UPSC Mains 2023: Exam Date, Paper Pattern, Time Table, Syllabus PDF

By Balaji

Updated on: March 23rd, 2023

UPSC Mains 2023 aspirants can check the paper pattern and UPSC syllabus of the exam here. The Civil Services examination is one of the most competitive and prestigious exams conducted by the Union Public Service Commission all over India. The UPSC Mains is the second stage of the CSE Exam. It is conducted yearly for candidates who have cleared the UPSC Prelims exam. Prelims is the screening test to find eligible candidates for the UPSC Mains exam.

UPSC Mains 2022 commenced on 16th September and ended on 25 September 2022. The UPSC Mains 2022 result was declared on 06 December 2022.

 UPSC Mains Result 2022 Name List

The Commission released the UPSC CSE Notification for 2023 on 01 February 2023, and the UPSC Mains 2023 will commence from 15 September 2023.

Table of content

  • 1. UPSC Mains – Overview (more)
  • 2. UPSC Mains 2023 (more)
  • 3. How to Apply for UPSC Mains 2023? (more)
  • 4. UPSC Mains Exam Date 2022 (more)
  • 5. UPSC Mains Result 2022 (more)
  • 6. UPSC Mains Exam Pattern 2023 (more)
  • 7. UPSC Mains Syllabus (more)
  • 8. UPSC Mains Cut Off (more)
  • 9. UPSC Mains Question Paper (more)
  • 10. How to Write Answers in UPSC Mains? (more)
  • 11. UPSC Mains Answer Sheet (more)
  • 12. Books for UPSC Mains (more)
  • 13. UPSC Mains Books for Optional Subject (more)
  • 14. How to Prepare for UPSC Mains 2023? (more)

UPSC Mains – Overview

UPSC Mains is conducted by the Union Public Service Commission. The Commission conducts the CSE (Civil Services Examination) in three stages- Prelims, Mains, and interviews. UPSC Mains is the second stage of the UPSC CSE, and those candidates who clear this round will be called for the final test, i.e., an Interview.

Here we will cover all the information about the UPSC Mains, like the syllabus, exam pattern, exam dates, results, etc. Additionally, we have added some preparation tips for the candidates to help them ace the UPSC Mains 2023.

Download the UPSC Mains Syllabus PDF using the link below in both English and Hindi.

Go through the highlights of the UPSC Mains Exam to get a better understanding of the exam.

UPSC Mains Details
Exam Conducting Body Union Public Service Commission
UPSC Mains 2023 Exam Date From 15 September 2023
Exam Mode Offline, Pen and Paper Mode
Subject List UPSC Mains includes 2 compulsory Papers, 4 General Studies papers, and 2 Optional Papers. Candidates can choose any one from the Optional Subjects for UPSC.
How Many Papers in UPSC Mains? There are 9 papers in UPSC Mains Exam.
Qualifying Marks The qualifying marks for UPSC Mains vary yearly as per the UPSC Cutoff. UPSC Mains Qualifying Marks 2021 was 745 for General Category.
Total Marks of UPSC Mains 1750 marks

UPSC Mains 2023

UPSC Mains is the second stage of the Civil Services Examination after UPSC Prelims and before the Personality Test. Candidates who score above the UPSC Cutoff in the Prelims exam will be able to appear for the UPSC Mains 2023. Those who dream of becoming IAS, IFS, IPS, and IRS officers must clear the UPSC Mains exam before clearing the Interview test. Candidates allowed to appear for the UPSC Mains exam are 12 to 13 times the number of Civil Service vacancies for that particular year.

Additionally, UPSC Mains 2022 result was released on 06 December 2022 on the official UPSC website. Those qualified for the Interview must submit DAF-II before 14th December 2022; otherwise, their candidature will be canceled.

How to Apply for UPSC Mains 2023?

Once the UPSC releases the result for the Prelims, the shortlisted candidates must fill up the Detailed Application Form (DAF) to apply for the UPSC Mains exam.

  • The DAF will be available on the official website of UPSC.
  • The UPSC DAF has six sections – Personal, Educational Information, Parental Information, Employment Information, Uploading section, and final submission. Things like names, exam centers, Date of Birth, etc., will be pre-mentioned in the UPSC DAF from the details you have provided while filling out the UPSC Online Application for Prelims.
  • Questions from the DAF will be asked in the UPSC Interview round, so keep a copy with you as well.

