The second stage of the exam is UPSC Mains. The mains exam consists of a two-part Essay paper, a Compulsory Indian Language paper and English language paper, four General Studies papers and two Optional papers. 

The Mains exam is conducted with a three-hour window for every paper. The exam is hosted over five days with two exams held every day until the last. 

The exams are qualifying in nature and the candidates can write the exams in any of the official languages under Schedule 8 of the constitution.

The candidates who clear the cut off will be invited to attend the third stage: the personality test or commonly called “Interview” part of the UPSC.

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