5 Things Every Beginner IAS Aspirant should know about Civil Services Exam

Every year, lakhs of candidates take a shot at the IAS exam to make it out as an IAS officer or an IPS officer, etc. The civil services is a much-coveted profession in India because of the prestige and power associated with it. If you are a beginner IAS aspirant and are going to take the IAS prelims for the very first time a year from now, there are a few important things to remember before you start your UPSC preparation. In this article, you can read about the five major things every beginner should be aware of before starting the IAS preparation.

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The Five tips beginners should keep in mind for the IAS Exam

#1: Know the exam well

Before you start your preparation, you must understand what is the UPSC civil services exam all about? What are the services you will be eligible for if you clear it? What will be your future profession like? What are the posts and services you can aspire to? For instance, if you get the IAS, the highest position you can reach is the post of the country’s Cabinet Secretary. If you get into the foreign service, you can be ambassadors to other countries. You should also research what are the other similar exams you can take if you prepare for the IAS exam. For example, you could also take the Indian Forest Service exam, if you qualify.

#2: Get the exam schedule

The second step is to work out which exam you want to take, i.e., which year precisely. The UPSC CSE is conducted every year. Download the IAS exam time table from the links given below and start making a study time table for yourself.

#3: Are you qualified enough?

You must also check if you qualify with respect to the criteria given by the commission. You must be at least a graduate and have completed 21 years of age, and not reached 32 years of age. You can also take the exam if you are in your final year of graduation provided you clear the exam before the mains exam. There are also several other qualification standards like nationality, number of attempts, etc. You may check the detailed criteria by clicking on the relevant link from the below table. Also, if you belong to the reserved category, there are certain relaxations of age and number of attempts to which you are eligible.

#4: UPSC exam pattern & syllabus

The most important thing to know before you start preparing is the pattern and syllabus of the UPSC exam. The civil services exam is held in three stages. You have to clear every stage in order to qualify for the next stage. The 3 stages and the papers included in them are briefly described below:

Stage 1: UPSC Prelims Exam

SL. NO. NAME OF THE PAPER NATURE OF THE PAPER DURATION OF THE EXAM QUESTIONS MARKS
1 Paper – I : General Studies  MERIT RANKING 2 Hours 100 200 Marks
2 Paper – II : General Studies (CSAT) QUALIFYING NATURE 2 Hours 80 200 Marks
TOTAL 180  400

Both the papers have negative marking for incorrect answers. In the CSAT, you have to score 33% to qualify whereas in the GS1 paper, you have to score at least the minimum qualifying marks that are prescribed by the UPSC (generally called the cut-off mark).

Stage 2: UPSC Mains Exam

Sl. No. Paper Name of the Paper Nature of the Paper Duration of the Exam Marks
1 Paper – A Compulsory Indian Language QUALIFYING NATURE 3 Hours 300 Marks
2 Paper – B English 3 Hours 300 Marks
3 Paper – I ESSAY MERIT RANKING NATURE 3 Hours 250 Marks
4 Paper – II GENERAL STUDIES I 3 Hours 250 Marks
5 Paper – III GENERAL STUDIES II 3 Hours 250 Marks
6 Paper – IV GENERAL STUDIES III 3 Hours 250 Marks
7 Paper – V GENERAL STUDIES IV 3 Hours 250 Marks
8 Paper – VI OPTIONAL PAPER I 3 Hours 250 Marks
9 Paper – VII OPTIONAL PAPER II 3 Hours 250 Marks
TOTAL 1750 Marks
INTERVIEW OR PERSONALITY TEST 275 Marks
GRAND TOTAL 2025 Marks

The UPSC mains exam has two components, the mains written exam and the personality test (interview). Generally, the interview stage is taken as the third stage of the UPSC exam.

Stage 3: UPSC Personality Test

Here, the chosen candidates will face the UPSC board in an interview round. The candidates will be tested on their overall personality, communication skills, clarity of thoughts, stress-handling ability, etc.

You may check the UPSC syllabus in detail from the syllabus segment on our website. The syllabus for the prelims and mains exams is given in detail.

#5: What it takes

The last thing to know before you embark on the IAS journey is that it takes a lot of directed effort, hard work, sacrifices and truckloads of practice to make the cut in this exam. The competition is intense and the syllabus is unforgiving. You will have to work with a single-minded devotion to your IAS dream and work with a well-thought-out plan to crack this tough nut!

For more UPSC related preparation materials and articles, visit the links given in the table below:

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