UPSC Mains Exam Date 2022

Per the official UPSC notification, the UPSC Mains exam date 2023 is 15 September 2023 onwards. UPSC Mains 2022 commenced on 16th September and concluded on 25th September 2022.

  • The first session is Forenoon Session from 9.00 A.M. to 12.00 Noon
  • Afternoon Session from 2.00 P.M. to 5.00 P.M

Candidates who are preparing for the UPSC Mains 2023 Exam must keep track of all the important dates of IAS Mains 2022 mentioned here:

UPSC Mains 2022 Date Forenoon Session of UPSC Mains

9.00 A.M. to 12.00 Noon

Afternoon Session

2.00 P.M. to 5.00 P.M.

16 September 2022 (Friday) Paper-I: Essay No Paper
17 September 2022 (Saturday) Paper-II: General Studies-I Paper-III: General Studies-II
18 September 2022 (Sunday) Paper-IV: General Studies-III Paper-V: General Studies-IV
24 September 2022 (Saturday) Paper-A Indian Language Paper-B English
25 September 2022 (Sunday) Paper-VI: Optional Subject-Paper-1 Paper-VII: Optional Subject-Paper-2

UPSC Mains Result 2022

UPSC Mains 2022 result is out now, which can be checked from the official website or from the PDF given below. The UPSC Mains 2022 result was released on 06 December 2022, and the candidates who got shortlisted will have to fill up and submit the DAF-II by 14 December 2022 for the final selection round, i.e., the Personality Test.

The commission will upload the final results on its official website after completing this last stage of the exam. A total of 2529 candidates are selected for the UPSC Interview 2022, i.e., Personality round.

How to Check UPSC Mains 2022 Result?

To check the Mains exam result, candidates need to follow the below steps.

  • Visit the official website of UPSC
  • Click on the “Written Result”
  • Find the result link
  • Search for the written result and enter the roll number
  • Download the result and take a printout of it.

UPSC Mains Exam Pattern 2023

The UPSC Exam Pattern was revised in 2015, and the latest UPSC Mains exam pattern has been used since then. As per the latest UPSC Mains Paper Pattern, there will be nine theory papers in the UPSC Mains 2023.

  • Only seven of these nine papers will be considered while preparing the merit list.
  • Additionally, there will be one optional subject, and candidates can choose any subject from the list of 48 optional subjects. The optional subject has two papers, and each carries 250 marks.
  • Three hours of time-duration will be given to each paper.

UPSC Mains 2023: Exam Date, Paper Pattern, Time Table, Syllabus PDF

Check out the complete UPSC Mains exam pattern 2023 below.

UPSC Mains Exam Pattern
Papers Subject Nature of Exam Total Marks
Paper A Indian Language Qualifying 300
Paper B English 300
Paper I Essay Counted for Merit 250
Paper II General Studies (GS) I 250
Paper III General Studies (GS) II 250
Paper IV General Studies (GS) III 250
Paper V General Studies (GS) IV 250
Paper VI Optional Subject Paper-I 250
Paper VII Optional Subject Paper-II 250

UPSC Mains Syllabus

Those candidates planning to appear for the UPSC Exam must understand the UPSC Prelims & Mains syllabus in-depth. Candidates must remember that some part of the UPSC Prelims Syllabus overlaps with the UPSC Mains syllabus.

The UPSC Mains Syllabus includes topics to be covered for all 9 papers, which cover the compulsory paper, general studies paper, and optional subjects.

UPSC Mains Language Paper Syllabus

UPSC Mains Paper consists of two compulsory papers which must be qualified by the aspirants. Paper- A and Paper B are the two language papers of the UPSC Mains. The UPSC Mains Qualifying Marks for Paper A and Paper B is at least 25%; otherwise, marks scored in other papers won’t be considered.

Check out the UPSC Mains syllabus for the language paper

UPSC Mains Paper Syllabus
UPSC Mains Paper A – Indian Language (any of the Indian languages listed in the 8th schedule of the Constitution) Comprehension of given passages, Precis Writing, Usage and Vocabulary, Short Essays, Translation from English to Indian Language, and vice-versa
UPSC Mains Paper B – English Comprehension of given passages, Precis Writing, Usage, and Vocabulary, Short Essays

UPSC Mains Syllabus for Essay

There is no particular syllabus for the essay paper, and the candidates have to write two essays from a few options. The total mark of this UPSC Mains paper will be 250, and candidates are advised to write their ideas orderly to fetch maximum marks.

