(INFO) Information About the Indian Civil Services


(INFO) Information About the Indian Civil Services

The Civil Services Examination is a challenge and thousands of candidates appear in it every year. As many students appear in the examination, we answer some commonly asked questions. To achieve success in the exam, it is important to study in a focused manner, both for the Preliminary as well as for the Main Exam. For an IAS aspirant, it is important to know the plan of the examination as well as what one might expect.

The examination consists of two parts: the Preliminary Examination (objective type), which is a qualifying examination, and a Main Examination consisting of written examination and interview. The marks obtained in the Preliminary Exam are not counted in the Main Exam and it is only a screening exam. The Preliminary Exam is an objective type test. One can appear in the Main Examination only after passing the Preliminary Exam. The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) holds the Preliminary Examination in August and the Main Examination is held in December. The notification for the Preliminary Examination is published in May every year. The exam is held in many cities in India and one can opt for a centre near one's place so that unnecessary travel is avoided. The number of vacancies are 600-700 every year. Reservation is made for candidates belonging to the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes.

The competitive examination comprises of three stages :

  • Preliminary Examination – (Objective Test)
  • Main Examination (Written )
  • Interview Test

The examination schedule is announced during April- May.

The Preliminary held in April- May and the results are announced in October.

The Main examination held in November – December and the candidates those who qualify at this stage are invited to the interview in March-April next year.


The candidate must be between 21 and 32 years of age as on August 1 every year for the exam. Relaxations to the age limit are available for 5 years for candidates belonging to the scheduled castes or those who were domiciled in J & K from January 1, 1980 to December 31, 1989. A relaxation of 3 years in the case of Defence Services Personnel disabled in operations; upto 8 years for Scheduled Caste candidate who is also a defence personnel, disabled in operations; upto 5 years in case of ex-servicemen including Commissioned Officers who have rendered at least five years Military Service as on August 1 of that year; upto 10 years in the case of ex-servicemen including Commissioned Officers who belong to the Scheduled Castes and who have rendered at least five years Military Service. The date of birth acceptable is the one entered in the Matriculation or School Leaving Certificate. No other documents with respect to age are acceptable.

  • Upper age limit for General category: 32 years.
  • Upper age limit for OBC: 35 years.
  • Upper age limit for SC/ST: 37 Years.
  • Upper age limit for Citizens of Jammu and Kashmir: 37 years.
  • Upper age limit for Defense Services personnel disabled in operations during hostilities with any foreign country or in a disturbed area and released as a consequence thereof: 35 years.
  • Upper age limit for Ex-servicemen including Commissioned Officers and ECOs/SSCOs who have rendered at least five years Military Service: 37 years.
  • Upper age limit for blind, deaf-mute and Orthopaedically handicapped persons (general category) :42 years.

If the person is OBC + Ex-service men, he will get an extension of 5 + 7 = 12 years, i.e. his upper age limit now stands at 42 years

Educational Qualifications: The candidate must hold a degree of any of the Universities incorporated by an act of legislature in India or educational institutions established by an Act of Parliament. A degree from deemed universities under Section 3 of the University Grants Commission Act, 1956 is also eligible. Candidates having professionals and technical qualifications recognised by the government are also eligible. Candidates having an MBBS degree but have not completed their internship will be provisionally admitted to the Main Examination provided that they submit a certificate of their Institute that they have passed the final professional medical examination. Those who have appeared in the final year but do not have the result can also apply but they would have to produce proof of passing the exam with their application for the Main Exam.

Attempts: A candidate is permitted 6 attempts at the examination. There is no restriction on the number of attempts for scheduled caste candidates but Other Backward Classes have nine attempts. If a person appears in the Preliminary Exam or even appears in one paper, it is counted as an attempt. One should make up one's mind before applying and taking an attempt and only a serious attempt should be made.

