UPSC Exam Procedure and Eligibility

The UPSC civil services exam is attempted by lakhs of aspiring civil servants in the country every year. It is considered one of the toughest exams in India because of many factors, the high number of candidates notwithstanding. Despite the low odds of a candidate making the cut in the end, every year, aspirants try their hand at the civil services because of the allure of the profession which gives people the chance to work within the government machinery for good. In this article, you can read about the UPSC exam procedure and eligibility and understand how to appear in UPSC exam.

UPSC Exam Pattern

The UPSC civil services is conducted in three stages. The three stages are:

Stage #1: UPSC Preliminary Exam (UPSC Prelims)

Stage #2: UPSC Mains Exam

Stage #3: UPSC Personality Test (Interview)

You can read about the IAS exam pattern in detail from the links given at the end of the article.

 UPSC Exam Procedure

Generally, the UPSC releases its notification for the IAS exam in February/March. The Prelims exam is held in June/August. Candidates should apply online only (no other mode is accepted) on the UPSC official website before the closing date mentioned in the notification. About three weeks before the exam commences, UPSC will send the admit cards which can be downloaded by the candidates from the official website.

Once the prelims is over, results will be announced by the Commission where they mention the roll numbers of the candidates who would have cleared it. After this, the mains exam will be held generally in the month of October/December.  For this exam also, candidates who have cleared the prelims will have to apply online for the mains. During this time, candidates should send the duly filled DAF (Detailed Application Form) and send it to the UPSC.

The DAF is an important document since it has a bearing on the third stage, i.e. the UPSC interview. The UPSC panel can ask questions based on what you have filled out such as hobbies, extra-curricular activities, native town, work experience, etc. So fill out this form with adequate care.

If you clear this round, you will get the interview summons from the UPSC. The UPSC would announce the results of the UPSC mains written exam generally a month or two before the personality test is scheduled to begin. And, the e-summons would be downloadable from the website about three weeks before the personality test begins (usually held in March/April/May).

The Interview is the final round in this mammoth process and if you successfully clear it, you will be able to make an entry into the civil services. Along with the interview which is held in Delhi, candidates will have to undergo a medical test as well.

The final results are out generally in June or July. Depending on the rank of the candidate, he/she would be allotted to a service and cadre. 


UPSC Exam Eligibility

The UPSC prescribes certain eligibility conditions for a candidate to be able to appear for the IAS prelims exam. These conditions are given below:


For IAS and IPS:

Candidate should be a citizen of India.

For all other services:

Candidate should be either:

  1. A citizen of India, or
  2. A subject of Bhutan or Nepal, or
  3. A Tibetan refugee who came to India before 1st January 1962 with the intention of permanently settling in India, or
  4. a person of Indian origin (PIO) who has migrated from Pakistan, Burma, Sri Lanka, East African countries of Kenya, Uganda, the United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Ethiopia, Zaire and Vietnam with the intention of permanently settling in India.

Note: Candidates belonging to ‘b’, ‘c’ and ‘d’ are not eligible for the Indian Foreign Service. And for all other services, they should produce a ‘Certificate of Eligibility’ from the Indian Government.


Candidates should have attained 21 years of age to appear for the UPSC CSE. The following table gives the upper age limit criterion for the UPSC exam:


Upper age limit







Defence Service Personnel disabled during service


J&K domicile between 1st January 1980 and 31st December 1989


Ex-servicemen including Commissioned Officers and ECOs/SSCOs who have rendered at least 5 years military service as on 1st August 2017 and have been released


Visually challenged/hearing impaired/physically challenged candidates




The candidate must have at least a bachelor’s degree from a recognised university. Engineers, medical doctors and even candidates with professional/technical qualifications which are recognized by the Government as equivalent to professional/technical degrees are eligible to apply. Candidates who are awaiting their final year results or are yet to take such final exam can also apply and take the prelims, but they should produce proof of passing while applying for the UPSC mains exam.


The UPSC also has certain restrictions on the number of attempts a candidate can take. The table below details the restrictions on the number of attempts:


No. of attempts






Till the candidate reaches the upper age limit

PH (General)





Till the candidate reaches the upper age limit

Click on the links below to get a better idea of the IAS exam: