Is Prelims Counted as an Attempt in UPSC: Everything You Need to Know

Is prelims counted as an attempt in UPSC? The answer to this question stays ambiguous for most UPSC aspirants. And if you’re preparing for the Civil Services Exam, it’s essential to be aware of all the significant rules and regulations so that you don’t miss out on anything important. As to whether the preliminary examination counts as an attempt or not, we’ll go over everything you need to know here.

The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) conducts the Civil Services Exam (CSE) in three stages – the preliminary exam, the mains exam, and the interview. The preliminary exam serves as a screening exam for the candidates, and if selected, they move on to the next two stages. But, is prelims counted as an attempt in UPSC? This is a common question among aspirants as the Civil Services Exam restricts the number of attempts a candidate can make. So, it’s crucial to clarify whether the preliminary examination counts as an attempt or not.

Aspirants are required to take their UPSC exams seriously and follow all the rules and guidelines without breaking any. Hence, being aware of whether prelims are counted as an attempt in UPSC is an important part of the process. It’s better to be informed and not take any chances when it comes to the Civil Services Exam. So, let’s take a closer look at this topic and get your doubts cleared.

Understanding UPSC Exam Pattern

The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) conducts various exams every year to recruit candidates for different positions in the government. Out of all the exams, the Civil Services Exam (CSE) is considered to be one of the most prestigious exams in India. Every year, thousands of candidates appear for the CSE exams – which consist of three stages, namely Preliminary Exam, Mains Exam, and Personal Interview. The Petitioners who are going to appear for the CSE for the first time must know about the exam pattern in detail, and more specifically – whether the preliminary exam is counted as an attempt or not.

  • What is UPSC Preliminary Exam Exam? The Preliminary Exam is the first stage of the UPSC Civil Services Exam and is a screening test. It consists of two papers, Paper I and Paper II, and both are objective in nature i.e., multiple-choice questions. Paper I is a General Studies paper that tests the candidate’s knowledge on topics such as Indian History, Geography, Indian Polity, General Science, and Current Events. Paper II, also known as the Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT), tests the candidate’s comprehension, communication, problem-solving, decision-making abilities, and basic numerical skills.
  • Is Prelims counted as an attempt in UPSC? Yes, Prelims is a qualifying exam, and any attempt at Prelims is considered an attempt. Therefore, if a candidate fills the UPSC CSE application and appears for any of the two papers mentioned above in the Preliminary exams, it will be counted as an attempt. Note that even if a candidate fills the application form, but does not appear for any of the papers, it still counts as an attempt. However, there is a caveat to this rule. If a candidate appears for a paper in the Civil Services Examination but leaves it unanswered, his/her attempt will not be counted.
  • How Many Attempts are Allowed for UPSC Civil Services Exam? Different categories of candidates have varied numbers of attempts they can take for the Civil Services Exam. Here are the attempts allowed for different categories as stated by the UPSC:
    Category Number of attempts
    General category 6 attempts till 32 years of age
    OBC category 9 attempts till 35 years of age
    SC/ST category Unlimited attempts till 37 years of age
    Persons with Benchmark Disability (PwBD) General & OBC – 9 attempts till 42 years of ageSC/ST – unlimited attempts till 47 years of age

Understanding the exam pattern is crucial for success in the UPSC Civil Services Exam. It is a rigorous process that demands dedication, hard work, and strategic preparation. Knowing the number of attempts you have got to get into the exam should not be an overwhelming factor; instead, it should guide you in planning your preparation for the exam. With the right mindset and the right approach, you can ace the UPSC Civil Services Exam.

Attempting UPSC Prelims: An Overview

If you are planning to appear for the UPSC Civil Services Examination, Prelims is the first and most crucial hurdle that you must cross. The UPSC Prelims is the first stage of the three-stage exam and is considered to be one of the toughest competitive exams in India. This exam is the gateway to the coveted services such as IAS, IPS, and IFS.

Is Prelims Counted as an Attempt in UPSC?

  • Yes, Prelims is counted as an attempt in UPSC. Every time a candidate appears in the Prelims, it counts as one attempt, irrespective of whether the candidate qualifies for the Mains or not.
  • According to the UPSC notification, a candidate can take a maximum of six attempts for the UPSC Civil Services Examination. However, the number of attempts for candidates belonging to SC/ST category is relaxed and they can take as many attempts as they want until they reach the age limit.
  • In case a candidate appears for UPSC Prelims but leaves the exam midway or fails to appear for the exam, it will also be counted as an attempt.

