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Civil Services Examination

The Civil Services Exam (CSE) is a nationwide competitive examination conducted in India by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) for recruitment of candidates to various Central and All India Services such as the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Foreign Service (IFS), Indian Police Service (IPS), Indian Revenue Service (IRS) etc.

Highlights about the Examination:

Name of the Examination

Civil Services Exam (CSE)

Exam Level

All India / National Level

Conducting Body

Union Public Service Commission

Exam mode

Offline / Pen and paper mode

Number of vacancies

Varies each year (782 for the year 2018)


Indian between 21 – 32 years of age

For details on eligibility and age relaxation click here

Number of attempts

6 attempts

For details on relaxation click here

The Civil Service Exam popularly known as the IAS exam is conducted in three stages namely:

  1. Civil Services Prelims – Objective Type
  2. Civil Services Mains – Descriptive Type
  3. Personality Test / Interview

The entire process of the civil services examination from the notification of the preliminary examination to the declaration of the final results takes place roughly within a year. The candidates who get selected are recruited and trained for various services by the Central Government and then allotted different State Cadres as per their preference and ranking.

Complete list of posts for which candidates are recruited:

The civil services posts are categorized into two categories: Group ‘A’ and Group ‘B’.

Group ‘A’ services includes three All India Services (the IAS, IPS and the IFS) and 18 other services as indicated in the table below.

All India Services:

Group ‘A’ services includes three All India Services



Indian Administrative Services (IAS)


Indian Forest Services (IFoS)


Indian Police Services (IPS)



Indian Foreign Service (IFS)


Indian P & T Accounts & Finance Service


Indian Audit and Accounts Service


Indian Revenue Service (Customs and Central Excise)


Indian Defence Accounts Service


Indian Revenue Service (I.T.)


Indian Ordnance Factories Service (Assistant Works Manager, Administration)


Indian Postal Service


Indian Civil Accounts Service


Indian Railway Traffic Service


Indian Railway Accounts Service


Indian Railway Personnel Service


Post of Assistant Security Commissioner in Railway Protection Force


Indian Defence Estates Service


Indian Information Service (Junior Grade)


Indian Trade Service


Indian Corporate Law Service


Indian Revenue Service (CBEC)

Group ‘B’ has five services under it.



Armed Forces Headquarters Civil Service (Section Officer’s Grade)


Delhi, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli Civil Service


Delhi, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli Police Service


Pondicherry Civil Service


Pondicherry Police Service

Civil Services Exam Schedule:

Given below is a general time frame within which the UPSC schedules important events of the exam such as the notifications and exam dates.

Civil Services Exam Pattern 2019:

Prelims Exam:

Prelims is the first stage of the Civil Services Examination process. It is a screening test to select the students for further selection process. Prelims exam comprises of two objective type papers of 200 marks each. Only those who manage to score more than the cut off declared by the UPSC for that particular year will be summoned for the next level of examination. However, the marks scored in Prelims will not be counted for arriving at the final merit list.

Read more about the pattern and syllabus of Civil Services Prelims 2019 here.

Mains Exam:

Mains Exam is the second level in the Civil Services Selection Process. Mains exam comprises of 9 descriptive type papers: 1 Essay paper, 4 General Studies Papers, 2 Optional Papers (of your choice to be selected from the UPSC optional subject list 2019), 2 language papers (marks scored in language papers will not be included to arrive at the final ranking order – however, candidates need to score at least 25% in each paper in order to qualify).





Paper A

One of the Indian languages (listed in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution of India) mentioned below to be selected by the candidate (Qualifying)


Paper B

English (Qualifying)


Paper I



Paper II

General Studies I (Indian heritage and culture, history and geography of the world and society)


Paper III

General Studies II (Governance, constitution, polity, social justice and international relations)


Paper IV

General Studies III (Technology, economic development, bio-diversity, environment, security and disaster management)


Paper V

General Studies IV(ethics, integrity and aptitude)


Papers VI, VII

Two papers on subjects to be selected by the candidate from the list of optional subjects below (250 marks for each paper)


Sub Total (Written Test)


Personality Test (Interview)


Total Marks


Read in detail about the Civil Services Mains exam Syllabus 2019 here.


Personality test, commonly known as the interview is the final round in the Civil Services Exam selection process. It is the gateway to your dream service. Only those candidates who manage to clear the mains exam cutoff are allowed to attend the interview. Purpose of the interview is to assess the suitability of the candidate to the Civil Services. At this stage, the candidates are tested for their mental alertness, balance of judgement, intellectual and moral integrity etc out of 275 marks. Marks scored by the candidate in the interview will be added to the marks scored by him/her in the mains exam for arriving at the final merit list.

Eligibility Criteria:

Candidates who wish to appear for the Civil Services Exam must fulfil the conditions of nationality, age and educational qualification. The candidate must not be less than 21 years of age and more than 32 years of age. The candidate must also have completed graduation in any discipline from a recognised university. However, there are age relaxations depending upon the category the candidate belongs to.

Read in detail about the number of attempts, age relaxation and other eligibility criteria for IAS Exam here.

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