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What is UPSCIf your dream career is a prestigious Central Government job like IAS or IPS, you should definitely know about UPSC. Service Commission (UPSC) is the recruiting agency for top-level Central Government jobs. The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) is India’s premier central recruiting agency. It is responsible for appointments to and examinations for all India services and posts under the Central government. The UPSC is a constitutional body established by Article 315 of the Constitution of India. The Commission consists of a Chairman and ten Members. The Chairman and Members of the Commission are appointed by the President of India. The Commission is serviced by a Secretariat headed by a Secretary with a team of Joint Secretaries, Deputy Secretaries and other support staff.
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UPSC Post List
- Indian Administrative Service (IAS)
- Indian Police Service (IPS)
- Indian Foreign Service (IFS)
- Indian Revenue Service (IRS)
- Indian Forest Service (IFoS)
- Indian Audit and Accounts Service (IAAS)
- Indian Civil Accounts Service (ICAS)
- Indian Corporate Law Service (ICLS)
- Indian Defence Accounts Service (IDAS)
- Indian Defence Estates Service (IDES)
- Indian Information Service (IIS)
- Indian Ordnance Factories Service (IOFS)
- Indian Communication Finance Services (ICFS)
- Indian Postal Service (IPoS)
- Indian Railway Accounts Service (IRAS)
- Indian Railway Personnel Service (IRPS)
- Indian Railway Traffic Service (IRTS)
- Indian Trade Service (ITS)
- Railway Protection Force (RPF)
Among the post mentioned the most sought post is IAS followed by IPS, IFS and IRS
Among the post mentioned the most sought post is IAS followed by IPS, IFS and IRS
What are the exams conducted by UPSC for selection into defence services?
- National Defence Academy & Naval Academy Examination – NDA & NA (I).
- National Defence Academy & Naval Academy Examination – NDA & NA (II).
- Combined Defence Services Exam – CDS (I).
- Combined Defence Services Exam – CDS (II).
UPSC Exam: What is the UPSC Civil Services Examination?
Civil Services Examination (CSE) is one of the most popular exams conducted by the Union Public Service Commission. It is widely known as the ‘IAS exam’ even though CSE is a common exam to recruit candidates to about 24 top government services like IAS, IPS, IFS, IRS etc.
UPSC Civil Services Exam (CSE) consists of 3 stages. The stages are:
- Preliminary Exam (objective)
- Main Exam (written)
- Interview (personality test)
The exam window extends around 10-12 months (usually from June month of a year to June month next year when the results are announced).
What are the UPSC Exam Dates?
Usually, Union Public Service Commission conducts the Civil Services Preliminary Exam in June. The Main Exam is usually conducted in September. The Personality Test takes almost 3 months to finish. UPSC conducts the CSE interview (or personality test) in the months of February to April.
The salary of UPSC posts varies from post to post, after the 7th pay commission the Basic pay of Group A & Group B post is from 56,100 excluding TA, DA & HRA and can go upto 2,50,000/- for IAS Officer – Cabinet Secretary. The salary depends totally on the seniority and position.
Here we will discuss the detail salary of the top 4 posts – IAS, IPS, IFS & IRS.
|Years of Services||Grade Pay||Basic Salary|
|SDM, Undersecretary, Assistant Secretary||1 to 4 years||5400||Rs. 56, 100|
|ADM, Deputy Secretary, Under Secretary||5 to 8 years||6600||Rs. 67,700|
|DM, joint secretary, deputy secretary||9 to 12 years||7600||Rs. 78, 800|
|DM, Special Secretary cum commissioner. Director||13 to 16 years||8700||Rs. 1, 18, 500|
|Divisional Commissioner, Secretary cum Commissioner, Joint Secretary||16 to 24 years||8700||Rs. 1, 44, 200|
|Divisional Commissioner, Principal Secretary, additional Secretary||24 to 30 years||12000||Rs. 1, 82, 200|
|Chief Secretary, Additional Chief Secretary||30 to 33 years||NA||Rs. 2, 05, 400|
|Cabinet Secretary and Secretary||34 to 36 years||NA||Rs. 2, 25, 000|
|Cabinet Secretary of India||37+||NA||Rs. 2, 50, 00|
IPS Officers Ranks
|Deputy Superintendent of Police||Rs. 56,100|
|Additional Superintendent of Police||Rs. 67,700|
|Senior Superintendent of Police||Rs. 78,800|
|Deputy Inspector General of Police||Rs. 1,31,100|
|Inspector-General of Police||Rs. 1,44,200|
|Director-General of Police||Rs. 2,05,400|
|Director of CBI or IB/ DG of Police||Rs. 2,25,000|
IPS Officers Ranks
Deputy Superintendent of Police
Additional Superintendent of Police
Senior Superintendent of Police
Deputy Inspector General of Police
Inspector-General of Police
Director-General of Police
Director of CBI or IB/ DG of Police
Junior Time Scale
Basic Rs. 8000
Senior Time Scale
Junior Administrative Scale
Senior Administrative Scale
IRS Officers Posts
Income Tax Assistant Commissioner
Rs. 15600 to 39100 plus Grade Pay Rs.5400
Income Tax Joint Commissioner
Rs. 15600 to 39100 plus Grade Pay Rs.6600
Income Tax Deputy Commissioner
