UPSC Prelims 2023: Date, Notification, Exam Pattern

By Shubhra Anand Jain|Updated : February 1st, 2023

The UPSC Prelims is the first stage of the Civil Services exam and is an elimination round. The Union Public Service Commission has released UPSC Prelims 2023 exam date. Per the notification, the Prelims exam will be conducted on 28th May 2023. Those who are planning to appear for it must start their preparations now without wasting any more time. UPSC Civil Services is one of the toughest exams in India, and every year, lakhs of candidates apply for it, which makes it highly competitive. This year, UPSC Prelims notification 2023 is released on 01 February 2023, along with activating the online application form link. The last date to apply is 21 February 2023.

Candidates who clear the UPSC Prelims appear for the Mains examination, followed by the Interview. This post will cover all the details an aspirant should know about UPSC Prelims 2023. It will allow the aspirants to be prepared accordingly and strengthen their preparation strategy.

Table of Content

UPSC Prelims 2023

Union Public Service Commission has released the UPSC Prelims 2023 exam schedule. Per the calendar, the Prelims exam will be conducted on 28 May 2023. Candidates who wish to appear for the upcoming examination must fill out the application form first.

General Studies 1 and CSAT are the two papers of the UPSC CSE Prelims. While CSAT is a qualifying exam, your selection for the Mains is based on your performance on the General Studies paper. It implies that the General Studies Paper cut-off will consider your UPSC Prelims score.

UPSC Prelims 2023 Overview

Here is a brief overview of the UPSC Prelims that will help you get a better understanding of the examination:



Exam Date

28th May 2023


2 hours each for GS-1 and CSAT


English and Hindi both


Pen and Paper; candidates need to fill the OMR Sheet with a black ballpoint pen.

UPSC Prelims Exam Pattern

There are two papers, GS Paper 1 and CSAT Paper 2; both are MCQ Type


History, Polity, Geography, Economy, Science & Technology, Environment, and Current Affairs. Aptitude for CSAT.

Total Marks

200 marks (CSAT is qualifying with just 33% marks). 

Documents Required

Admit Card, Valid ID Proof, Passport Size Photograph

Qualifying Marks

UPSC Cut Off for Paper 1.

For CSAT, it is 33% of the total marks.


One needs to qualify for the UPSC Prelims to sit for the UPSC Mains Exam. Marks of the Prelims are not added to the calculation of the final merit list.

Information required to login

Application Number and Date of Birth

Official Website and Helpline Number

011-23098543 / 23385271 / 23381125 / 23098591

UPSC Prelims Exam Date 2023

Candidates preparing for UPSC Prelims 2023 must know the exam dates so they won't miss any upcoming events and deadlines. All the candidates are required to apply for Prelims before the last date. Candidates can check out the important dates for UPSC Prelims 2023:

UPSC Prelims 2023 Events


Notification Date

01 February 2023 

Application Start Date 2023

01 February 2023 

Last Date to apply

21 February 2023

Admit Card Release Date

To be Notified 

UPSC Prelims 2023 Exam Date 

28 May 2023

The candidates who clear the UPSC Prelims will appear for the Mains exam from 15 September 2023 onwards. Earlier, the 2022 exam was conducted on 05 June 2022. The UPSC Prelims exam pattern consists of two papers - GS paper 1 and CSAT paper 2. The exam was held in two shifts with a 3-hour break in between. Candidates who had successfully filled up the UPSC Online Application appeared for the IAS Prelims Exam. The results for the same were declared on 22 June 2022.

UPSC Prelims Notification 2023

The commission released the UPSC Prelims 2023 notification on 01 February 2023. Candidates who wish to appear for the upcoming exam must download the UPSC Notification to ensure a complete understanding of the exam. As per the update, the application process for all aspirants has begun from 01 February onwards, and the last date to apply online is 21 February 2023.

UPSC Prelims Exam Time

The commission conducts the UPSC Prelims across the country in various exam centres on the same day. There are two papers in the Prelims, so the exam is held in two shifts. The time duration is two hours for each paper, with a gap of 3 hours between them.



UPSC Prelims Paper 1 - GS

09:30 A.M. to 11:30 A.M.

UPSC Prelims Paper 2 - CSAT

02:30 P.M. to 04:30 P.M.

UPSC Prelims Application Form

The commission releases the UPSC Prelims form along with the official notification. Candidates must check the UPSC Eligibility before applying for the Prelims exam. Candidates who wish to apply for the CSE vacancy must fill out the online form and appear for the UPSC Prelims.

How to Apply for UPSC Prelims 2023?