UPSC Mains Syllabus for General Studies

There will be four general studies UPSC Mains papers, which will test the candidates’ knowledge on a broad range of topics. The UPSC Mains syllabus for the general studies paper includes history, geography, polity, economics, ethics, etc.

UPSC Mains Paper UPSC Mains Syllabus
UPSC Mains Paper 2 – GS Paper 1 Syllabus Indian Heritage and Culture, History, and Geography of the World and Society
UPSC Mains Paper 3 – GS Paper 2 Syllabus Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice & International Relations
UPSC Mains Paper 4 – GS Paper 3 Syllabus Technology, Economic Development, Bio-diversity, Environment, Security, and Disaster Management
UPSC Mains Paper 5 – GS Paper 4 Syllabus Ethics, Integrity, and Aptitude

UPSC Mains Subject List with Syllabus

Candidates can choose one subject from the list of 48 optional subjects. There are two UPSC Mains papers, and each carries 250 marks.

We have provided the direct link to all the optional subject syllabi in the UPSC Mains exam.

List of UPSC Mains Syllabus – PDF Download
Agriculture Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science Anthropology Botany
Chemistry Civil Engineering Commerce & Accountancy Economics
Electrical Engineering English Geography Geology
Hindi Literature History Law Management
Maths Mechanical Engineering Medical Science Philosophy
Physics Political Science Psychology Public Administration
Sociology Statistics Zoology

UPSC Mains Cut Off

UPSC Mains Qualifying marks are the minimum score required for the candidates to clear the IAS Mains exam and be eligible for the Personality Test round. The UPSC Mains cutoff varies depending on the category of the candidate. UPSC declares the Mains result on its official website.

  • Nine papers are in the UPSC Mains round, and seven are merit-ranking. It means the marks scored in those seven papers will be considered for preparing the merit list.
  • The other two papers, Paper-A and Paper-B, are qualifying in nature, and candidates only need to score 25% to qualify for these papers.
  • The UPSC Mains Cutoff Marks will be out of 1750 marks.

UPSC Mains Cut-Off 2021

Below mentioned are the UPSC Mains Qualifying Marks 2021 for all the categories.

Category UPSC Mains Cut Off
General 745
EWS 713
OBC 707
SC 700
ST 700
PwBD-1 668
PwBD-2 712
PwBD-3 388
PwBD-4 360

UPSC Mains Question Paper

Candidates need to work hard to crack a difficult exam like UPSC Mains. However, if the hard work is not done in the right direction, the results won’t be fruitful. That is why candidates must take a strategic approach while preparing for UPSC Mains 2023.

UPSC Previous Year Question Papers would be a valuable addition to the Mains exam preparation. It would help the candidates to keep track of changing trends in UPSC Papers. Go through the Topic Wise Questions asked in the UPSC Mains Exam:

Here we have provided the UPSC Mains question paper of previous years. Aspirants must solve the last 10 years’ UPSC Mains Question Papers with answers PDF to level up their score and qualify for the UPSC Mains Exam.

UPSC Mains Question Paper 2022

Following are the question papers for UPSC Mains 2022:

UPSC Mains Question Paper 2021

Following are the question papers for UPSC Mains 2021.

UPSC Mains Question Paper 2020

Below we have mentioned the Mains question paper for the year 2020 as well. Candidates can download these question papers directly from the link given.

How to Write Answers in UPSC Mains?

To approach the questions asked in the UPSC Mains, a candidate should have a basic idea of the topic asked. The answers for the Mains Exam need not be of the scholar level but should convey all the necessary details asked.

To answer writing in UPSC Mains, candidates should:

  • Follow a multidimensional approach. The answers should cover all the basic aspects of the topic and its interrelation with other subjects.
  • The keyword or the important points should be underlined or highlighted so that it becomes visible to the examiner.
  • Avoid using flowery language or jargon in the answer. The answer should be simple, lucid, and concise.
  • The introduction should not be more than 40-50 words and should necessarily cover the topic’s definition and data, facts, figures, and famous committee reports.
  • The main body should cover the basic idea of the topic, covering the core demand. The answer should be structured in headings and subheadings per the question’s requirement.
  • Using diagrams, mindmaps, mnemonics, and graphs makes the answer more presentable and shows the candidate’s knowledge about the topic.
  • Government schemes, efforts, and initiatives should be highlighted along with the answer.
  • The conclusion of the answer should always carry a positive futuristic approach and must have a balanced view.
  • Always adhere to the word count prescribed by the UPSC; failing to do so can result in a deduction of marks.