  • Number of attempts for IAS exam : General Category : 6 attempts till 32 years of age.
  • Number of attempts for IAS exam : OBC : 9 attempts till 35 years of age.
  • Number of attempts for IAS exam : SC/ST : unlimited attempts till 37 years of age.
  • Physically Handicapped /disabled candidates belonging to General category will get the benefit of 9 attempts till the age prescribed by UPSC – 42 years.


The fee for the exam is Rs 50, to be paid through Central Recruitment Fee stamps available at post offices. The post office must cancel the stamps so that the impression of the cancellation stamp partially overflows on the application form. Instruments such as postal orders, drafts and such are not accepted and candidates should only send the fee through the Recruitment Fee stamps. Candidates belonging to the scheduled castes and physically handicapped persons are not required to pay any fee.

How to Apply:

Applications should be made in the prescribed format (the form is available from all leading post offices) and sent to: Under Secretary (CSP), Union Public Service Commission, Dholpur House, New Delhi-110 011. A registration number is given as a token of receipt of the application. If a candidate does not receive an acknowledgement within 45 days, he is advised to contact the UPSC. Admission certificates and Roll Nos. are sent and if they are not received one month before the exam, the candidate should contact the UPSC. Communications to the UPSC should contain name of examination, registration no., name and postal address as given in the application.

You can also apply online through visiting : http://upsconline.nic.in/

The Preliminary Exam consists of two papers of objective type having maximum marks of 400, as follows:

  • Paper I General Studies: 200 marks
  • Paper II CSAT 200 marks

Total : 400 marks

General Studies Paper I

Maximum marks : 200

Number of Questions : 100

Time : 02 hours


1. Current events of national and international importance
2. History of India and Indian national movement
3. Indian and World Geography
4. Indian Polity and governance
5. Economic and social development
6. General issues on environmental ecology, bio-diversity and climate change
7. General Science

General Studies Paper II

Maximum marks : 200

Number of Questions : 80

Time : 02 hours


1. Comprehension
2. Interpersonal skills which include communication skills
3. Logical reasoning & analytical ability
4. Decision making & problem solving
5. General mental ability
6. Basic numeracy(Class X level), Data Interpretation(Class X level)
7. English language comprehension skills (Class X level)

The question papers are in Hindi and English and each paper is of two hours duration. The course content of the syllabi is of degree level. Each paper is of two hours duration. Blind candidates are allowed an extra time of 20 minutes for each paper.

Plan of the Main Examination: The Main Exam consists of a written exam and an interview test. Marks obtained in the Main Exam will determine whether a candidate is called for the interview. The interview carries 275 marks and the number of candidates called is about twice the number of vacancies. Interview calls are sent on the basis of minimum marks fixed by the UPSC at its discretion. Marks obtained in the Main Exam plus interview determines the final ranking. Candidates are allotted various services keeping in view their ranks in the examination and preferences expressed by them. The written examination consists of the following papers:
Paper I to VII all 250 marks each.

Paper I Essay 250 marks
Paper II General Studies–I (Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society) 250 marks
Paper III General Studies–II (Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations) 250 marks
Paper IV General Studies–III (Technology, Economic Development, Bio-diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management) 250 marks
Paper  V General Studies–IV (Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude) 250 marks 
Paper VI-VII Optional Subject – Paper I and II 250 marks each paper
Interview   275 marks

Optional subjects: Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science, Botany, Chemistry, Civil Engineering, Commerce and Accountancy, Economics, Electrical Engineering, Geography, Geology, History, Law, Management, Mathematics, Mechanical Engineering, Medical Science, Philosophy, Physics, Political Science and International Relations, Psychology, Public Administration, Sociology, Statistics, Zoology. Each paper is of 3 hours duration.

The following combinations not allowed are:

  • Political Science & International Relations and Public Administration
  • Commerce and Management
  • Anthropology and Sociology
  • Maths and Statistics
  • Agriculture and Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science
  • Management and Public Administration
  • Animal Husbandry & Veterinary Science and Medical Science Any two branches of engineering.