Therefore, it is important to prepare well and make full use of every attempt allowed. A candidate should aim to clear the UPSC Prelims in the first attempt itself to save attempts for further stages of the exam.

Tips to Ace UPSC Prelims Exam

Here are some tips that can help a candidate in clearing the UPSC Prelims exam:

  • Prepare a solid study plan and stick to it.
  • Read and revise newspaper regularly.
  • Practice mock tests to get experience and an idea of the exam pattern.
  • Have clarity of concepts and revise them regularly.
  • Focus on understanding the concepts rather than memorizing them.

Important Dates for UPSC Prelims Exam

The UPSC Prelims exam is usually conducted in June/July every year. Here are the important dates for the UPSC Prelims exam:

Event Date
UPSC Prelims Notification February/March
Last Date to Apply March/April
UPSC Prelims Exam June/July

It is important to keep track of these dates and stay updated with the latest news and notifications related to the UPSC Civil Services Examination.

Impact of Attempting UPSC Prelims on Overall Result

The UPSC conducts the Civil Services Examination in three stages, namely, the preliminary examination, the main examination, and the interview. Aspirants are required to clear the preliminary examination to be eligible for the main examination. However, many students are often confused about whether prelims attempt counts in the UPSC exam or not. In this article, we will explore and understand the impact of attempting UPSC prelims on the overall result.

  • Is the Prelims Attempt Counted in UPSC?
  • Does Attempting UPSC Prelims Impact the Main Examination?
  • How Can Aspirants Maximise Their Chances of Clearing the UPSC Exam?

Is the Prelims Attempt Counted in UPSC?

Yes, the UPSC counts the number of attempts made by a candidate in the Civil Services Examination, including the preliminary examination. It means that if you appear for the UPSC Preliminary Examination but do not qualify for the next stage, it will be counted as an attempt.

Earlier, the UPSC used to have a cap on the number of attempts allowed to an individual candidate. However, in 2021, they removed the cap restriction, much to the delight of the aspirants. Now, the candidates can appear for the exam as many times as they want until they hit the upper age limit.

Does Attempting UPSC Prelims Impact the Main Examination?

Yes, attempting the UPSC prelims has a significant impact on the candidate’s performance in the main examination. While the preliminary examination has only objective-type questions, the main examination is subjective. Here are a few ways how UPSC prelims attempt can impact the main examination results:

  • Improved Time-management: A candidate who has already attempted the prelims would be better equipped to manage their time during the main examination, as they would have already gone through the exam pattern and time constraints.
  • Reduced Nervousness: The Prelims attempt gives a candidate a sense of familiarity and confidence in the examination process, thus reducing nervousness and anxiety during the Main Examination.
  • Stronger Base: Attempting Prelims would have given the candidates a strong foundation on the basics of subjects like Economics, Polity, Science, and Technology, which will help them in clearing the Mains Examination.

How Can Aspirants Maximise Their Chances of Clearing the UPSC Exam?

While attempting the UPSC Prelims is necessary to qualify for the Main Examination, it is not a guarantee of success. Here are a few tips that can help aspirants maximise their chances of clearing the UPSC Exam:

Tips for Clearing UPSC Exam
1. Read and Revise Standard Study Materials Regularly
2. Practice Writing Answers within Time Limits
3. Analyze Previous Year Question Papers and Understand UPSC Exam Pattern
4. Stay Updated with Current Affairs and News Across India and the World
5. Stay Confident and Positive Throughout the Journey


The UPSC prelims attempt does count and play a vital role in a candidate’s overall performance in the Civil Services Examination. While it signals a strong foundation, a candidate needs to put in consistent efforts and follow a well-strategized plan to clear the UPSC Exam.

UPSC Prelims Attempt Criteria

The UPSC Preliminary Examination is the first stage of the Civil Services Examination conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). It is a screening test that determines whether a candidate is eligible to proceed to the subsequent stages of the examination. In this article, we will discuss the UPSC Prelims Attempt Criteria.

