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Introduction of Civil Services Examination

UPSC conducts recruitment for the Top level Central government services via the Civil Service Examination. Every year the UPSC CSE prelims is held in August. The exam is the most competitive exam of India. Nearly 11 lakh candidates register for it but less than half actually appear. Around 1 lakh serious candidates are there and out of these 15000 - 16000 are selected for the mains examination. Vacancies are around 1300. To be assured of being selected a candidate has to score around 120+ in prelims Paper I and qualify paper II.Preparation for the examination must cover current affairs of past three years and host of other topics. A candidate must have the habit of reading relevant articles of newspapers like Times of India, Indian express.The toughest part is MCQ's of geography, environment and culture. Regarding environment, current affairs of international treaties as well as very tough questions can be asked. Culture is tough to predict and so thorough coverage not possible but certain basic topics can be covered which overlap with History.

Services covered in UPSC CSE

The Group A and Group B services part of this examination are:

UPSC CSE Group A Services

  1. Indian Administrative Service
  2. Indian Audit and Accounts Service
  3. Indian Civil Accounts Service
  4. Indian Corporate Law Service
  5. Indian Defence Accounts Service
  6. Indian Defence Estates Service
  7. Indian Foreign Service
  8. Indian Information Service
  9. Indian Ordnance Factories Service
  10. Indian Police Service
  11. Indian Post & Telecommunication Accounts and Finance Service
  12. Indian Postal Service
  13. Indian Railway Accounts Service
  14. Indian Railway Personnel Service
  15. Indian Railway Traffic Service
  16. Indian Revenue Service (Income Tax)
  17. Indian Revenue Service (CBEC)
  18. Indian Trade Service
  19. Railway Protection Force

UPSC CSE Group B Services

  1. Armed Forces Headquarters Civil Service
  2. Delhi, Andaman and Nicobar Islands Civil Service
  3. Delhi, Andaman and Nicobar Islands Police Service
  4. Pondicherry Civil Service
  5. Pondicherry Police Service
Note: The coveted amongst these services are the Indian Administrative Service (I.A.S) , Indian Police Service (I.P.S) and the Indian Foreign Service (I.F.S).

UPSC CSE Examination Format

The examination has three parts:
  1. UPSC CSE Prelims (Civil Service Aptitude Test): It has two 200 marks objective type tests. 1/3 rd negative marks for wrong answers. Paper - I is General Studies and Paper - II is General Ability test. Since CSAT-2015 the Paper - II has become qualifying only with 33% marks required to clear it. Paper - I shall decide the eligibility for the next round. Marks aren't counted in the final merit list. Paper - I has 100 MCQ's and Paper - II has 80.
  2. UPSC CSE Mains Exam: It is a subjective exam with 9 tests of which 7 have 250 marks and 2 have 300 marks. 300 marks paper are of English and one Indian language [candidates choice]. These are qualifying papers. The marks are not counted in the final merit list. The 7 papers are compulsory and their marks are counted in the merit list.
  3. UPSC CSE Interview(Personality Test): 275 marks for the interview. Candidates selected after mains qualify for the interview.
Note: The final merit list is decided from the marks obtained in the Mains examination and Interview. Although 10 lakh candidates apply for the test. 50% of them appear. Prelims are held in August and results are declared in Mid-October, The mains exam is held in December and results are declared in March. The interviews are held in April and total result is obtained in May / June.

UPSC CSE Prelim Exam

Preliminary Examinations consist of two papers and both of them are compulsory and each comprises of 200 marks.General Studies Paper-I and General Studies Paper-II.Both the question papers will be of multiple choice questions (objective type).This paper will be in two sets English and Hindi.Duration of each paper will be of two hours. In exceptional cases of the blind, disability, and cerebral palsy, you will get 20 minutes extra per hour in each paper.In Preliminary Examinations of General Studies Paper-II, you have to qualify the exam with minimum qualifying marks fixed at 33%.

