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Frequently Asked Questions

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General Questions

  • UPSC Civil Service Exams not for average students?

The Civil Services is the toughest exams not because of complex study material or syllabus but because the questions are based on the practical and dynamic current events. There are many tough exams in India but the syllabus of those exams is static. As a result it’s not necessary that toppers will get through this one. This means there is a good chance for non-toppers to crack it if they follow current affairs keenly.

  • IAS is for the strong hearted?

If you think you are not strong and faint-hearted. Then don't worry, start preparing for the UPSC Prelims with willpower and confidence. Either join a civil aspirant group or an institute for support.

  • Is it mandatory to stay in Delhi for preparation?

Wrong. Most of those who qualify the civil service exams are no longer from Delhi. They come from even the remotest corners of India. It all depends upon how disciplined and focused you are.

  • Is it necessary to have a strong command over English to clear the UPSC Exam?

Definitely No! But you must have decent communication skills in English. You are allowed to write UPSC exams in your mother tongue. But the essay paper is in English only.

  • Is this exam requires preparation for 20 hours every day for 365 days?

No. Its more about what you read and how than the amount of time. If you have not cleared prelims before, strongly recommends you to devote at least 75 - 80 % of your preparation time in the last 6 months before Prelims (December – May) entirely on Prelims topics.

  • What will happen if FIR is filed against a candidate ?

FIR is not hindrance for any candidate to write UPSC Exam. After the final selection, UPSC makes police verification about the candidate. Those clearing the verification alone will be selected. So the candidate must ensure the police case against him closed/ acquitted.

  • A foreign graduation degree eligible for UPSC Exam ?

Degree (graduation) from any of the Universities incorporated by an Act of the Central or State Legislature or University approved by University Grants Commission are alone considered valid and eligible for UPSC Exam.

  • Can I clear IAS exam without attending classroom coaching?

Yes. You can, particularly if you are good at self-study. We are not against classroom coaching. There are good institutes and teachers who help aspirants save a lot of time and effort. But not all coaching institutes provide quality service, so if you wish to join one, do that after proper research. It should also be noted that with the advent of technology, guidance and study materials can be sought online.

  • Will UPSC deduct marks for bad handwriting?

If a candidate’s handwriting is not easily legible, a deduction will be made on this account from the total marks otherwise accruing to him.

  • Can candidates use calculators in UPSC Civil Services Exam?

It is not allowed for UPSC Civil Services Preliminary Exam.

But candidates will be allowed the use of Scientific (Non-Programmable type) Calculators at the conventional (Essay) type examination of UPSC, i.e. Mains Exam.

  • What information should be given by persons already in Government Service to their Head of Office?

Persons already in Government Service, whether in a permanent or temporary capacity or as work charged employees other than casual or daily rated employees or those serving under the Public Sector Enterprises are required to submit an undertaking that they have informed their Head of Office/Department, in writing, that they have applied for the Examination. Candidates should note that in case a communication is received from their employer, by the Commission, withholding permission to the candidates applying for/appearing in the examination, their application will be liable to be rejected/candidature will be liable to be cancelled.


About Examination And Services

  • When does the notification for the exam come out?

It comes out usually during the first week of December/January every year.The notification is published in Employment News and RozgarSamachar.

  • What is the exam scheme?

It is a three stage exam, with only successful candidates eligible to apply in subsequent stages. The first stage is the Preliminary Exam, open for all applicants. Upon clearing this the successful candidate has to apply again to sit for the Main Exam. Successful candidates at this stage are called for the Personality Test or Interview. Those passing the Personality Test are the ultimate successful candidates.

  • What are the civil services? How to get into civil services of India?

Civil Services are jobs like  IAS, IPS, IFS, IRS etc. directly related to public service and are widely considered prestigious in India. UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) conducts Civil Service Exams for Central Government job vacancies.

  • What is IAS? How To Clear IAS Exam and Become an IAS Officer?

IAS is the short form of Indian Administrative Service.

  • What is the salary of an IAS officer?

