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Career In Civil Services: All you need to know.

Career In Civil Services: All you need to know.


The Civil Services Exams (CSE), the most prestigious exams in India is conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). It is also popularly known as UPSC exams. These exams are conducted to select candidates who shall assume the 24 civil services in India. The selects to these services constitute the class of career bureaucrats. Civil Services is a dream of many. Even though it’s the toughest exam in the country, it is one of the most sought out careers  by Indians. Being selected to one of the services is an honor in its own. This career choice is one of the most respectable and looked up to profession in India.


Why do we call UPSC as the dream careers of many and one the toughest too? In 2019, around 8 lakh candidates appeared to write the exam (the number of students who applied in more than 12 lakh). About 12,000 cleared the prelims and about 2300 students cleared the Mains and were called for Personality interview. The pass percentage is about 0.2%.

But don’t worry, a good amount of preparation for about 1-2 years and a planned strategy will help you become a part of the 0.2%. Read this article if you want to know the procedure of UPSC exams and how to go about it.


Civil Servants are government employees. Since colonial times, bureaucrats enjoy prestige, respect and power. Civil services and Military services are considered a very pure service of the nation where nation comes first, everything else is secondary. Civil servants are the people who run the administrative machinery. They implement the government and the developmental policies, they hold immense power and are highly respected for what they do. They keep the law and order of India in place and are also highly paid for their services, provided with bunglows of their own with caretakers and other services so that they can lead a luxurious life.So,until we have a democratic India, the scope of civil services will never end.

Civil service, when you hear this word, a sense of patriotism and respect automatically comes within your heart. If you are aspiring to pursue it, do not let this feeling fade away in you. 


Here, we shall discuss in detail who is eligible to pursue civil services

An individual should pursue the UPSC Examination if he/she fulfils the following criterias.

  • Nationality: A candidate must
    • For IAS/IPS: Should be a citizen of India
    • For other services: Should be:
      • a citizen of India, or
      • a subject of Nepal, or
      • a subject of Bhutan, or
      • a Tibetan refugee who came over to India before the 1st January 1962 with the intention of permanently settling in India, or
      • a person of Indian origin who has migrated from   Pakistan, Burma, Sri Lanka or East African countries of Kenya, Uganda, the United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Zaire, and Ethiopia or from Vietnam with the intention of permanently setting in India.
  • Age:

    The candidate appearing for the exam should be:

      • A minimum of 21 years but a maximum of 32 years
      • Relaxation of 5 years is available for SC/ST, individuals holding a domicile of Jammu & Kashmir,
      • Relaxation of 3 years is available for for OBC and defense personnel; 10 years for blind, deaf-mute and orthopedically handicapped persons).
    • Should possess a bachelor’s degree in any subject from a recognized institution or is about to take up the final year exam.
    • Maximum Attempts:
      The maximum number of times an individual belonging to different categories allowed to take up the exams are
      • Other Backward Classes: 9 attempt
      • General category: 6 attempts
      • SC/ST: Unlimited attempts up to the age of 37


        Once you have registered, appearing to write an exam of the prelims is considered as an attempt, but failing to appear is not an attempt.

        To know more in detail, visit https://www.upsc.gov.in/sites/default/files/Notification-CSPE_2020_N_Engl.pdf

        To pursue Civil Services, you have to write the UPSC Examination. As discussed earlier, you must have cleared your 12th exams in any subject of your choice and possess a bachelor’s degree in any field.

        Pro-tip: It is great to be optimistic, but its good to be practical as well. Not everybody who applies for UPSC becomes a civil servant. If you wish to pursue Civil Services as your first career and have started preparing after 12th, so always have a backup option, a Plan B. Hence, it is advisable to pursue your bachelor’s degree in the field of your Plan B. However, a lot of people take Humanities as their choice of stream because is has subjects like History, Political Science, Sociology, etc. as the UPSC Exams are inclined towards these subjects. So, choose what is best for you wisely.

        Click here for some guidance 

        So, after the age of 21, and you are eligible to write the exam, you have register for the exam on the online portal (www.upsconline.nic.in). You have three weeks to apply. All the details you need to know are mentioned on this portal.


        The Civil Services Exams are conducted in three phases annually. 

        The Prelims consists of 2 papers:

        • Paper 1 : It is a General Studies paper wherein they test your knowledge in subjects like Indian Polity, Modern History, Indian History, Geography and Economics (GDP and current Affairs), Governance, Biodiversity, Climate, Social Development, Art, Culture, etc. It is an MCQ type of paper and the cut off for general studies is usually between 105-120. You must score above the cut off to qualify.
        • Paper 2: Also known as CSAT (Civil Services Aptitude Test) is a paper which tests the interpersonal, communication, logical, reasoning, analytical, decision making, problem solving skills, and a lot more. This is a qualifying paper. It is a 200-mark paper and you need to get a minimum of 33% or 66/200 marks to clear your prelims and qualify for Mains. In terms of marking scheme, every right answer.

