UPSC Exam: The Toughest and Mother of all Exams, not a Hard Nut to Crack!

UPSC Civil Services Exam most commonly known as IAS Exam is conducted every year by the commission to recruit candidates for various posts like IAS, IFS, IPS, IRS, among others. Undoubtedly, UPSC Exam is one of the toughest competitive exams in the country and many candidates find it difficult to crack this exam. But, nothing is impossible if you approach this exam in a right and methodical way. In this article, we discuss some UPSC statistics such as the UPSC pass percentage, candidates appearing for the exam etc. 

Why is the UPSC Exam known as the toughest exam?

Every year the civil services exam is held by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) in three stages and they are Prelims, Mains, and Personality Test/Interview.

It is a widely spread notion that Civil Services IAS Exam is the “Mother of All Exams” and one of the toughest exams, as lakhs of candidates take this exam and only thousand-odd make it to the final list. But, if we take a look at the candidates who made the final list, most of them have a mediocre and average background. So, it is just a myth or a notion spread that it is the toughest exam rather all it requires is one’s diligent, punctual, passion for the exam, and extraordinary preparation.

What makes the UPSC Exam one of the toughest exams?

Every year around more than 4 lakh candidates apply for prelims exam, only ten thousand odd make it to the next stage i.e., to the mains exam, and lastly only a thousand plus reach the final stage that is the interview round, whereas the vacancies to fill the posts would be merely thousand odd.

Approximately, only 50 per cent of the candidates appear for the prelims exam from the total number of candidates who apply, while only 5% of candidates make it to the mains exam. About 20% of those who appeared in the mains move to the final stage (Personality Test/Interview Round), while only 40% qualify out of that 20 % and make it to the service.

Below given is an interesting statistics about the success rate in UPSC Civil Services Exam.

 Year Prelims Applied Prelims Appeared Prelims Cleared Mains Appeared Shortlisted for Interview Selected
2019 8 Lakh 11845 2034 829
2018 1755945 801476 10246 1992 1056
2017 10 lakhs 5 lakhs 13,366 2568 990
2016 11,35,943 4,59,659 15,452 15,445 2,961 1099

2015

9,45,908 4,65,882 15,008 15,008  2797 1078
2014 947428 446623 16706 16286 3,308 1,112
2013 776604 324279 14800 14178 3001 1122
2012 550080 271442 12795 12190 2,674 998
2011 499120 243236 11837 11237 2415 910
2010 547698 269036 12271 11865 2589 920
2009 409110 193091 11894 11516 2431 899
2008 325433 167035 11669 11330 2136 791

(*Some numbers are approximate).

The statistics of the success rate given above are just the numbers, which shows that the success rate is less than 1% and these numbers are the one major reason that gives the candidates the feel that they cannot make it to the final list. But, if it is interpreted in the right way ignoring the factual numbers and considering the actual details then candidates will come to know the different face of these statistics.

Let’s take the data given in the above table, if we observe, every year roughly around 50% of the candidates appear in the exam compared to the number of candidates applying for the exam. For example in 2015, around 9, 45,908 people applied for the prelims exam but only 4, 65,882 appeared for the exam. Let us forget about the numbers and look at the other facts behind these data, among 4, 65,882 candidates who appeared for the prelims exam how many were serious about the exam and took the exam with utmost interest and enthusiasm. Among these, there are candidates who take the exam without much seriousness, some with an indolent approach, some attend because of their parents’ insistence, while others may appear without proper guidance and preparation hoping luck to favour them.

Now, with this approach of interpretation, if we see, among lakhs of candidates appearing for the exam only a few thousand are serious about this exam and we can roughly keep the number of serious candidates as 45,000. Considering this number and the final selection list of 2015 i.e., 1078, now the probability of the success rate is 2% (which is less than 1% according to the factual statistics data).

While the number of candidates qualified to the mains exam is approximately 14 times the number of vacancies, which shows approximately 15,008 cleared the prelims exam. Therefore, out of 62,000 candidates 15,008 clear the prelims i.e., 1 in 4 serious candidates clear the prelims exam. For this reason, the success rate of clearing the IAS Prelims Exam is 25% for a serious candidate hence the competition is not with the 4, 65,882 candidates who appear but with those 62,000 serious candidates, which makes the job easy and all a candidate has to do is to aim to be one among that 15,008 candidates to qualify for the mains exam.

Now out of 15,008 candidates who qualify to the mains exam, 2797 candidates are selected for the final round that is the Personality Test/Interview. Here again, the success rate in the mains exam becomes roughly 15% that will make the candidate move to the final round.

In the Personality Test, one among the two candidates is selected and hence, here 50% becomes the success rate.

This interpretation reveals the other face of the success rate in the UPSC Exam if called it as the true face won’t be wrong, as it shows the real intensity of the competition that exists among the serious candidates as given in the above example and those are the 62,000 serious candidates.

If a candidate wants to be one among them then all he/she needs is a good understanding of the examination, effective study plan for preparation, right guidance, well-organized and meticulous approach, utmost enthusiasm and passion, perseverance and never-give-up attitude that will push gradually one from the preliminary step to the final stage.

The statistics of the success rate given above are just the numbers, which shows that the success rate is less than 1% and these numbers are the one major reason that gives the candidates the feel that they cannot make it to the final list. But, if it is interpreted in the right way ignoring the factual numbers and considering the actual details then candidates will come to know the different face of these statistics.

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