The Indian Civil Service as withstood the changing times and is still the most prestigious career option in India. It is not the most sought after, but that could be explained by the fact that it also has one the most difficult examinations to be passed as a section procedure. Yes, the Civil Services Examination has a success rate of about 0.3%. If this hasn’t discouraged you from trying your hand in the Indian Civil Service, read on.
The Indian Civil Service consists of Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Police Service (IPS), Indian Foreign Service (IFS) and the Indian Revenue Service (IRS). The examination is conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). The examination is conducted in three stages. Preliminary examinations, Main examinations and Personality tests/interviews.
You are eligible to appear for the examinations if you are between 21 and 30 years old and have a degree from a recognized university. The age restriction has many additional factors involved in it including caste and domicile, so better check up the official website for more details. If you are a general category applicant, you can make four attempts, an OBC category candidate can make seven attempts, and there are no such restrictions for SC/ST candidates.
The Preliminary examination or the Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT) is a four hour test including two papers of 200 marks each. The papers are meant to test the candidates’ analytical abilities and have objective type questions based on general knowledge, current events, Indian history, geography, politics and governance, economics, social sciences and general sciences for the first paper. The second paper deals with communication, logical reasoning, interpersonal skills, problem solving and decision making skills, language skills and numerical skills. The CSAT is held in May/June and results are published in the first week of August.
The Main exams take place in October/November and contain nine descriptive type papers. They are designed to measure the academic abilities of a candidate along with his/her ability to put the information across in a clear and coherent manner. Assessing the candidates’ intellectual skills rather than merely testing their memory is the chief aim behind the examination. Paper I is a 300 marks paper on any one of the twenty two constitutionally recognized languages chosen by the candidate. This is a qualifying paper. Paper II is another qualifying paper for 300 marks based on the English language. Paper III is a 200 marks essay in the medium chosen by the candidate. Paper IV and V are General studies paper carrying 300 marks each. Paper VI, VII, VIII and IX are based on two subjects that will have two papers each thus adding up to four papers. The subjects can be chosen from a list of prescribed optional subjects and each paper carries 300 marks. This makes a total of 2000 marks for all the written papers.
The personal interview conducted as a part of the Main examination looks for qualities that include “clarity of expression, grasp of narrative and argument, reasoning ability, appreciation of different points of view, awareness and concern for socio-economic problems, ranges and depth of interests and personal attributes relevant to interaction with people.” (Kothari Commission, UPSC). The interview aims to assess whether the candidate will be a competent administrator or not. Intelligence, leadership qualities, personality development, judgemental abilities and character assessment are factors that influence the outcome of the personal interview. Positive attitude and the ability to retain one’s calm when under stress are also important. There are no shortcuts to learning these things and continuous and dedicated preparation is the only thing that will help the candidates. Be very sure that you are ready to answer questions regarding your own area of specialization. Because if you are an engineer and cannot answer a question related to the engineering it reflects very poorly on your abilities.
Well it is clearly not that easy to crack one of such papers. But, to serve your country in a diligent manner isn’t that easy either!