About IAS Exam:   

The Civil Services Examination (CSE) is a nationwide competitive examination in India conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) for recruiting various Civil Services of the Government of India, including the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Foreign Service (IFS), and Indian Police Service (IPS).
UPSC examination is conducted in three phases -

1. Preliminary examination consisting of two objective type papers- General Studies Paper I and General Studies Paper-II. (Also known as Civil Service Aptitude Test or CSAT)

  1. The main examination consists of nine papers of conventional (essay) type, in which two papers are qualifying, and only marks of seven are counted. 
  2. Personality test (interview).
  •         Stage I: Preliminary Examination - Held in June every year. The results are announced in August.
  •         Stage II: Mains
  1. Examination - Held in October every year. The results are announced in January.
  2. Personality Test (interview) - Held in March. The final results are usually announced in May.

The training program for the selected candidates usually commences the following September.


Roles and Responsibilities of an IAS officer

The responsibilities of an IAS Officer broadly include:

1. Framing policies and advising the ministers on various issues

  1. Collection of revenue and function as Courts in revenue matters 
  2. Maintenance of law and order
  3. Function as Executive Magistrate 
  4. Function as Chief Development Officer (CDO) /District Development Commissioner
  5. Supervision of the implementation of policies of the State Government and Central Government
  6. Travel to places to see the implementation of policies and supervision of expenditure of public funds as per norms of financial propriety
  7. Handling daily affairs of the government


Best services under Civil Service Exams

 The Civil Service forms the backbone of the Indian government structure. It is the primary service that heads all the major departments running the state and central administration. The three types of services recruited through the Civil Services Examination are All India Services, Central Services, and State Services. The UPSC rank allotment decides which service you will get. Students are asked to list the services as per their preferences. The higher your rank the more you get the post of your choice. UPSC ranks and services almost go hand in hand. The UPSC rank structure is followed all along and your position in the rank list gets you into these services.

There are three types or categories of jobs through the civil service exam (CSE). And under these three categories, there is a gamut of services that is prestigious and sought after. The civil service rank list comes out with the results of the exams but sometimes due to preferences, some toppers may choose services that are not at the top of the list like the IAS or IPS.

  1.   All India Civil Services
  2.   Group A Services or Central Services
  3.   Group B Services or State Services


All India Civil Services

  1. Indian Administrative Service (IAS)
  2. Indian Police Service (IPS)
  3. Indian Forest Service (IFoS)

Group ‘A’ Civil Services

  1. Indian Foreign Service (IFS)
  2. Indian Audit and Accounts Service (IAAS)
  3. Indian Civil Accounts Service (ICAS)
  4. Indian Corporate Law Service (ICLS)
  5. Indian Defence Accounts Service (IDAS)
  6. Indian Defence Estates Service (IDES)
  7. Indian Information Service (IIS)
  8. Indian Ordnance Factories Service (IOFS)
  9. Indian Communication Finance Services (ICFS)
  10. Indian Postal Service (IPoS)
  11. Indian Railway Accounts Service (IRAS)
  12. Indian Railway Personnel Service (IRPS)
  13. Indian Railway Traffic Service (IRTS)
  14. Indian Revenue Service (IRS)
  15. Indian Trade Service (ITS)
  16. Railway Protection Force (RPF)

Group ‘B’ Civil Services

  1. Armed Forces Headquarters Civil Service
  4. Pondicherry Civil Service
  5. Pondicherry Police Service

Time required for preparation of UPSC exams:

When one wants to swim in the water, he must assess the depth of the water first. Likewise, jumping into civil services preparation involves knowing the amount of hard work and time one has to pour in the process.Your success depends upon several factors like time, work, skill and most importantly, strategy. First and foremost is that aspirants should know that there is no shortcut to the success in Civil services exams. Strategies matter but they have to be deployed with the help of hard work. Both hardwork and strategy are equally important for the success in this examination.
Aspirants should know there is no defined amount of time that will guarantee success. Time taken varies and depends on many factors such as , how early you start the preparation? Whether or not you have done any foundation course, will also determine time required in the process. Another factor is self study vs coaching. Coaching definitely provides you proper guidance, refined contents, conceptual clarity of subjects, exposure to different strategies, and tremendous practice with model test series and mock interviews. Good coaching from institutes like Khan Study Group/KSG India will definitely cut short your preparation time considerably. 


