IAS Examination, also called the Indian Administrative Services Examination, is one of the toughest and prestigious examinations held in India, which gives a chance to get most eminent designation offered by Indian Government. It is conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) for recruitment under various posts of Indian administration like the IAS, IPS, IFS and other allied services.
The competitive examination comprises of three successive stages:
- Civil Services – Preliminary Examination – Objective Type (Qualifier)
- Civil Services – Main Examination – Written Test
- Interview / Personality Test
The Prelims are held in May-June and the results are announced in July-August. The Main examination is held in October-November and the candidates who qualify at this stage are interviewed in March-April next. The final recruitment and posting of candidates depends on their ranking and the available vacancies for different posts to be filled during that particular year.
Students need to first apply for the Preliminary Examination only. Candidates who are declared by the Commission to have qualified for admission to the Main Examination will have to apply again, in the detailed application form which would be supplied to them.
IAS Examination is open for any citizen of India, who is between 21 to 30 years of age, for the General Category. However, UPSC has come up with notification giving relaxation in number of attempts and age eligibility of different candidates. There is no restriction on candidates for their educational background. The only criteria being- ‘the candidate must hold a degree of any of Universities incorporated by an Act of the Central of State Legislature in India…’
The first stage, the Civil Services (Preliminary), tests the basic understanding and awareness of the candidates. It comprises of two papers, Paper I General Studies (GS) which includes Indian History, Geography, Polity, Science and Technology, Economy and Current Affairs. Paper II the Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT) includes questions to test General Aptitude of the candidates and includes questions on Reasoning, English Comprehension, Basic Mathematics, Decision Making and Data Interpretation.
The second stage, the Civil Services Main examination is designed to test the academic talent of the aspirant, also his/her ability to present his/ her knowledge in a clear and coherent manner. 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 Main Examination comprises of 9 papers in total consisting of conventional essay type questions as per the details given below:
Paper I One of the Indian Languages to be selected by the candidate from the 18 languages included in the 8th Schedule to the Constitution (Qualifying Paper)
Paper II English (Qualifying Paper)
Paper III Essay
Paper IV, V, VI & VII General Studies
Paper VIII & IX Any one Optional subject (which contains 2 papers) to be selected from the prescribed optional subjects (250 marks for each paper)
Candidates who obtain minimum qualifying marks in the written part of the Main Examination as fixed by the Commission at their discretion, shall be summoned by them for an interview for a Personality Test. The test is intended to judge the mental calibre of a candidate. 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 judgement, variety and depth of interest, ability for social cohesion and leadership, intellectual and moral integrity.
Preparation Strategy for IAS Exam
Well formulated strategy along with optimum time management is the only two ladders for your dream goal. It’s very important to formulate your own strategy as it pays to be yourself. However for the general guidance to tackle Civil Services examination, here are some of the guidelines which will help the aspirant to achieve success.
Set Your Goal as per Your Ability
UPSC preparation, for most aspirants extends over one year. Set realistic goals for yourself. More importantly, set targets for yourself. “I will review ABC over this week and go over XYZ within this month”. Make sure your short-term targets are in line with the bigger plan. Give allowances in the plan for events like festivals or distractions like the world cup. More importantly, minimize the impact of these events to exceed your own expectations. Goal setting theory suggests that performance increases if a person has a clear and well set goal in his mind. Therefore short and long term goals with definite timeline must be set accordingly.
Check out the full syllabus and tick the easiest topics
Have a look at the syllabus and identify all the subjects that you need to go through. Note that UPSC Civil Services is not like a university exam, the syllabus is more like a guideline and not a boundary that cannot be crossed. Take the syllabus as a guideline and not as a course definition. Classify the syllabus into different subjects and topics.
It will help you to properly plan and distribute your study time in a meticulous way. This is important because time at your disposal is limited. It can also help you in identifying areas of study where you are comfortable and where not. After going through the syllabus and ascertaining the study time available at your disposal and identifying areas of your strength and weaknesses vis-a-vis importance of these areas of study from the examination point of view, you can plan your time scheduled.
Set Routine for the Study
As you know the IAS exam is a marathon and not a sprint. For this you need to develop some routine to be able to concentrate for long hours and cover the syllabus within the time at hand. Study two or at most three subjects a day with predefined time limits so that you cover the most scoring part of the Prelims syllabus within the time you allotted to those subjects.
Routine will also help you develop a focused approach for Mains and will help you to prepare for most scoring parts of IAS Prelims syllabus early on so you can put in at least one revision before the Prelims. Preparing for IAS this way will surely boost your chances of clearing the Prelims in the first attempt itself.
Useful Books for IAS Exam Preparation: