What is Screening Test in IAS?

What is Screening Test in IAS?

IAS (Indian Administrative service) is top most administrative service of government of India. Every year lakhs of aspirants apply to get selected in this service. This is not an easy nut to crack and requires candidate with immense patience and perseverance to make it through the whole process. IAS preliminary exam is the screening test for the next level of exam which is mains exam. Those who clears screening test allowed to appear for mains.

Let us understand the whole process to go through to appear for IAS.

Every year UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) conducts the civil services examination (CSE) for recruitment to civil services of government of India which includes IAS (Indian Administrative Service), IFS (Indian Foreign Service) and IPS (Indian Police Service).

This Exam is conducted in three stages and the whole process takes almost a year.

Stage I-Preliminary Examination (or as said screening test for Main examination)

Stage II-Main Examination

Stage III-Interview

Here let us understand few facts about all the stages of the selection procedure

Stage I-Preliminary Examination

Examination Pattern:

Preliminary Examination or Screening Test basically is for shortlisting of candidates for next stage which is the Main Examination.

  • The Preliminary Exam consists of two objective type papers for a total of 400 marks. Each paper has 200 marks each and two hours allotted. However, blind candidates would be provided an extra 20 minutes for each paper.
  • There will be negative marking (of one-third marks for that answer) for wrong answers marked by a candidate in the objective type question papers.
  • Only a black ballpoint pen may be used for both writing and marking answers in the OMR sheet (answer sheet). Pens of any other color, pencils or ink pens are not allowed.
  • The medium of the question paper is both English and Hindi.

Now the preliminary exam is known as Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT), though the papers are still referred to as General Studies paper I and General Studies Paper II. Syllabus covered in these papers has changed a lot since 2011.Now the focus is more on the analytical capabilities and comprehension skills rather than to memorize.

Examination Syllabus:

Paper I - (200 marks) Duration: Two hours
  • Current events of national and international importance
  • History of India and Indian National Movement
  • Indian and World Geography - Physical, Social, Economic Geography of India and the World
  • Indian Polity and Governance - Constitution, Political System, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights Issues, etc.
  • Economic and Social Development Sustainable Development, Poverty, Inclusion, Demographics, Social Sector initiatives, etc.
  • General issues on Environmental Ecology, Bio-diversity and Climate Change - subject specialization not required.
  • General Science
Paper II - (200 marks) Duration: Two hours

This is a qualifying paper; candidates should score minimum 33% to qualify

  • Comprehension
  • Interpersonal skills including communication skills
  • Logical reasoning and analytical ability
  • Decision-making and problem-solving
  • General mental ability
  • Basic numeracy (numbers and their relations, orders of magnitude, etc.) (Class X level), Data interpretation (charts, graphs, tables, data sufficiency etc. - Class X level)

Those candidates who qualifies in the preliminary examination will be eligible for admission to the Main Examination of that year.

Main Examination:

After qualifying for the mains the real challenge begins. Main examination has 9papers and essay type questions which is a real challenge.

  • Candidate’s obtaining minimum qualifying marks in mains examination will be summoned for interview or personality test.
  • Number of candidates to be summoned for interview will be about twice the number of vacancies to be filled.


  • Interview/Personality test carries 275 marks.
  • Marks obtained in main examination and in interview would determine their final ranking.
  • Candidates gets posted according to their ranks in the examination and preferences choose by them in various services and posts.

This selection procedure is a tough process and only aspirants with tough will and wit gets selected. All the three levels are important to get selected but screening test which is the first level should be treated as entry gate to the world of Indian Administration at various levels

Jai Hind!!