Rs. 15600 to 39100 plus Grade Pay Rs.7600
Additional Commissioner of Income Tax
Rs. 37400 to 67000 plus Grade Pay Rs.8700
Income Tax Commissioner
Rs. 37400 to 67000 plus Grade Pay Rs. 10000
Income Tax Chief Commissioner
Rs. 75000. to 80000
Principal Commissioner of Income Tax
Rs. 75000. to 80000
Principal Chief Commissioner of Income Tax
Rs. 80 thousand (fixed)
UPSC CSE is conducted in three phase :-
UPSC - Prelims
- The preliminary exam consists of 2 Papers – Paper 1 consists of General Ability Test & Paper 2 consists of (Civil Services Aptitude test) CSAT (Math, Reasoning & English).
- The exam is of Multiple Choice Question for both the papers.
- Paper 2 – CSAT will be qualifying paper with a minimum score of 33%.
General Ability Test
Paper II (Qualifying)
Min 66 Marks –
(If apply for IFS-Forest ,Marks will consider in Merit)
QA, Reas, Eng
General Studies 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
CSAT/ General Studies Paper-II
- 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.) – Class X level)
- Data interpretation (charts, graphs, tables, data sufficiency etc. – Class X level)
Math & Basic numeracy
Logical & Analytical reasoning
Indian History &
Indian Polity &
India & World Geography
Ecology, Environment & Biodiversity
Indian Economy and Social Development
Current Affairs of National & International importance
Science n Technology
- UPSC requires a generalist for serving the highest echelons of administration in India. A generalist is someone who knows something about everything, but not everything about something (called scientists or researchers). Your approach while reading should be somewhat like a
- For example, if you are reading about floods, you should focus on understanding their causes; implications (+ve and -ve); impact on human property and life; their mitigation and You need not read scientific literature about floods, river flows, meandering etc. At most, read what they are and how are they related to an earthquake.
- Most of the candidates think of working hard only, but it is combination of hard plus smart work that would pay in this examination.
- All the aspirants do not belong to the same academic, economic and social background so their strategy also differs but for the final success in this examination, the candidates have to undergo the same process and pattern of the examination. So, even if the strategy will be different the paradigm must be kept high.
- One can clear the Civil Services Prelims in one shot. Understanding concepts should be the first priority because mugging up neither helps in Prelims nor in Mains. So focus on basic understanding; and wider coverage rather than detailed studies and intensive coverage.
- Read standard book from Cover to Cover.
- Don’t make notes in the first reading itself.
- Keep your booklist short and Better to read one book for each topic thoroughly, than flip through multiple sources.
- Read carefully and between the lines since Prelims questions can be tricky.
- Preliminary Exam is all about ‘identifying’ the correct answer among the 4 options given. It’s all about elimination of the wrong options and identifying the correct Focus should be more on understanding the concepts.
UPSC - Mains
- Candidates who qualify UPSC Prelims will be called for UPSC Mains exam.
- Unlike UPSC Prelims, UPSC Mains will be descriptive based.
Language (Any )
One of the Indian Languages to be selected by the candidates from the Languages included in the eighth schedule of the constitution
Papers to be counted for Merit (Ranking)
(Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society)
(Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations)
(Technology, Economic Development, Bio-diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management)
(Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude)
Optional Subject-Paper I
Optional Subject-Paper II
Sub Total (Written Test)
Language Papers (Indian language and English)
Although both these papers are only qualifying in nature, candidates should not be complacent as if they fail to score below 25% in either of them, their remaining answer sheets won’t even be evaluated. Both the papers follow a similar pattern of questions as given below.
- One essay question for 100 marks – candidates have to select one out of a few given topics
- Reading comprehension and related five-six questions for a total of 60 marks
- Precis writing for 60 marks – the answer sheet will have a separate grid structure where this has to be written
- Translation from English to chosen language for 20 marks
- Translation from chosen language to English for 20 marks
- Grammar and basic language usage such as synonyms, sentence correction etc. for a total of 40 marks
UPSC Mains paper gives an opportunity to candidates where can opt for subjects under a few sections. This acts as an advantage for the aspirants can they can pick their strengths and increase their overall scores. To check out the list of IAS Subjects in the mains examination, candidates can visit the linked article.