Candidates who want to apply for UPSC Prelims 2023 need to follow these steps:

  • Step 1: Visit the official website of UPSC.
  • Step 2: Click the UPSC Prelims 2023 application form.
  • Step 3: Enter the required details in the asked fields to register.
  • Step 4: After that, the registration ID and Password will be sent to your given phone number and email.
  • Step 5: Log in using the ID and Password.
  • Step 6: Fill rest of the application form.
  • Step 7: After that, upload the scanned documents.
  • Step 8: Make the payment, and check all the details in UPSC Prelims 2023 application form before submitting.

UPSC Prelims Exam Pattern

The UPSC Prelims 2023 exam consists of two papers: General Studies 1 and General Studies 2 (CSAT). The CSAT exam is qualifying in nature, and candidates must score more than 33% to qualify for this paper. On the other hand, General Studies 1 will determine the selection in UPSC Prelims.

  • The questions asked will be objective type (MCQ with 4 options).
  • There is a negative marking of 1/3rd marks for every incorrect answer.
  • The UPSC Prelims paper is in both English and Hindi.

Let’s look at the UPSC Exam Pattern for the Prelims exam in the table below:

UPSC Prelims Exam Pattern

Paper Name

No of Questions



Exam Nature

General Studies Paper 1 



2 Hours

The score will decide the selection

General Studies Paper 2 (CSAT)



2 Hours


UPSC Prelims Marking Scheme

The UPSC Prelims paper is objective type and contains negative markings. UPSC Prelims is a difficult stage of the IAS Exam as it has negative markings, and one must clear the cut-off to proceed further.


For Every Correct Answer

Negative Marking

Prelims Paper 1

2 Marks - 2*100 = 200

0.66 (1/3rd Marks)

Prelims Paper 2 

2.5 Marks - 2.5*80 = 200

0.83 (1/3rd Marks)

UPSC Prelims Syllabus

The UPSC Prelims syllabus is released along with the official UPSC Syllabus in the official notification. The syllabus includes topics from two papers: General Studies Paper 1 and General Studies Paper 2 (CSAT). The commission releases the UPSC Prelims Syllabus in English and Hindi.

Candidates must download the syllabus for UPSC Prelims for both Paper 1 and Paper 2 to fully understand the scope of topics and plan the preparation strategically. Check the detailed syllabus of Prelims below:

UPSC Prelims

UPSC Prelims Syllabus for Paper 1 - General Studies

According to an official notification, the General Studies syllabus for the UPSC Prelims exam covers the following topics:

  • Current happenings in India and the world.
  • Economic and Social Development – Sustainable Development, Poverty, Inclusion.
  • Indian History, including the Indian National Movement.
  • Social and Economic Geography of India and the World.
  • Indian and World Geography - Physical.
  • Indian Polity and Governance – Constitution, Rights, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Political System, Issues, etc.
  • Demographics, Social Sector initiatives, etc.
  • General topics on Environmental Ecology, such as Biodiversity and Climate Change.
  • General Science.

UPSC Prelims Syllabus for Paper 2 [CSAT]

The UPSC CSAT Syllabus for the Prelims exam includes the following topics as per official notification:

  • Reading Comprehension
  • Interpersonal skills (communication skills)
  • English language comprehension skills – Class X level.
  • Logical reasoning and analytical ability.
  • Basic numeracy includes numbers and their relations, orders of magnitude, etc. (Class X level)

UPSC Prelims Question Paper

One of the best ways to prepare for the upcoming UPSC Prelims is by solving UPSC Previous Year Question Papers to get a better picture of what to expect in the exam. Candidates must find the right strategy and work hard with sincerity and dedication to clear the UPSC Civil Services Prelims exam on the first attempt. However, enormous hard work done by a candidate will only be effective if it is done correctly.

Candidates must be familiar with the questions asked in the UPSC Prelims. That’s why it becomes inevitable to refer to UPSC Prelims Previous Year Question Papers to keep track of the trends and strengthen your preparation. As the CSAT paper of Prelims is qualifying, it becomes even more important to download and practice UPSC CSAT Question Papers

UPSC Prelims Question Paper 2022

Below we have provided the direct link for UPSC Prelims 2022 Question Paper. You can download the question papers and kickstart your preparation for Prelims 2023.

