Civil Services Exam 2020 – Dates, Cutoff, Eligibility, Paper Pattern, Posts, Syllabus

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Civil Services Exam (CSE) is a nationwide competitive exam conducted by Union Public Service Commission (UPSC).

Each year lakhs of candidates appear for the exam to apply for the recruitment of various Civil Services of Government of India, including the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Foreign Service (IFS), and Indian Police Service (IPS).

Every year Civil Services Exam is conducted in 3 phases – Preliminary, Mains and Interview. Each phase has a separate cutoff, wherein candidates have to secure minimum eligibility marks to qualify for the next stage.

UPSC Civil Services Exam Key Highlights

Exam Civil Services Exam (CSE)
Exam Level National Level (India)
Conducting Body Union Public Service Commission (UPSC)
Exam Type Pen and paper-based exam (Offline)
Number of Services 26 Services
Phases 3 Phases – Prelims, Mains, Interview
Number of Attempts Maximum 6 attempts for General Category candidates
Vacancies Not Yet Declared (Generally up to 900)
Admit Card E-Admit Card (Online)
Civil Services Exam 2020 Date CSE Prelims – October 4th, 2020 & CSE Mains – January 1st, 2021 (New Dates)
Civil Service Exam Key Highlights

Civil Service Exam Categories

The Civil Services Exam is divided into 2 categories: Group ‘A’ and Group ‘B’ services.

Group ‘A’ category services includes 3 All India Services (i.e IAS, IFS, IPS) and 18 other services. Group ‘B’ categories has 5 services under it.

Group ‘A’ Category:

1) All India Services

1. Indian Administrative Services (IAS)
2. Indian Forest Services (IFoS)
3. Indian Police Services (IPS)
All India Services

2) Other Group ‘A’ Services

1. Indian Foreign Service (IFS)
2. Indian P & T Accounts & Finance Service (IP&TAFS)
3. Indian Audit and Accounts Service (IA&AS)
4. Indian Revenue Service (Customs and Central Excise) (IRS-C&CE)
5. Indian Defence Accounts Service (IDAS)
6. Indian Revenue Service (I.T.) (IRS-IT)
7. Indian Ordnance Factories Service (Assistant Works Manager, Administration) (IOFS)
8. Indian Postal Service (IPoS)
9. Indian Civil Accounts Service (ICAS)
10. Indian Railway Traffic Service (IRTS)
11. Indian Railway Accounts Service (IRAS)
12. Indian Railway Personnel Service (IRPS)
13. Indian Railway Protection Force Service (IRPFS)
14. Indian Defence Estates Service (IDES)
15. Indian Information Service (Junior Grade) (IIS)
16. Indian Trade Service (ITrS)
17. Indian Corporate Law Service (ICLS)
18. Indian Revenue Service (CBEC) (IRS-C&CE)
Other Group ‘A’ Services

Group ‘B’ Category:

Group ‘B’ Services

1. Armed Forces Headquarters Civil Service (Section Officer’s Grade) (AFHCS)
2. Delhi, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli Civil Service (DANICS)
3. Delhi, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli Police Service (DANIPS)
4. Pondicherry Civil Service (PCS)
5. Pondicherry Police Service (PPS)
Group ‘B’ Services

Also Read | UPSC Revised Exam Dates 2020 Announced – Check Out The Dates and Other Details Here

Civil Service Exam Phases

1) Phase-I: Preliminary

Civil Services (Prelims) phase consists of two objective type papers of 200 marks each. CSE (Prelims) is a qualifying exam. Candidates have to secure a minimum of 33% to be qualified for the Mains.

The two objective papers are – General Ability Test (GAT) and the Civil Service Aptitude Test (CSAT). Both papers will check the comprehension, interpersonal skills, communication, logical reasoning, analytical ability, decision making, problem-solving, basic numeracy, data interpretation, English language comprehension skills and mental ability skills of the candidates.

