ABOUT UPSC

The first Public Service Commission was set up on October 1st, 1926. However, its limited advisory functions failed to satisfy the people’s aspirations and the continued stress on this aspect by the leaders of our freedom movement resulted in the setting up of the Federal Public Service Commission under the Government of India Act 1935. Under this Act, for the first time, provision was also made for the formation of Public Service Commissions at the provincial level.

The Constituent Assembly, after independence, saw the need for giving a secure and autonomous status to Public Service Commissions both at Federal and Provincial levels for ensuring unbiased recruitment to Civil Services as also for protection of service interests. With the promulgation of the new Constitution for independent India on 26th January, 1950, the Federal Public Service Commission was accorded a constitutional status as an autonomous entity and given the title – Union Public Service Commission. The Union Public Service Commission has been established under Article 315 of the Constitution of India.

The Union Public Service Commission has been entrusted with the following duties and role under the Constitution:

  • • Recruitment to services & posts under the Union through conduct of competitive examinations.
  • • Recruitment to services & posts under the Central Government by Selection through Interviews.
  • • Advising on the suitability of officers for appointment on promotion as well as transfer-on-deputation.
  • • Advising the Government on all matters relating to methods of Recruitment to various services and posts.
  • • Disciplinary cases relating to different civil services.
  • • Miscellaneous matters relating to grant of extra ordinary pensions, reimbursement of legal expenses etc.

The major role played by the Commission is to select persons to man the various Central Civil Services and Posts and the Services common to the Union and States (viz. All-India Services).


Civil Services Examination is conducted in a cycle of Preliminary exam, Mains Exam and Personality test. All three phases are crucial and the last two phases decide the merit and hence are very significant. Students can attempt the exam after graduation or in the final year of graduation. Every year UPSC notification announces 1000+ vacancies in the top Group A designations.

From the year 2013 the calendar of Civil Service Exam has changed. Earlier mains preparation had nearly 5-6 months but the current pattern gives only 3 months and hence proper planning and good strategy is crucial.

Preparation to Civil Services Examination is a task that demands patience, continued focus and dedicated efforts. The exam is not a test of high intellect or IQ. It is a simple but complete test of basic understanding of issues, personality and orientation in society. With more than 5 lakh students preparing for the exam every year, there are bound to be conceptions, perceptions and beliefs about the exam. These can be both right and wrong!!!


About Preliminary Test

Preliminary Test consists of objective type questions with negative marking scheme for wrong answers. The test is usually held in June.



IAS Marking Scheme for Prelims


  • • Each question in General Studies paper carries 2 marks.
  • • Each question in Civil Service Aptitude Test paper carries 2.5 marks.
  • • For each question for which a wrong answer has been given by the candidate, one-third (0.33) of the marks assigned to that question will be deducted           as penalty.
  • • If a candidate gives more than one answer, it will be treated as a wrong answer even if one of the given answers happens to be correct and the penalty           will be the same as mentioned above.
  • • If a question is left blank, i.e. no answer is given by the candidate, there will be no penalty for that question.
  • • Candidates will have to score a minimum of 33 % in the CSAT paper to qualify for the Mains exam.

For a detailed strategy for the Prelims exam, read here.


About UPSC Mains Exam


  • • IAS Mains is also an offline exam. Each paper will carry 250 marks.
  • • Each paper is of 3 hours. 30 minutes extra are given to blind candidates.
  • • The exam will contain 9 papers. A candidate will be tested on the basis of their knowledge and understanding of the subject.
  • • Questions will be subjective in nature. They will be given in both Hindi and English language.
  • • IAS Mains is further divided into two types – Qualifying Exam and Merit Exam. It is compulsory to appear in both.

Qualifying Papers:-

  • 1. Paper A: (One of the Indian Languages to be selected from the ones included in the 8th Schedule of the Constitution – 300 Marks).
  • 2. Paper B: English – 300 Marks

Merit Exams- Candidates will have to score a minimum percentage in the qualifying examto qualify for the exam. The question papers are prepared to test the intellectual and interpersonal skills of the candidate. The essay type questions will test the students’ understanding of the subject and the concept. The students will be tested on the strength of an Indian Language.


