UPSC Mains 2023: Exam Date, Syllabus, Exam Pattern

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

UPSC Mains is the second stage of the Civil Services Examination conducted by the Union Public Service Commission. It is a critical phase of the selection process and evaluates the candidate’s knowledge and understanding of various subjects, including history, geography, economics, politics, and current affairs. UPSC Mains exam consists of nine papers, including two qualifying papers in any Indian language and English. Candidates who pass the Preliminary Examination are selected to appear for the UPSC Mains Examination.

UPSC Mains exam is scheduled to be held from 15 September 2023 onwards. To maximize their chances of success, candidates are strongly recommended to begin their preparation well ahead of time. It is crucial for them to dedicate sufficient time to thoroughly grasp the exam syllabus and hone their answer writing skills by practicing responses to a variety of questions. This proactive approach will enhance their readiness and confidence for the exam. Candidates can check below the detailed information about UPSC Mains exam date, syllabus, exam pattern, books, etc.

UPSC Mains Exam Date 2023 Morning Shift Afternoon Shift
15th September 2023 Essay Paper No Paper
16th September 2023 Paper-II General Studies-I Paper-III General Studies-II
17th September 2023 Paper-IV General Studies-III Paper-V General Studies-IV
23rd September 2023 Paper-A Indian Language Paper-B English
24th September 2023 Paper-VI Optional Subject-Paper-1 Paper-VII Optional Subject-Paper-2

UPSC Mains 2023

UPSC Mains is a crucial stage that evaluates a candidate’s knowledge and understanding of various subjects in the Civil Services Examination. The UPSC CSE Notification was published on February 1, 2023, and it stated that the UPSC Mains 2023 will commence from September 15, 2023. Candidates who successfully cleared the Prelims exam, which took place on May 28, 2023, are required to complete the Detailed Application Form in order to participate in the UPSC Mains.

UPSC Mains exam consists of a series of written papers designed to assess candidates’ knowledge, critical thinking, and expression in a diverse range of subjects, including but not limited to General Studies, Optional Subjects, and Essay Writing. UPSC Mains exam is known for its depth and complexity, requiring candidates to demonstrate a thorough understanding of the subjects and effectively articulate their thoughts in a structured and concise manner. Candidates preparing must have solid study plan, because success in the UPSC Mains exam is a significant milestone towards achieving a career in the esteemed civil service positions.

UPSC Mains 2023 Latest Updates

Candidates can find all the latest updates about UPSC Mains 2023 below, with new updates being added to the list as soon as the authorities announce them.

UPSC Mains 2023 Overview

Along with staying updated on the latest updates, it is important for candidates to have a general understanding of the UPSC Mains exam. The table below presents a helpful summary of UPSC Mains 2023 information:

Particulars Details
Exam Name UPSC Mains 2023
Conducting Body Union Public Service Commission
UPSC Mains Exam Date 15 September to 24th September
Exam Mode Offline (Paper and Pen Mode)
Exam Frequency Once a year
Language English and Hindi
Application Fees (General) Rs. 100
Total Papers 9 papers in UPSC Mains Exam
Total Marks 1750

UPSC Mains Exam Date 2023

The official UPSC notification confirms that the UPSC Mains 2023 will begin on September 15, 2023, and continue for several days. The exam is divided into two sessions, the Forenoon Session is from 9.00 A.M. to 12.00 Noon and the Afternoon Session is from 2.00 P.M. to 5.00 P.M. Aspirants preparing for UPSC Mains Exam must stay updated with all the important dates for the upcoming exam given in the table below.

UPSC Mains 2023 Date 9.00 A.M. to 12.00 Noon 2.00 P.M to 5.00 P.M
15th September 2023 Paper 1: Essay Paper No paper
16th September 2023 Paper-II General Studies-I Paper-III General Studies-II
17th September 2023 Paper-IV General Studies-III Paper-V General Studies-IV
23rd September 2023 Paper-A Indian Language Paper-B English
24th September 2023 Paper-VI Optional Subject-Paper-1 Paper-VII Optional Subject-Paper-2

How to Apply for UPSC Mains 2023?

To apply for UPSC Mains 2023, candidates need to qualify for the UPSC prelims and follow a detailed application process that includes filling the Detailed Application Form, submitting required documents, selecting an exam center, paying the application fee. In this process, candidates must pay close attention to important dates and carefully follow all the instructions given by the UPSC to filling out UPSC Online Application.

