Keywords- UPSC, career option, help, steps, coaching

Indian administrative posts like the Indian Administrative Service, Indian Foreign Service, Indian Police Service, etc., are a rather lucrative career option and have many aspirants. Most people however are confused about the procedure of appointments and only get clear answers when they join coaching classes of some sort. The fact that civil service examinations (CSE) are held for jobs by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), everyone is aware of, but what beyond that? The following steps might help in getting a transparent picture-

  1. The first step to becoming a civil servant as it is called is the preliminary examination which is basically a qualifying examination that determines your eligibility for the second level. This level carries a total of 400 marks.
  2. There are two papers in the prelims- Paper I & II. Paper one has questions on general subjects called the General studies paper while the second paper called CSAT is an aptitude test.
  3. Each paper is of 200 marks each (with each question carrying 1 mark it means there are 200 questions per paper) and two hours in duration. General category students must get a total of 241 out of 400 to qualify to the next level.
  4. The examination type is objective i.e. they are multiple choice based questions. Every wrong answer gets 1/3 marks deducted from the main score.
  5. The prelims exams are usually held in the second half of August every year in all major cities in India.
  6. Paper I has questions from geography, history, economics, social development and the likes while Paper II tests your skills of decision making, interpersonal relations, etc.
  7. The second stage is the Main examination that will further decide to which official level you will be appointed if at all. Thus only qualifying the prelims will make you eligible for the mains. Twelve to thirteen times the number of vacancies qualifies to the mains. There are a series of papers here and they make a grand total of 1750 marks.
  8. The mains examinations comprise of nine papers in total, all of which are essay based questions.
  9. Of these two papers, i.e., Paper A and B are qualifying papers whose marks (300 each) are not counted in the merit ranking. These papers are language papers one of which is English while the other could be any Indian language listed in the 8th schedule of the constitution. Basic knowledge of at least one Indian language thus is important.
  10. Paper I is a comprehension exam where the candidates expressive and analytical writing skills are assessed. From here on all papers are of 250 marks each.
  11. Papers II to V are again those of general studies only now they require detailed well-worded answers again of 250 marks each.
  12. The last two papers are optional papers where the candidate is allowed to choose his/her specialization. Questions here are of graduation level and require higher education knowledge.
  13. Once the candidate achieves 564 marks approx. (minimum required for a general category candidate to qualify) the final stage awaits. This is the personal interview where it is decided by a bench of unbiased selectors if the candidate has the grit and personality to become a civil service officer. Nearly double the number of available vacancies is called for the interview and obviously only half get selected. The merit list is prepared in terms of the total marks in the mains and the interview and appointments are made accordingly together with the candidate’s preference.

Now, having a broad idea of what the CSE entails it will also help you as an aspirant to get hold of certain methods to make preparations easier-

  1. Make it a full time occupation: Once you decide to undertake this exam you must devote your entire time for preparations and not treat it as a part time occupation.
  2. Prelims require high school level knowledge so NCERT books will suffice. Other reading material for the general studies paper include newspapers, competitive exam journals and general knowledge books like yearbooks that have a listing of all important information.
  3. Smart answering will always take you a long way as the CSEs are a great deal about making the right choices. It is not important to answer the maximum number of questions but to answer as many correct questions as possible. Beware of negative markings!
  4. Practice will improve your intuitions and knowledge of pattern so make it a point to solve as many previous years question papers as possible especially with the MCQs. It is not feasible for the essay papers however as this will require too much time but if one can manage there’s no harm.
  5. Aspirants from professional backgrounds might have difficulty in adjusting to the pattern of the examination as it is more language based analytics. The essay bases question will require them to enhance their comprehension skills so there must be extra efforts especially from Engineering, medical and MBA graduates.
  6. The obvious and most required tip to cracking the exams are the coaching courses that give the aspirant a proper schedule and structure for study. The course material is also collectivized and handed to you in one place and saves you the time to search for them. These usually come with test series and motivational talks that keep you focused. The best coaching can be received from people who have already cleared a few or all of the papers. We at MyTrustedTutor can help you find such teachers through a platform that allows cross communication of tutors and students. IAS prep tutors are one of our categories.

In this era of competition guidance is of utmost importance in addition to self study. Moreover going to a place that has common interests will bring you in contact with like-minded people discussions with whom can benefit a lot in the long run including exchange of ideas and information as well as forming connections with future benefits.

Pratyasha Ghosh

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