What is IAS Exam?

Indian Administrative Service (IAS) was formerly known as Imperial Civil Service (ICS) is the Civil Services Examination and one of the toughest competitive exams in India. It is conducted by the Union Public Service Commission for the recruitment of officers for the All India Administrative Civil Service.

About IAS:

Founded:

  • 1858 (as Imperial Civil Service)
  • January 26, 1950 (as Indian Administrative Service)

The Indian Administrative Service is the premier administrative civil service of the Government of India. HIerarchy-wise, IAS is the highest administrative post among the 24 services like IPS, IFS etc.

IAS is the permanent bureaucracy in India and forms a part of the executive branch. It is one of the three All India Services, its cadre can be employed by both the Union Government, the State Governments and public-sector undertakings.

Being an IAS Officer

An IAS officer is given administrative command of an entire district as a District Collector.  IAS officers also represent Government of India at international level in bilateral and multilateral negotiations.

What is Indian Administrative Service (IAS)?

IAS is the short form of Indian Administrative Service. It is one of the prestigious services among the 24 services like IPS, IFS etc for the which the UPSC conduct Civil Services Examination (CSE) for selecting the candidates. An officer selected into the Indian Administrative Service gets exposure in very diverse roles like the collector, commissioner, head of public sector units, chief secretary, cabinet secretary etc. Not only the experience and challenges but also the scope of making positive changes in the life of millions in India makes IAS a unique career choice.

How to become an IAS officer?

Even though the exam to be undertaken is popularly known as IAS exam, it is officially called UPSC Civil Services Exam. The UPSC CSE consists of 3 stages – Prelims, Mains, and Interview. Getting into Indian Administrative Service is not easy considering the competition involved, but not impossible for a candidate with right attitude and approach. Interesting read: Salary of an Indian Administrative Service officer.

Civil Services Examination (CSE)

UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) is the government agency responsible for selecting the right candidates for this service. Every year only around 1000 candidates are selected for all the 24 services combined. The number of candidates who applied for UPSC Civil Service Exam was about 9 lakh in 2016, out of which around 4.5 lakh candidates appeared on the exam day.

This exam is widely considered as the toughest exam in the world, considering the exam duration (extends 1 year), depth of the syllabus and the competition involved. The first stage of the exam – Preliminary (objective) – is usually conducted around June, while the second stage, Mains (written), is conducted around October. Those who clear Mains will have to face interview/personality test during the March-May period. The final result usually comes in June.

How to Clear Civil Services Exam?

To clear IAS Exam, aspirants are advised to have a long-term strategy. Though most of the serious candidates start preparation 9-12 months before the exam date, there are candidates who successfully achieve top ranks with only a few months of dedicated study. So what matters is not the duration of the preparation, but the quality of the same.

A disciplined and focused mind with a passion for learning and reading is the basic trait of all successful candidates. The UPSC Civil Services exam is more a test of the analytic and presentation skills along with knowledge gained by the candidate rather than a test which checks candidate’s mathematical or verbal skills. To clear IAS, we feel two entities as essential:

  1. Right guidance – for prelims and mains.
  2. Right study materials and books.

The educational qualification needed to appear in UPSC CSE is a degree (graduation) in any subject. Final year students can also apply. Aspirants may go through the article to the eligibility criteria for writing UPSC CSE exam.

IAS Exam Number of attempts permitted

The number of attempts permissible for a general category candidate in UPSC CSE is 6. For OBC candidates the number of attempts permitted it 9. SC/ST category candidates will have unlimited attempts till they attain the upper age limit to appear for UPSC CSE.

IAS Exam Age Limits

The minimum age to appear for UPSC Civil Services Exam is 21 years. Upper age limit for General category is 32 years, for OBC it is 35 years while for SC/ST it is 37 years.

IAS syllabus

A good understanding of UPSC syllabus and exam pattern is the first step for all freshers. The Civil Services Preliminary exam comprises of two compulsory papers of 200 marks each (General Studies Paper I and General Studies Paper II). The questions will be of multiple choice, objective type. The marks in prelims will not be counted for final ranking, but just for qualification for the main exam.

