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Considered to be one of the toughest exam conducted by  Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), Indian Administrative Service (IAS) is a competitive exam, applied by thousands of Indians every year.

IAS is one of the all India exams conducted by UPSC. The others are India Foreign Service (IFS) and Indian Police Service (IPS).

Clearing the IAS exam, enables one to become an IAS officer whose roles are as follows:

a)  Handle the daily affairs of the government, including framing and implementation of policy in consultation with the minister-in-charge of the concerned ministry which requires supervision and proper enforcement at ground realities.

b)  Contributing to the final shape of the policy and/or take a final decision with the concurrence of the minister concerned or the cabinet (depending on the gravity of the issue).

c)  IAS officers act as intermediate between public and government by good execution and deliverance skills.

The salary of an IAS officer can range between Rs. 50,000 (junior level) to +2.5lacs (senior level), approximately.

The IAS exam is conducted in three stages:

a) IAS Prelims

b) IAS Mains

c) IAS Interview

Candidates need to clear all the above three stages to be offered the designation of IAS officer.

Eligibility for IAS exam:

The academic qualification of all applicants of IAS exam should be the following:

  • Bachelors Degree (from a UGC certified college)
  • By nationality, only Indians can apply for IAS position.
  • The age limit and number of attempts of IAS exam are as follows (as confirmed in 2015):
Category Age Limit Number of Attempts
General 32 Years 6 attempts
OBC 35 Years 9 attempts
SC/ST 42 Years Based on the age limit
Physically challenged
  • General – 35 Years
  • OBC – 38 Years
  • SC/ST – 40 Years
  • 9 attempts for General category
  • For SC/ST/OBC its based on the age limit.
J & K
  • General – 37 Years
  • OBC – 40 Years
  • SC/ST – 42 Years
  • Physically Handicapped – 50 Years
Depends on category

Academic eligibility for IAS exam:

The academic eligibility for IAS exam are as follows:

  • Degree certificate from authorized college or equivalent institution. The score cut off for application is 55 percent in graduation.
  • Candidates in final year can appear for the Prelims. However, before the Main Exam, they mandatorily need to submit the degree clearance mark sheet.
  • Candidates having professional and technical qualifications recognized by the Government can also apply for IAS exam.
  • Medical students in the final year of MBBS can also apply for IAS exam. However, before IAS Main exam medical students also need to submit their clearance degree  certificate.

The grand total score of IAS exam is 2025.

IAS Preliminary exam

This is also referred to as Civil Services Preliminary Exams.

Objective / multiple choice questions Papers

  • Paper 1: (General Studies)
  • Paper II: Civil Services Aptitude Test- (CSAT)
Total Score: 400

  • Each Paper: 200
  • Total Time: 4 Hours
  • Each Paper Time: 2 Hours
There is a negative marking of 1/3rd of the allotted marks for each question of IAS prelim round.

Syllabus for Paper – I of IELTS Prelims:

This is also referred to as General Studies Paper – I.This is conducted in first half of the day. Though the qualifying marks range is 50-55 percent, its safe to aim for 60 percent.

Number of questions: 100

  • Current affairs and current events of international and national importance.
  • General science
  • General issues on Climate Change, Environmental Ecology and Biodiversity (It don’t require subject specialization )
  • Indian National Movement and History of India.
  • World and Indian Geography- It contains Rights Issues, Physical Geography of India and the world, Economic Geography of India and the world, Social Geography of India and the world.
  • Indian Polity and Governance – Constitution, Public Policy, Political System, Panchayati Raj, etc.
  • Social and Economic Development

Syllabus for Paper – II of IELTS Prelims:

This is also referred to as General Studies Paper – II (CSAT). The qualifying marks for this paper is 33 percent. This is conducted in second half of the day.

Number of questions: 80

  • General mental ability
  • Comprehension
  • Data interpretation (charts, graphs, tables, data sufficiency etc. –Class X level), Basic numeracy (numbers and their relations, orders of magnitude, etc.) (Class X level). To download free NCERT Books from Class 5 to Class 12th Click here.
  • Analytical ability and Logical reasoning.
  • Interpersonal skills including communication skills
  • Among 9 lacs students who sit for IAS Prelims, only 10,000 (approx) qualify for the mains exam.
  • In the IAS Prelims exam, questions are Multiple Choice  (MCQ) type where students have to select from four given options.

UPSC IAS Civil Services Mains Examination (1750 marks)

The UPSC IAS Civil Services Mains Examination is happens in the month of November-December for a tenure of 3 weeks. Its a descriptive section that requires answers of up to 400-words.

