UPSC EPFO Vs UPSC CSE: Know Differences and Similarities

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: September 11th, 2023

UPSC EPFO Vs UPSC CSE: Employees’ Provident Fund Organization (EPFO), an autonomous body under the Ministry of Labour and Employment, is a premier social security organization that provides social security to the working class in India.

Whereas UPSC CSE also known as the IAS exam is the most well-known and reputed exam conducted by Union Public Service Commission. Here we are discussing some of the important similarities and differences between UPSC EPFO and UPSC Civil Services exam.

UPSC EPFO Vs UPSC CSE: Differences and Similarities

Like the various departments under the various Ministries of the Govt of India, the EPFO which is under the Ministry of Labour & Employment has also authorized UPSC to conduct the recruitment of Enforcement Officer/Accounts Officers. The Ministry of Labour & Employment is known as one of the oldest and most important ministries of the Indian Government.

As the recruitment examination is conducted by the UPSC for the UPSC EPFO, the syllabus prescribed is vastly like that of UPSC CSE, an umbrella exam for various administrative posts in India. Overall the major portion of the UPSC EPFO exam syllabus and methodology of selection is similar with few exceptions to UPSC CSE. In this article, we will explore some of the similarities and dissimilarities of the UPSC EPFO and UPSC CSE. Let us see them one by one.

Difference Between UPSC EPFO Vs UPSC CSE – Methodology of Selection




Selection Process

The examination involves a selection procedure of two stages:

Stage I: Recruitment Test (Objective type)

Stage II: Interview

The examination is conducted in three stages to select the administrative officers in three stages:

Stage I: Prelim (Objective type)

Stage II: Main (Subjective)

Stage III: Interview

Exam Pattern

Stage I: Recruitment test

In the recruitment test, there will be 120 questions of 100 marks in total (as per the existing trend). The examination will comprise objective-type questions in bilingual mode (i.e. English and Hindi). A one-third penalty is imposed for the wrong attempt.

The duration of the Recruitment Test will be 120 minutes (2 hours).

Stage II: Interview

The marks of the interview are 100.

The category-wise minimum level of suitability in interviews, irrespective of whether the selection is made only by interview or by Recruitment Test followed by an interview, will be UR-50 marks, OBC-45 marks, SC/ST/PH-40 marks, out of the total marks of an interview being 100.

Note: The final merit will be made considering 75:25 marks scored in Recruitment Test and Interview, respectively.

Stage I: Prelim

Prelims comprise two papers:

Paper I: GS with 100 Qs of 200 marks

Paper-II: CSAT with 80 Qs of 200 marks

The duration of each of the Papers will be 120 minutes (2 hours) and One-third penalty is imposed for the wrong attempt.

Stage II: Main Exam

It consists of 9 papers i.e. 2 language papers + 1 Essay Paper +4 GS papers +2 optional papers.

  • Each language paper is of 300 marks (qualifying in nature and marks are not counted for the final merit. Yet compulsory papers.)
  • Essay Paper and 4 GS Papers are of 250 marks each
  • Optional Papers 250 marks each

Overall, the Main exam is of 1750 marks as language papers are not counted for the final merit.

Stage III: Interview

The Personality Test is 275 marks.

Note: the grand total is 2025 marks and candidates are screened based on the marks scored in grand total.

Exam Cycle

One year

It involves a one-year selection process. From the date, the notification until the final selection is made for the recruitment of officers, it requires one year.

One year

From the date of notification release until the final selection is made it requires one year to complete the selection process involving Prelim, Main and Interview.

Age limit

21-30 years

Category-wise age relaxation is applicable as per the govt norms

21-32 years

Category-wise age relaxation is applicable as per the govt norms

Education Qualification

Any graduate can appear for this examination.

Some desirable qualifications are also prescribed but these are not mandatory to possess.

Note: A candidate is mainly screened based on the marks scored in the RT and the Interview.

Any graduate can appear for this examination

No desirable qualification is sought.

Difference Between UPSC EPFO Vs UPSC CSE Syllabus

The comparison is broadly shown on the objective papers i.e. for the Recruitment Test of UPSC EPFO and the Prelim examination of the UPSC CSE.




General English

The mode of English knowledge is judged differently for both exams.

Under the recruitment test, a candidate’s linguistic skills are judged through objective paper only.

To evaluate a candidate’s understanding of the English language & workmanlike use of words (as mentioned in the UPSC EPFO notification).

The English language skills are tested in terms of comprehension passages asked in the CSAT Paper and as a language paper in the Main.


Among different history sub-topics such as Ancient, Medieval, and Modern India, only the ‘Indian Freedom struggle’ is prescribed by the UPSC EPFO.

Note: Do not waste time studying Ancient, Medieval, Art and culture and aspects of Modern India other than the Indian Freedom struggle.

Stage I: Prelims seek knowledge of

  • History of India i.e. Ancient, Medieval, and Modern India
  • Indian Freedom Struggle (as mentioned in addition, should be prepared thoroughly)

Current Events and Developmental Issues

Current Events and Development Issues (Main focus on Social issues)

Current events of national and international importance.

Indian Polity

Knowledge of Indian Polity with special emphasis on the DPSC and Constitutional provisions ensuring the rights of citizens and workforce of the country.

Thorough knowledge of Polity and governance is sought from the candidate

Indian Economy

More or less the same as UPSC CSE

A thorough understanding is judged in the Prelim as well as in the Main exam

General Accounting Principles

Specially asked in the Recruitment Test for the selection of an Enforcement Officer/Accounts Officer

Not in syllabus

Industrial Relations and Labour laws

Again, specific to the UPSC EPFO exam

Not in Syllabus

General Science and Knowledge of computers

Combinedly, General Science and Computers have a major weightage (as around 15-17 Qs).

Good knowledge of computers is sought from the candidates and is reflected in the Qs asked in RT.

For General Science, good conceptual and factual knowledge is sought.

Knowledge of Computers is not required.

A good grasp of the scientific concepts and a rational approach is sought. Qs vary from conceptual, and factual to application based.

Therefore, a thorough understanding of scientific concepts is recommended.

General Mental Ability and Quantitative Aptitude

A significant number of questions are asked from this segment.

Asked but part of the CSAT Paper of the Prelims.

Social Security in India

Mainly this subject is studied in the light of the constitutional provisions ensuring the rights and welfare measures taken by the government. Overall, it has a slight overlap with the constitutional provisions and the social development carried out by the State. A very dynamic subject requires knowledge of the ongoing schemes and welfare measures implemented.

Scheme and welfare measures are asked in the Prelim Exam.

A candidate is judged thoroughly for his knowledge in the Main exam as a significant portion of Indian Society is asked in GS Paper I.

List of subjects that are not asked in the UPSC EPFO


Not in Syllabus

Asked in Prelim as well as Main exam

Environment and Ecology

Not in Syllabus

Asked in Prelim as well as Main exam

Art and Culture

Not in syllabus

Asked in Prelim as well as Main exam

Ancient India

Not in Syllabus

Asked in Prelim as well as Main exam

Medieval India

Not in syllabus

Asked in Prelim as well as Main exam

With the comparative aspects concerning the methodology and syllabus, we intended to provide the information to the aspirants that even if the examination is being conducted by the UPSC, yet there is a difference. With the similarities and differences between UPSC EPFO and UPSC CSE presented here, a candidate can get a fair idea about what is expected from them to crack the UPSC EPFO examination.

With the knowledge of the syllabus requisites, the focus should be given to those areas and ensure selection. Do not indulge in topics that are not prescribed by the syllabus and do not get mistaken that UPSC being the exam conducting agency for Enforcement Officers/Accounts Officers can ask the same segments. The similarity would be in the difficulty level and the type of concepts, the UPSC seeks from an officer.

UPSC EPFO Vs UPSC CSE – Important Points

Check out few essential tips, which many candidates often miss –

  • Always have a thorough glance over the notification released.
  • Go through each aspect of the syllabus.
  • Spend enough time gazing at and analyzing the previous year papers.
  • With SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis, identify your areas and start working on them diligently.
  • Last but not the least, a candidate must ensure that he/she is having right guidance, this year around 10 lakh aspirants have filled out the form for 421 seats and one can assess the level of competition.

Therefore, without losing track of your preparation, and ensuring minimum wastage of time, fast-pace the preparation. Apart from hard work, the right strategy is the key to success. Ensure multiple revisions through enough revision via appearing in mocks. Re-visit core concepts, revise, and rehearse until that becomes part of the memory and comes naturally.


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