The UPSC Exam Pattern has seen some unexpected changes in the recent past years and here we will be discussing the changes in the UPSC Exam which the commission has revised many times and had implemented the changes in the Civil Services IAS Exam. exam

Until 2009, the UPSC Prelims Exam was mainly focused on the static part of the syllabus like history, geography and though current affairs the dynamic part of the syllabus was there it didn’t get much focus as other static subjects then.

But the UPSC Exam has undergone tremendous changes and some to name it are the changes in the number of optional papers; introduction of CSAT Paper in prelims; introduction of GS Papers; elimination of foreign languages in the language paper and many more.

With the changing trend in the exam pattern, the current affairs play a major and crucial part in both the prelims and mains exam and also other subjects like science, polity, environment, history etc. has seen a major shift.

A glance at the UPSC Exam Pattern before 2010.

Here’s how the structure of the General Studies Paper of prelims exam was before 2010.
Around 20 questions from History; 30-40 questions from Geography; and about 40 questions and science, along with few questions on current affairs to check general knowledge which was usually repeated and questions were related books, and authors, science, and technology, sports, specific personalities, places, and persons in news recently and some questions on aptitude and polity. The other paper which is called GS CSAT Paper 2 today, then used be called as GS paper 2 on any one of the optional subjects.

The question papers set before 2010 were simple and predictable and any candidate could prepare for the MCQs in the question paper from any competitive exam magazine and current affairs books which is completely opposite to the current trend of the UPSC Exam.

Today, the current UPSC Prelims Question Paper has undergone tremendous changes with great modifications such that the UPSC Question Papers has become vague and unpredictable. The questions in the prelims exam are set in such a way that the candidate needs to identify the correct answer from the given multiple tricky choices. To answer such questions a candidate should have a good understanding of concepts and relevant issues in the news and a knowledge how to correlate them and present it in their answers (especially for Mains Exam).

As the prelims exam pattern has seen changes likewise the mains exam also undergone some vast and bit tough changes with a total of 9 papers, inclusion of ethics paper, the addition of GS papers, removal of 2 marks questions from the mains papers. After the change in the UPSC Exam Pattern today the trend has shifted to technology, science, and environment, current affairs and various government schemes.

Here’s a review of some of the major changes in the UPSC Exam Pattern in the recent past.


Sl. No.


Changes in the UPSC Exam Pattern  (Prelims)

Changes in the UPSC Exam Pattern  (Mains)


UPSC 2011

GS Paper 2 on Optional Subject was replaced with CSAT Paper and the both GS Paper I and II marks are counted for the prelims merit list.

No changes in Mains Exam


UPSC 2012

No changes

Two GS papers were introduced along with Essay Paper with one topic



UPSC 2013

No changes

Two more GS papers were introduced which include the Ethics paper as well.
The optional subjects were reduced to one optional subject

The total marks allotted for Essay was increased to 250.

Total no. of questions increased and the word limit decreased.


UPSC 2014

No changes

The number of essay topics was increased to 2 earlier the essay paper had one section with four topics and now there are two sections with four topics in each section.

The number of attempts at IAS Exam for General Categories was increased from 4 to 6, making the age limit for general categories 32 years from 30 years.


UPSC 2015

Prelims GS CSAT Paper 2  was made as a qualifying paper such that the marks obtained in this paper is considered only for qualifying to the next stage of the exam and not for merit purpose.

No changes


UPSC 2018

               No changes


                No changes

Age Relaxation Extended for J and K Residents

With these tremendous changes in the UPSC Exam pattern in the past few years, most of the candidates feel the UPSC Exam which is considered as one of the toughest exams is becoming unpredictable year after year making the preparation for this exam as not an easy task. Even many of the IAS Coaching Centres are changing their preparation strategy along with the changing UPSC Exam Pattern so that their students could face the challenge of cracking this exam with ease.

Along with all these changes in the trends and exam patterns, the Baswan committee set up to analyze the civil services examination trend and their recommendation awaiting to be approved sooner or later we may expect some unexpected changes again in the UPSC Exam Pattern and for now what the candidates can do is just focus on their preparation rather than wasting their time in predicting the changes in the exam pattern.