When it comes to the number of attempts for the UPSC Preliminary Examination, there are certain guidelines that candidates need to follow. Here are the four important criteria:

  • The UPSC allows candidates to appear in the Preliminary Examination for a maximum of six attempts.
  • Candidates belonging to the general category can attempt the Prelims up to six times until they attain the age of 32 years.
  • Candidates belonging to OBC category can appear for the Prelims up to nine times until they attain the age of 35 years.
  • Candidates belonging to SC/ST category can attempt the Preliminary Examination as many times as they want till they attain the age of 37 years.

It is important to note that the number of attempts includes the number of previous attempts, whether the candidate appeared or not. For instance, if a candidate has filled the application form and did not appear for the Preliminary Examination, it still counts as an attempt.

Additionally, if a candidate has exhausted the maximum number of attempts, they cannot apply or appear for the examination in the subsequent years. The chances of extending the attempts are only given under special circumstances, such as military service or disability.


Thus, it is imperative for UPSC aspirants to keep in mind the Prelims Attempt Criteria, as it is a crucial factor in determining their eligibility to appear for the examination. They should plan their attempts strategically and ensure that they do not exhaust the maximum number of attempts before crossing the age limits set by the commission.

Category Maximum Number of Attempts Age Limit
General Category 6 32 Years
OBC Category 9 35 Years
SC/ST Category No Limit 37 Years

Remember, the UPSC Examination is a highly competitive process, and candidates need to give it their all to succeed. Knowing and adhering to the Prelims Attempt Criteria is crucial, but preparation and hard work play an equally important role in acing the examination.

Strategies to Tackle UPSC Prelims

The UPSC Preliminary examination is the first stage of the Civil Service Examination and is the stepping stone to the next stage, the Mains examination. The Prelims examination consists of two objective type papers, General Studies I and General Studies II (CSAT), with a total of 400 marks. In this article, we will discuss the frequently asked question – Is prelims counted as an attempt in UPSC? Along with that, we will also provide some strategies to tackle the UPSC Prelims.

Is Prelims Counted as an Attempt in UPSC?

Yes, the Preliminary Examination is counted as an attempt in the UPSC Exam. The Civil Services Examination (CSE) allows a maximum of six attempts for General category candidates and nine attempts for people with disabilities and belonging to the SC/ST category. A candidate who appears for either of the two papers in the Preliminary examination is considered to have made an attempt in the CSE.

Strategies to Tackle UPSC Prelims

  • Understand the Syllabus: The UPSC Prelims syllabus is vast, and it is crucial to have a good understanding of it. The syllabus is divided into two papers, and it is advisable to go through the previous year’s question papers to get an idea about the kind of questions asked.
  • Make a Study Plan: Once you have a clear understanding of the syllabus, it is time to make a study plan. Dividing the syllabus into small sections and allotting specific time to each section will help you cover the syllabus in a systematic way.
  • Follow a Good Resource Material: Choosing the right study material is crucial in cracking the UPSC Prelims exam. There are various resources available in the market, and it is important to choose the ones that align with your preparation strategy.

Revision is the Key

Revision is essential in retaining the knowledge you have gained. Follow a revision timetable, and devote enough time for it. Revise the topics again and again until it becomes your second nature.

Maintain a Positive Attitude

Do’s Dont’s
Believe in yourself and your hard work Comparison with others
Stay motivated throughout your preparation Procrastination
Practice mock tests regularly Overthinking

In conclusion, the UPSC Prelims Exam is not easy to crack, and it takes immense hard work and dedication. Following these strategies will help you in your preparation and increase your chances of cracking the exam. Remember, stay calm, and believe in your preparation. All the best!

Preparation Tips for UPSC Prelims Attempt

Clearing the UPSC prelims exam is no easy feat. This exam is the first stepping stone towards your dream of becoming a civil servant in India. Before taking the exam, it is important to understand the rules and regulations surrounding the number of attempts that a candidate can make. This article aims to answer the question: Is prelims counted as an attempt in UPSC and provide tips for UPSC prelims attempt preparation.

Is Prelims Counted as an Attempt in UPSC?

  • Yes, appearing for the UPSC prelims exam is counted as an attempt.
  • However, if you leave the exam midway or do not mark any answers in the OMR sheet, it will not be counted as an attempt.
  • Also, if you apply for the exam but do not appear for it, it will still be counted as an attempt.
  • The number of attempts for the UPSC exam varies based on the category of the candidates. General category candidates are allowed a maximum of 6 attempts, while OBC candidates get 9 attempts. SC/ST candidates get unlimited attempts.

