UPSC Mains 2024 - Exam Date, Syllabus, Paper Pattern

by Vajiram & Ravi

UPSC Mains is the second stage of the Civil Services Examination conducted by the Union Public Service Commission in India. UPSC Mains 2024 will take place from 20th September 2024 onwards. The exact schedule will be released later.

Aspirants who will clear the Prelims will be eligible to appear for the UPSC Mains 2024, which is a challenging and decisive phase in their journey towards becoming civil servants. In this article, we will delve into the essential aspects of the UPSC Mains and provide valuable tips to help aspirants conquer this significant milestone.

UPSC Mains Exam Date

The UPSC Mains Exam date is typically announced in the official annual calendar of UPSC. However, the complete schedule is released only after the Preliminary Examination results are declared. The UPSC Mains 2023 exam took place on 15, 16, 17, 23, and 24 September 2023

Refer to the PDF file shared below to download the UPSC Mains schedule 2023:

Download: UPSC Mains Schedule 2023

Prelims 2023 Result declared on12 June 2023
DAF 1 activated on10 July 2023
Last date to fill DAF 119 July 2023
UPSC Mains Admit Card release date28 August 2023
UPSC Mains Exam Date

15th September 2023 - Essay

16th September 2023 - GS Paper 1 and 2

17th September 2023 - GS Paper 3 and 4

23rd September 2023 - Indian Language and English

24th September 2023 - Optional Papers 1 and 2

How to Prepare for UPSC Mains 2024?

It is crucial for candidates to find out the best preparation strategy for themselves to successfully ace the UPSC Mains exam. Everyone has a different learning style, but the following areas are common which can be included in the study plan of all candidates for a sound preparation strategy:

  • Thorough Understanding of Syllabus: Aspirants should meticulously go through the UPSC Mains syllabus to comprehend the scope of each subject and the specific topics to cover. Understanding the syllabus helps candidates tailor their preparation accordingly.
  • Intensive Study and Time Management: Consistent and focused study is essential for success in the Mains. Aspirants should allocate sufficient time for each subject, keeping in mind their strengths and weaknesses. A well-structured study timetable is critical for managing time effectively.
  • Emphasis on Current Affairs: UPSC often integrates current affairs into GS papers, making it crucial for candidates to stay updated with the latest developments in politics, economy, environment, and international relations.
  • Writing Practice: Since the UPSC Mains is a descriptive examination, writing practice is crucial. Aspirants must hone their writing skills, focus on clarity of expression, and develop a coherent and structured approach to answering questions.
  • Mock Tests and Previous Year Papers: Solving mock tests and previous year's question papers can help candidates get familiar with the UPSC exam pattern, understand the type of questions asked, and work on time management.
  • Revise Regularly: Regular revisions are indispensable for the retention and reinforcement of knowledge. Candidates should revise all the subjects periodically to enhance their memory and grasp of key concepts.

How many Candidates are selected for UPSC Mains?

A total of 14624 candidates were selected for the Mains 2023 examination. Every year, lakhs of aspirants appear for the Prelims exam, out of which only a few thousand make their way to Mains.

The number of candidates selected for the Mains Examination is usually a fixed ratio of candidates to vacancies. The UPSC determines this ratio based on the available vacancies.

UPSC Mains Syllabus

The UPSC Mains Syllabus is a comprehensive framework that outlines the topics and subjects that candidates need to cover while preparing for the Civil Services Mains Examination. Here is a detailed overview of the UPSC Mains 2024 Syllabus:

Paper-A (One of the Indian Languages)Candidates can choose one Indian language from the Eighth Schedule of the Indian Constitution. This paper tests candidates' proficiency and comprehension skills in the chosen language.
Paper-B (English)This paper assesses candidates' English language skills and includes comprehension passages, essay writing, precise writing, and grammar-related questions.
EssayCandidates are required to write essays on multiple topics. This paper evaluates candidates' ability to present coherent and well-structured arguments on contemporary issues.
General Studies IIndian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society
General Studies IIGovernance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice, and International Relations
General Studies IIITechnology, Economic Development, Biodiversity, Environment, Security, and Disaster Management
General Studies IVEthics, Integrity, and Aptitude: This paper evaluates candidates' ethical and moral values, integrity, and aptitude for civil services.
Optional Subject Paper 1Candidates can choose one optional subject from the UPSC's approved list. The syllabus for this paper varies depending on the chosen subject.
Optional Subject Paper 2Similar to Paper 1, this paper also covers the chosen optional subject.

UPSC Mains Exam Pattern

The UPSC Mains Exam Pattern consists of nine papers, out of which seven papers are counted for the final merit ranking, and two are qualifying in nature.

