The Civil Services Examination (CSE) is a nationwide competitive exam in India conducted by the UPSC for recruitment to various Civil Services, including IAS, IFS, IPS, IRS among others. The examination is one of the toughest examinations in India with success rate of 0.1%-0.3% with more than 900,000 applicants. It is conducted in two phases – the Preliminary examination, consisting of two objective-type papers (General Studies and Aptitude Test), and the Main examination, consisting of nine papers of conventional (essay) type followed by the Personality Test (Interview). The entire process from the notification of the Preliminary examination to declaration of the final results takes roughly one year. Aspirants must complete a three-stage process, with a final success rate of about 0.1% of the total applicants.
- Stage I: Preliminary examination – This is qualifying test held in August every year. Notification for this is published in May. Results are published in mid-October.
- Stage II: Main examination – This is the main test, held in December every year. Results are usually published in the second week of March.
- Stage III: Personality Test (Interview) – It is the final test and is held in April/May every year. Final results are usually announced in the month of May every year.
Scheme of Preliminary Examination
The UPSC prelims exam is meant to serve as a screening test only; the marks obtained in the Preliminary Examination by the candidates who are declared qualified for admission to the Main Examination will not be counted for determining their final order of merit. The number of candidates to be admitted to the Main Examination will be about twelve to thirteen times the total approximate number of vacancies to be filled in the year in the various Services and Posts.
The Preliminary Examination consists of two papers with objective questions or generally called as multiple choice questions.
|Paper – I||Paper – II (CSAT)|
|General Studies – Will be counted for qualifying to the Mains exam||Aptitude test – Of qualifying nature, must score at least 33%. Marks not counted for going to mains.|
|200 Marks||200 Marks|
|2 Hours||2 Hours|
Both the papers carry 200 marks each (total 400 marks), this exam is designed to serve as a screening test only. In the CSAT or Paper-II of Preliminary Exam, that is the General Studies-II, the candidate will have to score a minimum 33% of marks for qualifying in Mains (written).
The syllabus for Preliminary Exams Paper-I includes mainly the current affairs for which the candidates have to update themselves with the national and international happenings all over.
A candidate qualified for mains in a particular year will be eligible to appear for main exams of that particular year only.
The Preliminary Examination of Union Public Service Commission for Civil Services Examination is also popularly called CSAT or Civil Services Aptitude Test. The CSAT paper is actually the second paper of General Studies that was introduced in 2011. The CSAT was implemented to end the use of scaling system for varying subjects in the General Studies paper and was a matter of concern for many Civil Services councillors. With the introduction of the CSAT, the UPSC now intends to choose Civil Servants who not only have the knowledge but also the aptitude for reasoning and analytical brain. However there was much opposition to this move made by the UPSC and the government had to intervene. This year in 2015, the UPSC has made the CSAT of only qualifying nature and one needs to only get 33%. Only marks of Paper 1 will now be considered for ranking in the prelims, based on which candidates will appear for the Mains exam. A very important point to be noted is that there is Negative Marking in the prelims and 1/3rd of marks allotted for every question is reduced from your score if you get it wrong. So do not guess!
There are some changes made in the Civil Services Examination from 2013. It’s for the first time the Indian Forest Service (IFS) aspirants were combined with the Civil Services aspirants and are made to take Preliminary examination. Those Indian Forest Service aspirants who may eventually clear the Preliminary examination have to write separate exams for their Mains Indian Forest Service examination. This was done keeping in mind that the UPSC holds both the exams and most science students give both the exams. This will facilitate aspirants and save time.
Scheme of Mains Examination
The main Examination is intended to assess the overall intellectual traits and depth of understanding of candidates rather than merely the range of their information and memory. The nature and standard of questions in the General Studies papers (Paper II to Paper V) will be such that a well-educated person will be able to answer them without any specialized study. The questions will be such as to test a candidate’s general awareness of a variety of subjects, which will have relevance for a career in Civil Services. The questions are likely to test the candidate’s basic understanding of all relevant issues, and ability to analyze, and take a view on conflicting socio-economic goals, objectives and demands. The candidates must give relevant, meaningful and succinct answers. Syllabi of the papers of general studies included in the scheme of Civil Services (Main) Examination are given as follows:-
Qualifying Papers (Time Duration-3Hours)
|300 Marks||300 Marks|
|One language paper from list of eight schedule such as Hindi language.||English Language|
Paper to be counted for Merit (Time Duration-3Hours)
|1.||PAPER-I – Essay: Candidates will be required to write an essay on a specific topic.||250||The choice of topics for essay writing will be given.
They will be expected to keep closely to the subject of the essay to arrange their ideas in orderly manner, and to write concisely.
Credit will be given for effective and exact expression.
General Studies 2nd Paper
|250||I. Indian Heritage and Culture
II. World History
III. World & Indian Geography
IV. Social Issues
General Studies 1st Paper
III. Political System
IV. Social Justice
V. International Relation
General Studies 3rd Paper
|250||I. Technology II. Economic Development
|5.||PAPER-V General Studies 4th Paper||250||I. Ethics
III. Administrative Aptitude
|Written Examination Total Marks= 1750|
|Personality Test = 275|
|Total Marks : 2025|
Now there are 7 + 2 = 9 papers to be answered in the main examination. All of them are of descriptive type. There are two qualifying papers 1) any modern Indian language 2) English are of 300 marks each. Their marks will not be counted in the main examination.
The candidate is allowed to use any one language from the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution or English as the medium of writing the examination.
According to the new pattern there are “FOUR” General Studies paper each comprising of 250 Marks with a total of 1000 Marks. The scope of the syllabus of General Studies is of degree level.
There is only “ONE” optional subject to choose from the list of subjects. It comprises of two papers each of 300 marks. So the total of optional paper is 600 marks. Candidate is allowed to take up literature as an optional subject “without the conditionality of having to do his/her graduation in that language’s literature. The scope of the syllabus of optional paper is higher than the bachelor’s degree but lower than the master’s level.
Interview/Personality Test is of 275 Marks. The total mark of the written examination is 1750 Marks. The Interview/Personality Test will be of 275 marks. The Grand Total 2025 Marks
Scheme of INTERVIEW/PERSONALITY TEST
Civil Services interview carries 275 marks and it is the deciding factor at many times of your being within the services or out of it and in the least matters in which service you get. However since the interview is so personal and variable it is most desirable to do very well in the written mains. But an Interview can make or break one should prepare it seriously. Candidate can give preference of the language in which they may like to be interviewed. UPSC will make arrangement for the translators.