UPSC CSE Prelim Exam Paper I - (200 marks)

  • Current affairs and current events of international and national importance.
  • General science
  • General issues on Climate Change, Environmental Ecology and Biodiversity (It don't require subject specialization )
  • Indian National Movement and History of India.
  • World and Indian Geography- It contains Rights Issues, Physical Geography of India and the world, Economic Geography of India and the world, Social Geography of India and the world.
  • Indian Polity and Governance - Constitution, Public Policy, Political System, Panchayati Raj, etc.
  • Social Development and Economic - It contains Social Sector initiatives, Sustainable Development, Inclusion, Demographics, and Poverty etc.
  • UPSC CSE Prelim Exam II - (200 marks).Duration two hours.
  • Problem-solving and Decision-making
  • General mental ability
  • Comprehension
  • Data interpretation (charts, graphs, tables, data sufficiency etc. Class X level), Basic numeracy (numbers and their relations, orders of magnitude, etc.) (Class X level)
  • Analytical ability and Logical reasoning.
  • Interpersonal skills including communication skills

UPSC CSE Main Exam

UPSC Main Exam has 9 exampinations and 1 Interview (Personality Test). Out of 9 exams 7 are considered for Main result and 2 are qualifying.Two papers which only qualifying papers and not counted for your final ranking.Paper-A Any one Indian Language from the Languages included in the Eighth Schedule to the Indian Constitution(Total Marks 300)Note: If you belong to Sikkim, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Manipur, and Arunachal Pradesh, this paper is not mandatory.Paper-B English language. Total Marks 300.UPSC 7 exams which are accounted for final result.
  1. Paper-I Essay ( It Can be written in the medium or language of the candidate's choice) 250
  2. Paper-II General Studies-I (Culture and Indian Heritage|History and Geography of the World and Society) 250
  3. Paper- III General Studies -II (Constitution| Governance| Social Justice| Polity| and International relations) 250
  4. Paper-IV General Studies - III (Economic Development| Technology| Environment| Biodiversity| Disaster Management and Security) 250
  5. Paper-V General Studies - IV (Aptitude| Integrity| and Ethics) 250
  6. Paper-VI Optional Subject - Paper 1 250
  7. Paper-VII Optional Subject - Paper 2 250
Above 7 papers total marks: 1750 MarksInterview (Personality Test): 275 MarksGrand Total: 2025 Marks

UPSC CSE Interview Process

Although weight-age of interview has been reduced. The practice of giving low scores on general studies and optional subjects make the interview far more important. The interview is to test the personality of the candidate and isn't a detailed cross examination but a conversational style is followed to understand the mental ability of the candidate. Current affairs and opinions of the candidate on events occurring at State, National or International level are asked.

Eligibility of UPSC CSE

UPSC CSE Nationality criteria

For the Indian Administrative Service, the Indian Foreign Service and the Indian Police Service, a candidate must be a citizen of India.
  1. For the Indian Revenue Service, a candidate must be one of the following:
  2. A citizen of India
  3. A person of Indian origin who has migrated from Pakistan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Zaire, Ethiopia or Vietnam with the intention of permanently settling in India
For other services, a candidate must be one of the following:
  1. A citizen of India
  2. A citizen of Nepal or a subject of Bhutan
  3. A person of Indian origin who has migrated from Pakistan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Zaire, Ethiopia or Vietnam with the intention of permanently settling in India

UPSC CSE Educational criteria

  1. A degree from a Central, State or Deemed university
  2. A degree received through correspondence or distance education
  3. A degree from an open university
  4. A qualification recognized by the Government of India as being equivalent to one of the above
The following candidates are also eligible, but must submit proof of their eligibility from a competent authority at their institute/university at the time of the main examination, failing which they will not be allowed to attend the exam.
  1. Candidates who have appeared in an examination, the passing of which would render them educationally qualified enough to satisfy one of the above points
  2. Candidates who have passed the final exam of the MBBS degree but have not yet completed an internship
  3. Candidates who have passed the final exam of Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI), ICSI and ICWAI
  4. A degree from a private university
  5. A degree from any foreign university recognized by the Association of Indian Universities

UPSC CSE Age Criteria

AgeA: General category = 32 years on August 1 of the year of examination.B: (OBC) = 35 yearsC: (SC) and scheduled tribes (ST) = 37 years.

UPSC CSE Numbers of attempts

  • General = 6
  • OBC = 9
  • SC/ST = unlimited attempts till 37 years of age
Note: Appearing to attempt one of the papers in the preliminary examination is counted as an attempt, including disqualification/ cancellation of candidature. However, applying to sit the exam but failing to attend is not counted as an attempt.

Last year UPSC CSE exam pattern

SubjectsQuestions in Prelims - 2016
History and culture18
Economy and Banking28
Current affairs16
Environment and agriculture19
Cat pattern