UPSC Mains Answer Sheet

As UPSC Mains is a descriptive paper, aspirants are given an answer sheet to write their answers in. Usually, the mains answer sheet size is 8.5 x 10.5 inches. Candidates can also download the UPSC Mains Answer Sheet PDF using the direct link mentioned below to know what kind of sheets will be provided in the examination.

Download the Sample UPSC Mains Answer Sheet PDF

Books for UPSC Mains

It is impossible to imagine UPSC preparation without the NCERT Books and the UPSC Books. However, many candidates get overwhelmed and find themselves in a confusing situation when choosing the right books for UPSC. You may feel like buying the whole bookstore at times. However, not all the books would be beneficial for the preparation for the UPSC Mains exam.

And to save you from confusion, we have compiled a list of all the highly recommended books for UPSC Mains. Check out the complete UPSC Mains Book List below.

  • Indian Art and Culture by Nitin Singhania
  • India’s Struggle for Independence by Bipan Chandra
  • Geography of India by Majid Husain
  • World Geography by Majid Husain
  • Constitution of India at Work (Class XI) NCERT
  • Indian Polity by Laxmikant
  • Indian Economy by Sanjiv Verma
  • Class 12 NCERT Book on Biology (Chapters about Ecology)
  • India Year Book (Chapters on Environment)
  • India’s Security in a Turbulent World by Jasjit Singh
  • Ethics in Governance, ARC Report
  • India’s Security in a Turbulent World by Jasjit Singh
  • Challenges to Internal Security of India – Ashok Kumar

UPSC Mains Books for Optional Subject

Above, we have mentioned the books required for the UPSC Mains exam GS papers. Below candidates can check out the highly recommended books for the optional subjects in the Mains exam.

UPSC Mains Books for Optional Subjects
History Political Science Public Administration
Geography Anthropology Sociology
Hindi Literature Economics Tamil Literature
Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Sciences Law Zoology
Polity Gujarati Literature Chemistry
Physics English Literature Telugu Literature
Statistics Geology Commerce
Mathematics Philosophy Botany
Assamese Literature Sindhi Literature Kashmiri Literature
Psychology Electrical Engineering Medical Science
Agriculture Civil Engineering Mechanical Engineering
Malayalam Literature Nepali Literature Bengali Literature
Maithili Literature Marathi Literature Punjabi Literature
Sanskrit Literature Kannada Literature Ethics
Bodo Literature Konkani Literature Management
Oriya Literature Santhali Literature Urdu Literature

How to Prepare for UPSC Mains 2023?

UPSC Mains is a descriptive paper, and therefore, UPSC Mains preparation requires a subjective and comprehensive coverage of the syllabus. UPSC Mains Exam helps you improve your rank in the IAS Exam as the marks secured in Mains Exam are included in the final merit list.

Below are some tips and strategies to be followed for the UPSC Mains Preparation.

  • The UPSC Prelims exam is usually held between June and August, so the candidates must simultaneously prepare for both Prelims and Mains until January. After that, candidates are required to focus fully on the Prelims exam.
  • As UPSC Mains is descriptive in nature, candidates need to write at least 300 words per day. Answer writing practice can be done through regular tests along with making notes.
  • Candidates need to be very consistent with their preparation as there is not much time left after the UPSC Prelims exam. The days should be pre-scheduled, and you must implement them to perfection.
  • To write qualitative answers, candidates must understand the trend of the questions, including the essay. So, keeping track of the previous year’s questions becomes crucial. While going through the previous year’s questions, you will discover that some parts are more important than others. Use this method for the optional subjects as well.
  • Maintaining a balance between your health, studies, and mental well-being is equally important. Hard work with discipline will take you to the merit list. Form a robust timetable, and follow it meticulously.
  • Allot enough time to cover the optional paper, GS, and essay. Revise regularly, and access your performance regularly.

The UPSC Exam is considered one of the toughest exams in the country. It is conducted in three rounds, viz. Prelims, Mains, and the Interview. The UPSC Mains is the second stage of the exam. It is advised for candidates to practice answer writing well in advance for the UPSC Mains Exam, as all papers in the Mains Exam are descriptive in nature. Many candidates fail to complete the entire paper due to a lack of practice and proper time management.

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