A candidate’s rank in UPSC Civil Service Exam depends only on the mark scored in Main and Interview. The written examination (main) will consist of the following nine papers, but only 7 papers will be counted for final merit ranking. For the rest two papers, the candidate should secure minimum marks prescribed by UPSC each year. The main exam has 1750 marks while interview has 275 marks.

UPSC Mains Syllabus

Qualifying Papers (Non-Ranking)
Paper AOne of the Indian Language to be selected by the candidate from the languages included in the Eight Schedule to the Constitution.300 Marks
Paper BEnglish31300 Marks
Papers to be Counted for Merit (Ranking)
Paper I
Paper IIGeneral Studies I (Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the Worl27d and Society)250 Marks
Paper IIIGeneral Studies II (Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations)250 Marks
Paper IVGeneral Studies III (Technology, Economic Development, Bio-diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management)250 Marks
Paper VGeneral Studies IV ( Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude)250 Marks
Paper VIOptional Subject- Paper 1250 Marks
Paper VIIOptional Subject- Paper 2250 Marks
For the optional papers in the Main Examination, UPSC has a list of about twenty-six subjects out of which any one subject has to be selected by the candidate.
Subtotal (Written Test)1750 Marks
Personality Test (Interview)275 Marks
Grand Total2025 Marks

QUALIFYING PAPERS ON INDIAN LANGUAGES AND ENGLISH

The aim of the paper is to test the candidate’s ability to read and understand serious discursive prose, and to express his ideas clearly and correctly, in English and Indian Language concerned.

The pattern of questions would be broadly as follows:-

  • Comprehension of given passages
  • Precis Writing
  • Usage and Vocabulary
  • Short Essay.

Indian Languages:-

  • Comprehension of given passages.
  • Precis Writing
  • Usage and Vocabulary.
  • Short Essay
  • Translation from English to the Indian language and vice-versa.

PAPER-I

ESSAY

Candidates will be required to write an essay on a specific topic. The choice of subjects will be given.

They will be expected to keep closely to the subject of the essay to arrange their ideas in orderly fashion and to write concisely. Credit will be given for effective and exact expression.

PAPER-II

General Studies- I: Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society.

Indian Heritage and Culture

  • Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

History

  • Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues
  • The Freedom Struggle – its various stages and important contributors /contributions from different parts of the country.
  • Post-independence consolidation and reorganization within the country.4
  • History of the world will include events from 18th century such as industrial revolution, world wars, redrawal of national boundaries, colonization, decolonization, political philosophies like communism, capitalism, socialism etc.- their forms and effect on the society.

Society

  • Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India.
  • Role of women and women’s organization, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.
  • Effects of globalization on Indian society
  • Social empowerment, communalism, regionalism & secularism.

Geography of the World

  • Salient features of world’s physical geography.
  • Distribution of key natural resources across the world (including South Asia and the Indian subcontinent); factors responsible for the location of primary, secondary, and tertiary sector industries in various parts of the world (including India)
  • Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc., geographical features and their location- changes in critical geographical features (including waterbodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes.

PAPER-III

General Studies- II: Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations.

Governance, Constitution, Polity

  • Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.
  • Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein.
  • Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.
  • Comparison of the Indian constitutional scheme with that of other countries
  • Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.
  • Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary Ministries and Departments of the Government; pressure groups and formal/informal associations and their role in the Polity.
  • Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act.
  • Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies.
  • Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies
  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  • Development processes and the development industry- the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders

Social Justice

  • Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.
  • Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
  • Issues relating to poverty and hunger.
  • Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.
  • Role of civil services in a democracy.

International relations

  • India and its neighborhood- relations.
  • Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
  • Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.
  • Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate.

PAPER-IV

General Studies-III: Technology, Economic Development, Bio diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management.

Economic Development

  • Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.
  • Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.
  • Government Budgeting.
  • Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth.
  • Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.
  • Investment models.