The UPSC mains syllabus does not have any prescribed syllabus for the essay paper as such. As per the UPSC, “Candidates are expected to keep closely to the subject of the essay to arrange their ideas in an orderly fashion, and to write concisely. Credit will be given for effective and exact expression.”
Candidates are required to write two essays from a list of given topics for a combined total of 250 marks.
GS Paper -1
1. Indian Culture – Ancient to modern times (Salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture).
2. Modern Indian History
· Significant events, personalities, issues during the middle of the eighteenth century (1750s) up until the present.
· Different stages and important contributors and contributions from vivid parts of the country in ‘The Freedom Struggle’.
· Post-independence consolidation and reorganisation within the country.
3. History of the world
4. Events, forms and effect on society since the 18th century (world wars, decolonisation, industrial revolution, political philosophies like communism, capitalism, socialism, redrawal of national boundaries, colonisation, etc.)
· Indian society and diversity – Salient aspects.
· Role of women and women’s organisations, poverty and developmental issues, population and associated issues, urbanisation, their problems and remedies.
· Social empowerment, communalism, regionalism & secularism.
· Effects of globalisation on Indian society.
· Factors responsible for the location of primary, secondary, and tertiary sector industries in various parts of the world including India; distribution of key natural resources across the world including South Asia and the Indian sub-continent.
· Important Geophysical phenomena such as Tsunami, earthquakes, cyclone, Volcanic activity etc.
· Changes in critical geographical features (including polar ice caps and water-bodies), Geographical features and their location, and, in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes.
· Salient features of world’s physical geography.
GS Paper -2
1. Indian Constitution
· historical underpinnings,
· evolution, features
· amendments, significant provisions
· basic structure doctrine
· Comparison of the Indian constitutional scheme with that of other countries
2. Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein.
3. Separation of powers between various organs, dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions
4. Structure, organisation and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary
5. Parliament and State Legislatures
· structure, functioning
· conduct of business
· powers & privileges and issues arising out of these
6. Ministries and Departments of the Government; pressure groups and formal/informal associations and their role in the Polity.
7. Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act
8. Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies.
9. Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.
10. Government policies and interventions aimed at development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
11. Development processes and the development industry – the role of NGOs, Self Help Groups, various groups and associations, institutional and other stakeholders.
12. Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and the States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.
13. Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources
14. Issues relating to poverty and hunger
15. Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures
16. Role of civil services in a democracy
17. International Relations
· India and its neighbourhood – International relations
· Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting the Indian interests
· Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.
Important International institutions, agencies, their structure and mandates
GS Paper – 3
GS Paper – 4
This Ethics paper in the UPSC mains syllabus includes questions to check the candidates’ attitude and approach to issues relating to integrity and probity in public life and his/her problem-solving approach to various societal issues. Questions may utilise the case study approach to determine these aspects and the exam covers area as mentioned in the syllabus given below.
GS 5 & 6 – Optional Subjects
For the civil services examination, UPSC provides a list of optional subjects. Candidates have to choose one optional for the mains exam. The optional subject has two papers and each paper accounts for 250 marks. Candidates can choose from the list of optional subjects that also includes literature subjects (English and Indian languages).
The papers for the examination will be descriptive in nature. Each paper for UPSC mains exam will be of three hours duration. The question papers, other than the literature of language papers will be set in Hindi and English only. The optional paper plays an important role in the UPSC mains exam.
- Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science
- Electrical Engineering
- Political Science and International Relations
- Literature of any one of the following languages: Assamese, Bengali, Bodo, Dogri, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Maithili, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Santali, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu and English.
- Chemistry Management
- Public Administration
- Civil Engineering Mathematics
- Commerce and Accountancy
- Mechanical Engineering
- Economics Medical Science
MAIN EXAMINATION: MARKS DISTRIBUTION (2025 Marks)
Mains Cut-off (General Category)
Mains+ Interview Cut-off (General Category)
Mains+ Interview Percentage
As you can see, the current affairs portion is one of the most important subjects to be prepared in the UPSC Civil Services Prelims examination followed by history and polity. Let us look at the preparation strategy for each of the UPSC subjects briefly:
It is clear from the subject-wise trend of prelims that history is one of the major favourites of UPSC and a lot of questions are asked from this subject. Questions from heritage, art & culture are also a part of ancient history that is asked in UPSC prelims. NCERTs and other basic books like Art & Culture by Nitin Singhania can be really helpful for the preparation of history. You can check the micro syllabus and preparation strategy for history in the linked article.