IAS salary structure consists of different Pay Scales: Junior Scale, Senior Scales, Super Time Scale, Above Super Time Scales etc. Each of the pay scales further consists of different pay bands.

  • What is the educational qualification needed to appear in IAS exam?

Any degree (graduation).  It may be regular or distant. The candidate must hold a degree of any of Universities incorporated by an Act of the Central or State Legislature in India or other educational institutions 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.

  • I am an engineering graduate. From scoring point of view you suggest the suitable optional for my preparation.

There is an increasing trend that engineering graduates are shifting towards humanities. They preferably take one of the optionals as the science and the other from humanities. As far as popular trend is concerned large number of engineering students find it comfortable to opt either geography or public administration. Both these optionals are having small seep in time and can be comfortably picked up in a short span of time.

  • How one should start preparing for civil services examination?

The best way to start for this examination is by knowing the nature of examination. After having decided for the optionals one should develop a keen interest in looking at the past years questions to get an idea as to what one should be preparing for. One should also get a proper guidance for the channelization of its time, energy and resources. Planning is very crucial. One must plan and work the plan in a disciplined manner. There should be time frame and small targets fixed to work in this direction.

  • Is a candidate who has done his graduation without passing the class Xth and class XIIth eligible for civil services examination?


  • I filled the application form of CSE, 2015 once. But I realized that I made a mistake in choosing my optional/exam centre/language/name etc. What should I do?

Fill a fresh application form with all correct details. You can even change your optional/exam centre etc in the new form. Submit it online the same way by making the payment again. This form will have a higher registration ID than the previous one you had filled. Only this will be considered by UPSC. Download your Prelims admit card with the same higher registration ID and appear in the exam.

  • If I have given an attempt at Civil Services, is that counted in Indian Forest Service (IFS) Attempt too?

No. Your attempt for Civil service exam and Forest exam are counted separately. Even if you have exhausted all your CSE attempts, you can appear for IFS. They are two ‘separate’ recruitments. Only the 1st stage of the exam -prelims is common. Even the application form will have separate columns for CSE and IFoS.

  • What is the level of competition in UPSC Civil Service Examination?

The number of candidates aspiring for the UPSC Civil Services has gone up to more than 9,00,000 who fill the form and almost 4,00,000 who appear in the 1st stage of the exam, Preliminary Exam.
The number of candidates who qualify the Preliminary exam to appear in the Main Exam is equal to 12 to 13 times the number of vacancies in the Civil Services Exam that year.
Out of these, the number of candidates who will qualify to appear in the Interview is 2 times the number of vacancies in the Civil Services advertised that year.
For instance, if the number of vacancies in given year is 1000, then about 13,000 candidates would be called (qualified) by the UPSC to appear in the Main exam & the number of candidates who will qualify the Main examination to appear in the Interview would be about 2,000.

  • What is the number of vacancies in Civil Services for which the examination is conducted every year by UPSC?

The number of vacancies is reported by Union Public Service Commission in its advertisement/notification for the exam. The number of vacancies varies every year; the number of vacancies per year in the last 4 years has varied between 1000 and 1200.

  • What are the useful websites for IAS exam preparation?

Useful Government Websites for CSE preparation:

  1. – Download NCERT Texts as PDF.

  2. – Download NIOS Online Materials.

  3. – Download IGNOU Books.

  4. – Download Yojana and Kurukshetra Magazines.

  5. – Official Website of UPSC.

  6. – Press Information Bureau Website, for government updates.

  7. – PRS Website for tracking bills in Parliament.

  8. – IDSA website for Defense and Foreign relations.

  9. – Indian Council for Global relations.

  10. – Ministry of Environment and Forests.

  11. – Ministry of External Affairs.

  12. – Download Budget and Economic Survey.

  13. – Press Trust of India.

  14. – India Brand Equity Foundation for economy and business.

  15. – Make in India initiative for manufacturing related info.


Age, Attempts, Category

  • What is the minimum age at which aspirants should start preparing for the civil Services Examination?