Literature of any of the following languages: Assamese, Bengali, English, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Marathi, Malayalam, Manipuri, Nepali, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Sindhi, Tamil, Telegu, Urdu. Interview: The object of the interview is to assess the suitability of the candidate for a career in public service. It is an assessment of not only the intellectual qualities but also social traits and interest in current affairs. Some of the qualities judged are: mental alertness, critical powers of assimilation, logical exposition, balance of judgement, variety and depth of interest, social cohesion, leadership and above all, intellectual and moral integrity. To succeed in the interview, candidates should take an intelligent interest not only in areas of their subjects, but also in what is happening around them, both within and outside their country. They should be aware of modern currents of thought and in new discoveries which should arouse the curiosity of well educated youth. That is why it is most important to read magazines and newspapers, watch television programmes on current affairs and also discuss the issues with friends or parents on a regular basis.

There are cases where students clear the preliminary and the mains but fail at the last stage. The secret is to start for preparations for the interview along with the written test. Develop the habit of debating and discussing issues with friends or parents. Listen to the current affairs programmes and learn to organise thoughts the way the participants do. Develop interests and hobbies so that you are able to answer convincingly. Understand the current affairs and the issues behind the events. Remember that the interview is not a cross examination but a natural but purposeful conversation. It is an opportunity to reveal the mental qualities of a candidate.

The interview is not a test of specialised knowledge, as that has already been tested in written examination. The idea is to see the social traits of a person and his personality as suited to a career in the Civil Services. If a person gives the impression of being a bookworm, the chances of his selection are reduced. The candidate must exhibit an intelligent interest in events happening around him so that he appears to be a complete personality.
Finally, there is a very frequently asked question about whether a candidate should join a coaching centre and if so, which one. Coaching centres are helpful in the sense that they develop a discipline of attending regular classes. An instructor may be available who can give an opinion about the answers written by a candidate. At the same time, the candidate will meet like-minded people with whom he can develop the habit of debating and discussion. However, the coaching centre must be chosen with care: the instructor must be erudite enough to be able to guide students. If he is not well read, the chances of guiding others would be diminished.

It must also be remembered that preparation for the optional subjects must be done on one's own, as it is unlikely that any coaching centre would be able to do justice to all the subjects.

State Civil Services

Yet another opening to the administrative services in Government is in the form of State Civil Services (SCS) also known as Provincial Civil Services (PCS).

Every State Public Service Commission carries out a competitive examination usually every year for recruitment to the State Civil Services. The categories of services to which candidates are selected through the SCS examination are as under:

(a) State Civil Services, Class-I (SCS)
(b) State Police Service, Class-I (SPS).
(c) Block Development Officer.
(d) Tehsildar/Talukadar/Asstt. Collector.
(e) Excise and Taxation Officer.
(f) Distt. Employment Officer.
(g) Distt. Treasury Officer.
(h) Distt Welfare Officer.
(i) Asstt Registrar Cooperative Societies.
(j) Distt. Food and Supplies Controller/Officer.
(k) Any other Class-I/Class-II service notified as per rules by the concerned State.

All the above services offer excellent avenues in the middle level administration. After putting in a certain number of years in the State service, the officers of SCS and SPS may expect to be nominated to the IAS and IPS respectively, with some antedate seniority. In the SCS, the officers get posted as Sub-Divisional Magistrates/Deputy Collectors, Land Acquisition Collectors, Additional District Magistrates, Municipal Administrators, Under/Deputy Joint Secretaries, Deputy/Joint /Additional Directors or Assistant Commissioners in the State administration. Similarly, SPS officers are appointed as Deputy/Additional Superintendents of Police. One major advantage these services has is that one may expect to remain within that particular States and gain valuable experience before getting nominated to the IAS/IPS. This enables these officers to excel in their higher postings. A candidate joining SCS/SPS at a favourable age may expect to reach the level of the Secretary or DIG Police. However, the promotional avenues vary from State to State. Moreover, these services have built-inhigher scales like senior and selection scale before getting into the IAS/IPS.