Questions from the physical geography of India and the world are asked in the Prelims examination. NCERTs from Class VIII to XII are a must-read for the preparation of Geography. In addition to that, you can also refer to Certificate Physical and Human Geography by GC Leong. Check out the detailed syllabus and preparation strategy in the linked article.
Indian constitution is at the heart of Indian polity and is an extremely important subject for the preparation of UPSC CSE. For the UPSC CS Prelims examination, a thorough reading of Indian Polity by M. Laxmikath would suffice. You can use NCERTs and IGNOU materials to strengthen your foundation before reading the book authored by M. Laxmikanth. Check out the detailed strategy for polity preparation in the linked article.
Economy is also one of the important segments of the UPSC syllabus. Questions from topics like national income, inflation-deflation, fiscal and monetary policies, fiscal deficit, taxes, etc. are asked every year. You do not need to delve deep into economics preparation for UPSC CS Prelims. A thorough reading of NCERTs along with basic books authored by Uma Kapila or Misra Puri would suffice for the preparation of economics for UPSC CS (Prelims). Check out the detailed strategy for economics in the linked article.
#5 Science & Technology
Questions related to recent developments in science & technology are asked from this subject. Have a good hold over current affairs specific to this portion to ace this section. Check the linked article for a detailed preparation strategy and syllabus for science & technology.
Questions related to environment and biodiversity, ecology, climate change that are in the current discourse are asked. NCERT books, as well as IGNOU/NIOS notes of this particular subject, can be really helpful for the preparation of this portion of UPSC CSE Prelims. Check out the detailed preparation strategy in the linked article.
#7 Current Affairs
Questions related to science & tech, government initiatives, defence, security issues, and international relations are asked from the current affairs. Hence, you need to prepare it well. If you want to know more about the preparation strategy of current affairs, check out the linked article.
Formulated strategies along with proper time management followed with commitment are the only way to prepare for Civil Services Examination.
Know the syllabus thoroughly: Thorough knowledge of the syllabus is the first requirement before you start your preparation. It is only the syllabus which spells out the specific details of the areas of subject from which question can be asked in Civil Services Exam. Periodic reference to the syllabus would avoid wastage of time and effort by skipping topics which are not covered in the syllabus. It makes you aware of what precisely has to be studied. This is important because time at your disposal is limited. It can help you to plan your study in a better way by marking areas of study where you are comfortable and where you have problems.
There is no single formula for success – Evolve your own strategy: It is said that man is the best master of himself. No one can understand you better than you yourself. You can take suggestions to apply for plan development but these should not bind you. Rely on your own method of study believing that this is the only right method. For example, if you like to study silently, do accordingly. If you prefer a particular spot for your study, it is better to sit there. Also, you may develop habit of reading fast. The best thing one can do is to have an access to all the relevant facts, study them and plan one’s own strategy for preparing for the IAS exam. As each one of us differ in strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes so does the strategy for this exam.
Plan your study subject wise: Planning plays a crucial role. It has been rightly said, “If you have no plan then, you are planning to fail.” A systematic and planned approach always helps. Planning in terms of preparation means to frame around the three pillars of success: conceptual clarity, contextual familiarity and application expertise. It requires continuous effort.
A good planning involves consulting your seniors, dividing your entire time into periods of one month each and plan to complete a block of lessons by the end of each period, setting study goals for each day, each week and each month. Remember, your plan should not be too detailed or too sketchy but it should be a balanced one. Each subject must be given proper and regular time. Instead of preparing one subject at the cost of other subjects and all the three stages i.e. Prelims, Mains and Interview must be given proper consideration which will also help in breaking monotony. Prepare good notes during self-study. If you want to make the concept clearer, then, while preparing notes of lectures, leave some space and just after the lecture fill up the space with clarifications.
Study the trend of previous year question papers: Study the trend from previous year question papers and draw marks’ distribution of each subject to find out which topics are most and which are least important. Give priority to important topics and try to put them in early stage of your preparation to avoid any possibility of these being left. Review your plan periodically to find out if there are any lapses and how they can be covered up.
Selection of books: Which books you select and read play a crucial role? Great care is needed while choosing books. The more number of books you read, the more confused you may become and waste a lot of your time. Instead of going through a lot of books, try to read only one quality book for each topic which makes the basic concepts clear to you. Procure the books you need well in advance to avoid the last minute hassle.