Importance of foundation course during graduation before preparing for IAS exams:

Foundation course as the name suggests helps you build the strong foundation of almost all subjects before you jump in the exam process. Foundation programme helps in expanding students' thought process by encouraging them to think outside the box. It helps them get good conceptual clarity and master basic concepts necessary for examination. Foundation courses help students coming from different education systems to fill gaps in their basic knowledge before they begin their preparation with full fledged coaching. Foundation courses are designed in order to fill the gap between your current level of qualification and knowledge to the level which makes UPSC preparation easy and smooth. Moreover, foundation courses will prepare you and instill confidence to take on the examination. Furthermore, it will also help cut short your success journey, if accompanied by proper guidance, strategy and hard work.
In fact, if someone’s academic track record is not impressive or if they are not graduated from social science backgrounds, they are advised to take help of foundation courses in exam preparation. Khan Study Group/KSG India provides excellent foundation courses to help smoothen your preparation journey.

Advantages of joining coaching institute to prepare for the exam

In chemistry, when we mix the right combination of substances in the right proportion, the reaction happens at its own rate and we get the product. However, if we add a catalyst to the reaction; it will allow the reaction to move forward more quickly. Civil services coaching is one way that acts like a catalyst to enhance student’s capabilities. It reduces the time taken in preparation by doing self study. Coaching also guides you about the proportions you have to mix different factors to be successful.  Hard work and strategy are two pillars in the success of the examination. However, putting in a lot of hard work without strategy will be a waste of your time and energy.
Whereas, coaching classes will help you provide those strategies and guidance.Working efficiently is important but efficiency does not guarantee effectiveness. Efficiency must be accompanied by effectiveness. Coaching institutes will help you ensure this effectiveness by offering you refined contents, conceptual understanding, and lots of writing practice. Coaching institutes will help you be on the right path and will put you in the competition in the right way. But aspirants should remember, coaching definitely helps up to a certain extent. In the end, it is the hard work, self-study, consistency, and revisions and determination of the aspirant to ensure  success.


Eligibility criteria for appearing for Civil Services Examination:


Nationality Eligibility prescribed for Civil Service Examination:

For IAS and IPS:

  • Candidate must be a citizen of India

All other Services:

  • Candidate must be either:-
    1. A citizen of India, or
    2. A subject of Nepal, or
    3. A subject of Bhutan, or
    4. A Tibetan refugee who came to India before 1st January 1962 intending to settle in India permanently, or
    5. A person of Indian origin (PIO) who has migrated from Pakistan, Burma, Sri Lanka, East African countries of Kenya, Uganda, the United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Ethiopia, Zaire and Vietnam intending to settle in India permanently.
  • The candidates belonging to categories (2), (3), (4) and (5) should furnish a certificate of eligibility issued by the Government of India. Such candidates may take the exam before getting the said certificate of eligibility, but he/she would get the offer of appointment only after the Government of India has issued the certificate.
  • Point to Note: A person belonging to categories (2), (3) and (4) are not eligible for appointment to the Indian Foreign Service (IFS).


Minimum Educational qualification prescribed for Civil Service Examination:


The various academic requirements as per the IAS Eligibility Criteria are given below:

Minimum qualification for UPSC exam: The candidate must hold a degree of any of Universities incorporated by an Act of the Central or State Legislature in India or any other educational institution established by an Act of Parliament or declared to be deemed as a University under Section-3 of the University Grants Commission Act, 1956, or possess an equivalent qualification.

Candidates who are in their final year or awaiting results are also eligible to appear for UPSC preliminary Examination. All such candidates who are likely to appear for IAS exams must produce proof of having passed the said examination along with the application for the main IAS examination.

Candidates having professional and technical qualifications recognized by the Government as equivalent to professional and technical degrees.

Medical students who have passed the final year of MBBS, but are yet to complete their internship also have eligibility for IAS. Although, along with the Main Examination application, a certificate of course completion (including internship) from the concerned authority of the University/Institution has to be submitted.


Age Limit prescribed for Civil Service Examination:

As per the Civil Services Age Limit, the candidate Should be between 21 and 32 years, as on 1st August 2020 (for the UPSC CSE 2020), i.e., he must have been born not earlier than 2nd August 1988 and not later than 1st August 1999.

Civil Services Age Limit is an essential factor in the eligibility criteria. Therefore candidates applying for UPSC Exam should check these details properly before filling the online application form.

(Civil Services Age limit relaxations, as discussed below, will apply).


UPSC Age Limit- Upper Relaxation

Number of Attempts









Unlimited (Up to age limit)

Disabled Defence Services Personnel






Persons with

Benchmark Disability – EWS (Economically weaker section)




Number of attempts available to appear for civil service examination:

UPSC provided only a limited number of attempts for a candidate to appear in the UPSC civil services examination. UPSC allows only 6 attempts for general category candidates till 32 years of age, nine attempts for OBC candidates till 35 years of age, and unlimited attempts for SC ST candidates till 37 years of age.


Number of Attempts






Unlimited (Up to age limit)

Disabled Defence Services Personnel




Persons with

Benchmark Disability – EWS (Economically weaker section)



Basic personality traits those are necessary for students appearing for civil service examinations:


Being one of the toughest examinations of India, Civil Services Examination needs some basic quality set, that makes you a suitable candidate to be in the examination process. Some basic quality sets required in aspirants are dedication, perseverance, and commitment to the cause, focused, strategic, hard working, patience and divergent thinking. Along with that there are some skill sets such as good analytical skills, aptitude, communication skills – both oral and written.

Overview of scheme of Civil service Preliminary examination

The Civil Services Examination (CSE) comprises of two successive Stages:
the Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination (CSP) and the Civil Services (Main) Examination (Written and Interview).

Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination: UPSC conducts Preliminary Examination of the Civil Services Examination for recruitment to the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Foreign Service (IFS), Indian Police Service (IPS) and other Central Services and posts in accordance with the Rules published by the Government (Department of Personnel & Training) in the Gazette of India Extraordinary.

This Examination is meant to serve as a screening test only; the marks obtained in the Preliminary Examination by the candidates, declared qualified for admission to the Main Examination, are not counted for determining their final order of merit. Candidates who are declared by the Commission to have qualified in the Preliminary Examination in the year, are eligible to appear at the Main Examination of that year provided they are otherwise eligible for admission to the Main Examination.

The Examination comprises two compulsory papers of 200 Marks each.
(i) Both the question papers have objective type (multiple choice questions).
(ii) The question papers are set in Hindi and English.
(iii) Details of the syllabi are provided in the Examination Notice and Gazette Notification published by the Government.
(iv) Each paper is of two hours duration. General Studies Paper-II is of qualifying nature. The minimum qualifying standards in this Paper is indicated in the Examination Rules and at present, it is 33%. Candidates should note that there is penalty (negative marking) for wrong answers marked by a candidate in the Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination.

There are four alternatives for the answers to every question.

(i) For each question for which a wrong answer has been given by the candidate, one-third (1/3rd) of the marks assigned to that question is deducted as penalty.
(ii) If a candidate gives more than one answer, it is treated as a wrong answer even if one of the given answers happens to be correct and there will be the same penalty as above for that question.
(iii) If a question is left blank, i.e. no answer is given by the candidate; there will be no penalty for that question.

Overview of scheme of Civil service Mains examination

Marks obtained by the candidates for the Papers I-VII only will be counted for merit ranking (of those candidates who obtain the specified minimum marks in the qualifying papers). However, the Commission has the discretion to fix qualifying marks in any or all of these papers.

Procedure for Civil Service examination:

The UPSC Selection process happens in 3 stages: Civil Services (Preliminary) Examinations (Objective Type) and Civil Services (Main) Examination (Written) and Interview (Personality Test). Preliminary Exam will be a 4-hour Objective Type paper. It comprises two papers of multiple choice questions of maximum 200 marks each from various subjects including General Awareness, English Language, Numerical Aptitude, Reasoning, etc.
Candidates who have qualified in the Prelims round will only be called to attend the Mains round. The mains round consists of a written exam which is followed by a personality test. The Main exam involves a written exam and the personality test is not a test of knowledge but a test of suitability of the candidate to the civil service. The marks obtained in the mains examination and personality test together determine the candidate rank in the examination.


The examination consists of Qualifying papers: Paper I - An Indian language selected by the candidates Paper II – English Papers to be counted for merit: Essay (Paper III) General Studies (Paper IV-VII) Optional Subjects (Paper VIII-IX).

Interview is officially called the "Personality Test", the objective of the interview is to assess the personal suitability of the candidate for a career in public service by a board of competent and unbiased observers. The test is intended to evaluate the mental calibre of a candidate. In broad terms, this is really an assessment of not only a candidate's intellectual qualities, but also social traits and interest in current affairs.

Generally UPSC issues notification of the Examination in the month of February. After which time of approximately one month is given for aspirants to apply for the examination. UPSC issues admit cards online before one week of the examination date. After conducting the preliminary exam on the mentioned date; UPSC generally announces prelims results after around 45 days. Those students who cracked UPSC preliminary examination are asked to fill Detailed Application Form(DAF) within a few days after prelims result.  Mains examination is generally conducted with a gap of 4 months from prelims examination date. Mains examination is a 5 days exam and involves 9 papers. Result of the mains examination is announced by the end of January month of next year; and interviews of the selected candidates are conducted in Feb – April month. After examination final results are announced by the end of May month. Thus the procedure of all three stages of the examination is a one year round process.


Physical eligibility required for a Service/ Post

There is no height, weight and chest girth minimum requirement as such for candidates for the IAS, unlike the technical services. However, if the candidates’ measurements are disproportionate as regarded by the medical board, the candidates can be hospitalized for investigation and chest X-ray can be taken. 

The Persons with Benchmark Disabilities candidates shall also be required to meet eligibility criteria in terms of physical requirements/functional classifications (abilities/disabilities) consistent with the requirements of the identified Service/Post as may be prescribed by its Cadre Controlling Authorities. The details of physical requirements and functional classifications are given in the Rules/Notice of the Examination. Candidates should have a proper vision in the eyes. Corrections permitted are spectacles, CL and refractive surgery like LASIK, ICL, IOL, etc. Those who have myopia with macular degenerative changes will be declared unfit for service in the IAS. People with a squint in the eyes are fit for service. Night blindness is also not a ground for candidates to be declared unfit.

Blood pressure over 140/90 should be subjected to further testing in the hospital to ascertain whether the abnormal BP is temporary due to excitement, etc. and not an indication of any disease. Only candidates free from any complication of hypertension will be declared fit for service. Only candidates free from any complication of diabetes mellitus will be declared fit for service. The hearing ability of the candidate should be ‘good’ in each ear and he/she should also be free from any disease of the ear. In case of a defect, the candidate should be subjected to further tests to see if the defect can be remedied by a hearing aid or an operation. Pregnant female candidates will be fit except for those services that require physical training. In such cases, the candidates will be declared fit after confinement. Diseases like hernia, varicose veins, hydrocele, haemorrhoids, etc. are declared temporarily unfit and should be declared fit after successful surgery. Candidates with malignancies at the time of entry to service are declared unfit. Candidates with transplanted organs are declared unfit. An exception is made only for a corneal transplant.


Highest post an IAS officer can reach in his career:


IAS- Career start as a SDM(Subdivisional Magistrate and highest post is CABINET SECRETARY. Upon retirement, high ranking IAS officers have occupied constitutional posts such as the Chief Election Commissioner of India, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India, and the chairperson of the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC).

Most IAS officers start their career in Junior time scale grade as Sub-Divisional Magistrate in a sub-division of a district/Section Officer in state secretariat (Entry) /Assistant Director to Government of India. In the 4th year of service they enter the grade of senior time scale in which they get postings as Additional District Magistrate/Additional Collector/Additional Deputy Commissioner of a District or Under Secretary in the State Government. In 6th year they get junior administrative grade as District Magistrate/Collector/Deputy Commissioner of a District or Additional Secretary in the State government or Joint Director/Deputy Secretary to the Government of India. On 10th year of service they enter a selection grade in which they get postings as District Magistrate/Collector/Deputy Commissioner of a District or Special Secretary in the State government or Director in the Government of India. On 17th year of service they enter super time scale grade in which they get posted as Divisional Commissioner in a division or Secretary in the State government or Joint Secretary to Government of India. On 24th year they get posted as above super time scale in which they get posting as Principal Secretary in the State Government or Additional Secretary to the Government of India. In apex scale grade after 31 years of service IAS officers get postings as Chief Secretary of States or Secretary to Government of India. And in the 25th year of service they enter cabinet secretary grade where they get appointed as Cabinet Secretary of India.

The highest ranking civil servant is the Cabinet Secretary. He is ex-officio Chairman of the Civil Services Board; the chief of the Indian Administrative Service and head of all civil services under the rules of business of the Government of India. He also holds the 11th position in the Order of Precedence of India which is a great honour in itself. 


Salary of an IAS Officer:

IAS Salary After 7th Pay Commission

The Cabinet approved the 7th Pay Commission recommendation on June 29, 2016. According to the 7th pay Commission, the previous System of Pay Grades has been replaced with Consolidated Pays.

  • – Now the basic salary of junior-level IAS officers is Rs 56,100.
  • – Allowances like Dearness Allowance (DA), House Rent Allowance (HRA), and Travel Allowance (TA) will be extra.
  • – The salary will increase with yearly increments.
  • – The maximum that an IAS Officer can get that is the salary of the highest post (Cabinet Secretary) is Rs 2,50,000.

Note that if the IAS officer is using government-provided accommodation and vehicles then the TA and HRA will not be provided. There are also some monthly deductions from the IAS officer salary like Income tax, Professional tax, Central Provident fund, and Central Pension fund.

IAS Salary Structure

Here is the sample IAS Officer salary slip for Junior Scale or Entry Level position:

Basic Pay

Rs 56,100

Dearance Allowance 2%

Rs 1,122

Travel Allowance

Rs 3,200

DA on Travel Allowance 125%

Rs 4,000


– Rs 6287


Rs 58,135


Deduction consists of CPF- Rs 6,000, CGEGIS- Rs 40, CGHS- Rs 325, P/Tax- Rs 200.

What makes civil services a popular career choice is the fact that along with monetary compensation, the job of an IAS officer offers several perks and privileges that no other job can offer.  You get to work for the community with the community. 


- Akshay D Kadam

BE E & TC MA Industrial Psychology.