Career in Civil Services, options and steps involved


Joining Indian civil services is most honorable career in India. Along with a chance to serve your country, you get respect and income enough to live prosperous life. Services like IAS, IFS and IPS attract top talent in the country. But, as a student, youhave to clear one of the toughest exams in the world to join these services.

Apart from above mentioned services, there is huge variety of civil service jobs for aspirants. It ranges from accountants to information officers for the state and central government.

Civil servants have direct impact on policy and decision making process in India. There is huge diversity in the job profile too. It is not typical 9 to 5 government job. You are expected to maintain law and order, represent India internationally along with fulfillment of administrative duties.

Steps involved in the civil services

Any person with bachelor’s degree from the recognized university in India can appear of civil service examination. The initial step would be to understand the nature of the examination. The pattern is totally different from the traditional university examinations.

The success rate for the exam is lower too. Out of 4.31 lakh candidates, only 1236 were selected last year. The selected candidates are allotted civil services as per their preferences and skill sets.

Step 1: Prelim exam- First filter

The first step in the civil services examination is preliminary exams. This serves as major filter to pick up top talent in the country. It has two papers.

Paper I is General studies. Candidates are expected to study current affairs and important events of international nature for this paper.

Paper II consists of Civil Services Aptitude test (CSAT). One has to score minimum 33% in this paper to qualify to the next stage. Candidates have study to comprehension skills, data interpretation and logical reasoning to clear this test. Both papers are of 200 marks each.

Step 2: Mains exam- Test of knowledge

The second step in the civil services examinations is mains exam. From here, the exam gets tougher. The best talent in the country competes by appearing for four papers of general studies (250 marks each).

Each paper focuses on subjects such as Geography, Economy, History and politics.

Optional subjects:

The aspirants also have to choose one optional subjects from list given by Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). The list has variety of subjects from anthropology to mathematics. You have to appear for two papers of this subjects (250 marks each).

Essay paper:

Along with this, participant has to appear for compulsory essay papers. The essays are expected to be of high quality. You are expected to write about contemporary issues in balanced manner for 250 marks.

Students also have to qualify in two language papers which includes English and any one Indian language (300 marks each).

Step 3: Interview- Test of personality

Candidates who qualify through mains exams get a call for interview at UPSC’s office. Here, candidates’ communication skills and knowledge gets tested through the lenses of five panelists. Panelists are mostly senior government officials or retired personnel.

Remember, the score of interview (275 marks) and mains exam decides your rank in the final merit lists.

So performing best in both stages is important. This decides which service you will get. The top rankers get IPS, IAS or IFS, most elite among civil services of India.

Preparations for civil services:

Aspirants are divided about taking admission to tuition classes for civil service exams. Some of them prefer to study on their own and some enroll in the classes. Cities such as Delhi and Pune have top classes for civil services aspirants. These organizations have properly crafted programs for the aspirants.

If you are absolutely new in the field of competitive exams and social sciences, it is recommended that you should opt for these classes.

Hard work, dedication and honesty will guarantee you success in the civil services. Some aspirants start preparing for this exam during their undergraduate education itself. All the best !!


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