  • Step 1: Go to the official website of the Union Public Service Commission.
  • Step 2: Look for the UPSC Mains 2023 notification on the website’s homepage or in the “Examination” section.
  • Step 3: Thoroughly read the instructions and eligibility criteria mentioned in the notification to ensure eligibility for the Mains exam.
  • Step 4: If you have cleared the UPSC Prelims exam, you will be required to fill out the Detailed Application Form (DAF). The DAF is available on the UPSC website.
  • Step 5: Fill in all the required details in the UPSC DAF accurately, including personal information, educational qualifications, choice of optional subjects, etc.
  • Step 6: Scan and upload the necessary documents such as educational certificates, photographs, and signatures as per the specifications mentioned in the instructions.
  • Step 7: Pay the prescribed application fee using the available online payment methods. The fee can be paid through debit/credit card, net banking, or other available options.
  • Step 8: Review the filled-in application form and ensure that all the information provided is correct. Submit the application form online.
  • Step 9: After successfully submitting the application form, take a printout of the completed form for future reference.
  • Step 10: Note down or take a screenshot of the registration number generated upon successful submission of the application.

UPSC Mains Exam Pattern 2023

The UPSC exam pattern was revised in 2015, and the latest exam pattern has been used since then. UPSC Mains exam pattern consists of nine papers, including two qualifying papers, and carries a total of 1750 marks. Candidates must prepare thoroughly for all the papers and allocate their time and efforts accordingly to score well in the examination.

  • 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 pattern is summarized in the following table that candidates can refer to.

Paper No. Name of the Paper Marks
Paper A One of the Indian Language 300
Paper B English 300
Paper I Essay 250
Paper II General Studies I 250
Paper III General Studies II 250
Paper IV General Studies III 250
Paper V General Studies IV 250
Paper VI Optional Subject Paper I 250
Paper VII Optional Subject Paper II 250

UPSC Mains Syllabus

The UPSC Mains syllabus covers an extensive range of subjects and topics. This examination comprises nine descriptive papers designed to assess the candidates’ knowledge, comprehension, and application of the subject matter. Therefore, it is crucial for candidates preparing for the UPSC exam to have a comprehensive understanding of the Mains syllabus. Candidates can download the UPSC Mains syllabus PDF using the link below in both English and Hindi.

It is important to note that some topics covered in the UPSC Prelims syllabus overlap with the Mains syllabus. The UPSC Mains syllabus includes compulsory papers, general studies papers, and optional subjects, with a total of nine papers. A detailed table outlining the topics covered in each paper can be found below.

UPSC Mains Syllabus for Language Paper

The UPSC Mains exam includes two compulsory papers, an Indian Language Paper, which is designed to test the candidate’s proficiency in one of the scheduled languages mentioned in the Eighth Schedule of the Indian Constitution, and an English Language Paper. Both Papers are of a qualifying nature, meaning that candidates are required to secure a minimum of 25% marks in both papers. Candidates can check out the UPSC Mains syllabus for the compulsory papers of language section in the table below.

UPSC Mains Paper Topics
Part A: Indian Language Comprehension of given passages
Precis Writing
Usage and Vocabulary
Short Essays
Translation from English to Indian Language, and vice-versa
Part B: English Comprehension of given passages
Precis Writing
Usage and Vocabulary
Short Essays

UPSC Mains Syllabus for Essay

The essay paper in the UPSC Mains Exam is an important component that aims to evaluate a candidate’s ability to present their ideas coherently and critically analyze a given topic. The essay paper holds a weightage of 250 marks and requires candidates to write two essays, each with a word limit of 1000-1200 words. It is crucial for candidates to understand the UPSC Mains 2023 syllabus for the essay paper, as it helps them prepare well and score better in the examination.

UPSC Mains Syllabus for General Studies

The General Studies paper is an important part of the UPSC Mains 2023. It is a common paper for all candidates and covers a wide range of topics including Indian Heritage and Culture, Governance, Social Justice, Environmental, and Ecology. The UPSC GS syllabus assesses the candidate’s awareness and understanding of the significant issues in Indian and global society. Candidates can check the table below that summarizes the UPSC Mains 2023 syllabus for General Studies:

Paper Subject Topics
Paper II General Studies I Indian Heritage and Culture, History, and Geography of the World and Society
Paper III General Studies II Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice & International Relations
Paper IV General Studies III Technology, Economic Development, Bio-diversity, Environment, Security, and Disaster Management
Paper V General Studies IV Ethics, Integrity, and Aptitude

UPSC Mains Subject List with Syllabus

In the UPSC Mains Exam, there is an optional subject paper consisting of two papers, each carrying 250 marks. Candidates have the choice to select one optional subject from a list of 48 subjects provided by the UPSC. This optional subject paper, comprising Paper VI and Paper VII, holds significant importance and contributes significantly to the total score. Below is the list of optional subjects included in the UPSC Mains 2023 syllabus that candidates can refer to while making their selection.