UPSC Prelims Question Paper 2021

Below we have provided a direct link to download the UPSC Prelims 2021 Question Paper. It will help the candidates practice and prepare in the best way possible for UPSC Prelims 2023:

UPSC Prelims Analysis

UPSC Prelims is known to surprise candidates with its unpredictable moves. That’s why candidates have to be very careful. Candidates must see the trends and analyze what to expect in UPSC Prelims 2023. Knowing how many questions will be asked from each section of the Prelims syllabus would be very helpful. That’s why we have broken down the UPSC Prelims 2022 and Prelims 2021 below in the table:

UPSC Prelims Analysis 2022 - GS Paper 1

The subject-by-subject analysis for GS Paper 1 in the UPSC Prelims is as follows:


Number of Questions

Ancient History


Art and Culture




Medieval History


Modern History


Environment & Ecology


Science & Technology








UPSC Prelims Analysis 2021 - GS Paper 1

The following is the specific topic analysis for GS Paper 1 in the UPSC Prelims exam:


Number of questions

Current Affairs






Environment & Ecology


Science & Technology








UPSC Prelims 2023 Preparation Strategy

Candidates who are preparing for UPSC Prelims need to have a solid preparation strategy to crack this paper. That is why we have come up with a robust UPSC preparation strategy that is recommended by the toppers to ace the Prelims. Go through the below-mentioned tips to know how to prepare for UPSC Prelims:

  • Candidates must emphasize the Current Affairs section for UPSC Prelims and stay updated with recent incidents and information. Some of the useful sources for current affairs preparation are The Hindu/ The Indian Express Newspapers, Yojana Magazine, and Economic and Political Weekly.
  • Candidates need to start their preparation for UPSC Prelims and Mains simultaneously, and just 3 months before the Prelims exam, their focus should only be on the exam preparation. Go through the UPSC Mains Syllabus to ensure that you cover all common topics.
  • Going through the previous year's question papers would help gauge your level. In addition, by practicing the question papers, you will be able to understand the UPSC Prelims exam pattern and the important topics in a better way.
  • Make sure to make notes for the revision. Noting down the important points would give your that extra push just before the exam.
  • Start with NCERT Books for UPSC, as the questions asked in the Prelims will check a basic understanding of the concepts, and NCERTs would be a great source for that.
  • Questions in the UPSC Prelims would be objective in nature, and that’s why candidates must attempt as many mock tests as possible. It will also help in reducing negative markings.

UPSC Prelims Books

Candidates must be conscientious when choosing the books for the IAS Prelims exam. The exam demands a high conceptual understanding of topics and good preparation for current affairs. For Prelims, finishing all the NCERTs books is recommended, as they will help you strengthen your foundations. Additionally, the NCERTs are written in simple language that beginners can easily understand. Learn How to Read NCERT for UPSC to ensure maximum usage and better understanding.

After finishing the NCERT textbooks, candidates can jump into the standard books for the UPSC Prelims. The subject-wise list of important books for IAS Prelims is as follows:

  • Polity: M. Laxmikanth
  • Economics: Ramesh Singh
  • History: History of Modern India by Bipin Chandra
  • Geography: NCERT + Goh Cheng Leong
  • Indian Art and Culture: Nitin Singhania
  • Environment: NCERT Biology Class 12 selected chapters
  • The Hindu for Current Affairs

UPSC Prelims Notes

You can’t miss out on the UPSC study material while preparing for the Civil Services Prelims examination. The UPSC Prelims notes play a big role in exam preparation, and studying from the right notes would be highly efficient and effective. It is highly recommended that aspirants make their own study notes for the exam, as it helps in revision. UPSC Prelims exam gives more weightage to quality over quantity; therefore, effort must be on revising the syllabus multiple times.

UPSC Prelims Cut Off

The UPSC Prelims cut-off is the minimum mark required for candidates to qualify in the exam and be eligible for the Mains round. The cut-off varies depending on the category of the candidate. The UPSC Prelims cut off will be released after the declaration of the result.

  • Candidates who have scored more than the cut-off will be qualified for the next stage of the exam.
  • The UPSC Prelims cut off only depends on the score of General Studies 1 only, as General Studies 2 is qualifying in nature, where the candidate needs to score at least 33%.
  • The cut-off will depend on the number of vacancies, the number of candidates who applied, and the difficulty level of the exam.

Note: The cut-off for UPSC Prelims 2021 was 87.54, while for Prelims 2020, the cut off for General Category was 92.51.

UPSC Prelims Result

The UPSC Prelims Result will be declared within a few weeks after the completion of the Prelims on the official website of UPSC. The UPSC Prelims Result 2022 was released on 22 June 2022 on the official website for the exam, which took place on 05 June 2022. The candidates who have qualified for the Prelims exams will be allowed to appear for UPSC Mains.

How to Check the UPSC Prelims Result?

Here are the following steps to check the UPSC Prelims result:

  • Step 1: Go to the official website of UPSC.
  • Step 2: Click on Written Results.
  • Step 3: Click on Civil Services Prelims Result.
  • Step 4: Download the PDF to see the list of candidates who have cleared the UPSC Prelims.