Mains Table


PAPER TITLE OF THE PAPER MARKS ALLOTED
Paper 1 Essay Writing 250 Marks
Paper 2 General Studies – I (Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World, and Society) 250 Marks
Paper 3 General Studies-II (Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International Relation) 250 Marks
Paper 4 General Studies-III (Technology, Economic Development, Bio-Diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management) 250 Marks
Paper 5 General Studies-IV (Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude) 250 Marks
Paper 6 Optional Subject Paper-1 250 Marks
Paper 7 Optional Subject Paper-2 250 Marks
Sub Total in the written Test 1750 Marks
Personal Interview 275 Marks
Grand Total (For Merit Calculation) 2025 Marks

For a detailed strategy for the Prelims exam, read here.


IAS Exam Pattern for Personality Test


  • • All candidates qualifying the Mains examination will proceed towards the Personality Test.
  • • This would include the Psychometric Test, Assessment Test as well as the Personal Interview.
  • • The objective 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. He will be asked questions on matters of general interest.
  • • The test is intended to judge the mental caliber of a candidate.
  • • IAS Mains is further divided into two types – Qualifying Exam and Merit Exam. It is compulsory to appear in both.
  • • 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.
  • • This test will be conducted in the language of choice.
  • • The interview will be graded for 275 marks. The total marks of the UPSC exam, considered for rank calculation are 2025 marks.
  • • Candidates will be ranked on basis of the grand total.

The civil services include three types of services namely, the All India Services, Group A and Group B Central services. The services that come under each of these types are mentioned below:


All India Services:

  • 1. Indian Administrative Service (IAS)
  • 2. Indian Foreign Service (IFS)
  • 3. Indian Police Service (IPS)

Group ‘A’ Services:

  • 1. Indian Revenue Service
  • 2. Indian P & T Accounts & Finance Service
  • 3. Indian Customs and Central Excise Service
  • 4. Indian Audit & Accounts Service
  • 5. Indian Ordnance Factories Service
  • 6. Indian Defense Accounts Service
  • 7. Indian Postal Service
  • 8. Indian Defense Estates Service
  • 9. Indian Civil Accounts Service
  • 10. Indian Railway Account Service
  • 11. Indian Railway Traffic Service
  • 12. Indian Railway Personnel Service
  • 13. Railway Protection Force
  • 14. Central Industrial Security Force

Group ‘B’ Services:

  • 1. Delhi and Andaman & Nicobar Islands Civil Service
  • 2. Delhi and Andaman & Nicobar Islands Police Service
  • 3. Central Secretarial Service
  • 4. Armed Forces Headquarters Civil Service
  • 5. Railway Board Secretariat Service
  • 6. Custom Appraisers Service
  • 7. Pondicherry Civil Service

The prescribed UPSC exam eligibility criteria is that the candidate should be a graduate and must have attained 21 years of age. There is also an upper age limit and number of attempts restriction based on the candidate’s category. Generally, the upper age limit is 32 years, but the commission gives age relaxation for OBC, SC, ST and PH candidates.

As we saw above, there are various services candidates can get into after clearing this exam. But the service allotted to the candidate depends on his/her preference indicated while applying for Mains, vacancy in that service for the particular category and the candidate’s rank . Commonly aspired services like the IAS, IFS and the IPS need a high rank.

The UPSC also conducts various other exams apart from the civil services. A few examples are Engineering Services Exam, Combined Medical Services Exam, Indian Forest Service Exam, Combined Defence Services Exam, Indian Statistical Service, etc.

Candidates should know that the civil services and the Indian Forest Services have a common prelims exam. While applying for prelims, candidates should indicate whether they are taking both the exams, or only one of them.

The UPSC Civil Services Exam is tough. This is a fact. But it is also a fact that this exam is not insurmountable. With a systematic approach, hard work and dedication, you can come out with flying colours and land your dream job.


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