List of UPSC Mains syllabus for Optional Subject
Economics Philosophy Civil Engineering
Geography Physics Commerce & Accountancy
Political Science Psychology Geology
Sociology Public Administration History
Agriculture Science and Technology  Law
Animal Husbandry Statistics Management
Anthropology Zoology Maths
Botany Polity Mechanical Engineering
Chemistry Indian Society Medical Science

UPSC Mains Syllabus for Literature Optional

UPSC Mains exam allows candidates to choose a literature subject as their optional paper. This paper assesses the candidate’s understanding and interpretation of literature from different periods and genres. Candidates can check the list of the syllabus of UPSC Mains 2023 for the Literature Optional Subject in the table below.

List of Literature Optional Subjects in UPSC Mains
Assamese Literature Odia Literature Nepali Literature
Bengali Literature Sanskrit Literature Marathi Literature
Gujarati Literature Telugu Literature Dogri Literature
Manipuri Literature Malayalam Literature Konkani Literature
Urdu Literature Santhali Literature Bodo Literature
English Literature Hindi Literature Kannada Literature
Maithili Literature Sindhi Literature Tamil Literature

How to Prepare for UPSC Mains 2023?

Preparing for the UPSC Mains 2023 requires a strategic and disciplined approach. This exam is considered to be one of the toughest exams in India. Aspirants must have an in-depth understanding of the syllabus and develop a sound strategy for preparation. Candidates can check the effective tips and strategies to help candidates prepare for the UPSC Mains Exam.

  • Manage time effectively: UPSC Prelims exam took place on May 28th, 2023, and the UPSC prelims result have been declared. Now, candidates need to start preparing for the UPSC Mains exam consistently. It is important for them to create a practical study plan that allows adequate time for each subject and topic. They should stick to the plan, make necessary adjustments, schedule their study time effectively, and ensure dedicated adherence to the plan.
  • Practice answer writing: UPSC Mains is a descriptive exam, and candidates need to write at least 300 words per answer. Regular answer writing practice through mock tests and note-making is necessary for scoring well.
  • Understand the trend of questions: Analyzing previous year’s questions and trends can be beneficial in understanding the type of questions that come in the exam. Focus on important areas and topics, and use this method for both General Studies and Optional subjects.
  • Refer to Standard Books and Study Material: Select the best books as well as NCERT Books and proper study material for each subject and topic. Choose books that are recommended by experts and have comprehensive coverage of the syllabus.
  • Stay Updated with Current Affairs: Keep yourself updated with current affairs by reading newspapers, and magazines, and watching news channels. This will help in answering questions related to current events in the UPSC Mains exam.
  • Maintain a balance: Mental and physical well-being is crucial to maintain a healthy preparation routine. Regular exercise, healthy eating, and breaks for leisure activities can help reduce stress levels and increase focus.
  • Revision is key: Allot enough time to revise all topics, including optional papers, essays, and General Studies. Evaluate your performance regularly and identify your strengths and weaknesses to improve further.
  • Stay Positive and Confident: Stay motivated, positive, and confident throughout the UPSC Mains preparation process.

Books for UPSC Mains

To crack the UPSC Mains, it is essential to have a thorough understanding of the subject matter and excellent writing skills. Reading UPSC books is one of the best ways to prepare for the UPSC Mains 2023. These books cover essential topics and are highly recommended by experts and previous successful candidates. Candidates are advised to read these books thoroughly to have a well-rounded preparation. Check out the complete list of best books for UPSC Mains 2023 below.

Subject Book Title Author
Indian Polity Indian Polity for Civil Services Examinations M. Laxmikanth
Indian Economy Indian Economy Ramesh Singh
History of Modern India India’s Struggle for Independence Bipin Chandra
Geography Geography of India Majid Husain
Ethics Lexicon for Ethics, Integrity, and Aptitude Niraj Kumar
Environment and Ecology Environment for UPSC Prelims and Mains Khuller & Diwan
Science and Technology Science and Technology for CSE Ashok Singh
International Relations International Relations Pavneet Singh
World History The Wonder That Was India A. L. Basham
Art and Culture Indian Art and Culture Nitin Singhania
Polity and Governance Constitution of India NCERT Book
Internal Security Challenges to Internal Security of India Ashok Kumar

UPSC Mains Books for Optional Subjects

Union Public Service Commission allows candidates to choose an optional subject, which is one of the seven papers of UPSC Mains exam that count towards the final ranking. Choosing the right optional subject is crucial as it can significantly impact a candidate’s final score. To excel in the optional subject, candidates need to have a thorough understanding of the subject matter, and reading books is one of the best ways to prepare for it. Here are some recommended books for optional subjects in the UPSC Mains 2023:

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

UPSC Mains Question Paper

UPSC Mains exam is one of the most challenging competitive exams in India. It consists of seven papers, including two optional subject papers, that count towards the final ranking. To prepare for the UPSC Mains 2023, candidates must be familiar with the previous year’s question papers. Analyzing and solving the UPSC Previous Year Question Papers can also help candidates identify their weak areas and work on improving them. Candidates can go through the Topic Wise Questions asked in the UPSC Mains Exam and can also download the previous year’s question paper PDF of UPSC Mains below.