Tips for UPSC Prelims Attempt Preparation

Here are some tips for UPSC prelims attempt preparation that will help you increase your chances of success:

  • Follow a timetable: You must follow a strict timetable while preparing for the UPSC prelims exam.
  • Familiarize yourself with the syllabus: Understanding the syllabus is the first step towards success. Go through the UPSC prelims syllabus carefully and prepare your study plan accordingly.
  • Reading newspapers: Get into the habit of reading newspapers daily to stay updated with current affairs. This is crucial for the UPSC exam as the general studies paper comprises a significant portion of current affairs.

Aside from these tips, candidates should also attempt mock tests and practice previous year UPSC questions papers. The UPSC prelims exam is challenging, but with proper guidance and preparation, you can crack it!


It is important to note that every attempt you make for the UPSC exam counts, including appearing for the prelims exam. Therefore, it is essential to prepare yourself thoroughly before sitting for the exam. Sticking to the aforementioned tips and tricks can help you clear the exam with flying colors.

Category Maximum Attempts
General 6
SC/ST Unlimited

Remember, persistence and dedication are the keys to success in the UPSC exam!

Common Mistakes to Avoid in UPSC Prelims Attempt

UPSC Civil Services Prelims is the first step towards achieving your dream of becoming a civil servant. However, many candidates underestimate the difficulty level of the exam and end up making silly mistakes that cost them dearly. In this section, we will discuss some common mistakes to avoid while attempting the UPSC Prelims.

7. Taking Too Long to Answer a Question

  • Reading Too Much into the Question: Many candidates tend to read too much into the question, trying to find hidden meanings or trying to relate it to some current event. This can lead to confusion and wastage of time.
  • Not Understanding the Question: Sometimes, candidates fail to understand the question correctly, leading to wrong answers.
  • Getting Stuck on a Question: Some candidates tend to get stuck on a difficult question and keep thinking about it for a long time, thereby wasting time that can be used for other questions.

It’s important to remember that the UPSC Prelims is a time-bound exam, and therefore, managing time efficiently is of utmost importance. You need to quickly analyze the question, understand what is being asked, recall the relevant information, and then answer the question. If you find a question too difficult to answer, it’s best to move on to the next question and come back to it later if time permits.

Here’s a table that summarizes the time allocation for each section of the UPSC Civil Services Prelims:

Section Number of Questions Time Allotted
General Studies Paper-I 100 2 hours
General Studies Paper-II (CSAT) 80 2 hours

Keep in mind that each question carries equal marks, and there is negative marking for incorrect answers. Therefore, it’s better to answer as many questions as possible rather than getting stuck on one question for too long.

Is Prelims Counted as an Attempt in UPSC: FAQs

As an AI language model, I have gathered the following questions about UPSC prelims attempts in a friendly tone of voice:

1. Does the preliminary exam count as an attempt in UPSC?

Yes, the preliminary exam attempt is considered as one of the attempts in UPSC.

2. How many attempts are allowed for UPSC prelims?

The number of attempts varies according to the category of the candidate. For general category candidates, it is six attempts. Other categories have a different number of attempts as per government rule.

3. Do I need to fill an application form to attempt the UPSC prelims?

Yes, you have to fill the online application form to apply for the UPSC Preliminary Exam.

4. Can I attempt prelims without filling the application form?

No, the UPSC Preliminary Exam cannot be taken without filling and submitting the application form available on the UPSC official website.

5. Can I withdraw my UPSC Prelims application after submitting it?

Yes, you can withdraw your application before the last date of application submission, as notified by the UPSC, by giving a written or online request to the UPSC office.

6. Do I have to pay the UPSC Prelims application fee every time I appear for the exam?

Yes, you need to pay the application fee every time you appear for the exam. The application fee is non-refundable and non-transferable.

7. Is there any age limit to attempt UPSC Preliminary Exam?

Yes, the age limit is different for various categories. For the general category, it is 32 years, for OBC it is 35 years, and for SC/ST category, it is 37 years. The age limit is calculated as of August 1 of the exam year.

Closing Words

Thanks for reading this article about whether the Prelims counted as an attempt in UPSC. We hope that this FAQ has helped you clear any doubts you had regarding UPSC Prelims Attempt. Keep visiting for more articles like this.