Age Limit and Number of Attempts in the UPSC Exam

At present, the UPSC civil services give to a general category candidate six attempts and maximum age of 32 years to take a shot at the civil services exam. A few years ago, it used to be 26 years and the maximum number of attempts four. Rumours surface sometimes of the UPSC reducing the upper age limit and also the number of attempts permissible. These stories scare students and aspirants. So, should the UPSC reduce the number of attempts and the age limit for the UPSC IAS exam? Read on for arguments from both sides of the tale.

First of all, check out the following table for the number of attempts and the upper age limit for each category.

UPSC Age Limit

The table below gives details about the age limit and the number attempts available for different categories of UPSC candidates

Category Age Limit Number of Attempts
General 32 6
OBC 35 9
SC/ST 37 Unlimited till the upper age limit is reached
Physically Handicapped 42 9 for Gen and OBC. Unlimited till age limit for SC/ST
Disabled servicemen disabled from duty 37 (Gen), 38 (OBC), 40 (SC/ST) Unlimited till the upper age limit is reached

Those in favour of lowering the age say that many youngsters waste a lot of time (in years) trying to clear the UPSC civil services exam. If they don’t, they end up having to start their careers at a rather late stage in life. This could prove difficult for some, if not everyone. Also, aspirants and their families spent a huge amount of money year after year in case the candidate takes time to clear. This creates a huge financial drain for them. This can be avoided if the age limit is reduced. Some people have argued that having younger people enter the services is good as they are still impressionable and can be moulded into good and ethical administrators.

On the other side, there are people who are dead against the reducing of age limit and the number of attempts. This is particularly for the rural candidates who don’t have access to coaching centres and recommended study material like their urban or semi-urban counterparts. People with internet access do seem to have some edge over those who don’t. Another argument is that people with higher age would have more experience in life and possibly in career also. This experience could help them in their jobs as future administrators of the country. Moreover, it is the ability and intentions of a person that matter and not his or her age. Nobody should be barred from serving the country if they want to just because of the age factor.

Even if the commission decides to make any changes, it should implement these changes over the course of a few years say, 5 or 6 years so that contemporary aspirants are not affected.

Frequently asked Questions about UPSC Attempts


How many UPSC attempts are allowed?

The number of attempts for IAS exam: General Category: 6 attempts till 32 years of age. The number of attempts for IAS exam: OBC: 9 attempts till 35 years of age. The number of attempts for IAS exam: SC/ST: unlimited attempts till 37 years of age.

Does applying for UPSC count as an attempt?

No, an attempt is counted only if a candidate has appeared in at least one paper in the Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination.

Can UPSC be cleared in 1 attempt?

Clearing the IAS Prelims in the first attempt is considered close to impossible by majority of the candidates. But according to a reliable report, 42 percent of the Top 200 candidates of the IAS exam in 2014 have cleared the exam in their first attempt.

For more related links about the UPSC preparation links refer to the links given in the table below:

Related Links

How Many Attempts does it Take to Clear the IAS Exam? Average Age of Candidates Clearing the UPSC Exam
IAS Toppers who cleared in First Attempt How to crack the IAS exam in the very first attempt?
UPSC Calendar 2023 Books For UPSC
UPSC Mains Syllabus UPSC Previous Year Papers
IAS Salary IAS Toppers



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  1. respected sir/madam
    I belong to OBC category. but my OBC certificate has expired. now i will be applying for UPSC CSE in general category. can i change my category for the next attempt.
    also can I change my optional subjects after an attempt.
    please do reply as soon as possible.
    thanking you
    Chandana S

    • Hi,
      Yes, if a candidate sits for multiple attempts, he/she can change his/her optional subject, category or any other information that has been updated. Please note, it only applies in different attempts, not in different stages of the examination. Once an application is filled and submitted and prelims is taken; no changes can be made in that year of the exam.