The preparation for IAS exam should start in a focused manner at 20 – 21 years of age. This is the time student is able to focus on the goal properly and is in a position to peak at the right time. Starting too early (immediately after school or early graduation) has the likelihood of aspirant tiring during the course of preparation or loosing focus mid way whereas starting too late has disadvantage in terms of competitive edge of early start. Preferably the preparation should start in a focused manner around 20 years of age. This is the time student is able to focus the goal properly and is in a position to peak at the right time. Starting too early has a likelihood of tiring at the right time or starting very late will disadvantage in terms of competitive edge of early start.

  • Candidate belonging to a community included in the OBC list of states but not in the Central list of OBCs is eligible for age relaxation, reservation etc. for IAS exam?

No. Only candidates belonging to communities which are included in the Central list of OBC's are eligible.

  • Is there any relaxation in number of attempts for physically handicapped?

Yes, physically handicapped candidates belonging to the general category shall be eligible for 7 attempts

  • Can a candidate who has completed his education from an open school/ University apply for Commissions Examination?

Yes, provided it is a recognized University and he possess the educational qualifications prescribed for the exam and is otherwise eligible.

  • Whether a candidate belonging to a community included in the OBC list of states but not in the Central list of OBCs is eligible for age relaxation, reservation etc. for Commission’s Examinations?

No. Only candidates belonging to communities which are included in the Central list of OBCs are eligible for such concessions.

  • What is the restriction on number of attempts in Civil services Examinations?

General-4, OBC-7, SC/ST- No restriction


Prelims Related

  • If a candidate has applied for the CS (P) Examination but has not appeared at any paper in the CS (P) Examination will it be counted as an attempt?

No. An attempt is counted only if a candidate has appeared in at least one paper in CS (P) Examination.

  • Will there be an individual cut-off for two papers in Civil Service Prelims?

The minimum cut off marks for Paper 2 is 33 percent. The Commission may fix a minimum cut-off mark for Paper 1 too.

  • Will there be negative marks or different marks for Preliminary Questions?

There will be negative marking for incorrect answers for all questions except some of the questions where the negative marking will be inbuilt in the form of different marks being awarded to the most appropriate and not so appropriate answer for such questions.

  • What does it mean “General Studies Paper II (CSAT) has been made qualifying”? Will only GS-I marks be counted for clearing Prelims examination?

Yes, provided you have scored at least 33% marks in CSAT paper-2.

If the cutoff for entry into Mains is 100 marks, it means you will have to score at least 100 in GS, and 66 marks (33%) in CSAT. Even if you have scored 99 (less than 100) in GS-1, and 200 in CSAT, you will not be selected for Mains.


Mains Related

  • What is the structure of UPSC Civil Service Mains Exam? (Latest Pattern)

The Main Examination will consist of written examination and an interview test. The written examination will consist of 9 papers of the conventional essay type. Two papers (out of 9) will be of qualifying in nature. Marks obtained for all the compulsory papers (Paper–I to Paper-VII) and Marks obtained in Interview for Personality Test will be counted for ranking.

  • Which optional subject should I choose for UPSC Mains?

UPSC has given a list of around 50 optional subjects to choose from. Check optional page on the website.

  • Can a candidate write different papers of Civil Service (Main) Examination in different languages?

No, Candidates have the option to write their answers either in English or in any one of the Eighth schedule languages.

  • Can a candidate write the Civil Service (Main) Examination in English and take the interview in Hindi or any other Indian language?

If a candidate opts an Eighth schedule language for the CS (Main) Examination he will have the option to take the interview in same language or in English.

  • Can a candidate write the Mains Exam in English and take the interview in Hindi or any other Indian language?

Yes. The candidate can take the interview in any language mentioned in the Eighth schedule, the UPSC will arrange a translator of that language in the interview boad.

  • On what criterion the answer books of the written examination is sent for evaluation?

After the Mains exams, the answer books that are collected from different centers is brought to the UPSC office in New Delhi. The answers books are then first mixed and then reshuffled. After that computerized randomized fictitious code number is given to each answer-book. It is only when this process is over the answer books are being sent for evaluation.

