Civil Services: A Dream Career for Millions

By: Sairem Sarat Singh
EGF School Batch: 1993

The Civil Services exam, better known as the IAS (Indian Administrative Service) exam is the most coveted exam for many aspirants. Passing the exam and jumping into the bandwagon means a lot to the one who cracks this exam. Cracking the exam is an epoch changing event in the life of a few candidates because of the opportunities and the prestige associated with these services under competition. This exam is conducted by the UPSC (Union Public Service Commission), a constitutional body with a very good track record of corruption free recruitment.

Educational qualification:
A degree from a recognized university (Candidates appearing in the requisite degree qualification are also eligible for appearing in the examination, however, they are supposed to submit proof of passing the requisite qualification along with the Detailed Application Form for Civil Services (Main) Examination to be submitted later.

Age limit
21-30 years. (Certain categories of persons are eligible for age relaxation.)

The Plan of the Exam
The Civil Services Exam consists of two stages: the Preliminary and the Main exams

The Preliminary Examination
The Preliminary Examination shall comprise of two compulsory Papers of 200 marks each and of two hours duration each. The questions will be of multiple choice objective type with negative marks for wrong answers. Detailed below is the new syllabus and pattern of the Preliminary Examination (effective from 2011):

Paper I General Studies

  • Current events of national and international importance
  • History of India and Indian National Movement
  • Indian and World Geography – Physical, Social, Economic geography of India and the World.
  • Indian Polity and Governance – Constitution, Political System, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights Issues, etc.
  • Economic and Social Development – Sustainable Development, Poverty, Inclusion, Demographics, Social Sector Initiatives, etc.
  • General issues on Environmental ecology, Bio-diversity and Climate Change – that do not require subject specialization
  • General Science.

Paper II- Civil Service Aptitude Test (CSAT)

  • Comprehension
  • Interpersonal skills including communication skills;
  • Logical reasoning and analytical ability
  • Decision making and problem solving
  • General mental ability
  • Basic numeracy (numbers and their relations, orders of magnitude etc.) (Class X level), Data interpretation (charts, graphs, tables, data sufficiency etc. -Class X level)
  • English Language Comprehension skills (Class X level).
  • Questions relating to English Language Comprehension skills of Class X level

The Main ExaminationThe Main examination is intended to assess the overall intellectual traits and depth of understanding of the candidates rather than merely the range of information and memory. It will consist of a written exam and an interview test. The written part will consist of 9 papers of conventional essay type as given below:

Paper-I One of the Indian Languages to be selected by the candidate from the 18 languages included in the VIII Schedule to the Constitution (Qualifying Paper) 300 Marks
Paper-II English (Qualifying Paper) 300 Marks
Paper-III Essay 200 Marks
Papers IV & V General Studies (300 Marks for each paper) 600 Marks
Papers VI, VII, VIII & IX Any two subjects (each having 2 papers) to be selected from the prescribed optional subjects (300 marks for each paper) 1200 Marks
Total Marks for Written Examination 2000 Marks
Interview Test 300 Marks
Grand Total 2300 Marks


How to prepareFirst of all, this exam is meant for those people who are mentally strong and willing to take risk. One who is meticulous and willing to work hard and has administrative skills can crack this exam easily. The common belief that only brilliant and brainy students can crack this exam is a myth. Another myth is that only the post graduates can crack this exam. From the past records it is evident that many mediocre and graduate students have performed well enough to crack this exam.

This exam really tests the basic human qualities and administrative aptitudes like hard work, endurance, decision making, awareness of the country etc. which a civil servant should possess. First one should have self-belief that he or she can do it. After that one has to clear the fundamentals. For this one should read the NCERT books from classes VI to 10+2. A good book on general knowledge will also help. One should read a good newspaper like The Hindu which should be treated as a text book. At least 2 hours should be devoted for this. One should preferably make notes of important points. One may find it difficult to digest the facts written in the newspaper; however, once one puts some labor one can easily digest the points.

A proper planning is desperately needed for cracking this exam. One should be very strong in the optional because they carry larger proportion of marks. One should adopt an analytical method while reading and studying as the questions coming in this exam are quite different in the sense that this is not a mere test of memory or knowledge. New aspirants can take advice from experienced candidates and successful candidates. Sincere efforts for one year will be sufficient to crack this exam.

Civil servants are the most coveted ones in India. The officers recruited through this exam hold posts at the top levels in the governments at the center and the States. They take part in shaping the political decisions. We need more and more Manipuris to be inducted into the services under civil services exam so that better policy comes out of them. Who knows you can be one of them. Give a try.

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