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Civil Services Examination

The Civil Services Examination (CSE) is a countrywide competitive exam in India conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) to recruit candidates for different civil services post of the Government of India that includes the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Foreign Service (IFS), Indian Police Service (IPS), Indian Revenue Service (IRS), among others.
The examination is conducted in three stages and they are:
  1. i. Preliminary examination that consists of two objective-type papers (General Studies Paper-I and CSAT Paper-II)
  2. ii. Mains examination consisting of nine papers of conventional (essay) type
  3. iii. Finally, the personality test or interview round
Civil Services Exam acts as a selection process of candidates for the Civil Services posts including the Indian Forest Services post. The entire process of examination from the notification of the preliminary examination to the declaration of the final results takes roughly a year. The candidates who get selected are recruited and trained for various services by the Central Government and then allotted to different State Cadres.

List of Indian Civil Services Post

Below is the complete list of the civil services post for which candidates are recruited through the civil services examination that is conducted every calendar year by the UPSC:
The civil services post is categorized into two categories group ‘A’ and ‘B’ and in the group A the first three services are considered as All India Services.
All India Services
(i)Indian Administrative Services (IAS)
(ii)Indian Forest Services (IFoS)
(iii)Indian Police Services (IPS)
Group ‘A’ Services
(i)Indian Foreign Service (IFS)
(ii)Indian P & T Accounts & Finance Service
(iii)Indian Audit and Accounts Service
(iv)Indian Revenue Service (Customs and Central Excise)
(v)Indian Defence Accounts Service
(vi)Indian Revenue Service (I.T.)
(vii)Indian Ordnance Factories Service (Assistant Works Manager, Administration)
(viii)Indian Postal Service
(ix)Indian Civil Accounts Service
(x)Indian Railway Traffic Service
(xi)Indian Railway Accounts Service
(xii)Indian Railway Personnel Service
(xiii)Post of Assistant Security Commissioner in Railway Protection Force
(xiv)Indian Defence Estates Service
(xv)Indian Information Service (Junior Grade)
(xvi)Indian Trade Service
(xvii)Indian Corporate Law Service
(xviii)Indian Revenue Service (CBEC)
Group ‘B’ Services
(i)Armed Forces Headquarters Civil Service (Section Officer’s Grade)
(ii)Delhi, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli Civil Service
(iii)Delhi, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli Police Service
(iv)Pondicherry Civil Service
(v)Pondicherry Police Service



Click here to know more about IAS Exam.



Civil Services Exam Schedule

The Union Services Public Commission (UPSC) announces the tentative calendar for civil services exam that consists of the notification released date, prelims and mains exam dates. Below given is a general timeframe during which the UPSC schedules important events of the exam like notification and exam dates.
Civil Services Exam Schedule





Recruitment Process

The Civil Services Examination is considered to be one of the toughest competitive examinations in the country. Every year, approximately around 900,000 - 1,000,000 candidates apply, while the number of candidates who appear in the preliminary examination is roughly 450,000.
The examination is conducted in the following three stages:
Recruitment Process
After the declaration of the final results of civil services exam in May of the following year, the training program for the selected candidates generally begins in September.






Eligibility for the civil services examination is as follows:

A candidate must be a citizen of India for the Indian Administrative Service, the Indian Foreign Service and the Indian Police Service.
A candidate must be one of the following to get into the Indian Revenue Service:
  1. • A citizen of India
  2. • A person of Indian origin who has migrated from Pakistan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Zaire, Ethiopia or Vietnam with an intention of permanently settling in India
A candidate must be one of the following to get into other services:
  1. • A citizen of India
  2. • A citizen of Nepal or a subject of Bhutan
  3. • A person of Indian origin who has migrated from Pakistan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Zaire, Ethiopia or Vietnam with an intention of permanently settling in India


Candidates should have at least one of the following educational qualifications:
  1. • A degree from a Central, State or Deemed university
  2. • A degree attained through correspondence or distance education
  3. • A degree from an open university
  4. • A qualification recognized by the Government of India as being equivalent to one of the above
Candidates who meet the below criteria are also eligible to take the exams, however one should submit the proof of eligibility from a proficient authority of their university/institution during the UPSC Mains Examination, failing which the candidate may not be allowed to take the exam.
  1. • Candidates who have appeared in an examination and waiting for the results and after success in the exam, if they meet one of the above educational criteria
  2. • Candidates who have passed the final exam of the MBBS degree but have not yet completed an internship
  3. • Candidates who have passed the final exam of Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI), ICSI and ICWAI
  4. • A degree from a private university
  5. • A degree from any foreign university recognized by the Association of Indian Universities


A candidate should have attained the age of 21 years and must not have attained the age of 32 years on August 1 of the year of the examination. However, the age limit criteria vary for candidates who belong to different categories of caste. The suggested age limit varies with respect to caste reservation like for candidates who belong to Other Backward Castes (OBC) the upper age limit is 35 years, while the upper age limit for general category candidates is 32 years whereas for candidates belonging to SC/ST category the age limit is 37 years.
Furthermore, the upper age limit is relaxed for certain candidates who are physically challenged (handicapped), candidates from J&K Domicile and others.

Numbers of attempts

The number of times a candidate may attempt the exam is limited and again it is based on the category and is as follows:
  1. • General Category candidates = 6
  2. • OBC category candidates = 7
  3. • SC/ST candidates = unlimited attempts till 37 years of age
If a candidate appears for one of the papers in the preliminary examination then it is considered as an attempt, which also includes ineligibility or withdrawal of the application. But, if a candidate applies to take the exam but fails to attend the exam then it is not considered as an attempt.


