As far as the Civil Services Examination of the UPSC is concerned, candidates and experts have been unanimous on one fact: it is one of the toughest examinations conducted in any country. Maybe that is precisely why the candidates who crack the examination make the best and most efficient administrators.

However, cracking the Civil Services Examination takes much more than being a good student. It requires one to be dedicated towards his goal. One requires the skills of leadership, diplomacy, sincerity and what not. But apart from that, in the words of the UPSC, the candidate should be ‘well learned’. As you can already understand, the phrase is very ambiguous. It might seem to the regular student to be equivalent to knowing everything under the sun and beyond. To be honest, that is precisely what UPSC looks for; someone who knows ‘everything’. Maybe that is the UPSC way for selecting the best our country has to provide.

In the course of this piece of writing, I will try my best to present the reader with a basic understanding of the examination.

The Civil Services Examination conducted by the UPSC recruits civil servants to 23 services in total, out of which 19 are All India Services. The examination takes place in three distinct steps which include the Preliminary exam, the Mains exam and finally the Personality test (also called the interview).

  1. The Preliminary Exams: The Preliminary Examination comprises two papers of 200 marks each having only Multiple Choice Questions. The first of the two papers is meant to test the candidate of his knowledge on the general affairs. That constitutes general studies, current affairs of national and international importance and so on. The second paper is meant to test the candidate on analytical skills. Questions on General Intelligence, simple numerical ability of class 10 level, comprehension in English and questions on logic are prevalent in the second paper of the preliminaries. According to several experts, the regular study of newspapers, the knowledge of all required subjects of class 10 level and an acceptable proficiency of English is sufficient to qualify in the Preliminary Examination and move on to the Mains that follows. The marks acquired in the Preliminary exam are not added to the final score at the end of the whole examination. It just acts as a screening test for the candidates.
  2. The Mains Exam: The Mains Examination is the most crucial part of this three-tier examination. It comprises nine papers in total, out of which two are of qualifying nature and seven are of ranking nature. As far as the ranking papers are concerned, each paper carries 250 marks, thus making a grand total of 1750 in the mains. The two qualifying papers test the candidate’s knowledge of English and one Indian Language. Paper I tests the candidate’s ability to write in a coherent and organized manner, i.e. the Essay Paper. Papers II, III, IV and V test the general knowledge of the candidate, i.e. the General Studies Papers, and finally the Papers VI and VII are papers where the knowledge of the candidate in his ‘optional’ subject is tested. The saying that UPSC requires the candidate to be omnipotent comes from the nature of this step of the examination.
  3. The Personality Test: The Personality Test of the UPSC is not like the ones conducted by any other recruiting body. It is not just an interview, but a comprehensive assessment of the personality of the candidate. The entire test comprises interview, group discussion, knowledge on various issues of interest, test of morality and integrity and finally an assessment of the skills of leadership of the individual. This test carries a total of 275 marks.

Thus as we have seen, the examination carries a grand total of 2025 marks. The candidate’s score out of this number gets him ranked, which acts as the deciding factor regarding if he is selected, and if yes, which service he is going to join.

I hope the above information is acceptably helpful to gain a basic overview of the examination. If you aim to be a Civil Servant in the future, begin today. Click here to find coaching classes near you.

Written by Pranjal Mondal

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