Can a Science Student Appear for Indian Administrative Service?

The IAS exam, more correctly called the civil services exam conducted by the UPSC every year is considered one of the toughest exams in the country. This exam is held in order to recruit officers into the Indian Civil Services. Any Indian citizen who is a graduate and above the age of 21 can take the exam provided he/she fulfils all the other eligibility conditions for the UPSC exam. Students from different streams take this exam including science, arts, commerce, engineering, medical, etc. There is no restriction on the subjects studied by the candidates for graduation.

The subjects that are a part of the syllabus are mostly polity, history, geography, economics, current affairs including the latest science and technology, agriculture, any topic of national importance, etc.

Go through the UPSC syllabus for a better understanding:

UPSC Syllabus for IAS Prelims and Mains

A lot of science students, i.e., candidates with a background in science or engineering take up the challenge of crack the UPSC exam. In fact, a look at the toppers’ profiles will reveal that many engineers figure among the top rankers every year. This trend has been increasing over the past few years. Although some people might think that candidates would do better with an arts or humanities background because of the nature of the subjects in the IAS exam, some are of the view that a science or engineering student can also fare well in this exam.

Engineers or science students have an advantage in the CSAT paper, which is the second paper in the IAS prelims exam. This paper tests, among other things, numerical ability, logical reasoning and data interpretation – domains which are traditionally considered relatively easy for science graduates.

So, can a science student do IAS? The answer is a resounding YES! Technically, they are as qualified as arts or commerce graduates. The unfamiliarity with the subjects can be easily tided over. One year of sincere and the correct preparation can make any student as competitive as the next. Apart from the static portions in the UPSC syllabus, there is a dynamic portion which is the tricky part. This portion is inextricably linked to current affairs. The UPSC exam tests how well a candidate is abreast with the current affairs that make headlines in the country and even internationally. It is important for aspirants to read the daily newspaper diligently and in the required manner in order to ace the current affairs segment.

Apart from the newspapers, candidates should focus on the syllabus itself. Although this is vast and pretty diverse, being thorough with the UPSC syllabus is what toppers swear by in the pursuit of the IAS tag. The UPSC generally sticks to the syllabus and the current affairs questions are also invariably linked to the syllabus. For instance, if there is a political crisis in any state which is making news nationally, then candidates are advised to go to the basics of the constitution and polity for a further study of the concerned matter. The UPSC might ask a basic question based on the incident or event which had transpired.

An important decision which candidates have to make is the choice of an optional subject in the IAS exam. Now, science students have an obvious choice of taking up their graduation subject as optional. Engineering students can also choose their engineering subject (only civil, mechanical and electrical are offered) as the optional subject. However, several points should be pondered over before the selection is made. Factors like the candidate’s present knowledge-level, interest in the subject, overlap with the general studies papers, and even the study material available play an important role in the decision. Read more on how to choose the best optional subject for the UPSC exam.

So to sum up, science students can and should take up the UPSC challenge if they feel they can contribute to the growth of the country and are willing to study hard with dedication for the exam. The country needs a mix of bureaucrats who are from different academic backgrounds so that there can be a holistic effort towards nation-building.


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