UPSC Mains 2023: Exam Date, Paper Pattern, Syllabus, Result of UPSC IAS Mains

By Shubhra Anand Jain|Updated : January 2nd, 2023

Aspirants can check the paper pattern and syllabus of the UPSC Mains 2023 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. 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. Recently, on 06 December 2022, the UPSC Mains 2022 result was declared on the official website. Candidates who have cleared the Mains paper must start preparing for the final stage of the exam, i.e., the Personality Test. 

☛ UPSC Mains Result 2022 Name List

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

Table of Content

 UPSC Mains - Overview

UPSC 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.

How to Prepare for UPSC Mains

Additionally, we have added some preparation tips for the candidates to help them ace the UPSC Mains 2023. Go through the highlights of the UPSC Mains Exam to get a better understanding of the exam.

UPSC Mains


Exam Conducting Body 

Union Public Service Commission

UPSC 2023 Mains 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 2020 was 736 for General Category.

Total Marks

Total UPSC Mains marks are 1750 marks for 9 Papers. 

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. 

UPSC Annual Calendar

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 cancelled.

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 Interview Questions

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 Mains 2022 exam was held for 5 days - the 16th, 17th, 18th, 24th and 25th.

  • 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 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.

☛ Which is the Best Optional for UPSC?

Check out the complete UPSC Mains exam pattern 2023 below.

UPSC Mains Exam Pattern



Nature of Exam

Total Marks

Paper A

Indian Language



Paper B



Paper I


Counted for Merit


Paper II

General Studies (GS) I


Paper III

General Studies (GS) II


Paper IV

General Studies (GS) III


Paper V

General Studies (GS) IV


Paper VI

Optional Subject Paper-I


Paper VII

Optional Subject Paper-II


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.

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

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.

UPSC Hindi Compulsory Paper

Check out the UPSC Mains syllabus for the language paper

UPSC Mains Paper


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.

Also, Check

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

Books for UPSC Mains GS Paper 1, 2, 3 and 4

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.

☛ How to Choose Optional for UPSC CSE Mains?

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

  1. UPSC Mains Agriculture Syllabus 
  2. UPSC Mains Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science Syllabus
  3. UPSC Mains Anthropology Syllabus
  4. UPSC Mains Syllabus for Botany
  5. UPSC Mains Syllabus for Chemistry
  6. UPSC Mains Syllabus for Civil Engineering
  7. IAS Mains Commerce & Accountancy Syllabus
  8. UPSC Mains Economics Optional syllabus
  9. Electrical Engineering IAS Mains Syllabus
  10. UPSC Mains English Optional Syllabus
  11. UPSC Mains Syllabus Geography Optional
  12. Geology UPSC Mains Syllabus
  13. UPSC Mains Syllabus for Hindi Literature
  14. UPSC Mains Syllabus History Optional
  15. IAS Mains Syllabus for Law
  16. UPSC Mains Syllabus Management
  17. UPSC Mains Maths Optional Syllabus
  18. IAS Mains Syllabus for Mechanical Engineering
  19. UPSC Mains Optionals Syllabus for Medical Science
  20. UPSC Mains Philosophy Syllabus
  21. Physics Optional IAS Mains Syllabus
  22. UPSC Mains Syllabus Political Science Optional
  23. Psychology Syllabus for UPSC Mains
  24. UPSC Mains Syllabus for Public Administration
  25. UPSC Mains Sociology Optional Syllabus
  26. IAS Mains Syllabus for Statistics
  27. UPSC Mains Zoology Optional Syllabus

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. 


UPSC Mains Cut Off



















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.

How Many Questions to Attempt in UPSC Mains?

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.

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

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.

Go Through,

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.

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 write answers for the 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.

☛ What is the 7-5-3 Rule of Answer Writing?

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.

UPSC Books in Hindi

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 all the optional subjects in the Mains exam.

UPSC Mains Books for Optional Subjects

UPSC Mains History Optional Books

Political Science Optional Books for UPSC Mains

UPSC Public Administration Optional Books

UPSC Mains Geography Optional Books

UPSC Mains Anthropology Optional Books

UPSC Sociology Optional Books

UPSC Mains Hindi Literature Optional Books

UPSC Mains Economics Optional Books

Tamil Literature Optional Books for UPSC

UPSC Mains Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Sciences Optional Books

