The preliminary exam is the first stage of the whole examination process. The very nature of the exam is to screen to select the next level of exam that is mains. It is seen over the approximately four lakh candidates appear for the Prelims but only less than fifteen thousand made it to the Mains. The introduction of the Preliminary Examination was introduced to weed out non-serious candidates and select those who deserve.
Preliminary Examination is objective type (four alternatives for every question) exercises meant to serve as a screening test/qualifying paper only. The exam is usually held in the month of August every year and it comprise of two compulsory Papers of 200 marks each and of two hours duration each. Preliminary Exam is meant to serve as the screening stage/qualifying round only. The marks obtained in the preliminary examination by candidates, who are declared qualified for admission to the Main Examination, will not be counted for determining their place in the final order of merit. The exam is held in the month of May every year and it consists of two objective type papers which carry a maximum of 400 marks in the following manner :

Paper

No. of Questions

Marks

Duration

General Studies 100 200 2 hours
CSAT (Civil Services Aptitude Test) 80 200 2 hours

Total

180

400


Except for Decision making and problem solving questions in the CSAT Paper, all the questions both papers had negative marking. For each wrong answer, 1/3 marks were deducted from the total score of the candidate.
Trend nowadays has shifted more towards current issues, hence a thorough awareness of recent events/happenings is mandatory.