UPSC Prelims vs Mains

The Prelims and Mains are two different stages of the UPSC exam. The UPSC Prelims is the first stage, and Mains is the second stage of the exam. The difference between Prelims and Mains is given below:

  • The UPSC Prelims follow an objective type paper pattern, whereas the Mains is of a descriptive type pattern.
  • In Prelims, questions are mostly to the point, factual, or one-liners, but in Mains, the questions are of descriptive type, assessing the candidate's analytical and critical thinking ability.
  • The UPSC Prelims consist of two papers, GS Paper 1 and CSAT. In Mains, there are 9 papers in total, where the 2 language papers are qualifying, and the rest 7 papers comprise of essays, General Studies subjects and the Optional Subjects for UPSC.
  • The time duration for both the papers of Prelims is 2 hours. The Mains has papers of 3 hours each.
  • There is no concept of an Optional Subject in UPSC Prelims, but for Mains, a candidate needs to select an optional subject from the list of 48 Optional Subjects given by the Commission.


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FAQs on UPSC Prelims

  • UPSC Prelims, also known as UPSC Preliminary Exam, is the first stage of the UPSC Civil Services Exam. The UPSC CSE contains 3 stages - Prelims, Mains and Interviews. Prelims is the qualifying stage, and candidates who clear the prelims appear for the Mains Exam.

  • The UPSC Prelims is conducted by Union Public Service Commission every year to select candidates for the Mains exam. Usually, the prelims exam is conducted in May/June of every year in offline mode across various centers of the country.

  • UPSC Prelims 2023 exam dates have been released by the Union Public Service Commission. Per the notification, the UPSC Prelims 2023 will be conducted on 28th May 2023. The exam duration will be 2 hours for each paper. The candidates who qualify for the Prelims exam will be eligible for the Mains and hence one step closer to becoming civil servants.

  • The UPSC Prelims exam is an objective pen-and-paper test, and the questions asked are MCQ based. Each question has 4 choices and has one correct answer. Every correct answer in UPSC prelims paper 1 gets 2 marks and 1/3rd negative marks for incorrect answers. Applicants must submit their responses on the OMR sheet.

  • To apply for the UPSC Prelims 2023, candidates must graduate from a recognized university. Additionally, those in their final years of college and waiting for their result are eligible to apply for Prelims. Candidates must check the age limit for the UPSC prelims exam, which is 21 to 32 years for the General category.

  • There are two papers in the UPSC Civil Services Prelims exam: General Studies 1 and General Studies 2 (CSAT). The CSAT paper is qualifying in nature, whereas the qualification of a candidate will be based on General Studies 1. Each paper of the Prelims carries a total of 200 marks.

  • UPSC Prelims cut off is the minimum marks required for candidates to qualify for the Mains exam. The Prelims cut off varies every year. The cut off for UPSC Prelims 2021 was 87.54, and for UPSC Prelims 2020, it was 92.51 for the general category. Above, we have mentioned the year-wise cut off to get a clear picture of the expected cut off for the upcoming Prelims exam.

  • There will be two papers in the UPSC Prelims exam: General Studies 1 and General Studies 2 or CSAT. General Studies 1 contains 100 questions, and the total marks of this paper are 200. On the other hand, there will be a total of 80 questions in the CSAT paper which is qualifying in nature.

  • As mentioned above, the UPSC Prelims is only a screening test to find eligible candidates for the Mains exam. However, the questions will be a little tricky as the level of the exams are high. But with a solid preparation strategy, effective study schedule, and hard work, candidates can clear this exam.

    Also Read: How to Prepare for UPSC Prelims in 3 Months?

  • The UPSC Prelims syllabus for GS paper 1 includes current affairs, Indian and World Geography, Economic and Social Development, Biodiversity, Environmental Ecology, Polity, History, and General Science. The CSAT syllabus tests a candidate's analytical, reasoning, and interpersonal skills.


  • Candidates can download the previous year's question papers from the links below. Practicing with the UPSC Prelims question paper would help the candidates understand the exam pattern and make it easier to figure out the essential topics from the syllabus.

  • You need a robust study plan and effective strategy to crack the UPSC Prelims 2023 in 6 months. Ensure you cover the Prelims syllabus adequately and complete all the NCERT textbooks. Don’t forget to make short notes, which will help you during revision. Don’t stress yourself too much; take short breaks to refresh your mind.

    Learn: 10 Tips to Clear UPSC IAS Prelims Exam

  • Yes, the UPSC Prelims is qualifying in nature, as the marks obtained in this exam won’t be considered while preparing for the final merit list. The Prelims exam is only an elimination round to find the eligible candidates for the Mains, which is the second stage of the UPSC exam.

  • The candidates who clear the UPSC Prelims exam will be able to appear in the second stage of the exam, which is Mains. Candidates who can crack the Mains will be invited for the final interview round. Those who clear all three rounds of the UPSC exam will get recruited for different civil services as per their ranks.

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