Paper-AOne of the Indian Languages3 hours300
Paper-BEnglish3 hours300
Paper-IEssay3 hours250
Paper-IIGeneral Studies I3 hours250
Paper-IIIGeneral Studies II3 hours250
Paper-IVGeneral Studies III3 hours250
Paper-VGeneral Studies IV3 hours250
Paper-VIOptional Subject Paper 13 hours250
Paper-VIIOptional Subject Paper 23 hours250

Please note:

  • Paper-A (Indian Languages) and Paper-B (English) are qualifying in nature, and candidates need to secure a minimum of 25% marks in each to qualify for the evaluation of other papers.
  • Paper-I to Paper-VII are essay-type papers, and the total marks for these seven papers are counted for the final merit ranking.
  • The total marks for the Mains Examination (Papers I to VII) is 1750
  • The optional subject papers (Paper-VI and Paper-VII) are based on the subject chosen by the candidate from the list of UPSC Optional Subjects.

UPSC Mains Previous Year Question Papers

The UPSC Mains previous year question papers hold immense importance for aspirants preparing for the Civil Services Examination. Download the previous year's papers of General Studies, Essay, and Optional Subjects from the following links to prepare for the UPSC Mains 2024 exam.

UPSC Mains Essay Paper

YearUPSC Mains Essay Question Paper PDF
2023Mains Essay Question Paper PDF
2022UPSC Mains Essay Previous Year Paper
2021Mains Essay Question Paper PDF
2020UPSC Mains Essay Paper 2020
2019UPSC Mains Essay Paper PDF

UPSC Mains Question Papers - General Studies

GS Paper 1GS Paper 1GS Paper 1GS Paper 1
GS Paper 2GS Paper 2GS Paper 2GS Paper 2
GS Paper 3GS Paper 3GS Paper 3GS Paper 3
GS Paper 4GS Paper 4GS Paper 4GS Paper 4

UPSC Mains Admit Card

The UPSC Mains 2023 Admit Card is an essential document that allows candidates who have qualified the Preliminary Examination to appear for the UPSC Mains Exam. The Commission has released the admit card on its official website on 28 August 2023.

How to Download UPSC Mains Admit Card?

To download the UPSC Mains Admit Card, candidates need to follow the steps outlined below.

  • Go to the official website of UPSC at or
  • Look for the "Admit Card" or "E-Admit Card" section on the UPSC website's home page. You can usually find this section under the "Examination" tab.
  • In the Admit Card section, you will find a list of ongoing and upcoming examinations conducted by UPSC. Find the link for the Civil Services (Main) Examination Hall Ticket.
  • Click on the link provided for downloading the Mains Admit Card. Enter your Registration ID/Roll Number and Date of Birth/Password to log in. Make sure the details entered are accurate.
  • After logging in, you will be able to see your UPSC Mains Admit Card on the screen. Click on the "Download Admit Card" button. The admit card will be saved in PDF format.
  • Verify all the details mentioned on the admit card, including your name, photograph, signature, examination centre, and timing.
  • Along with the admit card, there might be important instructions or guidelines provided by UPSC. Make sure to read them carefully and adhere to the exam-day instructions.

List of UPSC Mains Exam Centres

The Union Public Service Commission conducts the Civil Services Mains Examination at various centres across the country. The list of UPSC Mains Exam centres can vary each year based on the number of candidates and administrative considerations. Here is a list of some of the major cities that have been designated as UPSC Mains Exam centers in the past:

CuttackDehradunDelhiDispur (Guwahati)

How to Apply for UPSC Mains 2024?

Before applying for the UPSC Mains Exam, candidates need to qualify the Preliminary Examination. Mains is the second stage of the Civil Services Examination, and only candidates who clear the Prelims are eligible to appear for the Mains. To apply for UPSC Mains, candidates need to follow the below steps.

  • Fill DAF 1: After clearing the UPSC Prelims, qualified candidates need to fill out the Detailed Application Form available on the UPSC website. The DAF is a comprehensive application form that requires candidates to provide personal, educational, and other relevant details.
  • Upload Documents: Candidates need to upload scanned copies of their documents, including educational certificates, category certificates (if applicable), photograph, and signature, as per the specifications mentioned in the DAF.
  • Pay the Examination Fee: After filling out the DAF and uploading the documents, candidates need to pay the required examination fee. The fee can be paid online through various payment modes provided on the website.
  • Submit the Application Form: After completing all the above steps, candidates need to review the application form, verify all the details, and then submit it online. Once the form is submitted, no changes can be made, so candidates must review it carefully before submission.
  • Print the Application Form: After successfully submitting the DAF, candidates should take a printout of the application form for future reference.