        Note: A qualifying paper is the one where it will not be graded for eligibility in Mains Examination and the candidate has to get 33% to qualify (i.e. if you get 66 marks or 199 marks, there is not difference. You just need to get 66 marks to qualify for Mains).

        You must clear your prelims (both the papers) to qualify for Mains. Once you have qualified, your prelims scores do not matter. In the Mains, there are a total of 9 papers out of which 2 are qualifying papers. Both are for 300 marks each and to qualify, you have scored a minimum of 25% (i.e. 75/300 marks). They are:
        • Paper A – Can be any regional language mentioned in the constitution (Here, the regional language paper cannot be a language in which you write all other papers, e.g.: If you write all your papers in Hindi, the qualifying paper 2 cannot be in Hindi)
        • Paper B – necessarily English
        The next 5 papers are General Studies papers, with different subjects in each of them. They are:
        • Paper 1: It is an Essay Paper where you will be required to write 2 essays of 125 marks each.
        • Paper 2: It is the General Studies 1 paper and consists of the following subjects:
          • Current events of national and international importance
          • History of India
          • Indian and World Geography
          • Indian Polity and Governance
          • Economic and Social Development
          • General issues on Environmental ecology, Biodiversity and Climate Change
          • General Science.
        • Paper 3: Or the General Studies 2 paper and consists of the following subjects:
          • Governance
          • Constitution
          • Polity
          • Social Justice
          • International relations
        • Paper 4: The General Studies 3 paper consists of:
          • Technology
          • Economic Development
          • Biodiversity
          • Environment
          • Security
          • Disaster Management
        • Paper 5: The General Studies 4 paper consists of:
          • Ethics
          • Integrity
          There are two optional papers which are Paper 6 and Paper 7. This is of importance because it consists of 2 papers and carries 500 marks. Hence, you will have to choose one subject from the list of optional subjects and write 2 papers for it.
          • Each paper has a duration of 3 hours
          • The marks allotted to each question may vary from 1 mark to 60 marks with word limits from 20 to 600 words.
          • Under the Paper 2 or General Studies 1, the subject Polity is of utmost importance because it carries a high percentage of marks and is relevant for all the three phases of the examination. In Prelims, an average of 14 -16 questions are from Indian Polity. In the General studies paper 150-180 marks are from Indian Polity. Additionally, it helps in Essay as well.
          • Candidates you qualify the qualifying papers are ranked on the basis of their scores in other papers and a specific number of candidates are selected for the next round i.e. Personal Interview.
          • The total marks of Mains sum up to 1750, and the cut off is usually 770-850.

        Those to qualify Mains have a Personal Panel Interview or the Personality Test in Delhi at the expense of the Government. The interview has a weightage of 275 marks. There are no qualifying marks for this round. After the interview, your scores from Mains (except qualifying papers) and interview are totaled, and your rank is decided.

        The purpose of the interview is not to check your subject knowledge (which is checked earlier in the exams) but to determine by a series of natural and purposeful questions if you are fit for the civil services job. A group of unbiased and qualified individuals who analyze your personality, your qualities and traits, your logical and reasoning capacity, mental alertness, judgement, biasness, knowledge of what is happening around you, national and international affairs, integrity, socialness, and a lot more. 

        The interview is not like any normal interview. It is one of the toughest to crack. Hence a good amount of preparation and commitment is required. After the interview, you are ranked based on your total score and based on your rank, you are given the service you could join.

        Time required: It typically takes a minimum of 2 years of preparation to write one attempt of the UPSC exams, one year before the prelims and one years after for the Mains and Personal Interview.

        Almost all the candidates who appear for the interview are called upon for a medical examination where they check if the individual is physically and mentally fit, and their degree of fitness also plays a role in determining their service. So after the Personality test, UPSC allots a particular slot on a day to every candidate in an allotted hospital. There are a few medical prerequisites to be finally selected. Also, there are two types of services: technical and non-technical. For technical services, candidates require a to possess special medical status in terms of vision, chest, chest expansion, etc. Make sure you possess or build on the following prerequisites to qualify.

        The civil services exam at a glance:


        There are 25 posts in the civil services. Depending upon the performance of a candidate in the exams, he/she is assigned a post. Below are the services:

        All India Civil Services:

        This is the highest form and level of civil services. The top scorers in the Mains and Medical test are appointed for these services.

