Commonly known as UPSC Exam or IAS Exam, the UPSC Civil Services Examination(CSE) is one of the examinations conducted by the Union Public Service Commission to recruit suitable candidates into civil services of India including IAS, IPS, IFS, and other allied services. The examination is conducted in three phases namely UPSC CS Preliminary Examination or UPSC Prelims, UPSC CS Main Examination or UPSC Main, and the personality Test or UPSC Interview.
You will first have to qualify in the Civil Services Examination (Preliminary) to appear for the Civil Services Examination (Main). Even though the CSE (Preliminary and Main) is conducted every year, the number of posts or vacancies available differs from year to year. The Preliminary examination is conducted around the month of May, whereas the Main examination is conducted around the months of October/November.
The number of candidates who will be eligible to appear in the Civil Services Examination (Main) by qualifying in the Preliminary Examination will be approximately around 12 – 13 times the total number of vacancies for that year.
The Preliminary examination is just a screening test to determine the eligibility of candidates who can appear in the Main examination. Your marks in the Preliminary examination will not be counted while determining your final merit (in case you qualify for the Main examination).
You will be recruited for a Service/Post on the basis of your performance in the Civil Services Examination (Main), which will include a written examination as well as an interview.
What are the eligibility criteria?
To be eligible to appear for the Civil Services Examination you must have a graduate or higher degree (or its equivalents as mentioned in the brochure) in any field from a recognized university in India.
Candidates who are appearing or have appeared for their final year exams and are awaiting results are also eligible for the Civil Services Examination (Preliminary) provided that they can submit their final mark sheets while applying for the Civil Services Examination (Main).
In addition, you will need to be a citizen of India, and between 21 years and 30 years of age as on the 1st of August of the year of the examination.
The upper age limit is relaxed by up to 5 years for candidates who belong to the Scheduled Castes or the Scheduled Tribes category. For candidates who belong to the ‘Other Backward Classes’ (OBC) category, it is relaxed by up to 3 years.
You can attempt the Civil Services Examination a maximum of 4 times in your lifetime (7 times for OBC Candidates). This limit on the number of attempts does not apply to SC/ST candidates.
For any further information, please visit the following website: http://upsc.gov.in/.
How to apply?
The below mentioned application procedure is for the Preliminary examination. Candidates who qualify for the Main examination will have to apply again using a ‘Detailed Application Form’. You will be notified regarding this by the UPSC in due time in case you qualify for the Main examination.
You can only apply for the Civil Services Examination (Preliminary) online. Application forms are available on the following website: http://www.upsconline.nic.in.
The application has 2 parts: Part 1 and Part 2. You will have to fill both parts to submit your application.
You do not have to submit any certificates along with your application. Your qualifications will be verified at a later stage.
You will be issued an ‘e – Admission certificate’ 3 weeks before the examination. You will not be able to enter the examination hall to attempt the test without this e – Admission certificate. The e – Admission certificate will only be available on the UPSC website and will not be sent by post.
For further information, please visit the following website: http://upsc.gov.in/.
What is the pattern of the examination?
The Civil Services Examination (Preliminary) is a screening test that is meant to determine the applicants who can appear in the Civil Services Examination (Main). You will be recruited on the basis of your performance in the subsequent Main examination which includes a Written Examination and a Personality Test (Interview).
However, you cannot appear for the Main examination without first appearing and qualifying in the Preliminary examination.The qualifying marks for a particular year depend on the number of vacancies available for that year.
The Civil Services Examination (Preliminary) comprises of 2 papers of 200 marks each.
Both papers will only comprise of objective type questions in the multiple choice format. Each question will have 4 options with only 1 correct answer.
The duration of each paper will be 2 hours.
Do not attempt the questions you do not know the answers to as there will be negative marking.
Paper 1 of the Preliminary examination will test you on the following topics:
Current events of national and International importance, History of India and Indian National Movement, Indian and World Geography, Indian Polity and Governance, Economic and Social Development (Sustainable Development, Poverty, Inclusion, Demographics, Social Sector initiatives, etc.), General issues on Environmental Ecology, Bio-diversity and Climate Change, and General Science.
Paper 2 of the Preliminary examination will test you on the following topics:
Comprehension, Interpersonal skills including Communication skills, Logical reasoning and Analytical ability, Decision-making and Problem-solving, General mental ability, Basic numeracy (Class 10th level), English Language Comprehension skills (Class 10th level).
Candidates who qualify in the Preliminary Examination will have to apply and appear in the Main Examination, which is the 2nd stage of the Civil Services Examination.
The Civil Services Examination (Main) comprises of 2 parts: Written Examination and Personality Test (Interview).
What happens after you qualify in the Main Examination?
Candidates who qualify in the Main Examination will be asked to appear for a Personality Test (Interview). This is the 3rd stage of the Civil Services Examination.
The objective of the Interview or the ‘Personality Test’ is to check your personal suitability for a career in the Civil Services.
The Interview will not be conducted in a strict cross – examination form but rather through a natural, directed and purposive conversation.
During the interview, you will be asked questions on matters of general interest. Some of the qualities that will be judged during the Interview are mental alertness, critical powers of assimilation, clear and logical exposition, balance of judgement, variety and depth of interest, ability for social cohesion and leadership, intellectual and moral integrity.
Candidates are expected to not only show interest and knowledge in the subjects that they have graduated in but also in the current events happening around the world as well as in new discoveries and streams of thought that are coming up across the world.
You will be recruited on the basis of your performance in both parts of the Main Examination: the Written Examination and the Personality Test.
Candidates will be allotted services and cadres on the basis of their preferences and their ranking in the Main Examination (Written Examination and Interview).
What are the prospects?
The Civil Services Examination is one of the most competitive examinations and is attempted by lakhs of applicants annually. However, the number of posts that are available for recruitment through this examination varies from year to year.
If you qualify in the Preliminary Examination, you will be eligible to appear in the Main Examination. Candidates will be recruited on the basis of their performance in the Main examination, which includes a Written Examination as well as an Interview.
Selected candidates will be eligible to join either one of the Government Civil Services that are recruiting candidates that year. Keep in mind that it is not necessary that all Services recruit candidates every year. Many services only recruit candidates through the Civil Services Exam as and when vacancies arise.