  • Are answer books segregated/sorted based on community of the candidate?

NO. This is not done at any stage of the evaluation process.

  • It's likely that evaluation in mains exam may suffer due to 'strict' evaluation by a particular examiner, while those evaluated by a 'liberal' examiner may get benefited?

To achieve uniformity in evaluation, where more than one Examiner is involved, the UPSC arranges a meeting of the Head Examiner and the Additional Examiners. In the meeting the question paper and the appropriate answers is thoroughly discussed and the standard of evaluation is agreed upon. After the evaluation, the Head Examiner conducts a sample survey of the answer books of each Additional Examiner to verify whether the uniform standards of evaluation is actually have been followed. If the Examiner has correctly followed the standard decided upon in the meeting the Head Examiner then confirms the awards without any change. Else he may carry out upward / downward moderation as considered necessary to ensure maximum possible degree of uniformity in the evaluation process. In such way, inter-examiner variation in the standards of evaluation is taken care of adequately.

  • Wherever evaluation standards are set or moderation is applied, are these different for different mediums (languages) in which a particular subject/paper Examination is written?

No. The evaluation standards/moderation for a Paper are not medium-specific. In other words, if the Rules of the Exam provide that a Paper can be written in any recognized Indian language; then the medium in which a candidate writes the Paper will not be a factor in determining the evaluation standards or the moderation to be applied.

  • Is it possible that evaluation/assessment could be affected by the knowledge of a candidate's identity?

No. Before evaluation, the Roll number written on every answer book is detached and computer-based randomized fictitious code number is given. At no stage of the evaluation process (including the moderation stage) is the actual Roll number or identity of the candidate is known to any of the Examiners or officials associated in the process.

  • Can I know the 'question-wise' marks awarded to me for a paper?

No. The evaluation process does not end after initial evaluation by an Examiner. Moderation wherever applied is done on the total award initially given and not on each answers. Therefore, once the evaluation process is complete, neither 'raw marks' nor 'answer-wise' marks subsist. What matters at the end of the evaluation process is the candidate's total score in a paper. The final score is normally made available to the candidate on the Commission's website.

  • In which Civil Services examinations, subject-wise/paper wise marks of each candidate are not made accessible or available?

Prelim Examination. This is because the Prelim exam is an elimination exercise to select candidates for the Main Examination. As such the scores obtained in this examination is not communicated to candidates.

  • Can I know the marks of other candidates who took the Examination from the UPSC?

NO. The UPSC cannot reveal such information of those candidates who have qualified the Civil Services. This is because the commission sends the detailed results qualified candidates to the concerned Ministry/Department for further processing. So any queries pertaining to the results of the qualified candidates have to be addressed to the concerned Ministry/Department and not to the UPSC.

  • If the overall marks of two or more candidates are equal, how is relative merit between such candidates decided?

'Tie-breaking' principles are applied to decide inter se merit among candidates having the same overall marks. Candidate securing more marks in the Compulsory Papers and the Personality Test put together is to be ranked higher; In case where the marks mentioned at (i) above are equal, the candidate senior in age is to be ranked higher; and in case where the (i) and (ii) above are same, then the candidate getting more marks in the compulsory papers is to be ranked higher.

  • Will there be minimum qualifying marks for UPSC Mains Compulsory Papers?

The Commission has the discretion to fix qualifying marks in any or all the subjects of the examination. For 2015, the minimum mark is 25% for Indian language and English language. For GS1, GS2, GS3 and GS4 the minimum mark expected is 10%.

  • What optionals should be more suitable optionals for me?

It is a highly sensitive issue, and the most crucial too, because choice of optionals goes a long way in deciding your prospects. We have discussed in full details just go through it.

  • Can a candidate choose an optional subject, which he has not studied at graduate/PG level?


  • Is it, compulsory for a candidate to take the same optional subject in the Main Exam, which he had in the UG/PG level?



Interview Related

  • Will there be minimum qualifying marks for UPSC Interview?

The interview will carry 275 marks (with no minimum qualifying marks).

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