CSE Prelims Key Highlights

Exam Mode Pen and Paper Based Mode (Offline)
Number of Papers 2 – General Ability Test (GAT) and Civil Service Aptitude Test (CSAT)
Per Question Marks GAT – 2 Marks Each and CSAT – 2.5 Marks Each
Marks Total Marks – 400 (GAT – 200 Marks and CSAT – 200 Marks)
Cut-off Minimum 33% to Qualify for Mains
Number of Questions GAT – 100 and CSAT – 80
Negative Marking Yes (GAT – 1/3rd marks deducted for every incorrect i.e. -0.66 marks and CSAT – 1/3rd marks deducted for every incorrect i.e. -0.83 marks)
Duration 2hrs each for both papers + 20 minutes for blind students
Exam Language English and Hindi
Prelims 2020 Exam Date 04.10.2020
CSE Prelims Key Highlights

Previous Year Prelims Cutoff (Out of 200):

2019 2018 2017
General Not Declared (Expected – 95) 98 105.34
OBC Not Declared (Expected – 93) 96.66 102.66
SC Not Declared (Expected – 81) 84 88.66
ST Not Declared (Expected – 79) 83.34 88.66
OH* Not Declared (Expected – 68) 73.34 88.88
VI** Not Declared (Expected – 59) 53.34 61.34
HI*** Not Declared (Expected – 40) 40 40
Previous Year Prelims Cut-off

OH* = Orthopedically Handicapped
VI** = Visually Impaired
HI*** = Hearing Impaired

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2) Phase-II: Mains

Civil Services (Mains) is also a offline pen and paper based exam. The CSE (Mains) comprises of total 9 papers, in which, 2 papers are qualifying and other 7 papers are ranking in nature.

The range of questions may vary from just 1 mark to 60 marks, 20 words to 600 words answers. Qualifying papers carry 300 marks each and the rest 7 papers carry 250 marks each. The candidate will be tested on the basis of their knowledge and understanding of the subject.

Paper Subject Marks
Paper A (One of the Indian languages listed below, to be selected by the candidate (from the languages listed in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution of India) (Qualifying) 300
Paper B English (Qualifying) 300
Paper-I Essay 250
Paper-II General Studies I (Indian heritage and culture, history and geography of the world and society) 250
Paper-III General Studies II (Governance, constitution, polity, social justice and international relations) 250
Paper-IV General Studies III (Technology, economic development, bio-diversity, environment, security and disaster management) 250
Paper-V General Studies IV (ethics, integrity and aptitude) 250
Papers-VI, VII Two papers on one subject to be selected by the candidate from the list of optional subjects below (250 marks for each paper) 500
Sub Total (Written Test) 1750
Personality Test (Interview) 275
Total Marks 2025
CSE Mains Papers

List of Optional Subjects:

Agriculture Anthropology Chemistry
Geography History Political Science & International Relations
Commerce & Accountancy Economics Management
Mathematics Mechanical Engineering Psychology
Public Administration Sociology Electrical Engineering
Physics Zoology Medical Science
Animal Husbandry& Veterinary Science Botany Civil Engineering
Geology Law Philosophy
Optional Subjects

CSE (Mains) Cutoff (Out of 1750):

 2019 2018 2017
General Not Declared (Expected – 775) 774 809
OBC Not Declared (Expected – 735) 732 770
SC Not Declared (Expected – 725) 719 756
ST Not Declared (Expected – 724) 719 749
OH* Not Declared (Expected – 715) 711 734
VI** Not Declared (Expected – 690) 696 745
HI*** Not Declared (Expected – 523) 520 578
Previous Year CSE Mains Cutoff

3) Phase-III: Personality Test (Interview)

Candidates qualifying for Civil Services (Mains) will be eligible for the last phase, the Personality Test. Only a handful of candidates qualify to this stage.

This phase includes Psychometric Test, Assessment Test as well as the Personal Interview. The test is intended to judge the mental calibre of the candidates.

The objective of the interview is to assess the personal suitability of the candidate for a career in public service by a board of competent and unbiased observers.

Some of the qualities to be judged are mental alertness, critical powers of assimilation, clear and logical exposition, balance of judgement, variety and depth of interest, ability for social cohesion and leadership, and intellectual and moral integrity.