Selective and Reflective Study: Your study should be quality based not quantity based. You should not lay emphasis on just reading more and more books, magazines and journals but reflect on your subject and try to master it. You should develop your rational faculty to assimilate relevant information and analyse problems dispassionately. Your reading must be purposeful. Distinguish between the important and the irrelevant reading material. You must keep in mind what is useful from the examination point of view.
IMPORTANT TIPS FOR ANSWER WRITING
START NOW the first rule to remember is that you should not wait till you finish the whole UPSC syllabus to embark on an answer writing spree. You should start it simultaneously while covering the syllabus. The more you practice, the better you will get at it. Success in the UPSC exam is not determined by how much you know, but by what and how you write in the answer booklet.
QUALITY & QUANTITY If you think just by filling up the prescribed word count, you can fool the examiner, think again. The UPSC assesses your knowledge and ability to express that knowledge in the most effective manner. Not only you should take care of the word limit but you should also ensure to write what is asked in the question. Understanding the exact requirement of the question comes only with practicing scores of previous years’ question papers.
EVALUATE It is not enough to merely write out answers and prepare for the IAS exam. You should also get your answers evaluated by teachers, seniors or mentors. Only this way you can analyse your shortcomings and correct yourself.
HOLISTIC ANSWERS When you are practicing answer-writing, make sure you write holistic answers. Your answers should be clear, neat, have examples and relevant concepts, crisp (not vague and jumbled) and creative. Dynamic questions warrant dynamic answers. So, read newspapers regularly to improve your vocabulary and writing style. The prerequisite to writing well is to inculcate a habit of reading well.
GS PAPERS VERSUS OPTIONALS It is better to avoid jargon in the GS papers since your answers should be multifaceted and broad. Here, you must give a generalist approach in your answers. However, in the optional subject papers, you can afford to go a little deep and include technical terms. This is because the examiner, in this case, is also a specialist. So, when you practice writing answers, keep in mind the difference between writing answers for GS and optional papers, and prepare accordingly for each.
UPSC PERSONALITY TEST (INTERVIEW)
The candidate will be interviewed by a Board which will have before it, the record of his career. He/she will be asked questions on matters of general interest. The object 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. The test is intended to judge the mental caliber of a candidate. In broad terms, this is really an assessment of not only his intellectual qualities but also social traits and his interest in current affairs. Some of the qualities, to be judged are mental alertness, critical powers of assimilation, clear and logical exposition, balance of judgment, variety and depth of interest, ability for social cohesion and leadership, intellectual and moral integrity.
The technique of the interview is not that of a strict cross-examination but of a natural, though directed and purposive conversation which is intended to reveal the mental qualities of the candidate.
The interview test is not intended to be a test either of the specialized or general knowledge of the candidates which have been already tested through their written papers. 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 well-educated youth.
Interview has a great scoring potential. Though the process is just of 25 to 30 minutes but marks scored have a wide range: 130 to 225. It is the last chance to maximize final score. Even if score in the Written Examinations is near the cut-off, one can score very high and be in the selection list.
According to UPSC Report 2015, it has been observed that in the last decade, 90 per cent of the candidates who were invited for the personality test secured less than 55 percent of the total prescribed marks.
However, to be assured of a Class-1 service, one has to generally obtain about 60 per cent marks. It has been noticed that only those, securing 66 per cent and above are sure of getting a service of their own choice.
The figures clearly reveal that the marks in the personality test plays a determining role in final selection of the candidate.
Interview marks until 2012, usually ranged from 90 to 245 out of the maximum possible score of 300. That meant the interview marks varied from 30 per cent to 80 per cent, which is a very big range. The median of the interview marks was in the 55-60 percent range.
However, from 2013, the total possible marks for interview is reduced to 275. Currently, marks are awarded in the range of 45% to 75%. Marks below 45% are not uncommon, however, it’s very rare that UPSC award marks above 75 per cent in the personality test.
Still, there is a big variation between the top interview marks and the bottom interview marks awarded. If there is a 50 per cent difference between the top and bottom marks in the interview, that will account for about 140 marks, which is by now means a meagre thing to neglect! That difference is enough to shatter the hopes of many and enough to give wings to the hopes of others!
Percentage of All India Topper in UPSC Civil Services Exam was around 60 per cent some five-six years back – when there were 2 optional subjects.
But it began to fall down later, obviously due to tougher questions, tougher evaluations, reduction in optional subject marks, and obviously due to lack of right resources to study General studies!
In 2013, the Topper’s percentage (AIR 1) was around 48% and the last recommended candidate in the general category scored 38%. In 2018, the toppers percentage is 55% while that of the last recommended general category candidate is 49%.
If we observe the trend from 2013 to 2019, one can see an overall increase in mains marks and a tighter competition. Also, now, there is more cluttering per mark.
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