a long time to prepare. On average, it takes mostly one year to prepare for UPSC Exam. some candidates need more time as well. It all depends on to individual’s hard work and preparation strategy.

How Tough is UPSC?

With a very low success rate, the UPSC exam has been known as one of the toughest exams in the country. But how tough can UPSC be? Below we have analyzed data from the past which will give us a fair amount of idea about how tough the UPSC exam is.


Prelims Applied

Prelims Appeared

Prelims Cleared

Mains Appeared

Shortlisted for Interview



8 Lakh











10 lakhs

5 lakhs

























As you can see from the data given above, the success rate of UPSC exam is below 1%, and this implies the toughness of UPSC, and why majority of the candidates can’t make it to the final list.


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FAQs on Is UPSC Tough?

  • Yes, UPSC is considered one of the toughest exams in the country as well as the world. The success rate is very low for the UPSC exam. However, with hard work and the right preparation strategy, the UPSC exam can be cracked easily.

  • UPSC is considered tough due to various factors such as the exam pattern, the vastness of the UPSC syllabus, the low passing percentage, and the requirement of a long preparation time.

  • The success rate of UPSC is less than 1%. Every year lakhs of candidates appear for UPSC Prelims, but only 25% get selected for UPSC Mains, and among them, only 15% make it to the interview round. The interview round has a success rate of 50%.

  • UPSC is one of the toughest exams in India. Candidates need to put their heart and soul into the UPSC preparation to succeed. Lakhs of candidates apply for UPSC Exam every year but less than 1% crack this exam.

  • Be it a college topper or an average student; the UPSC exam is tough for everyone. It doesn’t matter what your academic background is; the only thing that matters is how well-prepared you are for this exam.

  • Both CA and UPSC are considered tough. Both require different approaches and preparation styles. CA is not the toughest, but it is not less than the IAS Exams as well. It is difficult to decide which one is the toughest.

  • The success rate of UPSC Prelims is only 25%, so it is tough. However, it is not tough as the UPSC Mains or interview. With the right preparation and robust study plan, Prelims can be cleared easily.

  • UPSC exam is definitely one of the toughest exams in India, and for some, it is one of the toughest exams in the world. The success rate of the UPSC exam is less than 1% which implies that it would be tough to crack the UPSC exam.

  • Yes, UPSC is tougher than NEET because of the level of questions asked in the exam. The vastness of the UPSC syllabus is more than that of the NEET syllabus, and NEET is a UG-level entrance exam as well.

  • UPSC is tougher than the IIT exam. The acceptance rate of UPSC is too low, but in the case of IIT the acceptance rate is higher which is why UPSC is tougher than IIT.

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