Candidates are expected to have taken an intelligent interest not only in their special subjects of academic study, but also in the events which are happening around them both within and outside their own state or country as well as in modern currents of thought and in new discoveries which should rouse the curiosity of all well-educated youth.

The interview standards are very high and require thorough preparation as well as commitment.

CSE Personality Test Key Highlights:

Exam Mode Face to Face Assessment
Tests Included Psychometric Test, Assessment Test and Personal Interview.
Total Marks 275 marks
Language Language of your choice
Objective Assess the personal suitability of the candidate for a career in public service by a Board of competent and unbiased observers.
CSE Personality Test Key Highlights

CSE (Personality Tests) Cutoff (Out of 2025):

 2019 2018 2017
General Not Declared 982 1006
OBC Not Declared 938 968
SC Not Declared 912 944
ST Not Declared 912 939
OH* Not Declared 899 923
VI** Not Declared 908 948
HI*** Not Declared 754 830
Previous Year CSE (Personality Test) Cutoff

The marks scored in the personality test will be added to the marks scored by the him/her in mains exam. The total marks will be added to the final merit list and also the future of that candidate.

Also Read | Free IES / GATE Notes [PDF]


The eligibility of the candidates is as follow:


  • For IAS and IPS, the candidate must be a Citizen of India.
  • For other services, the candidate must one of the following:
    • A citizen of India
    • A citizen of Nepal or a subject of Bhutan
    • A Tibetan refugee who settled permanently in India before 1 January 1962.
    • A person of Indian origin who has migrated from Pakistan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Zaire, Ethiopia or Vietnam with the intention of permanently settling in India.

Educational Qualification:

Candidates applying of the exam must have one of the following educational qualification:

  • A degree from a Central, State or a Deemed university
  • A degree received through correspondence or distance education
  • A degree from an open university
  • A qualification recognized by the Government of India as being equivalent to one of the above

The following candidates are also eligible, but must submit proof of their eligibility from a competent authority at their institute/university at the time of the main examination, failing which they will not be allowed to attend the exam.

  • Candidates who have appeared in an examination the passing of which would render them educationally qualified enough to satisfy one of the above points.
  • Candidates who have passed the final exam of the MBBS degree but have not yet completed an internship.
  • Candidates who have passed the final exam of ICAI, ICSI and ICWAI.
  • A degree from a private university.
  • A degree from any foreign university recognized by the Association of Indian Universities.

Age Limit:

Age is calculated from 1st August of the year of examination.

Category Age Limit Relaxation No. of Attempts Allowed
General 32 Years No Relaxation 06 Attempts
Other Backward Classes (OBC) 35 Years 03 Years 09 Attempts
Economically Weaker Sections 32 Years No Relaxation 06 Attempts
Scheduled Caste (SC) 37 Years 05 Years Till Age Limit
Scheduled Tribes (ST) 37 Years 05 Years Till Age Limit
Physically Disabled Candidates (Blind, Deaf-Mute, Orthopedic) 42 Years 10 Years For General / OBC Candidates – 09 Attempts

For SC / ST Candidates – Till Age Limit

CSE Exam Age Limt

Candidates getting disqualified / cancellation of candidature is considered as one attempt of the papers in the preliminary examination. However, applying for the examination but failing to attend is not counted as an attempt.

CSE Exam Syllabus

CSE (Prelims) Syllabus:

General Studies (GAT) Prelims – Paper I

  • Current events of national and international importance.
  • History of India and Indian National Movement.
  • Indian and World Geography-Physical, Social, Economic Geography of India and the World.
  • Indian Polity and Governance – Constitution, Political System, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights Issues, etc.
  • Economic and Social Development – Sustainable Development, Poverty, Inclusion, Demographics, Social Sector initiatives, etc.
  • General issues on Environmental Ecology, Biodiversity and Climate Change – that do not require subject specialisation.
  • General Science

General Studies (CSAT) Prelims – Paper II

  • Comprehension
  • Interpersonal skills including communication skills
  • Logical reasoning and analytical ability
  • Decision-making and problem solving
  • General mental ability
  • Basic numeracy (numbers and their relations, orders of magnitude, etc.), Data interpretation (charts, graphs, tables, data sufficiency etc.)

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