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?

UPSC Mains exam is one of the most competitive exams in India and requires a multidimensional approach to writing answers. To score well in the exam, it is crucial to understand the format of the questions, organize your thoughts, and present your answer coherently. Candidates can check below important tips that will help candidates to write answers in the UPSC Mains effectively.

  • Underline or highlight keywords: Underlining or highlighting keywords or essential points in your answer can make them visible to the examiner and help you score more marks in UPSC Mains.
  • Avoid flowery language and jargon: Use simple, lucid, and concise language in your answers. Avoid using flowery language or jargon that may not be familiar to the examiner.
  • Write a brief introduction: Keep your introduction brief, around 40-50 words, and cover the topic’s definition, data, facts, figures, and famous committee reports.
  • Structure your answer: The main body of your answer should cover the basic idea of the topic, addressing the core demand. Structure your answer using headings and subheadings as per the question’s requirement.
  • Use diagrams, mind maps, and graphs: Using diagrams, mind maps, mnemonics, and graphs can make your answer more presentable and demonstrate your knowledge of the topic.
  • Highlight government schemes and initiatives: Highlighting Government schemes, efforts, and initiatives related to the topic can impress the examiner and demonstrate your awareness of current affairs.
  • Conclude with a positive approach: Your conclusion should carry a positive futuristic approach and maintain a balanced view.
  • Adhere to word count: Always adhere to the word count prescribed by the UPSC to avoid marks being deducted. Failing to do so can lead to losing valuable marks in the UPSC Mains 2023.

UPSC Mains Answer Sheet

The answer sheet for the UPSC Mains 2023 is a standardized document provided to candidates to write their answers. Its size is 8.5 x 10.5 inches and consists of a cover page, instructions, and multiple pages for writing the answers. The answer sheet has designated spaces for writing the roll number, name, and subject. Candidates are required to write their answers in the given space and adhere to the prescribed word count. Candidates can also download the sample UPSC Mains answer sheet PDF using the direct link mentioned below.

UPSC Mains Answer Sheet – Download PDF here

UPSC Mains Result 2023

UPSC Mains exam is one of the most highly anticipated competitive exams in India, and the results are eagerly awaited by candidates. UPSC Mains 2023 result is expected to be declared approximately three to four months after the exam is conducted. The results will be available on the official website as well as from the direct link to download the result PDF here. Candidates can check their results by entering their roll number and other required details.

UPSC Mains result will be published in a PDF format. It will contain the roll numbers of all the candidates who have cleared the UPSC Mains 2023. Those who qualify will be eligible to appear for the final round of the selection process, which is the UPSC Interview.

How to Check UPSC Mains 2023 Result?

To check the UPSC Mains 2023 result, candidates can follow the steps given below:

  • Step 1: Visit the official UPSC website.
  • Step 2: Click on the “Examinations” tab on the home page.
  • Step 3: Select the “Active Examinations” option from the drop-down menu.
  • Step 4: Click on the link for the UPSC Mains 2023 result.
  • Step 5: A PDF file containing the roll numbers of qualified candidates will open.
  • Step 6: Candidates can search for their roll number in the PDF file.
  • Step 7: If the roll number is present in the list, it means the candidate has qualified for the Personality Test or Interview.
  • Step 8: Candidates are advised to keep a printout of the result PDF for future reference.

UPSC Mains Cut Off

UPSC Mains exam cut off is the minimum score that a candidate must obtain to qualify for the next stage of the selection process, which is the Interview. The UPSC cut off score is determined based on various factors such as the difficulty level of the exam, the number of candidates appearing for the exam, and the availability of vacancies. The cut-off is determined out of a total of 1750 marks, which includes the marks obtained in the written exam and the Interview.

UPSC Mains cut off varies for each year and is different for each category of candidates, namely General, OBC, SC, ST, and PH. UPSC Mains 2023 cut off is not yet announced, as the exam is yet to be conducted. However, candidates can refer to the previous year’s cut off to get an idea of the expected cut off for 2023. Here is the category-wise UPSC Mains cut off for the previous year:

UPSC Mains Cut Off 2021

UPSC Mains 2021 exam was conducted from January 8 to January 17, 2022, and the cut off marks for the same were announced on March 28, 2022. Check the category-wise UPSC Mains cut off 2021 in the table below:

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
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