Law Optional Books for UPSC Mains

UPSC Zoology Optional Books

UPSC Mains Best Polity Books

UPSC Mains Gujarati Literature Optional Books

Chemistry Optional Books for UPSC Mains

UPSC Mains Physics Optional Books

UPSC Mains English Literature Optional Books

UPSC Telugu Literature Optional Books

UPSC Mains Statistics Optional Books

UPSC Mains Geology Optional Books

Commerce Optional Books for UPSC

UPSC Mains Mathematics Optional Books

UPSC Mains Philosophy Optional Books

UPSC Botany Optional Books

UPSC Mains Assamese Literature Optional Books

Sindhi Literature Optional Books for UPSC Mains

Kashmiri Literature Optional Books for UPSC Mains

UPSC Mains Psychology Optional Books

Electrical Engineering Optional Books for UPSC

UPSC Medical Science Optional Books

UPSC Mains Agriculture Optional Books

UPSC Mains Civil Engineering Optional Books

Mechanical Engineering Optional Books for UPSC Mains

UPSC Mains Malayalam Literature Optional Books

Nepali Literature Optional Books UPSC Mains

Bengali Literature Optional Books for UPSC Mains

Maithili Literature Optional Books for UPSC Mains

UPSC Mains Marathi Literature Optional Books

UPSC Punjabi Literature Optional Books

Sanskrit Literature Optional Books for UPSC IAS Mains

UPSC Mains Kannada Literature Optional Books

Important Ethics Books for UPSC Mains

UPSC Mains Bodo Literature Optional Books

UPSC Mains Konkani Literature Optional Books

Manipuri Literature Optional Books UPSC Mains

UPSC Mains Oriya Literature Optional Books

UPSC Mains Santhali Literature Optional Books

Urdu Literature Optional Books for UPSC Mains

Management Optional Books for IAS Mains

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FAQs on UPSC Mains

  • UPSC Mains is the second stage of the Civil Services exam, followed by the Interview or the personality test. Those who clear the Prelims Exam become eligible to appear for the Mains paper. The UPSC Mains is a descriptive exam that consists of 9 papers.

  • As per the notification released by UPSC on its official website, the UPSC Mains 2023 will be conducted from 15th September, 2023 onwards through offline mode. There are nine papers, and the duration of each paper is 3 hours. Those who crack the UPSC Mains will be eligible for the Interview round.

  • There is a total of nine papers in UPSC Mains, namely Indian Language, English Language, Essay, General Studies-1, General Studies-2, General Studies-3, General Studies-4, Optional Paper-I, and Optional Paper-II. The Indian Language Paper and English Language paper are qualifying in nature, and the merit list will be prepared on the basis of scores obtained in the rest seven papers. The time duration for each paper will be 3 hours.

  • The UPSC Mains Syllabus covers a wide range of topics. There is no particular syllabus for the essay paper. The four general studies papers include history, geography, governance, constitution, technology, agriculture, economics, ethics, etc. Candidates can choose any optional subject he/she likes. We have covered the detailed syllabus for UPSC Mains above in this post.

  • We have given the direct link to download the UPSC Previous Year Question Papers. Candidates can download the UPSC Mains question paper for the years 2022, 2021 and 2020 above in this post. It would help them to gear up for the preparation for the Mains 2023 exam.

  • The UPSC Mains 2022 result was declared on 06 December 2022 for the exam that took place from 16th to 25th September 2022. Those who clear the Mains round will get an e-summon letter for the Personality test stage.

  • The UPSC Mains 2023 will be conducted via offline mode or pen and paper mode. Candidates will get a chance to choose the exam centre as per their choice.

  • To clear the UPSC Mains exam, candidates need to have a rock-solid preparation strategy. Candidates need to allocate their time properly to each paper, follow the right books, attempt mock tests, and practice the previous year’s question papers. Additionally, they need to complete their preparation as soon as possible so that they get enough time to revise.

  • The best pen for UPSC Mains is a black ballpoint pen, and it is also mentioned in the instructions of UPSC. make sure you use lightweight sleek pens, rubber grip pens, and soft tip pens. However, you should hold the pen at the right point. Don’t press your fingers hard while holding the pen.

  • The UPSC Mains examination is a subjective type exam where candidates need to write essay-type answers so there is no negative marking. However, the Prelims exam is objective in nature and that’s why negative marks are allocated in this exam.

  • UPSC Mains is the second stage of the UPSC exam, and the third stage is the personality round. So the candidates who crack the Mains exam will be eligible for the Personality test round. The shortlisted candidates will receive an e-summon letter for the interview which will be held in the Union Public Service Commission office housed at Dholpur House in Delhi.

  • There are a total of 48 optional subjects in the UPSC Mains and out of these 23 are literature languages. Some of the optional subjects are sociology, law, agriculture, history, medical science, psychology, public administration, Bodo, Hindi, Punjabi, Urdu, Nepali, Odia, etc. We have covered the complete list of all the optional subjects for UPSC Mains above.

  • First, the head examiner evaluates a random UPSC Mains answer sheet, and then an examiner’s meeting is conducted, in the meeting, all the examiners discuss the papers and set a standard to evaluate these papers.

  • Yes, current affairs play a significant role in the UPSC Mains preparation. However, the syllabus of current affairs is defined in the Mains syllabus. That is why candidates need to read major newspapers every day and make notes of trending topics around the world to deal with the current affairs portion.

    Check: Monthly Current Affairs Magazine

  • No, UPSC Mains is not MCQ-based. Unlike the UPSC Prelims exam, the questions in the Mains exam are subjective type, and candidates are expected to give detailed and comprehensive answers. Here structural accuracy plays an important role.

  • Candidates get 3 hours of time limit for the UPSC Mains papers. Candidates need to enhance time management and practice answer writing daily to complete the paper on time. 

  • Ideally, the time gap between UPSC Mains and Interview is 1.5 - 2.5 months. However, after the UPSC Mains Results are declared, candidates get approx a month to prepare for their respective UPSC Interviews. The time gap between UPSC Mains and Interview should be utilized well by watching Current Affairs Videos and going through relevant Current Affairs Topics.

  • Examiners personally evaluate the UPSC Mains answer sheets. One Head Examiner and numerous Additional Examiners are present. Before the evaluation process begins, all UPSC Mains answer papers and booklets are coded with fictitious numbers.

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