Most of the other posts enumerated above are class-II services and have their promotional avenues through the SCS class-I and the officers may subsequently get nominated to the IAS before retirement.

Most of the openings in the State Civil Services are executive in nature and the officers in these services are directly responsible for implementing all schemes, plans and programmes of the Government. The mental satisfaction of being at the centre-stage of implementing the Government policies is the hallmark of this career.

The Examination

The examination for State civil services is conducted by the State Public Service Commission concerned. The number of vacancies is dependent on the requisition by the Government which varies every year. The number of vacancies is also dependent on several other factors like promotions, retirements and expansion of cadre in a particular year in the concerned State.

(a) Eligibility: All graduates are eligible to take this examination. Minimum age required is 21 years but the upper age limit may range between 28 to 35 years, varying from State to State. The State Governments usually allow relaxation in upper age limit to the scheduled castes/scheduled Tribes, Ex-Servicemen, physically handicapped and the employees of the State Government. Some vacancies are reserved for various other categories which differ from State to State.

The examination is conducted as an all-India competition but during the interview it is desirable for the candidates to know the language, culture, customs etc of the concerned State. The number of vacancies being limited, the examination offers a tough competition to the aspirants and only the candidates with thorough preparations may expect to be successful.

(b) Scheme of Examination: The pattern of this examination is similar to the civil services examination conducted by the UPSC. Most of the bigger States follow the practice of holding a preliminary examination to short-list the candidates. Preliminary examination is almost on the lines of preliminary examination for the civil services examination conducted by the UPSC, with the exception that a few questions may be asked about the custom, traditions, planning and problems of the State concerned. The smaller States with relatively lesser number of vacancies and lesser candidates may skip the preliminary examination. The Centres for examination are determined by the concerned public service commission considering the geographical area of the State and the number of candidates taking the examination.

Preliminary examination is followed by the main examination (Smaller States usually go in for main examination straightaway). Most of the States have adopted the syllabi and pattern of the Civil Services examination. The only difference usually is that the language papers i.e. English and regional language papers are full-fledged papers and marks obtained in these subjects are also included for preparing the final merit list. Moreover, in the General Studies paper some questions on socio-economic conditions, planning, customs, culture etc of the particular State may also appear.

The details regarding optional subject for preliminary and main examination are given in the instructions for the examination given alongwith the application form. The readers may refer to the Career's feature in November  1992 issue of 'The Competition Master' in which details of compulsory subjects for Civil Services examination are given. The candidates may also refer to the question-papers of the previous few years which will normally clarify the trend of the questions.

(c) Personal Interview: Main examination is followed by personal interview. In proportion to the number of vacancies, the candidates are called to appear before an interview board. The competition being very keen, the interview conducted by the State public service commissions assumes significance. The purpose of the interview is to judge the suitability of the candidates for the State civil services. On the basis of the marks obtained in the main examination as well as the interview, a final merit list is prepared and the candidates are declared successful on the basis of their rank and choice of service after providing for reservations.
Additional Information

Further information about the subjects, syllabus, centres of examination etc are given in the advertisement and in the "instructions" for the candidates. In some States the examination is not conducted every year. In such States the candidates may have to remain prepared for longer durations and to grab the opportunity when it comes their way


i m an engg. student specialised in information tech. is current facing difficulties in choosing optional papers please suggest any good and scoring combination of subject.

Dear Sir,
I am Nadeer from Kerala. You are requested advise me some useful books for the preparation of Psychology, which is one of my optionals.
Thanks and regards,

main exam optionals shcdule or structure for understanding the serial of optional papers and the gap between papers

sir i am a biotechnology engineering student. Any of the subjects present is not highly relevant to my subject.Can you advice me which optional to take.

sir when ias pre exam 2009 results will b declared?

im a business administration student so which optional subject should i take along with management since i cant take commerce and management together..

Thanks for the useful information, please let me know whether HINDI medium can achieve a top slot or not is it tougher than English medium ?