Agriculture

  • Major crops cropping patterns in various parts of the country, different types of irrigation and irrigation systems storage, transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints; e-technology in the aid of farmers
  • Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices; Public Distribution System- objectives, functioning, limitations, revamping; issues of buffer stocks and food security; Technology missions; economics of animal-rearing.
  • Food processing and related industries in India- scope and significance, location, upstream and downstream requirements, supply chain management.
  • Land reforms in India.

Technology

  • Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life
  • Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.
  • Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

Environment

  • Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

Disaster Management

  • Disaster and disaster management.

Security

  • Linkages between development and spread of extremism.
  • Role of external state and non-state actors in creating challenges to internal security.
  • Challenges to internal security through communication networks, role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges, basics of cyber security; money-laundering and its prevention
  • Security challenges and their management in border areas; linkages of organized crime with terrorism
  • Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate 

PAPER-V

General Studies- IV: Ethics, Integrity, and Aptitude

This paper will include questions to test the candidates’ attitude and approach to issues relating to integrity, probity in public life and his problem solving approach to various issues and conflicts faced by him in dealing with society. Questions may utilise the case study approach to determine these aspects. The following broad areas will be covered.

  • Ethics and Human Interface: Essence, determinants and consequences of Ethics in human actions; dimensions of ethics; ethics in private and public relationships. Human Values – lessons from the lives and teachings of great leaders, reformers and administrators; role of family, society and educational institutions in inculcating values.
  • Attitude: content, structure, function; its influence and relation with thought and behaviour; moral and political attitudes; social influence and persuasion.
  • Aptitude and foundational values for Civil Service , integrity, impartiality and non-partisanship, objectivity, dedication to public service, empathy, tolerance and compassion towards the weaker sections.
  • Emotional intelligence-concepts, and their utilities and application in administration and governance.
  • Contributions of moral thinkers and philosophers from India and world.
  • Public/Civil service values and Ethics in Public administration: Status and problems; ethical concerns and dilemmas in government and private institutions; laws, rules, regulations and conscience as sources of ethical guidance; accountability and ethical governance; strengthening of ethical and moral values in governance; ethical issues in international relations and funding; corporate governance.
  • Probity in Governance: Concept of public service; Philosophical basis of governance and probity; Information sharing and transparency in government, Right to Information, Codes of Ethics, Codes of Conduct, Citizen’s Charters, Work culture, Quality of service delivery, Utilization of public funds, challenges of corruption.

Case Studies on above issues.

PAPER VI & VII

Optional Subject Papers – I & II

PERSONALITY TEST (INTERVIEW)

The interview will carry 275 marks (with no minimum qualifying marks). Marks thus obtained by the candidates in the Main Examination (written part as well as interview) would determine their final ranking. (Ranking is based on score out of 2025 Marks). Candidates will be allotted to the various services keeping in view their ranks in the Examination and the preferences expressed by them for the various services and posts.

The number of candidates to be summoned for interview will be about twice the number of vacancies to be filled.

The candidate will be interviewed by a Board who will have before them a record of his career. He will be asked questions on matters of general interest.

The object of the interview is to assess the personal suitability of the candidate for a career in public service by a Board of competent and unbiased observers. The test is intended to judge the mental caliber of a candidate. In broad terms this is really an assessment of not only his intellectual qualities but also social traits and his interest in current affairs.

Some of the qualities to be judged are mental alertness, critical powers of assimilation, clear and logical exposition, balance of judgment, variety and depth of interest, ability for social cohesion and leadership, intellectual and moral integrity.

The technique of the interview is not that of a strict cross-examination but of a natural, though directed and purposive conversation which is intended to reveal the mental qualities of the candidate.

The interview test is not intended to be a test either of the specialized or general knowledge of the candidates which has been already tested through their written papers. Candidates are expected to have taken an intelligent interest not only in their special subjects of academic study but also in the events which are happening around them both within and outside their own State or Country as well as in modern currents of thought and in new discoveries which should rouse the curiosity of well-educated youth.