The nine paper of IAS Main exam are as follows:

Paper Subject Marks Time Duration
Paper A Indian Languages 300 3 hours
Paper B English 300 3 hours
Paper I Essay 250 3 hours
Paper II General Studies I 250 3 hours
Paper III General Studies II 250 3 hours
Paper IV General Studies III 250 3 hours
Paper V General Studies IV 250 3 hours
Paper VI Optional Subject (Paper – I) 250 3 hours
Paper VII Optional Subject (Paper – II) 250 3 hours

IAS Main Exam : Indian Language Paper (Paper A) 

The question pattern of Indian Language Paper are as follows: 

  • Comprehensive type of questions related to the Given Passage
  • Short Essay
  • Vocabulary & Usage
  • Precise Writing (making a summary)
  • Translation from English to the Selected Indian Language and Vice Versa

The languages and scripts that you can opt for IAS Indian Language Paper are listed below:

Language Script to use
Oriya Oriya
Nepali Devanagri
Sindhi Arabic or Devanagri
Sanskrit Devanagri
Manipuri Bengali
Telugu Telugu
Punjabi Gurmukhi
Bodo Devanagri
Gujarati Gujarati
Konkani Devanagri
Malayalam Malayalam
Marathi Devanagri
Tamil Tamil
Santali Olchiki or Devanagri
Urdu Persian
Bengali Bengali
Dogri Devanagri
Hindi Devanagri
Kashmiri Persian
Maithili Devanagri
Kannada Kannada
Assamese Assamese

IAS Main Exam : English (Paper B)

The question pattern of English Paper are as follows:

  • Comprehensive type of questions related to the given passage
  • Short Essay
  • Vocabulary & Usage
  • Precise Writing (like making a summary)

For optional subjects of IAS exam, students can pick from the following:

  • Agriculture
  • Economics
  • Anthropology
  • Geography
  • Law
  • History
  • Geology
  • Electrical engineering
  • Animal Husbandry/Veterinary Science
  • Anthropology
  • Botany
  • Chemistry
  • Civil Engineering
  • Commerce and accountancy
  • Physics
  • Philosophy
  • Medical Science
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Maths
  • Management
  • Literature (English or above mentioned languages)
  • Political Science and International Relations
  • Psychology
  • Public Administration
  • Sociology
  • Statistics
  • Zoology

UPSC IAS Interview (225 marks)

Candidates who successfully clear the IAS Mains Exam head to the interview segment that is usually scheduled around March – April.

Interviewers ask the following kind of questions in UPSC IAS Interview session:

a) Introductory questions-
Name, Place of Origin, present Location, Academic qualification, Why UPSC, Family background and more.

b) General knowledge and current issues

For detailed syllabus of Civil Service Exams click here.

The grand total score of IAS exam is 2025.

Apps to crack UPSC IAS exam

Smartphone users can download the following apps to add ace to their UPSC IAS exam preparation:

  • U.PSC – IAS, SSC & bank PO by 9 Shots India
  • IAS UPSC by Civils daily
  • NCERT books by Philoid
  • IAS UPSC Prelim 2017 by Creative Labs India
  • UPSC Syllabus by MackTush
  • IAS Syllabus Tracker (UPSC) by Digital India Labs
  • IAS by ias.org.in
  • ClearIAS by CLEARIAS
  • UPSC Online Coaching by Creative Labs India
  • UPSC GK by Prime Apps

Tips to prepare for UPSC IAS exam:

1).  Revision is a pre-requisite
Only preparing does not allow one to crack the UPSC exam. Its therefore recommended to keep a provision of a week right before the exam. In fact, toppers revise the entire syllabus twice during this duration. As the syllabus of UPSC IAS exam is very vast and varied, repeated revisions assure good score.

2).  Tips for interview round
Dressing impacts the UPSC IAS interview round. Make sure you only wear formals. The clothes should be neat and tidy. Minimal accessories like tie or scarves can be used. A pen in the pocket or good perfume is cherry to the cake.

3).  Invest in the right resources
If looked online or even in the stores, book, study materials, notes and academic resources to prepare for IAS exam is plenty in the market. Hence its very important to make good selection because, the right set of resources can help you prepare better and faster. Or rightful choices, you can take help of your mentor or friend.

4).  Approach to study
The syllabus of IAS prelims and main exams differ in syllabus and content. However, there are certain chapters that fall common for both prelims and mains of IAS exam. Its very important for students to note these common areas and prepare like wise. The conclusion, is every stage of IAS exam requires different approach and method to prepare.

5).  Ideal time to begin IAS exam preparation
When to start IAS exam preparation often concerns aspirants. The ideal stage to begin your IAS exam preparation is right after twelfth or final year of school. This leaves ample time to prepare for IAS and thereby be successful later to that.

Books for IAS exam

22 Years CSAT General Studies IAS Prelims Topic-wise Solved Papers by Disha Experts
From 1995-2016, you will get access to all IAS Prelims questions solved and answered by experts. The book is specially helpful for student applying in IAS exam 2017. This book by Disha Experts covers a Special Section on Budget 2016, Bills and Acts, Govt. Policies and Schemes and Diary of National Events 2016.

Mission IAS – Prelim/Main Exam, Trends, How to prepare, Strategies, Tips & Detailed Syllabus Paperback by Md. Usmangani Ansari
The speciality of this book is the inclusion of infographics and pictorial presentations which make it user friendly and easy to understand. Each topic in the book is extensively covered for the convenience of the students.

UPSC- IAS Syllabus(Preliminary and Main) by GKP

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