UPSC and its essentials:
The Civil Services Examination is a nationwide competitive examination in India conducted by the Union Public Service Commission for recruitment to various Civil Services of the Government of India, including the Indian Administrative Service, Indian Foreign Service, and Indian Police Service. It is conducted in three phases – a preliminary examination consisting of two objective-type papers (General Studies Paper I and General Studies Paper II also popularly known as Civil Service Aptitude Test or CSAT), and a main examination consisting of nine papers of conventional (essay) type, in which two papers are qualifying and only marks of seven are counted followed by a interview.
It is considered to be the most difficult competitive examination in India. A single attempt takes two years of preparation – one year before the prelims and one year from prelims to interview. In total, one sits in actual exam for 32 hours from prelims till interview. Results for the Prelims are published in mid-August, while the final result is published in May of the next year.
- Stage I: Preliminary Examination – Held in June every year. Results are announced in August.
- Stage II: Mains
- Examination – Held in October every year. Results are announced in January.
- Personality Test (interview) – Held in March. Final results are usually announced in May.
Stage III: UPSC Interview/Personality Test
Candidates who clear the Mains stage of the IAS exam with the required cut-off marks qualify for the final stage of the IAS exam i.e., the Personality Test or Interview round with the UPSC Board Members. In this round, the board assesses the personality traits of the candidates and questions will be asked on their hobbies, current affairs, general knowledge, situation questions, etc. to evaluate if they are fit for a career in the civil services or not. The UPSC personality test will be held only in the UPSC Bhavan in New Delhi.
Eligibility for the examination is as follows:
All candidates must have as a minimum one of the following educational qualification
- A degree received through correspondence or distance education
- A degree from an open university
- A qualification recognized by the Government of India as being equivalent to one of the above.
Age Limit and Attempts
For the general category aspirants, the candidate must be a citizen of India, must have a graduate degree, must be between the ages of 21 and 32, and must not have attempted the IAS exam 6 times.
The application procedure for UPSC exams is online and UPSC Admit cards are also issued online, which IAS exam aspirants should download from the UPSC official website.
IAS Exam Preparation strategy:
- More current affairs-based questions are being asked in both, Prelims and Mains stage of the IAS exam. Select only credible sources like PIB, The Hindu, Yojana, etc. For the IAS exam, current affairs usually comprise events of national and international importance in the last 10-12 months.
- Go through the previous years’ IAS exam questions to check the amount of preparation needed from your end.
- Read the NCERT books and make notes. You will have to make at least two sets of notes i.e. short notes for Prelims and descriptive notes for UPSC Mains.
- Identify the syllabus overlap between Prelims and Mains and focus on those areas first.
- Select an optional subject for the IAS exam based on your aptitude, interest, and experience. Few optional subjects have a significant overlap with the General Studies syllabus in Mains, however, their syllabi are vast.
- Go through the standard books for each subject. Find the IAS exam book list, Current Affairs notes, NCERT notes, and other information in the links below.
- Do not take lightly the CSAT paper in Prelims and Ethics paper in Mains. Similarly, the two qualifying language papers in Mains are also important as failing to score at least 25% in them will automatically eliminate you from the IAS exam process notwithstanding your stellar performance in all the other papers.
- Take out time for MCQ solving practice for Prelims and answer writing practice for Mains.
- Revise multiple times, update your notes, and revise some more.