        • Indian Administrative Service

        This is the most popular service amongst aspirants and goal of almost everyone. IAS is the permanent arm of the Indian Government. The training for IAS officers is conducted in LBSNAA, Mussoorie. IAS officers are responsible for implementing the policies framed by the government.

        • Indian Police Service

        IPS officers attain the senior positions in Police Service, RAW, CBI, IB, etc. Their training is conducted at Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Police Academy in Hyderabad.

        • Indian Forest Services

        An Indian Forest Services Officer can be assigned to work at Central or State levels. They also get an opportunity to work at various food and agricultural organizations. At the Central level, they highest designation is Director General of Forests while at the State level, it is Principal Chief Conservator of Forests. IFS Cadre comes under the Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change

        Group A Services:

        Also known as Central Services, are concerned with the administration of the Union Government. Appointments to these services are made by the President. In armed forces, the Commissioned offiers (like Captain, Major) are Group A officers.

        • Indian Foreign Service.
        • Indian P & T Accounts & Finance Service
        • Indian Audit and Accounts Service
        • Indian Revenue Service (Customs and Central Excise),
        • Indian Defense Accounts Service
        • Indian Revenue Service (I.T.)
        • Indian Ordnance Factories Service
        • Indian Postal Service
        • Indian Civil Accounts Service
        • Indian Railway Traffic Service
        • Indian Railway Accounts Service
        • Indian Railway Personnel Service
        • Post of Assistant Security Commissioner in Railway Protection Force
        • Indian Defense Estates Service
        • Indian Information Service (Junior Grade)
        • Indian Trade Service
        • Indian Corporate Law Service

            Group B Services:

            Also known as State services, concerned with he administration of the State Governments. They are appointed by authorities specified by a general or special order of the President. In the armed forces, the junior commissioned officers (Subedars) are Group B officers.

            • Armed Forces Headquarters Civil Service (Section Officer’s Grade).
            • Delhi, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Daman & Diu, and Dadra & Nagar Haveli Civil ServiceDelhi, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Daman & Diu, and Dadra & Nagar Haveli Police Service
            • Pondicherry Civil Service
            • Pondicherry Police Service

            Click here for the source of this information.

              Technical services:

              • Indian Railway Traffic Service (IRTS)
              • Indian Police Service (IPS)
              • Delhi Andaman and Nicobar Police Service (DANIPS)
              • Pondicherry Police Service (PONDIPS)
              • Railway Protection Force (RPF)

              Non-technical services:

              • Indian Administrative Service (IAS)
              • Indian Foreign Service (IFS)
              • Indian Audit & Accounts Service ( IA&AS)
              • Indian Revenue Service (Customs and Central Excise)
              • Indian Civil Accounts Service
              • Indian Railway Accounts Service
              • Indian Railway Personnel Service
              • Indian Defense Accounts Service
              • Indian Revenue Service (Income Tax)
              • Indian Ordinance Factories Services
              • Indian Postal Service
              • Indian Defense Estates Service
              • Indian Postal & Telegraph Accounts and Finance Service
              • Indian Corporate Law Services
              • Indian Information Service
              • Indian Trade Service
              • DANICS
              • PONDICS
              • Armed Forces Headquarters (AFHQ) Civil Service

              THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND

              • Stay updated with the current affairs and the issues in the important subjects

              When you are taking UPSC, it is implicit that you should have a good knowledge of what’s happening around, and have mind-blowing general knowledge, because these topics are a part of your exams

              • Learn the skills and imbibe the qualities required to become a civil servant

              Civil services exams are the most difficult exams to crack and to clear your exam, you need good preparation and the required skills. Start early to build them. Few of them include:

                • Interpersonal skills
                • Communication skills
                • Problem-solving skills
                • Crisis management
                • Mental alertness
                • Judgment
                • Integrity
                • Leadership
                • Working with a team and working alone
                • Flexibility
                • Multi-linguistic
                • Creativity
                • Excellent organizational execution skills
                • Commitment and dedication
                • Bold and determined
                • Logical approach
                • Confidence
                • Patriotism


              UPSC is one of the most prestigious and respected career options in India, but at the same time, it requires a lot of hard work and dedication to clear it as the pass percentage is 0.2% approx.. The key is, first figure out how to go about UPSC, then dedicate yourself entirely to its preparation. Keep yourself updated of the current affairs and build on the skills you would require to clear it. If you would have read this article, you would know these aspects in detail.

              So, for a bright career in the respective field, practice, learn and adapt yourself to what the future demands. Hence keep learning, keep executing, and keep growing.

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