To know more about eligibility for IAS, click here.



Civil Services Posts/Vacancies and Selection

Normally, the number of vacancies differs every year. The number of candidates who clear the preliminary examination and qualify for the mains exam is generally 11 or 12 times the number of vacancies while the number of candidates selected for the final interview is twice the number of vacancies or posts to be filled.
According to the prevalent norms, reservation in vacancies for SC, ST and OBC category is applicable at every level of the selection process.





Civil Services Exam Pattern

Preliminary Exam

The civil services preliminary examination pattern was based on the recommendations of the Kothari Commission (1979) till 2010, and the exam had two papers General Studies as paper 1 for 150 marks and paper 2 any one of the optional subjects among 23 subjects for 300 marks.
Once in every 10 to 15 years, the prelims exam pattern saw only minor changes, until in 2011 when it was overhauled by replacing the paper 2 (which any one of optional subjects) with CSAT paper 2, which officially known as General Studies paper 2. The CSAT paper (GS Paper 2) aims to assess the analytical abilities and understanding of a candidate rather than their ability to memorize. At present, the new prelims paper includes two papers for two hours duration with 200 marks for each paper. Both the papers are multiple choice questions type.
The two papers of prelims are defined as below:
Recruitment Process



In August 2014, the centre stated that English marks in CSAT Paper II will not be considered for gradation or merit and candidates who appeared for 2011 exam may get a second chance to appear in the exam of next year.
In May 2015, the Government of India declared that CSAT Paper II of the civil services prelims exam will of qualifying in nature however, candidates should score at least 33% in order to move to next stage of the examination i.e., mains.
Note: In both General Studies Paper I and CSAT Paper II for each wrong answer there will be a negative marking of 1/3rd of allotted marks of that question.


The Civil Services Mains Examination is a written examination and consists of nine papers in which two are qualifying in nature and seven are ranking in nature.
The questions in the mains exam may vary from just one mark to sixty marks and may require answering in the range of 20 words to 600 words.
According to the suggestion of the Prof Arun S Nigavekar Committee, the new marks allocation for civil service examination was introduced in 2013. Anyhow, after few controversies, the qualifying papers for Indian Languages and English were retained in the civil services examination.
Civil Services Mains Exam Pattern
Paper AOne of the Indian languages (listed in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution of India) mentioned below to be selected by the candidate (Qualifying)300
Paper B English (Qualifying)300
Paper IEssay250
Paper II General Studies I (Indian heritage and culture, history and geography of the world and society)250
Paper IIIGeneral Studies II (Governance, constitution, polity, social justice and international relations)250
Paper IV General Studies III (Technology, economic development, bio-diversity, environment, security and disaster management)250
Paper V General Studies IV(ethics, integrity and aptitude)250
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)250
Sub Total (Written Test)1750
Personality Test (Interview)275
Total Marks2025

List of Languages

The examination can be taken in the following languages and the script is mentioned in the brackets:
Assamese (Assamese)Kashmiri (Persian)Punjabi (Gurumukhi)
Bengali (Bengali)Konkani (Devanagari)Sanskrit (Devanagari)
Bodo (Devanagari)Maithili (Devanagari)Santhali (Devanagri or Ol Chiki)
Dogri (Devanagari)Malayalam (Malayalam)Sindhi (Devanagari or Arabic)
English (English)Manipuri (Bengali)Tamil (Tamil)
Gujarati (Gujarati)Marathi (Devanagari)Telugu (Telugu)
Hindi (Devanagari)Nepali (Devanagari)Urdu (Persian)
Kannada (Kannada)Oriya (Oriya)

Optional subjects

There are 26 optional subjects available for Papers VI and VII among which candidates can choose any subjects.
It is also to be noted that Public administration is one of the most sought after optional subjects in UPSC Mains examination as it has correlating topics with other subjects like Current Affairs, History, and Polity.
The standards of optional papers are of Post Graduate level. While optional Paper I is of theoretical, Paper II is mostly subjugated with Current Affairs based questions.
AgricultureLiterature of any one of the non-English languages listed above
Animal Husbandry and Veterinary ScienceManagement
BotanyMechanical Engineering
ChemistryMedical Science
Civil EngineeringPhilosophy
Commerce and AccountancyPhysics
EconomicsPolitical Science and International Relations
Electrical EngineeringPsychology
Geography Public Administration
Candidates who pass in the qualifying papers are ranked according to the marks scored in other papers and are selected and called for interview or a personality test at the discretion of the commission.
Click here to know the UPSC Civil Services Exam Syllabus.


The interview round is officially called as the "Personality Test", the main aim of the interview is to evaluate the personality i.e., the personal aptness of the candidate for a career in public service by a board of proficient and rational observers. The test is intended to evaluate the intellectual competence of a candidate. Broadly, the test is not only to assess candidates’ intellectual qualities but also their social traits and awareness in current affairs. Some of the qualities assessed are rational awareness, assimilation to critical influences, clear and coherent interpretation, balanced decision, diverse and profound alertness, capability for social interrelation and leadership, as well as intellectual and ethical righteousness.
The method of the interview is not of interrogation but of a regular yet engaged and purposive discussion that is aimed to expose the rational traits of the candidates.
After the declaration of the final results of civil services exam in May of the following year, the training program for the selected candidates generally begins in September.
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